International / Offshore

Wilberforce Chambers has a pre-eminent reputation in offshore and international work, and is independently listed in Band 1 in both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500 for offshore expertise.

The expertise of members at Wilberforce naturally supports the type of legal issues that frequently arise in offshore and international disputes.

Areas such as:

  • Asset tracing, freezing and recovery
  • Banking and finance
  • Civil fraud
  • Company law
  • Conflicts of law
  • Enforcement of foreign judgments
  • Financial services, financial products and derivatives
  • Funds disputes
  • Joint venture disputes
  • Property disputes
  • Restructuring and corporate insolvency
  • Trusts

For more information on our international arbitration practice, please click here.

Wilberforce has a well-established reputation for assisting overseas clients and appearing in high-profile and important cases across all of the principal international and offshore jurisdictions where English law, or common law and statutes based heavily on English law, apply.

Many of our barristers are full members of, or have been called, ad hoc, to, the local Bars of the following jurisdictions:

  • Anguilla
  • The Bahamas
  • Bermuda
  • The British Virgin Islands
  • St. Kitts & Nevis
  • The Cayman Islands
  • Dubai
  • Gibraltar
  • Guernsey
  • Hong Kong
  • Isle of Man
  • Jersey
  • Singapore
  • The Turks & Caicos Islands

Wilberforce Chambers is a member of the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce).

Rankings and recognition

Wilberforce is top-ranked in Chambers Global and is also tier 1 in both Chambers & Partners’ and The Legal 500’s offshore categories.

Chambers & Partners 2024 (Offshore commentary): Wilberforce Chambers offers significant strength and depth in all the major offshore jurisdictions, including those in the Channel Islands, the Caribbean and Asia. Market commentators regard it as a “top class” set, “boasting some of the top names of the offshore Bar.” Members of the set are instructed to act in matters such as trust litigation, high-value commercial disputes, fraud claims and insolvency matters. Its barristers continue to appear in a number of high-profile cases, such as Halabi v Equity Trust (Jersey). The Privy Council handed down a landmark decision regarding the insolvent trust, which will have a significant impact on the wider industry. A particular fan of the set remarked: “I love Wilberforce Chambers. It is by far and away the easiest set to deal with.” They continue: “I have no doubt that in the field, it stands out against the other chambers.”

The Legal 500 2023 (Offshore commentary): Wilberforce Chambers has a reputation for their handling of high profile and important cases across a wide variety of offshore regions, such as Anguilla, Bermuda, Guernsey and further afield. Members of chambers have found themselves at the forefront of ground-breaking cases within various jurisdictions, with noteworthy examples including Equity Trust (Jersey) Ltd v Halabi in which Clare Stanley KC and James Goodwin appeared, concerning issues of how to handle insolvent trusts under Jersey law. Robert Ham KC has a litigation and advisory practice related to trust law pensions, traditional chancery and offshore and enjoy devising complex transactions and drafting documents to give effect to them. Michael Furness KC specialises in occupational pensions, charities, tax and professional negligence claims in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, while Anna Littler is noted for her commercial Chancery practice.

Notable cases

Cowan v Equis Special LP and others [2024]

Judgment handed down, following a 3-day hearing, in Cowan v Equis Special LP by Parker J sitting in the Financial Services Division of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. Some interesting observations about the meaning of ‘written agreement’ for the purpose of amendment of statements of case, the Cayman law of security for costs, and the identification of funders.

Read the full judgment here

Donora Company Limited v The Incorporated Owners of Tsuen Kam Centre [2024] HKCFA 3

The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal allowed the appeal and held that, on the proper construction of the deed of mutual covenants (DMC), the external walls are common parts in that multi-storey building. The relevant character of the external walls is to be determined by reference to the DMC, though the first assignment may be referred to as an aid to construction in case of ambiguity in the DMC.

Read the full judgment

Navigator Equities Ltd & Vladimir Chernukhin v Oleg Deripaska [2024]

The claimants brought an application seeking to commit the defendant for breach of an undertaking he had given to the court. At a trial in March 2023 HHJ Pelling KC, sitting in the Commercial Court, dismissed the application. The Court of Appeal dismissed the claimants’ appeal, emphasising the need to focus on the breach as actually alleged in the application notice and the importance of procedural fairness when a defendant is facing a committal application.

Read the full judgment

JSC BTA Bank v Sabyrbaev and others [2024]

Judgment handed down by the BVI Commercial Court in what is the latest episode in the global Ablyazov litigation; in this claim against 54 defendants, Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank alleges it has been the victim of a fraudulent scheme involving the issue of high letters of credit resulting in losses of approximately US$230 million.

The judgment provides a comprehensive survey of the law applicable to service out of the jurisdiction in the BVI, including the duty of full and frank disclosure, and provides a salutary warning to litigants seeking to use BVI incorporated ‘Anchor Defendants’ as a hook through which to bring their real targets within the jurisdiction of the BVI courts.

Read the full judgment

Byers v Saudi National Bank [2023]

Acting for the successful respondent before the Supreme Court in the now leading knowing receipt case of Byers v Saudi National Bank [2023] UKSC 51. The Supreme Court has now definitively stated the proprietary basis of such relief, and rejected the submission that it is a remedial response to unconscionability.

Read the full judgment

CLO HoldCo Limited v Highland CLO Funding Limited [2023]

The Royal Court of Guernsey dismisses a substantial unfair prejudice application, which represents a key aspect of multi-faceted ongoing litigation connected with the bankruptcy in the US of once high-flying billion-dollar investment firm Highland Capital Management LP. 

The judgment contains interesting discussion of (i) whether breach of a duty to act in good faith necessarily amounts to bad faith, and (ii) the circumstances in which equitable considerations may have a place in governing the proper conduct of the affairs of a company.

Read the full judgment

Kirtanlal International DMCC v State Bank Of India (DIFC Branch) [2023]

Judgment has been handed down in the Court of First Instance of the DIFC by Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke.

Kirtanlal International DMCC, a steel trading company, brought a claim for damages of USD 18.51m in relation to what it said was the unlawful termination of its facility agreement with the Defendant bank. Kirtanlal claimed that the Bank acted in breach of a duty of good faith and/or a Braganza duty, alleging malice on the part of the Bank. Kirtanlal also alleged that there were breaches of tortious, fiduciary and regulatory duties by the Bank.

The Court rejected the $18.5 million damages claim.

Read the full judgment

FamilyMart Holding v Ting Chuan [2023]

A Privy Council judgment delivered simultaneously with the Supreme Court decision in Republic of Mozambique v Credit Suisse International. Lord Hodge delivered two important judgments on how to define and identify the “matters” which give rise to stay of legal proceedings in favour of arbitration (in England under Section 9 Arbitration Act 1996) and certain other related issues. In doing so, these Courts have dropped the overly “granular” approach adopted by English Courts recently and opted for a more nuanced and analytical approach favoured by the Australian courts. The legal analysis in the two decisions is more or less identical.

Read the full judgment

Invest Bank v El-Husseini [2023]

In a judgment handed down on 20 September 2023 following the trial of preliminary issues, the Deputy Judge of the Commercial Court held that it is not a rule of private international law that a final and binding foreign judgment on the merits must be enforceable in the foreign jurisdiction before it could be the subject of an application to ‘enforce’ the foreign judgment in this jurisdiction by a claim at common law, and dismissed the sixth defendant’s application to set aside a default judgment the claimant had obtained against the first defendant, as (i) there was accordingly no arguable defence, and (ii) the sixth defendant had not satisfied the Denton criteria.

Read the full judgment

City Gardens v Dok 82 [2023]

High Court confirms that a winding up petition may be brought notwithstanding a foreign exclusive jurisdiction clause.

Read the full judgment

In the matter of the X Trusts [2023]

Successfully acting for the respondent in Bermuda Court of Appeal in decision on breadth of standard form consent powers of fiduciary protectors of trusts. The Court reached a unanimous decision following full argument that the role of a fiduciary protector having a power of consent in relation to the exercise of trustee powers is “narrow” rather than “wide”.

Read the full judgment

Cayman Shores Development Ltd and another v Registrar of Lands and Others [2023]

The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal clarifies important aspects of Cayman Islands’ property law regarding restrictive agreements, easements and Land Register rectification.

Invest Bank v El-Husseini and Others [2022]

The Judge held that it is clear that there is reciprocity of enforcement of judgments between the English court and the UAE courts, and that enforcement of a costs order is not contrary to the public policy of the UAE. The Judge also found that “a straightforward route” to enforcement of an English costs would be to enforce the judgment in the DIFC and then to enforce the resulting DIFC judgment in the UAE.

Read the full judgment

In the matter of Avivo Group [2022]

Acting for the successful respondent in one of the first reported decisions in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands in this important case on when the Court will appoint inspectors to examine into and report on the affairs of a company at the behest of a minority shareholder.  Although a case on s.64 of the Cayman Companies Act, similar statutory provisions are to be found in legislation throughout the Commonwealth, and hopefully this case will be a useful precedent in those jurisdictions too.

Read the full judgment

Equity Trust (Jersey) Ltd v Halabi [2022]

A key Privy Council decision of significance throughout the common law world, concerning the interplay between insolvency and trusts law. It has particular importance in circumstances where the trust fund is ‘insolvent’, in the sense that the trust assets are insufficient to meet the amounts due under the trustee’s right of indemnity.

Read the full judgment

Gol Linhas Aereas SA (formerly VRG Linhas Aereas SA) v MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners (Cayman) II LP and others (Cayman Islands) [2022]

A much-anticipated Privy Council decision on the interpretation of Article V of the New York Convention. The Privy Council confirmed that an ICC arbitration award obtained in favour of Gol was enforceable in the Cayman Islands and that the grounds upon which the appellants (the MP Funds) sought to challenge the Award had already been raised (and dismissed) before the courts in Brazil giving rise to an issue estoppel.

 

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC v Shetty & others [2022]

A US$1 Billion damages claim, which arose out of the collapse of NMC PLC, a former FTSE 100 company, and its operating subsidiaries in the UAE, all of which are now in administration in England and Wales and the UAE. The claimant is an Abu Dhabi-based bank, and the first to third defendants are the former private shareholders in NMC PLC. The Bank alleged that the defendants are responsible, with others, for a serious fraud that appears to have taken place within the NMC Group of companies. The defendants all deny involvement in the fraud.

Read the full judgment

 

Raiffeisen Bank v. Scully Royalty Ltd & Others [2022]

A multi-million euro, multi-faceted fraud claim in the Cayman Islands that made new law on the Cayman Fraudulent Dispositions Law.

Read the full judgment

 

Steenbok Newco and another v Formal Holdings and others [2022]

A South Africa’s largest ever private sector accounting fraud scandal. Alleged payments totalling approximately €95 million are said to have been made fraudulently. The case raises issues of German, Austrian, Swiss and BVI law.

 

The Libyan Investment Authority v Credit Suisse and others [2021]

The latest chapter in the long running and high-profile litigation instigated by the LIA seeking to recoup funds invested during the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya. Successfully defended fraud and corruption claims to the value of £200m.

Read the full judgment

Akhmedova v Akhmedov [2021]

Proceedings across multiple jurisdictions and involve inter alia efforts to enforce against a yacht formerly owned by Mr Abramovich which was under arrest in Dubai. Case also involved alleged transactions in defraud of creditors contrary to section 423 of the Insolvency Act.

Read the full judgment

AHAB v SAAD [2021]

One of the largest frauds ever perpetrated involving some 118 banks which together lent a total of $126 billion over two decades. The longest and largest appeal ever heard by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands including substantial issues of cross-border insolvency, tracing and asset recovery.

Read the full judgment

Re Vijay Mallya [2021]

Representing a consortium of Indian banks, seeking Dr Mallya’s bankruptcy for a £1 billion debt. Dr Mallya, a famous and controversial public figure (and MP) in India, is the fallen Kingfisher Airways tycoon and is fighting extradition to India to face fraud charges. Enormously complex, involving Indian law, the concept of security in English and Indian law, cross-border issues (recognition and jurisdiction) and ulterior political motive.

Read the full judgment

 

Financial Services Compensation Scheme Ltd and others v Estera Corporate Trustees (Guernsey) Ltd  [2020]

A high-value trusts dispute arising from the insolvency of the Freedom Bay property development scheme in St Lucia. The case raised important legal questions about trustees’ ability to rely on investors’ contributory negligence as a defence.

Meridian Trust v Eike Batista [2020]

A case involving the first statutory free-standing worldwide freezing order in Cayman. The first common law case in which a freezing injunction was granted over claims for American treble damages under RICO. Fraud resulted in losses of $5bn, with the lead claim being for $60m.

Read the full judgment

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    Recent Cases

    Judgment handed down Cowan v Equis Special LP and others

    International / offshore, Civil fraud and asset recovery

    Thomas Grant KC
    Thursday 23 May 2024

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    News

    Wilberforce shortlisted for Chambers of the Year at The Lawyer Awards 2024

    We are delighted to announce that Wilberforce Chambers has been shortlisted at this year’s The Lawyer Awards for Chambers of the Year! Winners will be announced on Tuesday 18th June at London’s JW Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel. We are incredibly... Read more

    Friday 12 April 2024

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    Recent Cases

    Court of Final Appeal judgment on Proper role of the first assignment in delineating common parts

    Property, International / offshore

    James Man
    Wednesday 27 March 2024

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    Articles

    INSOL WORLD – The Quarterly Journal of INSOL International

    Lexa Hilliard KC features in the latest edition of ‘INSOL WORLD – The Quarterly Journal of INSOL International’, alongside Sophia Rolle Kapousouzoglou (Lennox Paton). They have written an article entitled ‘FTX – A global settlement after jurisdictional wars between the... Read more

    By Lexa Hilliard KC
    Friday 22 March 2024

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