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Property, Trusts, probate and estates: contentiousThursday 21 December 2023

Judgment handed down in Asturion Fondation v Alibrahim

The case, one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2023, concerns a multimillion-pound property on The Bishop’s Avenue (sometimes known as “Billionaire’s Row”) in North London.

The judgment, in addition to dealing with questions of Liechtenstein, Swiss and Shari’a Law, addresses a number of principles of English property and trusts law and conflicts of laws.  These include the role of ostensible authority in the context of gratuitous dispositions, and the effect of s. 26 / s. 29 of the Land Registration Act 2002 when a former registered proprietor seeks to recover title to land following a disposition alleged to have been made (a) outside the capacity of the transferor and/or (b) in breach of fiduciary duty.  The judgment also considers the construction of Rome II and the categorisation of claims in mistake, unjust enrichment and knowing receipt under it, as well as the principles underpinning claims for knowing receipt in the context of the recent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in Byers.

Simon Atkinson was instructed by Simmons & Simmons LLP, along with Rupert Reed KC (Serle Court), for the successful defendant.

This decision has been widely reported in the media, including in Bloomberg here.

Read the full judgment

Post script: In addition to today’s High Court judgment, the previous Court of Appeal decision [2020] 1 WLR 1627 in the same proceedings is one of the leading authorities relating to the striking out of proceedings for abuse of process where a party is alleged to have “warehoused” proceedings.

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