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Lawrence Cohen QC

Call: 1974    QC: 1993

+44 (0)20 7306 0102lcqc@wilberforce.co.uk

Practice Overview

Lawrence’s practice centres on complex, high-value business disputes and transactions, often with an offshore or international aspect. Mental agility and a dynamic approach focused on solutions has drawn an enviable international client base.

He has wide experience of financial market and security transactions and investment funds of most kinds. His background in structuring and insolvency as well as offshore trusts and vehicles has been invaluable in recent years of financial market difficulty. Corruption cases, often for governments or statutory bodies such as regulators or authorities set up to manage national assets, are a frequent application of his expertise requiring a powerful court room presence and the ability to tackle factual and expert witnesses effectively yet speedily, even in the most hostile of litigation.

Vitally important tools in Lawrence’s work are skills in accountancy and valuation as well   as good knowledge of the inside workings of banks and funds. Commercial acumen is an essential in understanding the subject matter and, more importantly, resolving the issues.

2019 and 2020 have seen Lawrence in action in the Bahamas for nearly 7 months, appearing for the Plaintiffs in Hayward v Striker, the well-publicised dispute concerning the trust holding 50% of Grand Bahama Port Authority, wresting control of shares from a former trustee alleged to have dishonestly misapplied many millions in favour of one of its directors as well as significant failures in its accounting.  He has also appeared numerous times in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and other less usual jurisdictions.

Recent examples of Lawrence’s cases give a good feel for his practice:

  • Hayward v Striker & ors – Successfully defending application to recuse a Judge on grounds of actual or apparent bias after short cross-examination of Applicant and later applying to revise judgment – 11 July 2019 and 5 November 2019; Successfully dismissing appeal; see https://www.bahamasjudiciary.com/judgments/
  • Re Colonial Life Insurance Company (Trinidad)  advising the board appointed by the Central Bank of Trinidad &Tobago after statutory intervention in this irregularly managed insurance company.  The company still holds very large assets measured in $billions but requiring extensive advice and action to overcome problems.
  • Planck v Vitol Holdings II SA and Tinsel SA Acting for Claimant in Rotterdam proceedings challenging conversion of ordinary shares into preferred shares with no rights to dividend after conversion.  The dividends lost to the shareholder are estimated at about $200m.  The complexity is from a Dutch law shareholders agreement in a Luxembourg company holding shares for all US shareholders of world’s largest oil trader. Alleged to be an improper squeeze out in breach of shareholders’ agreement. Final Judgment given in late 2018  (transcript available) upholding interim judgement obtained for Claimant in late 2015.  Now defending an appeal to Court of Appeal scheduled for January 2021.
  • Symrise AG v Baker & McKenzie Successfully defending B&M for negligence in €1.8 billion takeover for alleged defects in structuring and tax advice in Mexico of largest subsidiaries outside Germany – no damage suffered 2015 EWHC 912 (Comm).

Older cases have included appearing for the BCCI liquidators (obtaining $2.1 billion judgment after full trial for conspiracy) and defending the estate of the late Gen Abacha (accused of stealing c$13 billion from Nigerian Treasury whilst Head of State).