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Zoë Barton QC

Call: 2003    QC: 2020

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

Civil Fraud

A common thread in Zoë’s cases is an allegation of fraud, where being able to establish or challenge proprietary interests and set up or attack trusts structures is often of central importance and to which Zoë is able to bring her significant technical expertise in other practice areas to bear.

Her instructions involve a wide range of frauds and frequently include breaches of duty by fiduciaries, challenging antecedent transactions in insolvency, asset tracing and often concern the laws of multiple jurisdictions (including BVI, Gibraltar, states in the USA, Liberia) and raise conflict of laws issues.

Disputes also frequently involve heavily contested interim or ancillary applications, such as for freezing injunctions, proprietary injunctions, non-party disclosure or challenges to jurisdiction.

Examples of Zoë’s related work include:

  • Instructed in a jurisdiction challenge in respect of a claim against a Swiss domiciled defendant and issues as to effective service.
  • Acting for a betting agent domiciled in Gibraltar in claims brought by the spouse of a gambling addict who gambled monies he obtained by fraud, in which she claimed an interest, with online gambling platforms. Defending claims in unjust enrichment and accessory liability (dishonest assistance, knowing receipt) for receipt of gambled monies. Advising as to jurisdiction challenge and the true scope of tort, delict and quasi-delict under the European regime.
  • Acting for a claimant company in invoicing fraud perpetuated by employees, agents and suppliers of the company for 20 odd years whereby they falsely inflated supplier invoices, with the inflated portion being shared between the supplier and agent / employee. Unlawful means conspiracy and bribery claims were pursued and resulted in settlement at mediation.
  • Acting for a guarantor alleged to be liable under a guarantee agreement in connection with a loan agreement by which a joint venture business borrowed monies. Issues included fraudulent misrepresentation, whether the loan agreement was binding and the enforceability of a guarantee in light execution by some only of the named parties.
  • Appearing on behalf of applicant in letters rogatory request in support of proceedings in Florida valued at $80m and which concerned threats to life following allegations of the maladministration of an estate in Barbados (from which no distributions were ever made, save to the executor himself fraudulently) over a period of more than 30 years.
  • Acting in proceedings concerning the true ownership of various family business assets in a largely informally run family business upon the falling out of various brothers who were co-owners. Arguments concerning authenticity of documents, alleged resulting and constructive trusts, proprietary estoppel and unfair prejudice.
  • Defending a claim brought by the former F1 boss for fraudulent misrepresentation for contracts for the sale of land and design services, alternatively repudiatory breach of contract against a developer of prestigious ‘superhomes’ and related land-owning parties. Raises interesting issues as to the degree of connection between the contracts and the availability of rescission.
  • Acting in a successful jurisdiction challenge for a BVI domiciled client where the claimant sought the return of a multi-million pound asset which had been sold by a receiver and subsequently sold on to the BVI client. Successfully demonstrated that the Court had wrongly permitted service out of the jurisdiction without the claimant satisfying the requisite test as regards the underlying merits of the claim.
  • Advising in connection with the death of a Russian businessman who had been pursued for embezzlement by the Russian authorities as to the true ownership of BVI company shareholdings and possible challenges that might be made to that ownership.
  • Acting for the liquidators of a company which had operated an unlawful collective investment scheme and been made subject to public interest winding-up. Advising as to viable causes of action including as against professionals who received investors’ monies for the fraudulent scheme on the basis of a Quincecare duty and establishing possible assets including by challenging the release of charges by the company for no money.
  • Claim for non-party disclosure against a bank in connection with account documentation and instructions (as distinct from account statements) and in particular, ultimate beneficial ownership declarations, to assist in claim where the true ownership of various companies was in issue.
  • Acting in a factually and legally complex multi-party dispute between members of a Greek shipping family as to the ownership of Liberian corporations, the validity of the actions of those corporations (including fraudulent changes to issued bearer shares, articles and directors), question of vires as to contracts entered into by the corporations and disguised distributions of capital.
  • Acting in a claim regarding an alleged transaction to defraud creditors by the grant of an overriding lease, in particular as to whether the price was the fair market value.
  • Advising as the best use of proceedings in multiple jurisdictions (including in the USA where there claims included a RICO element) in attempts to ultimately obtain judgments against individuals with assets in this jurisdiction understood to be connected with the claims in fraud overseas.
  • Acting in claims often in the context of insolvency, including as to possible s.423 claims, typically in connection with property assets and / or assets alleged to be held in trust.
  • Acting in a claim concerning the enforcement by a lender of security over land in Dubai raising issues as to conflict of laws and the application of Golden Victory to the assessment of damages, assertions as to which ranged between nominal and $2billion.
  • Acting for a claimant in the recovery of an asset he had transferred to a blackmailer who had threatened to reveal their homosexual relationship to the claimant’s family and prominent members of his religious community; importantly, anonymity was maintained for the claimant, his name not appearing even on the face of proceedings.
  • Claims concerning the enforceability of charges and personal guarantees, including successfully resisting summary judgment on the basis of prima facie evidence of fraud affecting another agreement entered into at a similar time by the same parties, which required the further investigation of the court (a rare application of Miles v Bull).
  • Acting for an investment vehicle in dispute with a US Court appointed receiver in respect of the control of investment fund monies paid into Court in England against the backdrop of allegations of fraud and an investigation by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.