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Hashwani v Jivraj

The Supreme Court case dubbed ‘the No 1 Case to watch out for in 2011’ by The Lawyer magazine

We acted for the successful Claimant, Mr Hashwani, in the Court of Appeal where, for the first time in English legal history, a Court found that that to object to an arbitrator on the grounds of race or religion was illegal.

The case surrounded a multi-million pound dispute between two Pakistani businessmen who had entered in a Joint Venture relating to a chain of hotels in Canada. The contract contained a clause that stated that any dispute was to be decided by an Arbitrator who was an Ismaili Muslim.

Zaiwalla & Co, on behalf of Mr Hashwani, appointed an Arbitrator, a former High Court judge who happened to be Jewish. The High Court ruled against this appointment on the grounds that the Arbitrator-party relationship was governed by contract and therefore the parties were free to specify that the Arbitrator should come from a particular religious background.

The Court of Appeal considered a) Whether an arbitrator is an employee and b) whether religious discrimination invalidated the arbitration agreement.

In June 2010, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s ruling and found that an Arbitrator is an ‘employee’ of the parties and therefore protected by employment equality regulations which prevent discrimination on racial and religious grounds.

The implications of that ruling meant that contractors of any description could now be considered to be ‘employees’ and no private individual in the UK could discriminate against the appointment of an independent contractor, be it a solicitor or a plumber, on the grounds of race, religion or gender.

The case went on to the Supreme Court. The LCIA and ICC intervened and the Attroney General waded into the argument by making a public statement in the press attacking the Court of Appeal’s decision. The Supreme Court overturned the judgment. Zaiwalla & Co are now taking Mr Haswani’s case to the European Court of Justice

Shah v HSBC

We successfully represented the Claimant Mr Shah in a US$ 330m case against HSBC, which involved consideration, for the first time by the English Courts, of whether an innocent customer can test in Court a bank’s claim that it had suspicions of money laundering which caused it to freeze its own customer’s account.

Back in 2006, rather than transferring US $28m as their customer Mr Shah had requested, HSBC filed a “suspicion of money-laundering” suit with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, without notifying its customer. As a result of the hold-up in the original transaction, The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, who held other assets and accounts of Mr Shah, froze all his accounts with them for a long period. The client claims that because of this he has suffered losses of up to US $300 million.

This was a ‘landmark judgment’, before which banks and law firms ‘could act on a hunch about a client’s transactions without disclosing the necessary information’. This judgment has far reaching implications for banks, as the Court in this case has for the first time ruled that the banks are now accountable for their conduct in reporting suspicions of money laundering.

The Court of Appeal Judgment was delivered in February 2010. HSBC’s application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court (formerly the House of Lord’s) was rejected. The opponent solicitors were DLA Piper.

The ruling has since been overturned in the Supreme Court under the control of different firm of solicitors.

Imerman v Tchenguiz

We defended the London-based property tycoon brothers Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz in a claim arising from their sister’s £450 million divorce proceedings. Robert Tchenguiz was accused by his sister’s former husband and former CEO of Delmonte Group, Vivian Imerman, of having taken confidential financial information from Imerman’s server to assist the sister in her divorce.
Zaiwalla & Co successfully obtained Leave to Appeal from an Order granted by Eady J that the confidential information should be disclosed. The Court of Appeal’s judgment generated significant media interest as it has impacted significantly on divorce law in the UK. The case has now been settled.

Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB)

Zaiwalla & Co successfully defended the Indian state-owned TNEB in a £170m claim brought against it by the Claimant, an Indian company with an American stakeholding. The dispute revolved round a Power Purchase Agreement, specifically the Actual Capital Cost, used in calculating the tariff of the energy sold to TNEB by the Claimant. The Tribunal accepted TNEB’s arguments and ordered the Claimant to remit to TNEB the excess monies held by it on account of Capital Costs.

Other landmark cases

  • Acted for a Saudi Arabian client, Al-Ameen Establishment, in a landmark case before the Court of Appeal.
  • Acted for the Indian Government’s first case in the House of Lords on behalf of the President of India. This was a test case concerning the law on interest and liability for compound interest. Tony Blair was the counsel instructed by the firm in this case at the High Court hearing.
  • Acted for the Government of India in the Lips Maritime Corporation case in the House of Lords, involving exchange losses on account of late payment of debt.
  • Acted for a Channel Islands ship owner in the House of Lords, concerning a jurisdictional issue involving an International Maritime Arbitration.
  • Acted for the Chinese State Oil Corporation (CNPC) in the London ICC Arbitration commenced by a US multinational for a claim of over $50 million.
  • Acted for a Greek National in the Court of Appeal, involving the setting aside of a High Court Order on a Swiss Bank to reveal details of bank accounts relating to the trial of the former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou by the Greek Parliament.
  • Recovered the antique Nataraja idol for the state of Tamil Nadu, in a landmark judgement of the English Court.
  • Acted for ISRO Bangalore—India’s Satellite Institution, a multimillion dollar claim brought against ISRO in an arbitration in London.
  • Acted for a multimillion dollar international arbitration in London for the Oil and Natural Gas Commission of India (ONGC).
  • Acted in an ICC Arbitration for Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC), concerning a dispute arising out of a highway construction in the Republic of Mala.

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