Landmark Cases

Banco Central de Venezuela v Bank of England

Acting for the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) in a dispute arising out of the political crisis following Venezuela’s disputed 2019 presidential election.  The Bank of England holds US$2.1 billion on behalf of the state of Venezuela, but has questioned the authority of the current Board of the central bank.  We are acting for the BCV in a claim against the Bank of England to gain access to those reserves to finance humanitarian, food and medical supplies necessary to meet the Coronavirus pandemic.  This is disputed by a board appointed by Juan Guaidó claiming the title of Interim President of Venezuela.

This issue has been considered by all levels of the UK Courts, including ultimately the supreme Court where Zaiwalla & Co acted.

Overgas

Our team acted for a Bulgarian gas distributor in arbitration disputes with Russian energy giant Gazpromover Gazprom’s decision to stop supplying natural gas to Overgas in January 2016. Gazprom claimed that Overgas owed them approximately $105m under this arrangement, while Overgas claimed that Gazprom had acted in breach of EU and Bulgarian competition law and in breach of contract. We achieved a significant confidential settlement for our client.

International arbitration over company dividends

Zaiwalla & Co obtains a confidential LCIA arbitration award in favour of our client for US$200 million in a dispute over family assets held through a Cypriot company following our client’s divorce.

Kamlesh Pattni

The firm acted for this very well-known businessman of Kenyan origin in his successful application for a judicial review of the UK Home Office’s refusal to register him as a British Citizen and to issue him with a British passport. Mr Pattni received his British passport after 22 years of waiting.

Punjab National Bank v Srinivasan

The team defeated a claim for US$45 million made against several defendants brought in the English High Court by an Indian bank, based on an alleged fraud. We successfully argued that the claim was too weak and also should not have been started in England because the defendants were more closely connected with India. We also successfully resisted the bank’s appeal against this decision.

Bank Mellat - Damages

Following a series of ground-breaking victories whereby Zaiwalla & Co overturned international sanctions which had been imposed against Bank Mellat by the European Council and the UK Government, we then acted for the bank in its subsequent claim for over US$4 billion in damages, and secured a significant confidential settlement from the UK Treasury.

Erdenet Mining Corp v Kazakhstan

A determination of the English Court’s jurisdiction to hear a £25m dispute between a Mongolian-Russian mining company and the Kazakhstan government. The High Court gave authoritative guidance on the rules by which it will hear and decide cases with international aspects.

Kazkhstan Kagazy v Arip & Zhunus

A multi-level fraud claim for over £150m, in which Zaiwalla & Co represented the London Stock Exchange listed Kazakh paper manufacturer to secure a freezing order against its former owners, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal. The case is now authority for many propositions of law, including the way the Court should deal with cost claim where lawyer incur disproportionate and unreasonable amounts of costs (as the opponents did in this case).

Russian Federation / Yukos

The firm advised the Russian Federation on a successful strategy, based on a novel point of law not considered by the existing legal team, to apply in the Hague to set aside two US$50 billion international arbitration awards in favour of former Yukos shareholders.

Sergei Polonskiy v Dr Alexander Dobrovinsky & Others

We acted for one of Moscow’s leading lawyers in defence to a $300 million claim by Russian oligarch Sergei Polonskiy following the sale of a stake in his company to another shareholder, which he claimed he was told was instead going to be sold to oligarch Roman Abramovich. We successfully had the claim dismissed and judgment granted on our client’s counterclaim.

IPartner Pte Shipping Ltd & Ors v Panacore Resources

A well-publicised application where a claimant sought to commit a company’s directors to prison, on the basis that they had failed to comply with certain provisions of a worldwide freezing order. The Court held that if a company fails to comply with the terms of a freezing order, its directors could be fined or imprisoned, but only if they had ‘wilfully’ failed to comply.

PEC Ltd v Asia Golden Rice Co

In the context of a major commodity dispute, Zaiwalla & Co overturned a GAFTA arbitration decision in the High Court. The Court accepted Zaiwalla & Co’s argument that a contract was not binding on an Indian Government public where it was signed by an employee who did not have actual or apparent authority to bind the company, regardless of the other parties’ belief that he did.

Union Marine v Government of Comoros

Zaiwalla & Co won its argument that an arbitration clause was valid. The Court decided that an agreement which stated that “the parties could decide to submit any dispute between them to an arbiter of their choice in London” was a valid arbitration agreement. This is now a significant authority for the regular disputes between parties about whether they have even agreed to arbitrate.

Bank Mellat v HM Treasury - Sanctions

Considered to be one of the top 10 cases of 2013 by leading publication The Lawyer, Zaiwalla & Co. successfully challenged before the UK Supreme Court the listing of Bank Mellat by the UK Treasury under the UK’s Iran sanctions regime. Due to its major national security elements, the case involved the first ever ‘closed hearing’ in the Supreme Court’s history. It is now a landmark case on the approach to be adopted by the English Courts when part of the proceedings takes place behind closed doors.

Zaiwalla & Co also led Bank Mellat’s successful challenge against sanctions imposed by the European Union, causing the European Court of Justice to declare the sanctions unlawful.

Jivraj v Hashwani

Known as ‘the arbitration case of the decade’, Zaiwalla & Co won its client’s case in the Court of Appeal arguing that an arbitration agreement that purported to restrict the appointment of arbitrators to members of a single religious denomination was void by reason of anti-discrimination legislation applicable to employment rights.

Shah v HSBC

One of the most significant worldwide banking cases of the 2010s, where our client claimed damages of US$300 million arising out of his private bank’s refusal to carry out his instructions, on the basis of an alleged suspicion of money laundering. In granting our client’s appeal, the English Court of Appeal rejected HSBC’s argument that it did not need to prove that its employees did genuinely suspect money laundering – bank’s do not have ‘carte blanche’ to refuse their client’s instructions. Summary judgment for the bank was therefore refused and the matter went to a full trial.

ASM Shipping Ltd of India v TTMI Ltd of England

The English High Court held, for the first time, that an arbitrator should have stood down from his role because of his apparent bias in favour of the English party. This judgment was recently applied to by the UK Supreme Court in November 2020.

Hussmann (Europe) Ltd v Pharaon (aka Al Ameen)

The losing party to an arbitration appealed to the English Court of Appeal arguing on technical grounds that the arbitrators did not have any power to make the decision. Zaiwalla & Co successfully upheld the arbitrators’ decision for their client, helping to define the role of an arbitrator in English law.

Union of India v McDonnell Douglas Corp

The English High Court decided that even though the parties had agreed to arbitrate any disputes in London, Indian Law should apply to the arbitration procedure. This result was very beneficial to overseas parties fighting cases in London arbitrations.

President of India v La Pintada

Producing the Indian Government’s long-awaited first success in the UK House of Lords, this case determined the law in respect of claims for compound interest. It remains a leading authority in contract law nearly 40 years later.

Government of India

Since the early 1980s Zaiwalla & Co has handled over 1000 arbitrations arising out of vessel charters to transport foodstuffs to India during the food shortage of the 1982-94. The firm’s tenacious defence of these claims saved the Indian Government over US$80 million at a time when foreign capital reserves were scarce.

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