Francis is a very experienced silk regarded as a “very experienced advocate” in relation to his expertise in a number of areas.

He is valued for his detailed understanding of the commercial and financial issues affecting clients and acknowledged as an extremely effective advocate in court as well as on paper. This has made him a popular choice for credit crunch and post-credit crunch disputes and civil fraud claims involving forensic accountancy.

A large proportion of his work is international in nature and he has a well-deserved reputation for his international expertise, having acted and advised in many offshore jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, BVI, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Guernsey, Gibraltar, Cyprus and the Isle of Man. He is called to the Bar of the Eastern Caribbean. His pre-eminence in multi-jurisdictional disputes involves him in strategy, interim remedies such as freezing injunctions, conflicts of law, asset tracing and recovery.

Notable cases include;

  • JSC Aeroflot v Berezovsky and others
  • Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank v Pugachev
  • Herald Fund SPC (Cayman)
  • BTU Power Co (Cayman)
  • Janus Capital Management v Safeguard World International –
  • North Shore Ventures v Anstead Holdings & Ors
  • North Shore Ventures, Pugachev North Shore Ventures v Anstead Holdings & Ors;
  • Camerata Property Inc v Credit Suisse
  • Torre Asset Funding v RBS, Valiance Fund v Cheyne New Europe Fund and Cambridge Place Funds
  • Lemos v Coutts, Bank of Butterfield Bermuda;
Citywealth Leaders ListTregear, Francis The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms

Areas of experience

Checked sections will be included in the PDF download.

Select: All | None

  • Arbitration

    Francis is frequently involved as advocate on arbitrations administered by arbitral institutions including the ICC and contractual and ad hoc contractual agreements. Arbitration work is by its nature confidential but the following details give an indication of the types of arbitration in which he becomes involved:

    ICC arbitration between major telecommunication multi-national and US equity fund: The claim related to a guarantee liability in relation to the construction and fitting out of an office development in Moscow(Seat London, Russian law).

    Arbitration for the Coal Authority : (Seat London, English law)A substantial arbitration which related to the compensation obligations in respect of land with development potential which had been the subject of opencast mining and post-opencast restoration.

    Various arbitrations for British Coal (Seats London, English law) including a dispute as to the valuation formula in an overage contract. The case involves a complicated series of issues relating to the calculation of open market value.

    Arbitration concerning major housing developer (Seat London, English law). The dispute concerned the degree to which the developer had to inform a seller about the advisability of the seller securing a right of way over the land being sold.

  • Banking and Financial Services

    The Legal 500 2019 describes Francis as ‘a savvy tactician and excellent at carrying clients with him’. Chambers & Partners says “Francis is a very smart man and a real pleasure to work with. He is confident at all levels of the court system and a very effective advocate.”  He also has very considerable experience of work involving capital markets and derivative products, as recognized in the licensing section of Legal 500 (see the “hedge fund and structured investment vehicle” section of his profile).

    His work is mostly contentious but does include the non-contentious. Contentious work has included disputes over contracts for differences, spread bets, options and other derivatives relating to financial (and, to a lesser extent, sporting) markets.

    Notable and recent cases have included the following:

    Torre Asset Funding: The Claimant hedge fund invested in a property portfolio, by way of syndicated loan.. The claim related to breach of contract and negligence by RBS in relation to information that should have been passed on the Claimant.

    Camerata Property Inc v Credit Suisse [2011] EWHC 479 (Comm): This case involved a claim of negligent advice provided by Credit Suisse in relation to a structured credit product and the terms of the contract.

    Spreadex v. Barnes a £2.4m claim by a spread betting company against a debtor in which there were issues as to the debtor’s liability for an account that was not in his own name.

    Spreadex v Kemsley claim by a spread betting company for payment of c. £6.5m under a number of spread bets. The defendant took numerous points of contractual construction as well as relying on UCTA.

    Spreadex v Sekhon – important case dealing with FSA rules and the scope and effect of section 150 of FSMA 2000 – [2008] EWHC 1136.

    Byblos International v IFX Markets Ltd EWHC 346. Claim by a foreign exchange broker against a dealer which the broker alleged had underpaid it in relation to transactions by customers introduced under the brokerage.

    Various film financing schemes: Francis acts and has been involved in a number of cases relating to supposedly tax efficient film financing schemes that failed to deliver the promised tax breaks. The schemes included  Evolution, Take and Tower.

  • Civil Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

    Francis has wide of experience relating to the recovery of assets fraudulently obtained. He has acted for liquidators seeking to recover assets from directors in a number of different contexts, generally involving fraud.

    For example:

    Aeroflot dispute: Francis acted in this dispute between Aeroflot and a group of companies incorporated in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Cyprus and the BVI. Aeroflot claimed that the companies had been established by Boris Berezovsky and Nikolay Glushkov to misappropriate over US$120,000,000 from Aeroflot.  Aeroflot discontinued its claims on the first day of the trial. Francis’ clients were awarded indemnity costs – [2014] EWCA Civ 20; [2018] EWHC 1735 (Ch).

    Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank v Pugachev [2015] EWCA Civ 139 – the liquidator of a Russian bank claimed the deficiency in the liquidation pursuant to Russian insolvency law. The claim exceeded US$1Bn.  . An important point on the scope of a worldwide freezing order in relation to interests under a discretionary trust was considered by the Court of Appeal.

    MG Fabrications: Francis acted for Lloyds Register in relation to major fraudulent trading claim made against Lloyds Register by the liquidators of a ship-building company. The liquidators alleged that fraudulent certificates had been issued.

    BTA Bank: Francis acted for various BVI companies who were alleged to have been used as conduits to move money stolen from the claimants.

  • Commercial Litigation

    Francis has extensive commercial litigation experience covering a wide range of areas including:

    • Fund and banking litigation
    • Company and business disputes
    • Forex and other derivatives
    • Trust disputes
    • Conflicts of law disputes
    • Sports disputes

    He is recommended for commercial dispute resolution by Chambers & Partners who have referred to him as a “quick thinking silk on the rise”.

    Some of his recent cases include:

    North Shore Ventures v Anstead Holdings & Ors: This was a claim made by a company which had been incorporated by Boris Berezovsky for the purpose of a loan transaction to a Russian associate. The case raised an important

    Point in relation to the law on guarantees. In particular, it raised the issue as to the scope of disclosure obligations of a creditor to a surety and to the limitations of contractual provisions for the certification of sums due. These issues were considered by the Court of Appeal and that judgment remains major authority in this area. (Francis wrote an article on a significant new authority which cited North Shore in the Journal of International Banking and Financial Law in October 2018.)In the process of execution there was also an important judgment on whether cross-examination of judgment debtors on assets should be heard in private. A further issue arose as to the disclosure obligations of beneficiaries of discretionary trusts which was dealt with by the Court of Appeal.

    Camerata Property Inc v Credit Suisse: This case concerned complex structured credit products and the terms of the contracts on the basis of which advice was given by Credit Suisse.

    Aeroflot v Forus Holdings and others (2018): This is dealt with in more detail above.  Aeroflot sued the Forus group of companies for over US$120,000,000 which was allegedly misappropriated in the course of providing finance for Aeroflot. The claims were resisted on the basis that the English Court did not have jurisdiction over some of the defendants which succeeded for some of the defendants. In 2018, when the matter came on for trial in 2018 Aeroflot discontinued its case at trial.  Hedge fund disputes: Francis has acted in contentious and non-contentious clients in relation to hedge funds including CPIM SCF, Weavering, La Fayette, Bear Stearns, Matador, Torre Asset Funding and Valiance amongst others.

    Lehman Bros: Francis acted for equity funds seeking information from the administrators of Lehman Bros which held US$400m of assets as collateral for prime brokerage in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the bank.

    Film financing scheme disputes: Francis has been involved in a number of claims resulting from supposedly tax efficient film finance schemes such as Evolution, Tower and Take. These are complex group actions involving claims based on breach of trust, breach of contract, misrepresentation, professional negligence, faulty tax advice and execution of schemes, breach of schemes as well as regulatory aspects.

    Bermudian trust dispute: Francis acted in relation to a large number of valuable discretionary trusts which had been established in the 1960s and in relation to which major issues arose as to the validity of the appointment of the trustees. This had particular significance as the trustees had restructured the trusts to make them more tax efficient before the issue as to their authority to act arose. Francis advised the trustees over many years and a number of hearings in Bermuda in the course of which the constitutional issues were all resolved.

    AMG Global v Africa Resources: This was high profile trial between representatives of Mugabe’s regime and a Zimabwean businessman concerning the rights over bearer share warrants for two English companies which owned very substantial Zimbabwean asbestos mines. The case is important in relation to issues relating to unlawful assistance for purchase of shares under the former s151 Companies Act.

    Spreadex: various high value cases for a spread betting company called Spreadex including the Sekhon case– the client was held 85% contributorily liable as the decision to keep positions open was driven by him and he was not inexperienced) and its claim against the Icelandic Landesbank.

    Formula 1 disputes: Francis has dealt with a number of cases for Jordan Grand Prix such as their

    claim against Vodafone and against Tiger Telematics. He has also dealt with a number of disputes relating to the Force India Formula 1 team including Force India v Etihad [2010 CA], Van der Garde v Force India [2010] EWHC 2373 – an important case on termination by repudiatory breach and remediability of breaches of contract.

    BTA Bank: Francis acted in relation to claims against various BVI companies which were alleged to have been used as conduits for significant sums of money.

    Savannah Consulting v Mintley: This was a derivative claim brought for a company in relation to the sale of an asset at an undervalue. Francis obtained a freezing order in Gibraltar and successfully resisted an attempt to strike out the claim.

  • Company

    Francis is recommended in this area in  Legal 500 2019 ‘He is very clever, diligent and incredibly user friendly.’ High profile disputes relating to shareholder disputes and share valuations form a major part of his practice. He also has considerable experience of hedge fund related company work (see the “Hedge fund and structured investment vehicles” section of his profile).

    Francis has in addition been involved in company proceedings in Cyprus and the Channel Islands and a complex restructuring of the assets of various international companies in order to permit distribution through a trust structure in the Cayman Islands.

    Francis is and has been involved in a large number of hedge fund related disputes such as:

    Herald Fund SPC: Francis acted for the Additional Liquidators of Herald Fund which was one of the largest Madoff feeder funds. The case raised issues as to the effect of provisions of the Cayman Companies law relating to redemptions and rectification of the share register in the exceptional circs of the liquidation of BLMIS in New York.

    Kathrein v Camulos this case was heard in the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal and concerned the interpretation of the articles and whether it was open to investors to petition to wind up the fund on the just and equitable basis.

    He has also acted in funds cases involving Valiance, Torre Asset Funding, Matador, CPIM SCF, Weavering and La Fayette, further details of which can be found in the “Hedge funds and structured investment products” section of his profile.

    Some other recent examples of his cases are set out below:

    North Shore Ventures v Anstead: Although the principal matter in this case related to the disclosure obligations owed by a creditor to a guarantor it also involved issues relating to bearer shares and new legislation immobilising bearer shares in the BVI.

    Camber 3 PLC: This was a claim for US$24m. There was alleged breach of collateral management agreement. CPIM was said to have bought securities which were not eligible for a particular fund.

    AMG v ARL: Francis acted for ARL (a BVI company owned by a high profile Zimbabwean/South African businessman) in a dispute with AMG (which was a nominee for the government of Zimbabwe) as to the rights over bearer share warrants for two English companies which owned very substantial Zimbabwean asbestos mines. The case turned on the true construction of the US$60,000,000 purchase agreement for the bearer shares and related security documentation. The Government of Zimbabwe also unsuccessfully argued that the purchase agreement was void pursuant to section 151 Companies Act 1985 on the grounds of unlawful financial assistance. Evans- Lombe J held that section 151 was not breached because any financial assistance was given by an offshore subsidiary in accordance with local law. This finding was upheld by the Court of Appeal

    Davenport v Cream Holdings Francis acted successfully for an outgoing shareholder in relation to the company’s compulsory share-transfer provisions.

    Savannah Consulting v Mintley Investments Ltd: A derivative action brought by a shareholder in the Gibraltar courts for Canadian $12.5m.

  • Hedge Funds & Structured Investment Vehicles

    Francis’s practice in relation to hedge funds and structured investment vehicles ensured his involvement in major disputes when the current global financial crisis first arose in 2007and 2008. This means that he has advised on and been involved in litigation relating to a range of issues which have affected funds and their managers as the crisis has developed and worsened.

    In 2007 he was advising funds in relation to the power to manage redemptions generally either consensually by agreed lock-ups and variation of class rights or by imposing gates. The objective was to use the articles of association to ensure that a balance was struck between redeeming and non- redeeming investors. This involved advising on restructuring and litigation in the Grand Court in Cayman on the imposition of gates.

    After the crisis in 2007 and 2008, Francis became involved in litigation in Cayman relating to the liquidation of Bear Stearns funds and conflicts of interest in service providers to funds.

    From 2008 onwards, Francis has been involved in advising funds on questions relating to powers of suspension, orderly wind-downs and powers to redeem compulsorily during suspension. He has also been involved in litigation relating to the scope of the Court’s power to wind up funds on the just and equitable basis – e.g. Camulos Partners Offshore Ltd (Court of Appeal Cayman 2010) in which he successfully appealed an order and got a winding up petition struck out and more recently Herald Fund SPC in Cayman which is dealt with in more detail above.

    Other cases he has dealt with include:

    Torre Asset Funding: A hedge fund invested in a property portfolio by way of syndicated loan. RBS had the top US$500m layer which was securitized and protected by a credit default swap. However, RBS also acted in a number of different capacities including as agent for the lenders. It is alleged that RBS should have told other lenders of indications that the underlying borrower was running out of cash and needed restructuring.

    Valiance: A hedge fund (A) invested in another hedge fund (B). The case relates to the terms of the offer memorandum and whether it failed to disclose a structural and serious conflict of interest. The claim relates to the losses caused to (A) by the failure to make proper disclosure of conflict in relation to a key asset held by (B).

    Matador: This dispute concerns whether there was a valid gate on redemption as a result of an investor being bound by the articles after being enticed into investing on the basis of some particular representations.

  • Insolvency

    Praised in Legal 500 for his “excellent advice”, Francis Tregear has a long-established insolvency practice. His time has very largely been devoted to acting for the Additional Liquidators of Herald Fund SPC. This was one of the largest Madoff feeder funds. The case raised particular issues relating to the priority of redeemers in a fund investing in a Ponzi scheme. It also raised issues relating to the liquidator’s power to rectify the share register where a fund’s NAV has been fraudulently misstated. This was a power which had not previously been considered by the Cayman Islands courts.  Francis was involved in this litigation which went to the Privy Council in relation to redeemers for many years until it concluded in 2018.

    Other recent cases include:

    BTU Power Company – Francis acted for the Joint Official Liquidators of this Cayman liquidation. His involvement included cross examining a director in the USA, acting in relation to over US$40,000,000 of proofs submitted by various entitles connected with the director and a claim that the orders made in the liquidation should be set aside because of the apparent bias of the Judge hearing the case in Cayman. This issue went to the Privy Council and judgment was handed down in early 2018.

    Camulos Partners LLP: winding up petition in the Cayman Islands. Leading case as to the correct approach to redemption in specie and the limits of just and equitable petitions in Cayman law after the Strategic Turnaround Master Partnership case.

    Matador: liquidation of a multi-million dollar fund in the Cayman Islands. This dispute concerned the validity of a gate imposed on redemptions and whether the gated redeemers could validly seek to wind up the company on the just and equitable ground.

    Emirates International Investment:A fraud concerning a sovereign investment fund. The central allegation is that consultancy charged to EIIC were fraudulently charged (and paid). The principal legal issue is whether the liquidation of the company which was commenced as a voluntary liquidation by its owners and directors (and which was continued as an insolvent liquidation) should be terminated under BVI insolvency law.

    Polygon Opportunities Global Fund: Just and equitable winding up petition which was discontinued following a settlement.

    North Shore Ventures v Anstead Holdings & Ors: law relating to bearer shares, migration from the BVI to Nevis and St Kitt’s and the nature of the dissolution of a Nevis Trust Foundation.

    In re Lehman Brothers (Europe) (in administration) v. Four Private Equity Funds [2008] EWHC 269

    Take film investment scheme: This multi-party litigation has been complicated by the fact that the promoters of the Take scheme (Teather and Greenwood) were owned by Landsbanki whose insolvency delayed claims which had to be met by insurers.

  • International & Offshore

    Francis Tregear is a member of the Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. He has conducted litigation in The British Virgin Islands and The Cayman Islands and has also been involved in an advisory capacity in proceedings in Guernsey, Jersey, The Isle of Man, Cyprus and Gibraltar .

    • [2006] – Advising Antiguan based client on potential $10M claim against Joint Venture partners. (ongoing case)
    • Lemos -v- Coutts [2006] – acting in ongoing multi million dollar litigation in The Cayman Islands claiming compensation for breach of trust against the former trustees arising out of their management of the shipping fleet.
    • [2005] – advising and appearing in the British Virgin Islands in claim by Swedish Investors against a BVI subsidiary of Sibneft in connection with alleged transfer pricing of petroleum products.

    More information on his international/offshore work appears under his other specialism

  • Real Estate Litigation

    Francis has done a considerable amount of work for coal and gypsum mining companies and/or land subject to the grant of mineral rights. Recent cases have involved detailed consideration of mining leases and working rights agreements.

    His cases include:

    Acting for British Coal in relation to the formula contained in a transfer of a strategic development site outside Leeds. The contract contained an overage clause. The developers failed to develop the land blaming the economic crisis and the question turns on development value and the proper interpretation of the contract. .

    Acting for Persimmon Homes in an Arbitration seeking rectification for unilateral and mutual mistake of a contract for a development site to provide for a right of way to part of the retained land.

    Acted successfully for the Coal Authority in an arbitration relating to a terminal payment compensation clause following opencast coal operations on land with very valuable development potential

    Successfully represented UK Coal in litigation relating to development land swap agreement following opencast coaling operations in which the issues were estoppels, rectification, mutual and unilateral mistake

    Advising the Coal Authority in relation to the validity of a restrictive covenant limiting density of development of land for housing under which there were former mine workings.Advising the Coal Authority in relation to liability for damage caused by former mine workings in Wales.

    Hallam Land Management Ltd -v- RJB Mining (UK) Ltd & A condition of an option agreement for the acquisition of some 45 acres of developable land that provided that the option was exercisable on the submission of a planning application for development of “the property” was not satisfied where the application as submitted.

    Advised Manchester City Council in relation to restrictive covenants relating to development land in respect of which there had been historic mining operations.

  • Trusts, Probate & Estates

    Francis is a very experienced chancery practitioner. Recommended by Chambers & Prs for his traditional chancery practice, his work is largely international in nature.

    Recent cases include:

    Bermuda Trust Litigation: This case involves a large group of high value Bermuda Trusts and important questions relating to appointment of trustees and protectors. The allegation that the trustees and/or protectors were invalidly appointed has led to major problems in the administration and constitution of the Trust and the effectiveness of steps taken within the Trust.

    Guernsey trust dispute: The dispute in this case revolves around whether an employee benefit trust which was capable of being set aside on the basis of mistakes made in its establishment .

    Film finance tax shelter schemes: Francis is involved for large groups of investors in litigation involving film finance tax shelter schemes in which a critical issue is whether investors’ money was held by the scheme promoters on the basis of a purpose trust giving rise to obligations to account in addition to liability for misstatement and negligence. A judgment is awaited in relation to certain preliminary issues in this case.

    Hutcheson: Guernsey trust involved in a dispute over diversification of investments.

    Draper Family settlements: dispute over diversification of Guernsey trust assets.