Robert specialises in commercial and chancery matters, ranging from complex international litigation (often involving conflicts of laws and claims in numerous jurisdictions) to more general commercial disputes such as those arising from commercial contracts, joint ventures, share sale agreements and Insolvency. A good deal of his work relates to directors’ duties, and he is an acknowledged expert on the British Virgin Islands law concerning the duties of a company director, his evidence in that regard having been accepted both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal in Re Emerald Bay Worldwide. From 2003, the overwhelming majority of his practice has concerned high-value, complex, commercial litigation in the courts of the Caribbean and appeals therefrom. He has been involved in numerous appeals to the Privy Council from around 2005 onwards in very substantial litigation such as IPOC v LVFG and the Cukurova litigation.

Robert acted as leading counsel in the Privy Council in Cap Juluca, on a final appeal from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Anguilla). The case concerned the auction of hotel land in Anguilla.

Robert is currently instructed on an appeal to the Privy Council from the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal in the first appeal in a case under s238 of the Cayman Islands Companies Law. The appeal concerns whether a minority discount is applicable upon the cancellation of shares following a merger and also the appropriate rate of interest following the Court’s determination of the fair value of shares.

For the last three years Robert has been very heavily involved in a series of cases in the Cayman Islands under s238. He has been instructed in approximately 15 of the 21 or so such cases. Which has necessitated regular attendance in those islands for court hearings, trials and appeals. These include:

Shanda Games – only the second trial under s238, currently on appeal to the PC. Robert acted for a group of dissenters, and achieved an uplift on merger price of 235% (reduced to 180% on appeal due to the minority discount).

Re Homeinns, Qihoo, Qunar, Trina Solar. Nord Anglia, Bona Films, JA Solar, KongZhong, Zhaoping – again, Robert acts/acted for dissenting shareholders. These cases have involved numerous interlocutory hearings, in the course of many of which Robert was successful in establishing, at first instance and on appeal, the availability of interim payments, the ability of the Court to appoint forensic experts to test the Petitioner’s discovery (which orders have been obtained on two occasions, in which the Court considered the cases to be “exceptional”), and the ability of the Court to debar Petitioners to adduce evidence. A number of these cases are continuing.

Robert has enjoyed a very close connection with the BVI since 2003, and has acted in some of the largest cases in that jurisdiction, such as IPOC v LVFG and Cukurova, which cases involved many interim applications, a first instance trial, and several appeals including to the PC.

His other cases have included, re Ocean Sino where he acted for a BVI company in a just and equitable winding up application following the collapse of a relationship between two wealthy shipping investors; re Akolyn, Bascunan v Elsacam, Re M1nt and numerous others.

Prior to developing an offshore practice, his property practice resulted in a number of reported cases that twice took him to the House of Lords.

Areas of experience

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  • Arbitration

    Robert has been involved in many substantial cases where issues have been arbitrated alongside court proceedings such as:

    • Alfa Telecom Turkey Ltd v Cukurova Finance International
    • TeliaSonera Finland OYJ v Alfa Telecom Turkey Ltd,
    • IPOC International Growth Fund Ltd v LV Finance Group Ltd)

    He also advised in the complicated international dispute concerning Econet Wireless, a Nigerian telecom company, not only in relation to the litigation attempted in the Commercial Court but also in relation to arbitration proceedings.

    He has a great deal of experience of the arbitration process, and in a number of significant cases has been involved in settling arbitration submissions, advising on matters within arbitrations, enforcing awards and staying proceedings in favour of arbitration.

  • Civil Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

    Robert has been recommended by both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for many years in this area. He is very experienced in complex fraud and asset tracing claims, almost invariably on an international scale. Some of his recent cases include:

    • Rawlinson & Hunter Trustees v Kaupthing Bank – Robert acted for the Bank in relation to claims amounting to several £100m.
    • Isis Investments Ltd v Kaupthing Bank – £70m fraud claim.
    • BTA Bank v Ablyazov [2010] 1 All ER (Comm); [2010] 1 WLR 976; [2009] EWHC 2833; [2009] EWHC 2840; [2010] 1 All ER (Comm); [2010] EWHC 90; [2010] EWHC 545; [2010] EWHC 1799; [2010] EWCA 1141; [2010] EWHC 2404; [2011] 1WLR 906; [2011] 1 WLR 888; [2011] EWHC 202; [2011] EWHC 1136. Commercial Court claim made by the largest bank in Kazakhstan that its former chairman and other officers had misappropriated US$100 millions. The case involved the grant of numerous freezing and disclosure orders. The decisions of the Court of Appeal handed down on 27 October 2009 are important rulings on the privilege against self-incrimination and the scope of the removal of that privilege in civil fraud cases. In February 2011, with the specific approval of the Court, Robert was engaged by the supervising solicitors appointed under a search order, to ensure that documents attracting legal professional privilege were not divulged following the seizure of thousands of documents.
    • BTA Bank v Stepanov. In these proceedings in the Chancery Division in London, the largest bank in Kazakhstan sought to recover in excess of US$350 million in unpaid loans and interest. The case involved the grant of freezing relief. Notwithstanding an expedited trial date, the Bank’s application for summary judgment was successful, in the sum of US$468 million.
    • Sinocare v Biran/Avrahami v Biran – Robert has represented Mr Biran in a number of serious fraud allegation cases.
  • Commercial Litigation

    Robert is recommended as a leading silk for commercial litigation. Clients value his approachable style and intelligence as well as his capacity for hard work and commercial approach. He is an effective and powerful advocate. Some of his recent cases include:

    • Emerald Bay Worldwide Ltd v Barclays Wealth Directors (Guernsey) & Anor (11th June 2013, Royal Court of Guernsey): the court accepted Robert’s expert evidence thereby concluding that BVI companies can choose to indemnify their officers for personal liability under sections 54 and 132 of the International Business Companies Act 2004 (“IBCA 2004 (BVI)”).
    • Gudavadze v ACG Azerbaijan & Ors – Acting for the Defendants in ongoing proceedings in the BVI relating to ownership of a 24.5% interest in an Oil Terminal in the Republic of Georgia. A substantial issue in the case concerns Georgian law.
    • Re Cap Juluca – Robert represents a number of companies in Anguilla whose claims relate to the financial collapse of one of the Caribbean’s leading hotels. The Supreme Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court recently upheld Robert’s clients’ appeal which reverses the first instance decision allowing the liquidators to sell certain assets.
    • The Estate of the late Badri Patarkasahvilli v ACG (Azerbaijan) Ltd – Robert is representing the State Oil Company of Azerbijan in relation to the enforcement of its security over shares following default. This US$500m case raises complex trust and mortgage issues.
    • Kagalovsky – Another “Russian oligarch” dispute. Robert is advising in relation to the possible enforcement in England of a New York judgment.
    • Frishman Consultants Ltd & Anor v Prabhu & Ors – 25th July 2013 Chancery Division. Robert is acting for the company claimants who are seeking a declaration that one of the defendants is only entitled to a one third final salary pension scheme rather than the two thirds final salary pension scheme he claims. His attempt to strike out the companies’ claim was successfully defeated.
    • BTA Bank v Ablyazov[2010] 1 All ER (Comm); [2010] 1 WLR 976; [2009] EWHC 2833; [2009] EWHC 2840; [2010] 1 All ER (Comm); [2010] EWHC 90; [2010] EWHC 545; [2010] EWHC 1799; [2010] EWCA 1141; [2010] EWHC 2404; [2011] 1WLR 906; [2011] 1 WLR 888; [2011] EWHC 202; [2011] EWHC This Commercial Court claim was made by the largest bank in Kazakhstan alleging that its former chairman and other officers had misappropriated US$100 millions. The case involved the grant of numerous freezing and disclosure orders. The decisions of the Court of Appeal handed down on 27 October 2009 are important rulings on the privilege against self-incrimination and the scope of the removal of that privilege in civil fraud cases.
    • Cukurova Finance International Limited v Alfa Telecom Turkey Limited [2009] 3 All ER 849; [2009] UKPC 19; [2009] All ER (D) 201 (Jun) Impact of Financial Collateral Arrangements Regulations (No.2) 2003 – whether lender had to acquire legal title to shares before he could be said to have validly exercised the new right of appropriation conferred on share mortgagees. The claim (valued at more than US$1.5bn – depending on share price fluctuations) involved proof of (and litigating under) English law in BVI proceedings, proof of Turkish law, and proof of Finnish law.
    • R (on the application of Cukurova Finance International Limited) v HM Treasury [2008] EWHC 2567 (Admin); [2008] All ER (D) 02 Application for permission to challenge Regulations made by Treasury under European Communities Act 1972.
    • Dian AO v Davis Frankel & Mead (a firm) [2005] 1 All ER (Comm) 482, [2005] 1 All ER 1074, [2004] EWHC 2662 (Comm), [2004] All ER (D) 115 (Oct) Acted for Alfa Eco in its attempts to obtain material from the Court file of a case in England for use in proceedings in the BVI.
    • IPOC International Growth Fund Ltd v LV Finance Group Ltd. This case concerned a share of the Russian mobile telecommunications industry worth several hundreds of millions of dollars, and includes allegations of money laundering against a serving member of the Russian Government (see eg. The Wall Street Journal, 25 July 2005, “Commerzbank Probe Focuses on Russia”). In the proceedings the clients successfully challenged the jurisdiction of the BVI Court. The case went to the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean (at a special 6 day sitting) and a 2 day hearing in the Privy Council.
    • Alfa Telecom Turkey v Cukurova Finance International [2012 UKPC 20; [2009] 3 All ER 849)]. Substantial case concerning shareholding in Turkey’s largest mobile telephone company (valued at as much as US$4bn, depending on share price fluctuations). Robert acts for Alfa group, a Russian conglomerate, which took security over shares following a loan to Cukurova of US$1.352bn. The case concerns (i) mortgages of shares (ii) the novel remedy of appropriation of financial collateral introduced by the Financial Collateral Arrangements (No 2) Regulations 2003. There have been over 30 appearances before Courts of the Eastern Caribbean High Court (BVI) and Court of Appeal, two interim appeals to Privy Council (, and substantial judicial review in which Cukurova sought to challenge the vires of the Regulations. (See “Elephant traps in the law of tender” – R S Levy QC (2011) 6 JIBFL 327.)
    • TeliaSonera Finland OYJ v Alfa Telecom Turkey – 2007 – 2009. Claim linked to the preceding matter in which TeliaSonera alleged that the Alfa/Cukurova transactions breached TeliaSonera’s pre-existing contractual right to acquire the shares Cukurova charged to Alfa.
    • Kaupthing Bank hf v Various Tchenguiz group companies/trusts [2008-2011]. Acted for Kaupthing Bank in its well-publicised battles against Robert Tchenguiz and companies controlled by a discretionary trust of which he was a beneficiary. Proceedings commenced in the BVI and involved a few hearings there, which were stayed pending the outcome of other proceedings in London. Also acted for the Bank in proceedings in the Commercial Court in proceedings commenced by the Trustees in their attempt to sue in London having proven in Kaupthing’s insolvency process in Iceland. Case concerned whether the London proceedings should have been stayed under the Credit Institutions (Re-organisation and Winding-up) Regulations 2004 – see [2011] EWHC 566 (Comm).
  • Company

    Robert has many years’ experience of company work, ranging from warranty disputes to complex shareholder claims. Such claims often draw on his general commercial litigation as well as fraud and asset tracing experience; in both of which areas he is recommended in the legal directories.

    Some of his recent and reported cases include:

    • Re Caledonian Securities Limited – a Berkeley Applegate application by liquidators. The Cayman court considered the circumstances in which liquidators can recover their fees and expenses from trust property in the context of the collapse of a fiduciary and custodian business. Robert acted for Ernst & Young and successful in his application.
    • Emerald Bay Worldwide Ltd v Barclays Wealth Directors (Guernsey) & Anor (11th June 2013, Royal Court of Guernsey): the court accepted Robert’s expert evidence thereby concluding that BVI companies can choose to indemnify their officers for personal liability under sections 54 and 132 of the International Business Companies Act 2004 (“IBCA 2004 (BVI)”).
    • Re Gudavadze v Carlina and Ors (2012) currently acting in the BVI for a subsidiary of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan arising from failure to pay loans totalling c $500m. Case concerns validity of corporate security and enforcement thereof.
    • Infiniteland Ltd v Artisan Contracting Ltd Share sale agreements and warranty claims. Upholding [2004] EWHC 955 (Ch), 3 week witness action before Park J., raising complex legal and factual issues on accounting standards, purchaser’s knowledge of breaches of warranty, and disclosure by the vendor.
    • Kaupthing – acted for Kaupthing HF in proceedings in the BVI and London concerning recovery of assets (valued at hundreds of millions of US dollars) alleged to have been diverted in breach of fiduciary duty.
    • Secretary of State for Trade & Industry v Liquid Acquisitions Ltd Acted for the respondents. The case concerned the application for an order that the respondent company be wound up, in the public interest, as its sales techniques involved misrepresentations and deceit.
  • Insolvency

    Robert’s has over many years acted in major insolvencies such as that of Kaupthing Bank hf. Some of his more recent and interesting cases are shown below:

    • Re Caledonian Securities Limited – a Berkeley Applegate application by liquidators. The Cayman court considered the circumstances in which liquidators can recover their fees and expenses from trust property in the context of the collapse of a fiduciary and custodian business. Robert acted for Ernst & Young and successful in his application.
    • Re Lemma – Robert acted for the Financial Services Commission of the BVI in proceedings seeking to secure for Virgin Islands policy holders a fund of money separate from the insolvent insurance companies general funds, to satisfy claims of Virgin Island policyholders.
    • Re Cap Jaluca Anguillan proceedings against administrators/liquidators arising from the sale of multi-million dollar hotel assets in the liquidation of luxury hotel/villa complex in Anguilla. The Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has recently accepted Robert’s clients’ appeal against a judge’s order granting the liquidator permission to sell certain assets. In November 2013, the Court of Appeal allowed Robert’s clients appeal, and dismissed the liquidator.
    • Kaupthing Bank hf v Various Tchenguiz group companies/trusts [2008-2011] – Insolvency proceedings. Acted for Kaupthing Bank and the Liquidators in its well-publicised battles against Robert Tchenguiz and companies controlled by a discretionary trust of which he was a beneficiary. Proceedings commenced in the BVI and involved a few hearings there, which were stayed pending the outcome of other proceedings in London. Also acted for the Bank in proceedings in the Commercial Court in proceedings commenced by the Trustees in their attempt to sue in London having proven in Kaupthing’s insolvency process in Iceland. The case concerned whether the London proceedings should have been stayed under the Credit Institutions (Re-organisation and Winding-up) Regulations 2004 – see [2011] EWHC 566 (Comm). The dispute also concerned issues of Icelandic law.
    • Acting for a consortium of investors in proceedings in Anguilla in claims arising from purchases of “off-plan” properties in premium development. The developer experienced financial troubles in the economic downturn, and receivers were appointed, who subsequently sold the property.
  • Real Estate Litigation

    Robert has considerable experience of property construction projects and real estate litigation. Many of his cases are allied to the international commercial disputes, frauds and insolvencies which are dealt with in the other parts of his profile. However, he has also been involved in some major cases such as:

    • 375 Plus Developments & Ors v Credit Suisse & Ors [2011 to date]. Property construction dispute project in Anguilla involving proof of New York law and proper construction of New York law governed security documentation in proceedings arising out of a very substantial hotel/resort/golf course and residential development in Anguilla. Claims arising from purchases of “off-plan” properties in premium development. The developer experienced financial troubles in the economic downturn, and receivers were appointed, who subsequently sold the property.
    • Mohamed v London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham [2002] 1 AC 547. This House of Lords case redefined the law relating to local connection in homelessness cases with three fundamental findings; (i) the material date for statutory review of local connection is the day on which the review takes place as opposed to the date of the application for such, (ii) interim accommodation constitutes a normal residence, notwithstanding that it has been provided by the local authority, and (iii) a statutory review was to take into account any facts which had come into existence subsequent to the original decision.
    • Taj v Ali [2000] 3 EGLR 35. Acted for the respondent. This Court of Appeal case concerned the granting of suspended possession orders when the rent arrears and restricted earning capacity of the occupier were such as to require an almost indefinite period for repayment

Recommendations

Legal 500 2020
Commercial litigation – Leading silksA first-class silk.“
Fraud: Civil – Leading silks – “Did a splendid job and really put his back into making sure our applications went in on a sound basis.“
Offshore – Leading Silks”Particularly strong in fraud matters, where he is a fearless and effective cross-examiner.”

Chambers and Partners 2020
Chancery: Commercial
“I’d say he is fast becoming a leading offshore silk with expertise across the full range of offshore jurisdictions, whilst maintaining a busy London practice.”
Fraud: Civil
“Very user-friendly and willing to roll his sleeves up and get involved.”
Offshore
“A highly experienced offshore practitioner who is very much at home in both court and arbitration proceedings.”
“User-friendly, responsive and something of a streetfighter in court.”
Commercial Dispute Resolution
“He’s been going from strength to strength, demonstrating particular expertise in interim remedies.”

Legal 500 2019
Commercial litigation – Leading silks – “Excellent technically, always makes time to speak, and very commercially aware.”
Fraud: civil – Leading silks “Straightforward, clever, extremely user friendly and client focused.”

Chambers and Partners 2019
Chancery: Commercial
“Has great knowledge of multi-jurisdictional issues in the commercial disputes and fraud arenas, and is a very good cross-examiner.”

Fraud: Civil:
“User-friendly and very responsive.” “Amiable, hard-working and a great advocate.”

Offshore:
“A highly experienced offshore practitioner who is very much at home in both court and arbitration proceedings.” “User-friendly, responsive and something of a streetfighter in court.”

Commercial Dispute Resolution:
“Hands-on and very hard-working, he provides pragmatic and commercial advice, and is particularly good at offshore disputes.” “He’s a good tactician, and his analysis is always spot-on.”

Who’s Who Legal 2018
Recognised as an expert in:
• Who’s Who Legal Asset Recovery: Lawyers
• Who’s Who Legal UK Bar – Fraud Civil – Silks

Robert is recommended in the various legal directories. Thus, Chambers & Partners 2017 recommends Robert for commercial chancery, commercial dispute resolution, civil fraud and offshore work. Robert is said to be ‘brilliant for aggressive high-value offshore disputes‘ and ‘a lawyer with sufficient gravitas to control the courtroom’. Recommended as ‘clever and extremely quick’ as well as ‘extremely hard-working, very responsive and down-to-earth’, Robert is seen to have ‘an excellent nose for fraud and he’s fearless in pursuing those cases’. Instructing solicitors praise how he ‘explains how things work in a simple way, while at the same time building a good rapport with his clients’ and say that ‘his written submissions are a model of clarity, which is what you particularly need in offshore jurisdictions’.

Chambers Global 2017 also recommends Robert for offshore work: ‘He has an amazing capacity to pick things up and is a very good advocate. He’s tremendous to work with and clients love him’.

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court – British Virgin Islands
  • Member of the Bar of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Member of the Bar of Anguilla
  • Member of the Bar of Dubai International Financial Centre
  • INSOL
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Admitted (Ad hoc) Cayman Bar

Appointments

Public access accredited