A former US soldier, an Iraqi oil field and the $1.6bn court battle

A worldwide freezing order application worth $500m, arbitration proceedings in New York at the same time as filing a claim at the Commercial Court, £18m by way of security for costs and a £50m funding package for the claimants – it was all in the 57-day court battle of Excalibur Ventures v Texas Keystone and Gulf Keystone.

Mr Justice Christopher Clarke yesterday issued a summary judgment dismissing all claims brought by Clifford Chance client Excalibur and paving the way for an almighty row about costs.

The dispute centred on the exploration rights to various petroleum fields in Iraqi Kurdistan. Excalibur founder Rex Wempen, a former captain in the US Army Special Forces who had fought in Iraq, reckoned he was closed out of a deal worth a whopping $1.6bn to the company.

Plenty of questions have been left unanswered, not least because a full judgment is yet to be circulated. What of that $50m litigation funding package?

A costs battle is in the offing, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

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