Deutsche Bank refused Supreme Court permission to appeal in Libor battle

Indian property company Unitech will pursue Libor-based claims against Deutsche Bank after the Supreme Court refused the bank permission to appeal (PTA) a claim amendment accepted by the Court of Appeal.

Last November the CoA said Unitech, which has instructed Stephenson Harwood partner Richard Gwynne, could ammend its counterclaim against the bank to include Libor manipulation arguments (8 November 2013). The bank had sought to quash the ruling at the Supreme Court, instructing Allen & Overy partner Andrew Denny, to take the challenge forward.

Lords Neuberger, Clarke and Sumption have rejected the PTA bid, stating: “It is not normally appropriate for the Supreme Court to entertain appeals on an issue which the Court of Appeal has simply held to be arguable and this is not an exception”

The attempt marks the latest in a complex series of battles waged between the bank and Unitech. The battle will now be set for a High Court outing following the rejection from the final court.

The bank has been pursuing Unitech, India’s second largest real estate company, over a $150m loan it made to the company. In a separate action the bank is attempting to recover $11m as part of an interest rate swap contract. In 2012 Unitech issued a counterclaim alleging that the bank sold it an unsuitable product based on Libor rates. It claims the loan swap and contracts were invalid because of the link to manipulated Libor rates (8 November 2013).

Denney has instructed Fountain court’s Richard Handyside QC in the lenders action. The bank has also drafted in Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Gillian Eastwood has instructed Brick Court Chambers’ Mark Hapgood QC and Fountain Court’s Timothy Howe QC for the swap action.

Stephenson Harwood’s Gwynne has instructed 4 Stone Buildings’ John Brisby QC for Unitech.

The seminal case will determine whether Libor manipulation can invalidate past deals and wipe out debts. The decision was originally due to come alongside the key Libor test case between Guardian Care Homes and Barclays, a watershed case for small companies sold financial products before the Libor rigging scandal came to light (5 February 2013).  

Last month the claim was dropped and Barclays agreed to restructure the £70m owed by Guardian Care Homes’ parent group Graiseley in the contested interest rate swaps. According to reports the claimant has seen its disputed debt wiped from £70m to £40m.