Gibson Dunn client ordered to pay £9.3m costs after Boreh claims dismissed

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher client the Republic of Djibouti has been ordered to pay £9.3m in costs after its case against its citizen, Abdourahman Boreh, was dismissed.

The ruling, handed down on Wednesday (2 March), marks a major win for Byrne & Partners, representing Boreh, against Gibson Dunn in a case that has lasted four years, involved numerous jurisdictions and a $100m freezing order.

Mr Justice Flaux dismissed Djibouti’s claims in their entirety, also criticising the claimants’ approach to litigation. He said Djibouti “pursued a scattergun approach against Mr Boreh of throwing as much mud as it could in the hope that something would stick, even though many of the matters were not ones in respect of which the Republic could have had a legitimate or sustainable claim”.

It emerged late last year Djibouti had dropped 11 of a total 16 claims against Boreh. Seven claims, including a charge of terrorism, were dropped at the start of the trial in early 2015, and a further four abandoned on 22 October.

Flaux J told Charles Falconer QC, leading for Gibson Dunn, that a number of its claims were “pretty shameless shadow boxing on the part of your clients”.

The main claim centered on allegations of corruption and abuse of position by Boreh, a prominent businessman. Gibson Dunn previously secured a $100m freezing order on Boreh’s assets over allegations he used his public position as chairman of the Djibouti Port Authority to gain private funds.

7KBW’s Dominic Kendrick QC, instructed by Byrne & Partners’ Yvonne Jefferies for Boreh, said Djibouti’s claims against his client were “politically motivated”.

Gibson Dunn’s role in the case hit the headlines last year when partner Peter Gray, who was leading for the client, was found to have deliberately misled the High Court by allowing falsified evidence to be submitted.

Last April the court ruled Gibson Dunn and its client were to pay upwards of £800,000 in costs to Boreh as a result of the incident.

Flaux J’s ruling led to Gray exiting the firm. Gray is currently waiting to hear whether he will be granted leave to appeal Flaux’s comments.

Byrne & Partners is understood to have represented Boreh on a conditional fee arrangement.

A source close to the case said the colossal £9.3m costs were incurred “as a result of the way Gibson Dunn ran the case”, demanding “endless expert analysis that had to be met”.

Handing down the judgment, Flaux J said he wanted to “make it clear” that criticism aimed at Djibouti and its Government was “not directed at the current people dealing with the matter at Gibson Dunn”.

The legal line-up

For the claimant, Republic of Djibouti & Ors

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Charles Falconer QC, Fountain Court Chambers’ Philip Brook-Smith QC and Giles Robertson, Serle Court’s Jennifer Haywood and Amy Proferes, instructed by Gibson Dunn partner Philip Rocher

For the defendants, Boreh & Ors

7KBW’s Dominic Kendrick QC, Richard Waller QC, Jocelin Gale and Keir Howie, instructed by Byrne & Partners partner Yvonne Jefferies