It’s a rare occurrence for a major commercial case to collapse because the defence has withdrawn part-way through the trial.
Yet that is exactly what happened when five banks, including HSBC, decided to sue Saudi investment company Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers, which was advised by Baach Robinson & Lewis partner Eric Lewis (see story).
The defence withdrew nine days into the trial despite having spent what is understood to be a fair whack on legal fees. According to one of the claimant barristers, Tim Lord QC, theirs was a defence “built on sand”.
It must have been a decidedly large sand dune because the defendant has a global team of lawyers working in the UK, New York, Saudi Arabia and the Cayman Islands. It claims it was a victim of fraud, a claim the domestic banks hotly contest.
Domestically, the claimants – who wanted to recoup $250m – will be disappointed not to see their clients exonerated by a High Court judgment.
That won’t stop teams at Clifford Chance, Clyde & Co, Harbottle & Lewis, Herbert Smith, Reed Smith, Simmons & Simmons and Stephenson Harwood (not to mention a host of instructed barristers) popping the champagne corks.