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Shearman & Sterling has lost one of the biggest litigation mandates of the year after business tycoon Robert Tchenguiz swapped the US firm for Stephenson Harwood in his £300m case against the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
Stephenson Harwood partner Sean Jeffrey was confirmed as lawyer to Tchenguiz and his investment vehicle R20 on Monday (7 July) in place of Shearman partner Josanne Rickard. Jeffrey is already advising Robert Tchenguiz’ brother Vincent in his case against the SFO.
The brothers and their investment vehicles are suing the agency for trespass, wrongful arrest, human rights breaches, misfeasance in public office and malicious prosecution (6 January 2014). The case is set to cost the SFO £18.5m – over half of its annual budget (9 April 2014).
Jeffrey will now represent all the claimants while Slaughter and May partner Jonathan Cotton represents the SFO.
Tchenguiz’ counsel switch comes three months after a hearing when Rickard wrote to Cotton to alert him to an amendment to the R20 claim (23 April 2014). Mr Justice Eder, who oversaw the application to amend the claim, ordered R20 to surrender £2.5m by way of security for costs when the value of its claim was reduced by £1.2m.
Jeffrey will take over the case ahead of a hearing tomorrow (11 July) in front of Eder J and has added Maitland Chambers’ Catherine Newman QC to his team.
It will be the latest in an ongoing war over the disclosure and review of contentious documents surrendered by the SFO and Grant Thornton, which sparked the Tchenguiz investigation (12 July 2013).
The Tchenguiz claimants want to show dislcosed documents to Guernsey counsel in order to bring new claims against the SFO. Tomorrow the court is expected to hear a full list of Tchenguiz lawyers including Guernsey-based counsel.
The hearing is a continuation of last month’s in front of Eder J.
The pre-trial hearing is expected on 31 July and the full trial will take place in October.