State denied in ‘misconceived’ Guinea coup case

Collyer-Bristow and London firm Kerman & Co have secured Court of Appeal victory in a highly unusual case concerning an alleged coup in Equatorial Guinea.

This morning the Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, and Lord Justices Dyson and Moses, upheld a September 2005 judgment striking out claims brought by the president and government of Equatorial Guinea against several defendants.

“The decision is a victory for common sense. Not only was this claim utterly misconceived in law, there was no evidence to substantiate the allegations made against Mr Calil. It is difficult to see why so much money was and is being wasted in trying to keep this case alive when the chances of it ever reaching trial are exceedingly remote,” said litigation partner Joanna Kennedy of Collyer-Bristow, who acted for Lebanese oil tycoon Eli Calil, instructing Fountain Court Chambers’ Michael McLaren QC.

The Court of Appeal found that the state could not bring claims for assault and conspiracy, or claim damages against the defendants in the English courts. Clarke MR said that such claims could not be upheld as they represented an extension of Equatorial Guinea’s exercise of sovereign power.

Kerman & Co’s senior partner Andrew Kerman instructed XXIV Old Buildings’ Philip Shepherd QC for offshore companies Logo Limited and Systems Design Limited as well as Simon Mann, who is serving a sentence in Zimbabwe for the unlawful procurement of munitions.

Penningtons partner Robert Wilson instructed Brick Court Chambers’ Sir Sydney Kentridge QC for Equatorial Guinea.