City analysis: Quantum Meruit

Benedetti v Sawiris

Laurence Rabinowitz QC
Laurence Rabinowitz QC

Italian businessman Alessandro Benedetti claims he is owed a financial reward after he acted as a facilitator for Naguib Sawiris in his acquisition of Wind Telecommunicazioni.

The acquisition agreement contemplated the financial reward but the ultimate deal was different from the original and it was decided that Benedetti’s brokerage services were not those envisaged by the agreement and therefore did not warrant the fee.

It was found that 60 per cent of the fee was covered by the deal; this dispute concerns the remaining 40 per cent. Benedetti sought a fee of between €200m and €300m (£175m-£250m). Sawiris made an offer of €75.1m, but this was rejected.

At the first instance the court held that the market rate should take into consideration the offer and put the fee at €36.3m. The appellate court slashed the figure, holding that Benedetti was only entitled to the relevant proportion of the market value of his services.

The Supreme Court is asked to decide whether it should apply the more generous approach to remuneration in the earlier agreement to the exclusion of what the judge found to be the market value of such services. It will also determine what weight, if any, should be given to the offer put forward by Sawiris.

For the appellant Benedetti: Brick Court’s Mark Howard QC leading Andrew Twigger QC and Jennifer Seaman, both of 3 Stone Buildings, instructed by Herbert Smith Freehills partner Gary Milner Moore

For the respondent Sawiris: One Essex Court’s Laurence Rabinowitz QC leading 4 Stone Buildings’ Richard Hill, instructed by Kirkland & Ellis partner Rajinder Bassi

When? 26-27 Feb

Judges: Lord Neuberger; Lord Clarke; Lord Wilson; Lord Reed; Lord Carnwath