Eder J rules in favour of SFO in latest stage of Tchenguiz documents dispute

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has won a High Court application that prohibits Stephenson Harwood using previously public documents related to the Tchenguiz brothers’ case in separate proceedings in Guernsey.

Mr Justice Eder ruled on Wednesday (1 April) in favour of an order that restricts collateral use of approximately 600 confidential documents that were originally used in Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz’ £4.5m litigation against the SFO in 2014 (31 July 2014).

Lord Pannick QC will now take respondent Robert Tchenguiz’ claims to the Court of Appeal.

The documents are wanted by Tchenguiz’ lawyers for use in a pending appeal in Guernsey by Robert Tchenguiz and Rawlinson & Hunter Trustees (R&H) against accountancy firm Grant Thornton and Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

Pannick represented Robert Tchenguiz and R&H in Wednesday’s hearing alongside Maitland Chambers’ Jonathan Allcock.

Blackstone Chambers’ James Segan was instructed by Amran Vance of the Treasury Solicitor’s department for the SFO. Setmate Pushpinder Saini QC has appeared in previous hearings on this case.

In March The Lawyer revealed Slaughter and May has been retained by the SFO to assist the Treasury Solicitor’s department on cost issues related to the ongoing documents claims (16 March 2015).

This is the latest stage in a long running legal battle by the Tchenguiz brothers against the SFO and Grant Thornton. It began in 2011 when the body conducted dawn raids on the brothers’ businesses before dropping its investigation in 2012 (20 June 2012). The investigation was criticised as unlawful by then Queen’s Bench president Sir John Thomas. 

Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz then launched damages claims against the SFO in a series of mammoth court cases that concluded in July (31 July 2014) when the agency paid £3m to Vincent, then £1.5m to Robert to settle their £300m damages claims.

The fight over the documents released to the courts by the SFO in the civil proceedings started this year. In February, Eder J ruled against Tchenguiz’ initial application to use the documents (11 February 2015).

Stephenson Harwood previously instructed Pannick to take the case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) following the result of the latest appeal.

Eder J is understood to have officially resigned from the judiciary this week (26 March 2015). A source told The Lawyer he has agreed terms to remain as a judge on the ongoing series of Tchenguiz litigations alone.

The legal lineup:

For the respondent, Robert Tchenguiz

Blackstone Chambers’ Lord Pannick QC and Maitland Chambers’ Jonathan Allcock, instructed by Stephenson Harwood partner Sean Jeffrey

For the applicant, the SFO

Blackstone Chambers’ James Segan instructed by Treasury Solicitor’s Amran Vance