SFO brings Slaughters on board to defend Tchenguiz damages cases

The SFO has hired Slaughter and May to act on the defence of two multi-million pound damages claims brought by Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz following the collapse of the investigation into the brothers last year.

The SFO confirmed that Slaughters has been instructed on the case, three months after Vincent Tchenguiz filed a £200m damages claim that is scheduled to be heard next January (4 December 2012). News of the instruction was first reported by the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that 5 Essex Court’s Jeremy Johnson QC, a public law specialist, has been replaced as lead counsel for the SFO after the regulator decided it needed a commercial silk to lead the case.

Slaughters partner Jonathan Cotton is leading the firm’s team. Counsel for the SFO have not yet been confirmed.

Stephenson Harwood partner Sean Jeffrey is acting for Rawlinson & Hunter Trustees, the trustees of the Tchenguiz Family Trust, which filed the damages claim on Vincent Tchenguiz’s behalf. Jeffrey has instructed Debevoise & Plimpton Europe and Asia litigation chair Peter Goldsmith QC and Fountain Court Chambers’ Bankim Thanki QC and Rosalind Phelps.

BCL Burton Copeland founder Ian Burton and partner Richard Sallybanks have previously been acting for Robert Tchenguiz, instructing Matrix Chambers’ Ken Macdonald QC and Alex Bailin QC together with Cloth Fair Chambers’ Clare Sibson.

The damages claims follow the collapse of the SFO’s investigation into the brothers last year, in connection with the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing (20 June 2012). The SFO was later criticised in a judicial review hearing into the failed investigation (31 July 2012).

Legal fees on the investigation surpassed £1.3m (9 January 2013). A host of high-profile silks and several law firms have been involved in the course of the investigation and subsequent litigation.