Former Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Peter Gray has been awarded costs of £108,000 following a private prosecution launched by ex-GFH Capital general counsel David Haigh.
Haigh instructed Stephenson Harwood to bring a case against Gray and his former employers GFH Capital executives Hisham Al Rayes and Jinesh Patel, alleging the trio engaged in “human trafficking” to lure him to Dubai where he is currently in prison. His case was dismissed in June in the West London Magistrates’ Court.
Al Rayes and Patel, represented by Bryan Cave partner Robert Dougans, were also awarded their full costs of £121,500.
In his judgment District Judge Ikram said: “The applicant had choices at the outset and he chose to seek the issue of summonses on a private prosecution whilst in custody in Dubai facing proceedings there.
“He did so knowing that he would have to conduct proceedings with the possibility that he would remain in custody there. He could have instead gone to law enforcement agencies but chose not to. I am of the clear view that it was wholly improper to launch these proceedings.”
Peters & Peters partner Michael O’Kane, who represented Gray, said: “Recently there has been much talk of private prosecutions. This ruling highlights the importance of only bringing such cases when it is appropriate to do so.”
A source close to the case said it was “highly unusual” for a magistrate to award such large costs and the defendants to recover “all that they sought”.
None of the awards have yet been paid by Haigh, who was imprisoned in May 2014 over claims he falsified £3m of invoices in connection with the sale of Leeds Utd, which was then owned by GFH, in 2014.
His assets were frozen by GFH’s lawyers Gibson Dunn in June 2014 and have not yet been released. The freezing order meant Haigh was unable to pay his legal counsel to fight the Dubai prosecution.
Stephenson Harwood Dubai managing partner Rovine Chandrasekera and Olswang partner Bernard O’Sullivan both came off the record in May when the Dubai International Financial Centre refused to release funds.
News of the costs awards came as the case of the Republic of Djibouti et al v Mr Abdourahman Boreh et al kicked off once again in the High Court this month. Counsel, led by Gibson Dunn partner Lord Falconer QC and 7KBW’s Dominic Kendrick QC, began opening submissions last week.
Gray lost his job at Gibson Dunn earlier this year following a previous trial in the same case.
He is set to appeal the ruling that he “deliberately misled” the High Court during the case in February 2016. He will argue for leave to appeal the decision and make his appeal in the same hearing. Gray is represented by Fountain Court Chambers’ Mark Simpson QC.
Republic of Djibouti et al v Boreh et al
The legal line-up:
For the claimants/respondents, the Republic of Djibouti
For the defendant/applicant, Abdourahman Boreh
7KBW’s Dominic Kendrick QC, Richard Waller QC, Keir Howie and Jocelyn Gale, instructed by Byrne & Partners’ Yvonne Jeffries
David Haigh v Al Rayes, Patel and Gray
The legal lineup:
For the claimant, David Haigh
Great James Street chambers’ Alun Jones QC, instructed by Stephenson Harwood Dubai managing partner Rovine Chandrasekera; Olswang partner Bernard O’Sullivan and associate Mark Davison
For the defendants, Al Rayes and Patel
Matrix Chambers’ Andrew Bodnar, instructed by Bryan Cave partner Robert Dougans
For the defendant, Peter Gray
QEB’s Adrian Darbishire, instructed by Peters & Peters partner Michael O’Kane