Protecting ‘internal investigations’ from unwanted orders for disclosure

Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz have compelled disclosure of Grant Thornton’s (GT’s) reports to the liquidators of companies forming part of their business empire in the course of their £300m claim against the Seriod Fraud Office (SFO) for the damage to their business interests caused by the SFO’s subsequently abandoned prosecution. Their victory highlights the key requirements for any business wishing to collect evidence confidentially and keep it behind the veil of ‘litigation privilege’.

GT submitted five reports and documents to its clients, the liquidators of companies that had formed part of the Tchenguiz empire. The reports identified transactions that might need to be reversed by the liquidators utilising their statutory powers and the overall ‘residual assets’ left over for the creditors, as well as dealing with proceedings against the liquidators and possible proceedings by the liquidators.

GT had allowed the SFO to see the reports and documents. Although the SFO had transcribed parts of them, GT had not allowed it to make copies. GT relied on litigation privilege to preclude disclosure of them to the Tchenguiz brothers…

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