SNR Denton wins £600k bribery case against former India head

The High Court has ordered SNR Denton’s former India head to repay her old firm and its insurers almost £600,000, which they lost as a result of her involvement in a bribery scandal.

Gauri Advani, who was India group head at legacy firm Denton Wilde Sapte between 1995 and 2007, was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal earlier this month for her actions.

The case, which was first brought in 2010 (22 November 2010), stems from a 2009 negligence action (11 August 2008) brought against Dentons and Advani by two Indian company directors who were advised by the latter in 2002 to pay £400,000 as an initial deposit for a general sales agency for the UK and Ireland from Air India.

The two directors did not get the agency and were not refunded the £400,000. As a result they took Advani and Dentons to court for negligence. At the time, the court dismissed the directors’ claim on the grounds of illegality, since it was held that the payment was a bribe. The court also said that the pair had never been bona fide clients of Denton Wilde Sapte.

In the latest claim – heard between February and March this year – SNR Denton and its insurers Travelers sought to recover £87,075.29 and £501,398.71 respectively from Gauri Advani. The former sum was how much Dentons had failed to recover from the two directors, who were ordered to pay costs in the 2009 claim. Dentons argued it was entitled to recover the sum from Advani as damages for breach of duty.

The latter sum of £501,000 relates to how much Travelers spent separately defending Advani on the 2009 claim and which they said they were entitled to get back since she had acted dishonestly or fraudulently.

Finding for SNR Denton and Travelers, Sir Raymond Jack, sitting in the Queen’s Bench Division, said that he was satisfied Advani knew the money paid was a bribe.

In a statement, an SNR Denton spokesman said: “The High Court has ruled in favour of SNR Denton and its insurers to recover their costs from Ms Gauri Advani, a former employee of the firm. The court held that Ms Advani had acted dishonestly and outside the course of her employment in relation to events in 2002 that were the subject of earlier proceedings, brought unsuccessfully by third parties against the firm.”

Clyde & Co advised Travelers and Dentons on the latest case, instructing Justin Fenwick QC from 4 New Square. Advani was represented by Michael Collard of 5 Pump Court, instructed by Akal Solicitors.

Advani left Dentons in 2007 to join Eversheds, but has since left the firm.