UBS granted permission to appeal “entirety” of KWL derivatives judgment

Banking giant UBS has been granted permission to appeal the High Court ruling that dismissed its lawsuit against German water company Kommunale Wasserwerke Leipzig (KWL) over payments linked to derivatives deals.

Details regarding the appeal are sparse but a source close to the dispute said it was “unusual for an appeal that covers the entirety of a commercial court case to be granted”.

The appeal has not yet been listed although a second source said UBS could be granted as long as two weeks for its appeal, a much longer period than normally given.

The appeal is expected to be scheduled for early 2017. It will see UBS’s lawyers Mayer Brown, Gibson Dunn partner Charlie Falconer QC and Brick Court silk Richard Slade QC return to the courtroom.

Junior Jonathan Dawid, who was instructed for UBS while at Brick Court, has now joined litigation boutique Hage Aaronson. It is understood he is still instructed although it is not yet known whether the firm will come on the record for the case.

The judgment, handed down in November 2014 said the case was a “sorry story of greed and corruption” and a “case study in how not to conduct investment banking in an honest and fair way”.

UBS had claimed it was owed around $140m (£92m) from contracts with KWL in a trial last April.

During the trial KWL alleged a UBS banker had booked strippers for consultants from Value Partners Group and went on an African safari with them.

The trial lasted 14 weeks and was presided over by Mr Justice Males.

Males J found that “neither UBS or KWL emerges with credit from this saga”, adding: “It is apparent, however, that for many years KWL was run by a criminal who was able to plunder the company for his personal gain.

“It is to be hoped that the events described belong to a bygone era. As most of the main participants have moved on, and many of them are no longer employed in the banking industry, there is room to believe that to be so,” Males J added. 

The case, which was featured in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases 2014, marked a win for Addleshaw Goddard and German firm Noerr over Mayer Brown.

UBS has been contacted for comment.

The legal lineup:

For the claimant (1) UBS AG (London Branch)

Gibson Dunn partner Charlie Falconer QC, Brick Court Chambers’ Richard Slade QC leading Edward Harrison of the same set and Hage Aaronson counsel Jonathan Dawid, instructed by Mayer Brown partner Ian McDonald

For the claimant (2) Depfa Bank plc 

Fountain Court’s David Railton QC, Edward Levey, Richard Power, instructed by Dentons partner Richard Caird

For the claimant (3) LBBW

Maitland Chambers’ Nicholas Peacock QC and Catherine Addy of the same set, instructed by Baker & McKenzie partner Arun Srivastava

For the defendant (1) Kommunale Wasserwerke Leipzig (third parties)

Brick Court’s Tim Lord QC, Simon Salzedo QC, Stephen Midwinter and Craig Morrison, instructed by Addleshaw Goddard partners Michael Barnett and Louisa Caswell; KWL’s German lawyer Noerr – lead partner Christine Volohonsky