Home Estate Planning Law firm Dechert set to pay £3m to settle English fraud and conspiracy claim

Law firm Dechert set to pay £3m to settle English fraud and conspiracy claim

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US law firm Dechert is set to pay more than £3m to a US aviation entrepreneur as settlement of a fraud and conspiracy lawsuit in London.

Farhad Azima had a long-running dispute with Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) dating back to 2016 as the sovereign wealth fund alleged Azima was liable for fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy.

The English High Court sided with RAKIA in 2020 and ordered Azima to pay over $4m (£2.3m).

Azima alleged that RAKIA had hacked his emails and other confidential data, and had placed it on websites as a pretext for its possession of the data.

He went on to launch a counterclaim and based on new evidence on RAKIA’s responsibility for the hacking of his emails, the court allowed his claim to proceed. The court also allowed him to name law firm Dechert, its ex-partner Neil Gerrard and RAK Development’s former chief executive James Buchanan to his counterclaim.

RAKIA no longer wanted to participate in these proceedings and did not appear at one of the court appearances. RAKIA tried to settle the counterclaim for $1m (£0.8m) but Azima rejected it.

Dechert, Gerrard and Buchanan attempted to stop his counterclaim but the Court of Appeal dismissed their appeal and Azima’s counterclaim was allowed to continue.

He also has pursued legal proceedings against Dechert and others based on their conduct against him in the US over what he claims are for the damages they caused him there.

On Friday it was announced that Dechert had made an offer to settle the UK part of this dispute with Azima, which he has accepted. The law firm agreed to pay him £3m plus his reasonable costs which have yet to be agreed between the parties. That settlement covers both the law firm and Gerrard, its ex-partner.

According to a press statement from Azima, the sovereign wealth fund fled the English jurisdiction in June 2022 and it is currently in default of an £8.5m costs order in favour of Azima

Azima is still pursuing his claims in the US against Dechert and others while in England, he is still pursuing his counterclaim against Buchanan, which is due to be heard in May.

A spokesperson for Azima said: “Dechert and its partners played a leadership role in hacking Azima and others. While this substantial payment resolves Azima’s limited claim in the UK, Azima will continue to pursue the significant claims he has brought against Dechert and others based on their conduct against him in the US and the damages they caused him there.”

Statement on behalf of Dechert: “The Dechert parties and Azima have agreed terms without any admission of liability in order to bring about a commercial resolution to the proceedings brought by Azima in the English High Court.”

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