ENRC v. Dechert and SFO Officers

In UK Hogan Lovells, advised on the matter.

Hogan Lovells advised Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation with a team including Elaine Penrose (Dispute Resolution), Michael Roberts (Picture – Dispute Resolution).

In a judgment handed down on 16 May 2022, Mr Justice Waksman in the Commercial Court in London has made unprecedented findings of “extraordinary” and “almost unimaginable” misconduct by ENRC’s former solicitor, Neil Gerrard, and “bad faith opportunism” by three former SFO officers. 

ENRC brought proceedings against its former solicitors, Dechert and former Dechert partner Neil Gerrard, alleging reckless breaches of their fiduciary duties in connection with an internal investigation carried out by Dechert between 2011 and 2013. ENRC also brought proceedings against the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, alleging that SFO officers had induced Mr Gerrard’s breaches of duty in a series of clandestine meetings and communications. A trial to determine issues of breach in relation to both claims took place last summer.  Issues of causation and loss are to be dealt with in a further phase of the litigation.

The Court has found that there was a “gross and deliberate breach of duty” by the defendants. Mr Gerrard leaked privileged material to the press and gave ENRC “scaremongering” advice that had “no foundation in fact”. Despite knowing full well that Mr Gerrard could not have been acting properly, the SFO’s former Director, Richard Alderman, and former Interim Director, Mark Thompson, repeatedly engaged in “conspiratorial whispers” with Mr Gerrard, behind ENRC’s back. Mr Gerrard “lied continuously”, and two SFO officers were equally prepared to give dishonest evidence. 

The High Court’s findings will have significant implications for the SFO, particularly in light of the independent review of the SFO commissioned by the Attorney General that is being carried out by Sir David Calvert-Smith.

The Hogan Lovells team was led by Michael Roberts (Picture – Partner, London Head of Disputes) and includes Elaine Penrose (Partner), Ed Hickman (Counsel), Alex Hohl (Counsel), Theresa Hudson (Senior Associate), Michael O’Donoghue (Senior Associate), Katie Skeels (Senior Associate), Reuben Vandercruyssen (Senior Associate), Amy Harding (Associate), Catherine Hegarty (Associate), Alex Riposi (Associate), Isabel Orange (Associate) and Morven Macaulay (Associate).

Involved fees earner: Amy Harding – Hogan Lovells; Catherine Hegarty – Hogan Lovells; Edward Hickman – Hogan Lovells; Alex Hohl – Hogan Lovells; Morven Macaulay – Hogan Lovells; Isabel Orange – Hogan Lovells; Michael O’Donoghue – Hogan Lovells; Elaine Penrose – Hogan Lovells; Alex Riposi – Hogan Lovells; Michael Roberts – Hogan Lovells; Katie Skeels – Hogan Lovells; Reuben Vandercruyssen – Hogan Lovells;

Law Firms: Hogan Lovells;

Clients: Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation;

Author: Giulia Di Palma