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Commercial Court appoints receiver to manage $3.3 billion of litigation brought by the Libyan Investment Authority in English High Court proceedings


At a hearing in the Commercial Court on 2 July 2015, Mr Justice Flaux appointed receivers and managers over claims brought by the Libyan Investment Authority in two sets of proceedings commenced in the English Courts (one in the Commercial Court and one in the Chancery Division) in 2014 against defendants including Société Générale (“SocGen”) and Goldman Sachs (“GS”) (the “Proceedings”).  In the Proceedings, the LIA seeks, in effect, to unwind transactions worth approximately US$3.3 billion, which it entered into with SocGen and GS between 2007 and 2009 prior to the overthrow of the Gaddafi government.

The Proceedings had effectively stalled since 28 April 2015 when the LIA’s solicitors came off the record on their own application. The application for the appointment of the receivers was brought jointly by Mr Hassan Bouhadi and Mr AbdulMagid Breish, who each claim to be the duly appointed Chairman of the LIA’s Board of Directors, and so entitled to give the instructions necessary for the conduct of the Proceedings.  The context to the unresolved question of who is the duly appointed Chairman of the LIA is that there are, in effect, two competing groups which presently claim to constitute the Libyan government, one based in Tripoli and the other in Tobruk.  Receivers were appointed by the English Court over the LIA’s rights in the claims underlying the Proceedings as a pragmatic, interim solution to the problem, against the background of continuing UN-brokered negotiations between these two groups, aimed at the formation of a government of national unity.

Despite a number of concerns being raised at hearings on 18 June and 2 July by the Defendants to the Proceedings about the capacity of the appointment of a receiver to prejudice their position in the Proceedings, Flaux J acceded to the application, recognising that there were presently only two recognised entities claiming to be the properly constituted government of Libya and therefore, only the two Applicants claiming to be the proper Chairman of the LIA, each of whom agreed that a receiver should be appointed.

The effect of the order made on 2 July 2015 is that the receivers will be able to re-instruct solicitors on behalf of the LIA so the two very substantial claims constituting the Proceedings (one of which is set down for trial in 2016, and the other in 2017) can continue.

Charles Hollander QC, Tony Singla and Geoffrey Kuehne appeared for Mr Bouhadi