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Commercial Court resolves ‘circumvention’ claim regarding LNG carrier finance deal

13/07/16

In  ICBC Financial Leasing Co Ltd v ConsuItants Group Commercial Funding Corporation, the defendant (“CGCF”), a Californian finance company, claimed about  US$ 8m against the claimant (“ICBCL”), the leasing subsidiary of the largest bank in China, by way of damages for breach of the terms of a “Confidentiality Letter”. The claim was brought in the Commercial Court after CGCF was restrained by an anti-suit injunction from pursuing Californian proceedings. CGCF alleged that by providing lease finance for the acquisition of four LNG carriers in November 2013 in a transaction which did not involve  CGCF, ICBCL  acted in breach of the  Letter dated 24 May 2013 in which it had promised not to circumvent CGCF and not to use confidential information disclosed to it by CGCF for an improper purpose.  The lease finance was provided to Golar LNG Ltd,  one of the leading owners and operators of Liquefied Natural Gas  carriers.

CGCF’s claim was dismissed in its entirety in a judgment delivered on 8 July 2016. Males J. found that there was no breach of any of the terms of the Letter, and that even if there had been CGCF would not have suffered any loss. He held that  all of ICBCL's witnesses, both their employees who gave evidence and others, acted throughout in complete good faith, but that “Regrettably the same cannot be said of CGCF, which throughout this transaction repeatedly sought to create a false and misleading impression in order to advance what it saw as its prospects of obtaining lucrative fees.

ICBCL was also awarded its costs of the action on an indemnity basis.

The judgment is here.

Richard Lord QC was instructed by Wikborg Rein on behalf of ICBCL.