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UAE businessman order to pay majority of Clyde & Co costs in negligence case

Photo credit: Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire
Photo credit: Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire

A wealthy businessman has been ordered to pay 85 per cent of law firm Clyde & Co costs after judge stripped back his negligence claim in April.

Riad Tawfiq Al Sadik, who owns the largest construction and engineering company in the UAE, sued City law firm Clyde & Co, barristers Michael Black KC and Marcus Staff and offshore law firm Harney Westwood and Riegels.

The dispute stems from his legal fight with private equity giant Investcorp after he decided to invest AED500m (£109,000) into a special purpose vehicle with Investcorp in March 2008, shortly before the global financial crisis broke out.

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He went on to make several allegations against Investcorp, including that group had fraudulently misrepresented the nature of the investment and had acted without authority and in breach of trust.

The litigation he took against Investcorp spanned more than 10 years across the Cayman Islands, Privy Council, and Dubai, with litigation proceedings in England. Despite this, he was unsuccessful in his claims against the private equity group in all jurisdictions.

This led him to sue his legal team, those that are named as defendants in this case as he alleged professional negligence.

The parties went to a hearing in early March for preliminary issues on limitation together with applications for reverse summary judgment.

Deputy Judge Sean O’Sullivan KC, found that the claims against the two barristers and the offshore firm “are time-barred”.

He concluded on the reamendment application, those claims have no real prospect of success and all of the defendants are entitled to reverse summary judgment.

However, for the law firm, he ruled against a full reverse summary judgment due to the anti-suit injunction issue.

“The issue as to whether there was a break in the chain of causation at or after the point at which [Clyde & Co] ceased to act for [Al Sadik] is not suitable for summary disposal. That claim must go to trial,” he ruled.

At a consequential hearing on Tuesday, Al Sadik barrister Sarah McCann argued that he should be entitled to a discount as on the anti-suit issue, they were successful – she was looking for 65 per cent payable costs.

However, deputy Judge Sean O’Sullivan KC landed on an “appropriate” 15 per cent discount, leading Al Sadik to pay 85 per cent of Clyde & Co costs of the summary judgment.

He ruled that he would not be making a ruling on the anti-suit costs as he halted it until after the issue has been in front of the court.

While on the appropriate interest on cost, the judge went back and forward with the defendant barristers, as the fact all the defendant’s clients are propped up by insurance companies. It was noted at the hearing that the City law firm was using QBE Insurance for its professional negligence coverage.

In order to “strike a balance” he landed on 1.5 per cent payable from the date of the payment of the invoices. Which as the judge noted has become the norm to award interest on costs in commercial cases.

Clyde & Co was contacted for a comment.