Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Metro Baltic Case

Ronan and Our legal team are still busy with trying to return value to shareholders.
Hopefully a decision in our favour within the next year .

Metro Baltic Horizons v James and ors ­ This is a large company law case to be heard in the Isle of Man. It concerns an AIM listed company.

Claimants' submissions
9. The Claimants say that the active claims are brought against financial controllers, the investment manager and investment adviser of Metro Baltic Guernsey Limited for (i) breach of contract; (ii) negligence; (iii) breach of fiduciary duty; (iv) dishonest assistance; (v) deceit; (vi) conspiracy; and (viii) account of secret profit with damages estimated at €29 million. The claims are said to arise out of, amongst other things, the acquisition of interests in various properties outside the jurisdiction; loan notes transaction, a debt for equity swap and a sale of shares (the "Property Transactions"). It is alleged that the Property Transactions should never have been entered into on various grounds under the headings a. valuation; b. financing; c. investment objections and d. conflict of interest. There are allegations that the 4th to 7th Defendants abused their positions of trust and that there were various failings and inappropriate actions on the part of the 8th Defendant.
10. It is stated that the case "involves a number of specialist areas of practice, fact and law, which require expertise not normally available on the Island." There is reference to the "volume of documents", the need to take the witnesses and the court through a series of complex transactions and the need for "extensive cross-examination". It is stated that the court and parties will benefit from having "specialist counsel with significant experience of complex property frauds to both examine the witnesses and argue the complex legal and factual points, in particular with regard to causation and valuation." There is emphasis placed on the fact that this will be a complex civil fraud trial and that allegations of "fraud must be handled sensitively" and that it is necessary that the court be addressed (by counsel for the party making the allegations) by a senior specialist practitioner with a very high level of understanding and experience in this field of law.
11. The Claimants say that they have "conducted a detailed analysis of the practice areas of all those Isle of Man advocates who hold themselves out as including within their practice areas commercial litigation" and there are "a very limited number of local advocates [with] anything like a sufficient level of seniority and experience, none of whom are understood to hold themselves out as specifically having the necessary combination of complex civil fraud trial experience for this matter, involving as it does, a combination of factors each of which individually might itself render the case outside of the experience ordinarily available on the Island. Taken together, the complexities of this case render it undoubtedly outside the knowledge and experience ordinarily available on the Island (being the knowledge and experience which advocates might ordinarily be expected to have) …"
12. The Claimants say that the "trial of the Proceedings is estimated to last at least three weeks and the preparation for trial is likely to take up a number of weeks leading up to the trial" and as such this would impose unreasonable demands on the advocates concerned.
Defendants' submissions
13. The Claimants say that notice of the Application has been given to the advocates acting for the active defendants.
14. Simcocks who act for the 7th Defendant by letter dated 30 July 2015 indicated that they did not object to the Application.
15. At paragraph 3 of the letter it is stated:
"… we fully support the points made … regarding the factual and legal complexity of this dispute, the absence of expertise ordinarily available on the Island, that it is an extremely document heavy case and that the allegations made are very serious and, whilst firmly denied, of potentially grave consequence".
16. Steven Coren ("Mr Coren") the advocate for the 4th to 6th Defendants responded by email dated 31 July 2015 15:19 objecting to the Application.
17. Mr Coren realistically "accepted that there is, arguably, a degree of factual complexity within aspects of the proceedings; and that there is an allegation that Estonian law applies, at least in part."
18. Mr Coren added:
"This said, it is not at present accepted that the threshold for section 17(2)(b)(iii) is met …"
19. Mr Coren submitted that the causes of action were entirely standard causes of action. Mr Coren further submitted that a trial of three weeks (even allowing for trial preparation) is not so lengthy a period as to impose unreasonable demands upon the time and resources of a Manx advocate.
20. No other responses have been brought to my attention.
21. I am satisfied that Mr Seitler is qualified for the issue of a temporary advocate's licence in that he is a member of the Bar of England and Wales with the necessary rights of audience in his home jurisdiction.
22. I am satisfied that Mr Seitler is a fit and proper person to be an advocate.
23. I am satisfied that a temporary advocate's licence is required for the purposes of specific proceedings before a court in the Island namely the High Court in proceedings under reference Ord 12/0061.
24. I am not satisfied that a 3 week trial together with the pre-trial preparation and the intense work associated with such a trial renders it likely that the proceedings will be "so lengthy that they would impose unreasonable demands on the time and resources" of an advocate. The ground specified in section 17(2) (b)(iv) of the Advocates Act 1995 has not been made out on the particular facts and circumstances of this case.
25. I am however satisfied, applying the relatively recent guidance provided by Judge of Appeal Tattersall in Carter v Old Mutual International Isle of Man Limited(decision 3 April 2015), that the ground specified in section 17(2)(b)(iii) of the Advocates Act 1995 has been satisfied on the particular facts and circumstances of this case. I note in particular the allegations of fraud (deceit, conspiracy and dishonest assistance) which will have to be skilfully dealt with by the advocate making them in accordance with his demanding duties to the court. I have concluded, albeit with some reluctance, that the knowledge and experience necessary to exercise that particular skill is not yet ordinarily available on the Isle of Man in a case such as this.
26. Accordingly, I allow the Application and grant a temporary advocate's licence to Mr Seitler.
27. Anyone aggrieved by this decision has a right to have the decision reviewed by the Judge of Appeal. Any such application must be delivered within the period of 14 days (See Regulation 4 of the Advocates Regulations 1998).

Nice to See LED back in action

And May

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