Slaughter and May acts for Banque Pictet on successful jurisdiction challenge to US$847 million commercial court claim

Slaughter and May acted for Banque Pictet, a Swiss private bank and financial services company, and related Pictet Group entities in the Bahamas, Luxembourg and Singapore, in successfully challenging the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales in respect of a claim brought by the Public Institution for Social Security (“PIFSS”) (a Kuwaiti state-owned entity) against over 35 defendants and totalling more than US$847 million. PIFSS’ claim is one of the largest disputes ever heard in the Commercial Court, and concerns allegations of bribery and money laundering against various individuals and financial institutions spanning more than two decades.

The jurisdiction challenge was heard before Mr Justice Henshaw in July 2020, along with similar challenges brought by six other defendants. The judgment represents an interesting development in the application of Articles 6 and 23 of the Lugano Convention, and equivalent provisions (Articles 8 and 25) of the Recast Brussels Regulation.

The Slaughter and May team instructed One Essex Court’s Kenneth MacLean QC, James MacDonald, Tamara Kagan and Oscar Schonfeld in the Commercial Court. Slaughter and May worked in combination with Lenz & Staehelin on Swiss aspects and Elvinger Hoss Prussen on Luxembourgish aspects.

“This is a great result for our client, achieved working closely with our relationship firms Lenz & Staehelin and Elvinger Hoss Prussen. It is also a meaningful result more broadly. Despite the uncertainty surrounding cross-border civil and commercial cases in the lead up to and following Brexit, this decision provides greater scope to defendants that are seeking to challenge the court’s jurisdiction on the basis of the Lugano and Brussels regimes.”
Deborah Finkler, Partner, Slaughter and May

Disputes and Investigations
Deborah Finkler Managing Partner
Catriona Jardine Associate