Hogan Lovells secures resounding victory for ENRC in landmark case against Dechert and SFO

Mon, 16 May 2022

London, 16 May 2022 – Hogan Lovells has secured a major victory for client ENRC following a 47-day trial in between May and September 2021.  In a judgment handed down on 16 May 2022, Mr Justice Waksman in the Commercial Court in London has made unprecedented findings of “extraordinary” and “almost unimaginable” misconduct by ENRC’s former solicitor, Neil Gerrard, and “bad faith opportunism” by three former SFO officers. 

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ENRC brought proceedings against its former solicitors, Dechert and former Dechert partner Neil Gerrard, alleging reckless breaches of their fiduciary duties in connection with an internal investigation carried out by Dechert between 2011 and 2013. ENRC also brought proceedings against the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, alleging that SFO officers had induced Mr Gerrard’s breaches of duty in a series of clandestine meetings and communications. A trial to determine issues of breach in relation to both claims took place last summer.  Issues of causation and loss are to be dealt with in a further phase of the litigation.

The Court has found that there was a “gross and deliberate breach of duty” by the defendants. Mr Gerrard leaked privileged material to the press and gave ENRC “scaremongering” advice that had “no foundation in fact”. Despite knowing full well that Mr Gerrard could not have been acting properly, the SFO’s former Director, Richard Alderman, and former Interim Director, Mark Thompson, repeatedly engaged in “conspiratorial whispers” with Mr Gerrard, behind ENRC’s back. Mr Gerrard “lied continuously”, and two SFO officers were equally prepared to give dishonest evidence. 

The High Court’s findings will have significant implications for the SFO, particularly in light of the independent review of the SFO commissioned by the Attorney General that is being carried out by Sir David Calvert-Smith.

Michael Roberts, the Partner at Hogan Lovells with conduct of the proceedings on behalf of ENRC, said:

“Sadly, it is now clear that ENRC was betrayed and exploited as Dechert sought to maximise its own billings, even to the extent of leaking privileged material in order to prompt action by the SFO. Far from the integrity and fairness to be expected of a government law enforcement agency, the SFO was itself complicit in Dechert’s dishonest conduct.” 

The Hogan Lovells team was led by Michael Roberts (Partner, London Head of Disputes) and includes Elaine Penrose (Partner), Ed Hickman (Counsel), Alex Hohl (Counsel), Theresa Hudson (Senior Associate), Michael O’Donoghue (Senior Associate), Katie Skeels (Senior Associate), Reuben Vandercruyssen (Senior Associate), Amy Harding (Associate), Catherine Hegarty (Associate), Alex Riposi (Associate), Isabel Orange (Associate) and Morven Macaulay (Associate).

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