Practice

Donald is an experienced advocate, having appeared in numerous heavy applications and trials in the High Court and in arbitration, and appeals in the High Court and Court of Appeal. He has also appeared in the Gibraltar Supreme Court. Apart from his advocacy practice, he is regularly led in the Privy Council, the Court of Appeal (in England and in the Eastern Caribbean), the High Court (in England, the BVI, Gibraltar and St Kitts & Nevis) and in arbitration. He has an active offshore practice, with recent cases in The Bahamas, Bermuda, the BVI, Guernsey, Jersey and Gibraltar.

Cases of interest in the last three years

  • Re Compound Photonics Group Limited [2020] EWHC 3176 (Ch) – appeared (with Andreas Gledhill, Q.C.) on behalf of the majority shareholders in an optical technology company for the trial of a s.994 presented against them. Judgment has not yet been handed down. Donald also appeared as the advocate in relation to a number of case management hearings and for the permission to appeal application heard by Marcus Smith J in June 2020.
  • Re VL Assurance Limited – acted (with Barry Isaacs, Q.C.) on behalf of the joint provisional liquidators of a life insurance company incorporated in Bermuda. The instructions concern various claims surrounding the failure of the company to maintain sufficient capitalisation to support the life insurance contracts entered by it.
  • Patel v Iqbal [2020] EWHC 1174 (Ch) – Donald acted on behalf of the claimant in relation to his claim against a former business partner in a property development business. Donald successfully obtained a freezing injunction against the Defendant and an order debarring him from defending the claim on the basis of his failure to comply with his ancillary disclosure obligations under that injunction. Donald also appeared at the successful trial of the claim in May 2020.
  • Church Lane Trustees Limited v the Trustees of Berezovsky’s Estate – appeared in the Gibraltar Supreme Court and in the English High Court on behalf of the Trustees of the insolvent estate of Boris Berezovsky in respect of the estate’s claims against a valuable property in England. Donald has also appeared in respect of other aspects of this matter with Elspeth Talbot-Rice, Q.C.
  • Re a Nevis Trust (in camera) – acted for the trustee of a international exempt trust established in Nevis for a category 2 blessing application made as a result of difficulties in effecting distributions to a large number of objects.
  • Re Caroline Bay – acted (with Barry Isaacs, Q.C.) for the Government of Bermuda in relation to the development of a Ritz-Carlton hotel on Caroline Bay in Bermuda.
  • Maso Capital Investments Ltd v Shanda Games Ltd [2020] BCC 466 – appeared (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for the appellants in the first appraisal action under s.238 of the Cayman Islands Companies Law to reach the Privy Council.
  • Re a State Oil Company (in arbitration) – appeared for the respondent to arbitration proceedings commenced by a state oil company concerning a joint venture for the transport of oil products.
  • Patel v Patel [2019] EWHC 2643 (Ch) – Donald appeared for the Defendant in relation to a derivative claim brought against him.
  • Re Topco Varnish Limited [2019] EWHC 245 (Ch) – appeared for the Petitioner in this s.994 petition, which concerned the well-known online bathroom retailer, Victoria Plum.
  • Gany Holdings (PTC) SA v Khan [2018] UKPC 21 – appeared (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for the appellant trustees for their appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal’s finding that its account to a beneficiary had been deficient.
  • Re a divorce – appeared (with Chris Pocock, Q.C.) on behalf of the estate of a deceased husband in ongoing divorce proceedings. A dispute continues over the proceeds of sale of a $50 million villa in Southern France, the trial of which is due to be heard by a Divisional Court (before a Family Judge and a Chancery Judge) in 2020.
  • Re a Company incorporated in the Czech Republic (in arbitration) – appeared on behalf of the Respondent who successfully resisted an injunction application against it amid serious allegations of fraud and intentional misconduct.
  • Re Baxendale-Walker [2018] EWHC 3423 (Ch), [2018] EWHC 3572 (Ch) – appeared for the trustees in bankruptcy of the well-known former solicitor and tax advisor, Paul Baxendale-Walker, who was the architect of ineffective employee benefit trusts, such as those used by the Glasgow Rangers.
  • Nagi v Nagi [2018] EWHC 3020 (Ch) – appeared for the Respondents to a s.459 petition in respect of the construction of the share purchase order made in 2006.
  • Royal Bank of Canada (Jersey) Limited v UBS AG – acted (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for a Jersey trustee in its claim against UBS for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.

Practice areas

Chancery: commercial

Donald has appeared in the Chancery Division, Commercial Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Privy Council. He has also advised in respect of a wide range of company law and commercial matters. Donald has been involved in some of the largest chancery and company litigation at the English bar in recent years, and the largest ever minority shareholder’s petition in Bermuda:

  • Re Compound Photonics Group Limited [2020] EWHC 3176 (Ch) – appeared (with Andreas Gledhill, Q.C.) on behalf of the majority shareholders in an optical technology company for the trial of a s.994 presented against them. Judgment has not yet been handed down. Donald also appeared as the advocate in relation to a number of case management hearings and for the permission to appeal application heard by Marcus Smith J in June 2020.
  • Church Lane Trustees Limited v the Trustees of Berezovsky’s Estate – appeared in the Gibraltar Supreme Court and in the English High Court on behalf of the Trustees of the insolvent estate of Boris Berezovsky in respect of the estate’s claims against a valuable property in England. Donald has also appeared in respect of other aspects of this matter with Elspeth Talbot-Rice, Q.C.
  • Maso Capital Investments Ltd v Shanda Games Ltd [2020] BCC 466 – appeared (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for the appellants in the first appraisal action under s.238 of the Cayman Islands Companies Law to reach the Privy Council.
  • Re a State Oil Company (in arbitration) – appeared for the respondent to arbitration proceedings commenced by a state oil company concerning a joint venture for the transport of oil products.
  • Patel v Patel [2019] EWHC 2643 (Ch) – Donald appeared for the Defendant in relation to a derivative claim brought against him.
  • Re Topco Varnish Limited [2019] EWHC 245 (Ch) – appeared for the Petitioner in respect to a s.994 petition concerning the well-known online bathroom retailer, Victoria Plum.
  • Gany Holdings (PTC) SA v Khan [2018] UKPC 21 – appeared (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for the appellant trustees in respect of a claim for an account against it.
  • Re a divorce – appeared (with Chris Pocock, Q.C.) on behalf of the estate of a deceased husband in ongoing divorce proceedings. A dispute continues in respect of the proceeds of sale of a $50 million villa in Southern France the trial of which is due to be heard by a Divisional Court (before a Family Judge and a Chancery Judge) in 2020.
  • Royal Bank of Canada (Jersey) Limited v UBS AG – acted (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for a Jersey trustee in its £169 million claim against UBS for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.
  • Pinchuk v Kolomoisky & Bogolyubov – acted (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C. and Richard Hill, Q.C.) for Victor Pinchuk in his multi-billion dollar claim against Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov, which settled immediately prior to the trial. This litigation was among the largest ever litigated in the Commercial Court.
  • Gorbunova v Berezovsky’s Estate [2016] WTLR 1591 – appeared (with Elspeth Talbot-Rice, Q.C.) for the trustees of Boris Berezovsky’s insolvent estate in defence of a claim brought against the estate by Mr Berezovsky’s former partner.
  • Re Viking River Cruises Limited – instructed to advise own his own in respect of claims under §103 and a potential oppression petition under §111 of the Bermudian Companies Act 1981 and breach of share option agreements; and thereafter acted (with John Brisby, Q.C.) in the settling of pleadings and litigation of those claims in Bermuda in what was among the largest minority shareholder disputes ever litigated in Bermuda.
  • Re a Bermudian Company – instructed to advise and assist in settling the pleadings for a derivative claim against two of the company’s directors who had misappropriated millions of pounds from the company.
  • Re a Japanese Company (in Arbitration) – appeared (with Herman Boeddinghaus) to contest the jurisdiction of the LCIA to determine a dispute over a service agreement entered into in the context of the tender for the manufacture of a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit.
  • Oak Investment Partners XII, Limited Partnership v Boughtwood [2009] 1 B.C.L.C. 453 – appeared (with Christopher Harrison) for the trial of US-based investment partnership’s petition under §994 and instructed (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C. and Christopher Harrison) for the appeal.
Insolvency & restructuring

Most of Donald’s work contains an element of insolvency law, whether it be domestic or offshore. He regularly appears (on his own and being led) in insolvency matters, as well as providing insolvency advice. Donald has appeared in a number of important reported insolvency cases, including being general instructed by the trustees-in-bankruptcy for Boris Berezovsky (deceased) and Paul Baxendale-Walker:

  • Re VL Assurance Limited – acted (with Barry Isaacs, Q.C.) on behalf of the joint provisional liquidators of a life insurance company incorporated in Bermuda. The instructions concern various claims surrounding the failure of the company to maintain sufficient capitalisation to support the life insurance contracts entered by it.
  • Re Caroline Bay – acted (with Barry Isaacs, Q.C.) the Government of Bermuda in relation to the development of a Ritz-Carlton hotel on Caroline Bay in Bermuda.
  • Church Lane Trustees Limited v the Trustees of Berezovsky’s Estate – appeared in the Gibraltar Supreme Court and in the English High Court on behalf of the Trustees of the insolvent estate of Boris Berezovsky in respect of the estate’s claims against a valuable property in England. Donald has also appeared in respect of other aspects of this matter with Elspeth Talbot-Rice, Q.C.
  • Re Baxendale-Walker [2018] EWHC 3423 (Ch), [2018] EWHC 3572 (Ch) – instructed by and appeared for the trustees in bankruptcy over the former solicitor and tax advisor, Paul Baxendale-Walker, who was made bankrupt from judgment debts arising out of a substantial professional negligence claim against him.
  • Re Meem SL Ltd [2017] EWHC 2688 (Ch) – appeared on behalf of the applicants in respect of their challenge under para. 74 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • Re Central A1 Limited [2017] BCC 69 – appeared (with Marcia Shekerdemian, Q.C.) for the joint liquidators of 1,796 related companies in contesting the fees of the reporting accountant.
  • Gorbunova v Berezovsky’s Estate [2016] WTLR 1591 – appeared (with Elspeth Talbot-Rice, Q.C.) for the trustees of Boris Berezovsky’s insolvent estate in defence of a claim brought against the estate by Mr Berezovsky’s former partner.
  • Lockston Group Inc v Wood [2016] 1 WLR 2091 – appeared (with Stephen Atherton, Q.C.) for the trustees of Boris Berezovsky’s insolvent estate in defence of an application to remove them as trustee.
  • Re Parkwell Investments Ltd [2014] BCC 721 – appeared on behalf of the company in its application to set aside a provisional liquidation which had been obtained on the basis that the company was operating a fraudulent business.
  • Re Mehmet Armutcu [2013] BPIR 210 – appeared at first instance and upon appeal for a German creditor in its application to annul a bankruptcy order made in England and Wales involving a former German/Turkish architect.
  • Re Asegaai Consultants Ltd [2012] EWHC 1899 (Ch) – appeared on behalf of the defendant insolvency practitioner at the trial of the disqualification application brought by the joint liquidators of a group of companies over which the defendant had previously been appointed as administrator and liquidator.
  • Re Horst Benk [2012] EWHC 2432 (Ch) – appeared on behalf of the respondent bankrupt in respect of an application to annul the bankruptcy order on the basis that his COMI was in Germany at the relevant time. This judgment provides particular guidance as to the meaning of “permanence” for the concept of COMI.
  • Singla v Stockler [2012] EWHC 1176 (Ch) – appeared on behalf of a firm of solicitors (at both the first instance and appeal) for the summary judgment application of a claim brought against them by a former client for breach of their confidentiality obligations.
  • Re a Bankrupt [2012] BPIR 469 – appeared on behalf of a German insolvency practitioner (of a €6 million estate in bankruptcy) seeking recognition under Art. 25 of the EC Insolvency Regulation, and an order of the German court requiring the redirection of a bankrupt’s post and email in England.
Fraud – civil

Many of Donald’s instructions involve elements of civil fraud, in particular those involving high value insolvencies and with an offshore element. Notable recent cases include:

  • Patel v Iqbal [2020] EWHC 1174 (Ch) – Donald acted on behalf of the claimant in relation to his claim against a former business partner in a property development business. Donald successfully obtained a freezing injunction against the Defendant and an order debarring him from defending the claim on the basis of his failure to comply with his ancillary disclosure obligations under that injunction. Donald also appeared at the successful trial of the claim in May 2020.
  • Gany Holdings (PTC) SA v Khan [2018] UKPC 21 – appeared (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for the appellant trustees in respect of a claim for an account against it.
  • Re Baxendale-Walker [2018] EWHC 3423 (Ch) – instructed by and appeared for the trustees in bankruptcy over the former solicitor and tax advisor, Paul Baxendale-Walker, who was made bankrupt from judgment debts arising out of a substantial professional negligence claim against him.
  • Re a Company incorporated in the Czech Republic (in arbitration) – appeared on behalf of the Respondent who successfully resisted an injunction application against it amid serious allegations of fraud and intentional misconduct.
  • Re Meem SL Ltd [2017] EWHC 2688 (Ch) – instructed on behalf of the proposed Claimants in respect of their claim against the former directors of a company for conspiracy to injure by unlawful means and breaches of their fiduciary and common law duties to the company.
  • Pinchuk v Kolomoisky & Bogolyubov – acted (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C. and Richard Hill, Q.C.)  for Victor Pinchuk in his multi-billion dollar claim against Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov, which settled immediately prior to the trial
  • Re a Bermudian Company – instructed to advise and assist in settling the pleadings for a derivative claim against two of the company’s directors who had misappropriated substantial assets from the company.
  • Re Parkwell Investments Ltd [2014] BCC 721 – appeared on behalf of the company in its application to set aside a provisional liquidation which had been obtained on the basis that the company was operating a fraudulent business.
  • Re Asegaai Consultants Ltd [2012] EWHC 1899 (Ch) – appeared on behalf of the defendant insolvency practitioner for the trial of the disqualification application brought by the joint liquidators of a group of companies on the basis of the defendant’s alleged fraudulent conduct as administrator.
  • Noble House International Ltd v Grosvenor Private Reserve Fund Ltd – instructed (with John Brisby Q.C.) to assist settling pleadings on behalf of investors who have suffered losses arising out of the Bernard Madoff Ponsi scheme.
Offshore litigation

A significant proportion of Donald’s practice relates to offshore litigation, in particular litigation involving offshore trust and corporate structures. Recent offshore cases in which Donald has been involved include:

  • Re VL Assurance Limited – acted (with Barry Isaacs, Q.C.) on behalf of the joint provisional liquidators of a life insurance company incorporated in Bermuda. The instructions concern various claims surrounding the failure of the company to maintain sufficient capitalisation to support the life insurance contracts entered by it.
  • Re Caroline Bay – acted (with Barry Isaacs, Q.C.) for the Government of Bermuda in relation to the development of a Ritz-Carlton hotel on Caroline Bay in Bermuda.
  • Church Lane Trustees Limited v the Trustees of Berezovsky’s Estate – appeared in the Gibraltar Supreme Court and in the English High Court on behalf of the Trustees of the insolvent estate of Boris Berezovsky in respect of the estate’s claims against a valuable property in England. Donald has also appeared in respect of other aspects of this matter with Elspeth Talbot-Rice, Q.C.
  • Re a Nevis Trust (in camera) – acted for the trustee of a international exempt trust established in Nevis for a category 2 blessing application made as a result of difficulties in effecting distributions to a large number of objects.
  • Maso Capital Investments Ltd v Shanda Games Ltd [2020] BCC 466 – appeared (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for the appellants in the first appraisal action under s.238 of the Cayman Islands Companies Law to reach the Privy Council.
  • Gany Holdings (PTC) SA v Khan [2018] UKPC 21 – appeared (with Jonathan Crow, Q.C.) for the appellant trustees in respect of a claim for an account against it.
  • Re A Jersey Trustee – instructed on behalf of a Jersey trustee for its application for directions.
  • Re A Guernsey Trustee – instructed by a trustee located in Guernsey in respect of the administration of two foreign trusts.
  • Al-Saleh v Sargeant Marine Limited – instructed on behalf of the plaintiff to settle pleadings for the recognition of the judgment obtained in the 15th Judicial Circuit for Palm Beach County, Florida in The Bahamas.
  • Re Two Bahamian Trusts – instructed (with John Brisby, Q.C.) to advise a trustee of two Bahamian trusts settled by a prominent American family.
  • Re Viking River Cruises Limited – instructed to advise own his own in respect of claims under §103 and a potential oppression petition under §111 of the Bermudian Companies Act 1981 and breach of share option agreements; and thereafter acted (with John Brisby, Q.C.) in the settling of pleadings and litigation of those claims in Bermuda in what was among the largest minority shareholder disputes ever litigated in Bermuda.
  • Re a Bermudian Company – instructed to advise and assist in settling the pleadings for a derivative claim against two of the company’s directors who had misappropriated substantial assets from the company.
  • Re Two Nevis Trusts (in camera) – appeared (with Alan Steinfeld, Q.C. and Orlando Fraser, Q.C.) on behalf of the protector of two Nevis trusts for the trial (in 2013) and appeal (in 2014) of the trustee’s application for directions; further acted (with Orlando Fraser, Q.C.) on the further application for directions (in 2016); and continues to act on own his own in respect of the further administration of these trusts.
  • Re Gerova Financial Group Limited – advised and assisted settling grounds of appeal on behalf of a debtor company in its appeal of a winding-up order made by the Supreme Court of Bermuda. The issues on appeal were the locus standi of the petitioning creditor and whether it had a right to a winding-up order ex debito justitiae.
  • Re the W Trust (in camera) – advised an offshore corporate trustee concerning its application for removal of the Protector of the trust on the basis of the Court’s inherent jurisdiction over fiduciaries.
  • Re Autogas (Europe) Limited – appeared on behalf of an Isle of Man accountant resisting the jurisdiction of the English Courts to make an order against him under §236 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • Re Ocean Survey Company Limited – advised (with Jonathan Crow Q.C.) a Bermudian trust company on the merits of contesting the jurisdiction of the English Courts regarding disputes over a £2 billion family trust.
  • Noble House International Ltd v Grosvenor Private Reserve Fund Ltd – instructed (with John Brisby Q.C.) to assist settling pleadings on behalf of investors who have suffered losses arising out of the Bernard Madoff Ponsi scheme. The claim is against the investors’ financial advisors and operators of a “fund of funds” hedge fund that invested heavily in Madoff “feeder funds” in Bermuda and the BVI.
  • Re the M Trust – advised (with Jonathan Crow Q.C.) a wealthy beneficiary of an offshore family trust (holdings assets in excess of $30 million) on her rights to disclosure of trust and corporate documents of a trust owned company under the Schmidt v Rosewood regime and as a former director of the company.
  • Re the B Trusts (in camera) – provided expert evidence (with Robert Ham Q.C.) for an offshore trust company in support of its category (2) blessing summons.
  • Re MFI Net (S) Pte Ltd – advised a Singaporean company regarding its ability to appeal a winding-up order made against it (reported at Conet Inc v MFI Net (S) Pte Ltd [2010] SGHC 272).
  • Re a Bahamian Company – instructed (with John Brisby Q.C. and Andrew de Mestre) by the petitioners seeking to wind-up a company incorporated in The Bahamas on just and equitable grounds.

Additional info

What the directories and judges say

Donald was first recognised by the legal directories early in his career, in 2011, when he was described as a “real rising star”. The latest directory comments in Chambers & Partners 2021 are:

Chancery: Commercial

 “A brilliant barrister – it is a pleasure to instruct him.”

 “He impresses on all sides.”

Company

 “Experienced junior with a deep knowledge of litigious company cases, most notably shareholder disputes. Regularly appears unled in court proceedings, and demonstrates strong expertise in matters concerning derivative claims.”

“Cool, calm and collected, he’s fantastically likeable and very hard-working.”

Donald has also been recognised in judgments, for example:

Deputy ICC Judge Agnello, Q.C. noted she was “grateful” for Mr Lilly’s “helpful” and “detailed” submissions and skeleton argument in Re Baxendale-Walker (a bankrupt) [2018] EWHC 3423 (Ch)

Sir William Blackburne described Mr Lilly’s submissions as “Forcefully” made in Re Parkwell Investments Limited [2014] BCC 721

Mr Lilly, in well-judged submissions”: Mr Justice Newey (as he then was) in Re Asegaai Consultants Ltd [2012] EWHC 1899 (Ch)

Mr Lilly, for the defendants, took full and, as it turned out, well-judged advantage.”: Mr Justice Briggs (as he then was) in Singla v Stockler Brunton [2012] EWHC 1176 (Ch)

…thanks to him for a very full skeleton argument on which I have drawn extensively”: Chief Registrar Baister (as he then was) in Re a Bankrupt [2012] BPIR 469

Education & Awards

MA and BCL, Wadham College, Oxford (Scholar)
Linklaters Prize in EC Competition Law (MA)
Monckton Prize in Competition Law (BCL)
Astbury Scholar (Middle Temple)
Harmsworth Entrance Exhibitioner (Middle Temple)

Career & appointments

Chancery Bar Association
COMBAR.

Publications

Contributor to “Mithani: Directors’ Disqualification”.
“It’s a real privilege: common interests in trust disputes”. Trusts and Trustees, T. & T. 2013, 19(1), 68-78.
“Investigations by BIS”, Tolley’s Company Law Service
Featured in The Lawyer, “Judgment Call”, 21 May 2012.

Foreign jurisdictions

Called in the British Virgin Islands (2013)

Called (ad hoc) in Gibraltar (2019)