Practice

As a former derivatives trader with a degree in economics from the LSE, Sharif has an extensive knowledge of the financial markets and banking. He regularly acts in large commercial disputes, especially those requiring a detailed understanding of the financial markets, or issues of insolvency, company or regulatory law.

Sharif is the current Chambers & Partners’ Company and Insolvency Junior of the Year, and is recommended as a leading junior in five practice areas in Chambers UK and four practice areas in the Legal 500. His recent directory entries include: Legal 500 2016 for Banking & Finance (“Superb to work with – incredibly bright, thoughtful and responsive”), Commercial Litigation (“A solicitor favourite; he provides excellent analytical and litigation skills”), Company (“Hardworking and respectful – it is a tremendous learning experience working with such a brilliant mind”) and Insolvency (“Very intelligent and analytical, and good under pressure”). He is also recommended in Chambers UK 2016 for Banking & Finance (“He is really good on his feet, is very commercial, technically brilliant and can understand complex financial products”), Chancery Commercial (“Sharif is incredibly hard-working and very willing to roll his sleeves up and get stuck in to the analysis of a financially complex project”, “A client-friendly, thoughtful strategist who is a pleasure to work with”), Company Law (“He is really creative, very energetic, and so bright that he thinks up points that aren’t obvious”), Financial Services (“highly rated work”, “well regarded as an advocate”) and Offshore (“An eminent junior with a background as a former derivatives trader. He delivers standout performances in financial services litigation”).

Aside from his extensive work for commercial and private clients, Sharif also acts for governments (Sharif was on the Attorney General’s B Panel from 2010 to 2015, acting, inter alia, for HM Treasury and for foreign governments) and regulators (the Financial Conduct Authority and offshore financial services and banking regulators).

Sharif has also been named as one of Financial News’ 100 Rising Stars of the City of London (‘Shivji is an authority when it comes to financial services disputes’); Legal Week’s ‘Future Stars at the Bar’ and The Lawyer’s ‘Hot 100′. In addition, Sharif was previously shortlisted for Chambers & Partners’ Chancery Junior of the Year.

Practice areas

Commercial dispute resolution

Heavyweight commercial litigation is the mainstay of Sharif’s practice. He regularly acts as the senior junior in very substantial and ultra high value commercial cases, and is experienced in leading teams of junior barristers.

Sharif is very familiar with the challenges that large scale litigation presents; including dealing with complex forensic analysis, substantial quantities of electronic documents, large numbers of witnesses and expert evidence in a variety of disciplines (including topics such as foreign law, banking, complex financial products, financial modelling and company valuation).

Recent substantial cases in which Sharif has had significant involvement over a number of years include:

  • acting as the junior to Robert Miles QC and Richard Hill QC for Dr Mike Lynch in the Hewlett Packard / Autonomy litigation where Autonomy is suing its former CEO for in excess of $US 5 billion in relation to an alleged accounting fraud. This is a substantial matter listed for a 7 month trial.
  • representing the investors in the highly complex Standard & Poors’ rating agency litigation which concerned the liability of rating agencies to investors (McGraw-Hill v Deutsche Apotheker and others). In that case, Sharif was the senior junior in a team of six junior barristers, and was led by Daniel Toledano QC of One Essex Court.
  • acting in litigation relating to the collapsed Icelandic bank, Kaupthing hf, in particular as the senior junior in a team of four junior barristers acting for the claimants in the Chesterfield v Deutsche Bank litigation where claims of over €500 million were made in relation to credit derivative transactions. Sharif was led by Mark Phillips QC of South Square.
  • representing Bank of New York Mellon in the Lehman Brothers International Europe Limited / DZ Bank repo litigation in the Commercial Court. Sharif was the senior junior in a team of three junior barristers and was led by Sonia Tolaney QC of One Essex Court.

Sharif also has significant experience acting as the lead advocate in commercial litigation matters in the Chancery Division, Commercial Court and overseas. He has a particular specialism in cross-examining experts and recently cross-examined company valuation experts (including on complex discounted cashflow valuations) in three linked trials on issues worth in excess of US$1 billion.

Sharif’s directory entries for commercial litigation include Legal 500: “A solicitor favourite; he provides excellent analytical and litigation skills.”

Chancery: commercial

Sharif has a wealth of experience acting in Chancery matters. He was previously shortlisted for Chambers & Partners Chancery Junior of the Year and has acted in a substantial number of Chancery disputes. Whilst these cases tend to have a commercial flavour, he has been involved in disputes across a range of industries, sectors and legal issues.

In addition, he has developed a niche practice working on securitisation disputes, and has considerable experience acting for bond trustees and other entities operating within securitisation structures. Recent cases including acting for the special servicer in the £1 billion Gemini securisation (CBRE Loan Servicing Ltd v Gemini (Eclipse 2006-3) Plc [2015] EWHC 2769 (Ch)) and acting for Law Debenture (Plaza v Law Debenture [2015] EWHC 43) in a dispute over the distribution of monies in the Bell Group liquidation, after the recovery of AUD 1.7 billion.

Banking & finance

Sharif is well known for his banking and financial services expertise. He has extensive specialist knowledge of banking and the financial markets both from practical experience, working as a derivatives trader in London and Hong Kong, and also his time at the London School of Economics (during which period, he also worked as a research assistant for Professor Tim Congdon who was a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, and also undertook a prestigious internship at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson (now Commerzbank)).

Sharif has a detailed knowledge of complex financial products and derivatives trading and has worked on cases involving, inter alia, equities, foreign exchange (forex), fixed income, financial and commodity futures, options, CFDs, repos, credit default swaps (CDS), interest rate swaps (IRS) and other swaps, structured products and LIBOR referenced products.

He is also very experienced in corporate finance and securitisation matters (including cases involving mergers and acquisitions, collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) and mortgage backed securities).

Sharif has an excellent understanding of how financial institutions function at an operational level and the roles of back, middle and front office as well as risk management systems and executive oversight, up to board level.

Sharif has acted in banking and financial services matters for regulators, stock exchanges, banks, trading businesses and other financial institutions and their customers. In recent years, he has also acted in many disputes under the ISDA Master Agreement, and in relation to financial collateral.

Sharif is also very knowledgeable on regulatory matters under FSMA 2000 and the FSA rules, and has acted on many occasions for the FCA on regulatory issues.

Sharif has been recognised in all of the directories as a leading junior in banking and finance for many years. A summary of recent entries include: Legal 500 (“Superb to work with – incredibly bright, thoughtful and responsive.”), Chambers & Partners (“a fast-growing reputation as a highly accomplished banking junior”; “He is really good on his feet, is very commercial, technically brilliant and can understand complex financial products.”; “A proper banking junior well capable of a mature presentation of the issues.“), Who’s Who Legal (“great to work with, always on top of the details”).

Company law

Sharif is an experienced company litigator, both in the UK and offshore, in Court and in arbitration, and is currently Chambers & Partners Company and Insolvency Junior of the Year.

He has acted in and advised on numerous company law disputes raising questions of directors’ duties, directors’ disqualification, shareholder rights and company dissolution and revival. With his financial background, Sharif has a sophisticated understanding of company valuation issues and recently cross-examined experts on company valuation (including discounted cashflow valuations) in three linked trials on issues worth in excess of US$1 billion.

His recent directory entries for company law include: “Hardworking and respectful – it is a tremendous learning experience working with such a brilliant mind.” (Legal 500), “An impressive senior junior who is often instructed in shareholder disputes and financial services-related claims. He previously worked as a derivatives trader and regularly acts without a leader”. “He is really creative, very energetic, and so bright that he thinks up points that aren’t obvious.” (Chambers & Partners)

Insolvency & restructuring

Sharif has significant experience in insolvency litigation in the UK and offshore, as well as cross-border. He is the current Chambers & Partners Company and Insolvency Junior of the Year.

Sharif is very familiar with officeholder claims and is one of the authors of OUP’s Transaction Avoidance in Insolvencies. He has recently been acting in Chesterfield v Deutsche Bank which concerned a €500 million claim for fraudulent trading, and the Gemini administration where, along with John Brisby QC, he put the English Gemini companies into administration under the English Court’s special jurisdiction, pursuant to letters of request from the Guernsey Royal Court.

In Dubai, Sharif and Richard Hill QC have recently successfully put Bank Sarasin Alpen (ME) Limited into liquidation in the DIFC. This was a landmark case and represented the first successful contested creditors’ winding-up petition in the DIFC.

Sharif is also very familiar with the types of issues which flow from large scale insolvencies, especially the collapse of financial institutions. In particular, he has appeared in a number of cases involving trust claims and the distribution of client assets or money in an insolvency context, including notably, Lehman Brothers International Europe where Sharif and Jules Sher QC obtained an important and substantial victory for the creditors of Lehman. Other such cases include BA Peters plc and PRG Powerhouse. Sharif has considerable experience in insolvency litigation, including acting in contested administration applications, winding-up petitions, voluntary arrangements, transaction avoidance cases, and applications to restrain presentation and advertisement of petitions. He has appeared in a number of cases involving trust claims and the distribution of client assets or money in an insolvency context (including Lehman Brothers International Europe, BA Peters plc and PRG Powerhouse). He also has specific expertise in cross-border insolvency including UNCITRAL and the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006.

Sharif’s recent directory entries for insolvency include Legal 500: “Very intelligent and analytical, and good under pressure.”

Fraud – civil

Sharif has a detailed knowledge of all relevant aspects of commercial fraud litigation, including freezing and proprietary injunctions and search and disclosure orders. Sharif’s masters thesis was on the topic of international asset recovery.

Sharif has recently been involved in three very substantial fraud cases:

  • acting as the junior to Robert Miles QC and Richard Hill QC for Dr Mike Lynch in the Hewlett Packard / Autonomy litigation where Autonomy is suing its former CEO for in excess of US$ 5 billion in relation to an alleged accounting fraud. This is a substantial matter listed for a 7 month trial in 2019.
  • representing the investors in the highly complex Standard & Poors’ rating agency litigation which concerned the liability of rating agencies to investors for allegedly fraudulent misrepresentations (McGraw-Hill v Deutsche Apotheker and others).
  • acting for the claimants in the Chesterfield v Deutsche Bank litigation in a fraudulent trading claim where the damages sought exceeded €500 million. 
Financial services

Sharif is highly regarded for his expertise in financial services. Details of Sharif’s experience as a banker, and a lawyer are summarised in the banking and finance section above. Sharif has considerable regulatory experience and has acted for the FCA on many occasions on enforcement matters. Recent cases for the FCA include:

  • Roberts and Wilkins v FCA [2015] UKUT 408 (TCC); acted for the FCA in its successful enforcement action against the directors of Catalyst in relation to the sale of investments in a Luxembourg entity, ARM, known colloquially as death bonds. Sharif acted on his own in this matter for the FCA. The applicants were both represented by silks. Sharif also acted for the FCA in defeating an application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal in this matter.
  • Allen v FCA [2014] UKUT 348 (TCC); acted for the FCA in its successful action against an insurance broker.
  • Cordle v FSA [2012]; acted for the FSA in its successful action against an errant financial adviser.
  • Financial Services Authority v MAFM [2012]: acted for the FSA in its successful action against a mortgage adviser who was accused of carrying out a series of mortgage frauds.
  • Karpe v Financial Services Authority [2012]: led by Jonathan Crow QC, acted for the FSA in respect of its successful pursuit of the individuals responsible for substantial unauthorised foreign exchange trading at UBS. Obtained the highest fine ever awarded against an individual in a non-market abuse case.
Offshore litigation

Sharif has a substantial international practice. Chambers & Partners describe him as “An eminent junior with a background as a former derivatives trader. He delivers standout performances in financial services litigation, and has a highly international practice…”.

Many of Sharif’s cases have a significant international element and he has recently worked on cases involving Singapore, the BVI, Trinidad, Cayman, Guernsey, Jersey, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Dubai, Kuwait and the United States.

Professional discipline and regulatory law

Allied to his banking and financial services work, Sharif regularly acts in relation to matters relating to investment misselling and bankers’ negligence. He acted for a number of years in the Standard & Poor’s litigation which related to the liability of rating agencies to investors. In the circumstances, Sharif is well versed in professional negligence in the banking and financial services arena.

Alternative dispute resolution

ADR forms part of any experienced litigator’s toolkit. Sharif is experienced in mediation and negotiations at the highest level.

International arbitration

Sharif has acted in a number of large scale arbitrations, in particular in the petrochemical sector. He is very familiar with the particular issues that arbitral proceedings raise and the important differences between arbitration and court based litigation.

Additional info

Cases of interest
  • Autonomy Limited v Hussain and Lynch (2015 to 2017): acting as the junior to Robert Miles QC and Richard Hill QC for Dr Mike Lynch in the Hewlett Packard / Autonomy litigation where Autonomy is suing its former CEO for in excess of $US 5 billion in relation to an alleged accounting fraud. This is a substantial matter listed for a 7 month trial.
  • Khorafi v Bank Sarasin Alpen (ME) Limited and Bank Sarasin Limited (2013 to 2017): numerous reported decisions between 2014 and 2017. Sharif has been acting, with Richard Hill QC, in this landmark case in Dubai which is said to be the most significant in the history of the DIFC. Sharif and Richard, acting for the claimants, have had significant victories at first instance at trials on liability and on quantum, and have upheld those judgments on appeal. In addition, they have put one of the defendants, Bank Sarasin Alpen (ME) Limited into liquidation on the basis of an unpaid judgment in the first successful contested winding-up petition in the DIFC.
  • Chesterfield United Inc v Deutsche Bank AG and others (2014 to 2017): led by Mark Philips QC of South Square, Sharif has acted for a number of years in claims for damages of over €500 million brought by two BVI companies against Deutsche Bank in relation to the selling of credit derivatives.
  • McGraw-Hill v Deutsche Apotheker and others (2013 to 2016): representing the investors in the highly complex Standard & Poors’ rating agency litigation which concerned the liability of rating agencies to investors. Led by Daniel Toledano QC of One Essex Court.
  • Lehman Brothers International Europe Limited v (1) DZ Bank (2) BNYM (2015/2016). Sharif acted for BNYM in this repo agreement dispute which arose out of the collapse of Lehman. The case concerned complex issues relating to the ownership and allocation of financial collateral. Led by Sonia Tolaney QC.
  • CBRE Loan Servicing Ltd v Gemini (Eclipse 2006-3) Plc [2015] EWHC 2769 (Ch): Sharif has acted in various aspects of this insolvent securitisation structure. Along with John Brisby QC, he put the English Gemini companies into administration under the English Court’s special jurisdiction, pursuant to letters of request from the Guernsey Royal Court. John and Sharif subsequently brought a trustee’s directions application in relation to the distribution of funds received under the structure. Sharif has also acted in various other parts of the administrations.
  • Plaza v Law Debenture [2015] EWHC 43: led by Richard Snowden QC and Andrew Clutterbuck QC, Sharif acted for Law Debenture in a dispute over the distribution of monies in the Bell Group liquidation, after the recovery of AUD 1.7 billion.
  • Roberts and Wilkins v FCA [2015] UKUT 408 (TCC); acted for the FCA in its successful enforcement action against the directors of Catalyst in relation to the sale of investments in a Luxembourg entity, ARM, known colloquially as death bonds. Sharif acted on his own in this matter for the FCA. The applicants were both represented by silks. Sharif also acted for the FCA in defeating an application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal in this matter.
  • Allen v FCA [2014] UKUT 348 (TCC); acted for the FCA in its successful action against an insurance broker.
  • Cordle v FSA [2012]; acted for the FSA in its successful action against an errant financial adviser.
  • Financial Services Authority v MAFM [2012]: acted for the FSA in its successful action against a mortgage adviser who was accused of carrying out a series of mortgage frauds.
  • Karpe v Financial Services Authority [2012]: led by Jonathan Crow QC, acted for the FSA in respect of its successful pursuit of the individuals responsible for substantial unauthorised foreign exchange trading at UBS. Obtained the highest fine ever awarded against an individual in a non-market abuse case.
  • Euroption Strategic Fund v SEB [2012] EWHC 584: acted for a hedge fund in this test case about the duties owed by a bank in closing out a customer’s portfolio following a missed margin call. The damages sought were €200 million.
  • Sisters of Charity v Morgan Stanley (2012): acted for over 100 claimants in an action against Morgan Stanley in relation to the sale of structured products in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Relational LLC v Hodges [2012] ILPr 4, Court of Appeal: led by Richard Millett QC on an appeal on security for costs against a foreign company.
  • Carey Group Plc v (1) AIB Group (UK) Plc (2) NAMA [2011] 2 All ER (Comm) 461: successfully represented AIB in relation to a claim concerning the Irish Government’s asset recovery agency, NAMA.
  • The Law Debenture Trust Corporation v Elektrim SA [2010] EWCA Civ 1142, Court of Appeal: acted as junior counsel in successfully upholding a first instance judgment for €185 million on matters relating to contractual construction, estoppel and loss of a chance issues. Led by Robert Miles QC and Andrew Clutterbuck.
  • Agrimarche Ltd [2010] EWHC 1655: acted for the liquidators in relation to the valuation of commodity option contracts.
  • BA Peters [2010] 1 BCLC 110: acted for a successful claimant in a dispute involving the distribution of client assets and money in the administration of an insolvent ship broker.
  • Lehman Brothers International Europe [2009] EWHC 2545: acted as junior counsel for a hedge fund, the RAB Market Cycles (Master) Fund, in its successful claim that collateral assets (worth several billion US$s) were held by the bank on trust for its clients. Led by Jules Sher QC.
  • The Law Debenture Trust Corporation v Elektrim SA [2009] EWHC 1801: acted as junior counsel for the successful claimant in its action for a payment under a bond issue (resulting in Judgment for €185 million). The case involved the valuation of a conglomerate and issues relating to the International Accounting Standards. Led by Robert Miles QC and Andrew Clutterbuck.
  • Baron Jon Menswear [2008] BCC 542: acted for the successful administrator in a contested application for leave to bring proceedings against the company.
  • Geniki Investments Ltd v Ellis Stockbrokers Ltd [2008] 1 BCLC 662: acted for an investor in a claim against a stockbroker for damages relating to unauthorised trading on international stock markets. Sharif acted on his own but the defendant was represented by a silk.
  • HM Revenue & Customs v Richard Alan Crossman [2008] 1 All ER 483: acted for a debtor, seeking to defend insolvency proceedings on public law grounds.
  • Secretary of State for Trade & Industry v Jonkler [2006] 1 WLR 3433: acted for a director in her successful application to vary a disqualification undertaking given by her pursuant to section 8A of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.
  • Daraydan & others v Solland International & others [2005] Ch 119: acted for the defendants in a 4 week trial involving issues of bribery, conspiracy to defraud and international asset tracing. Led by Edward Bannister QC.
  • Giles v Rhind [2003] Ch 618 (CA): acted for a successful shareholder in relation to an appeal on the reflective loss principle. Led by George Bompas QC.

 

What the directories and judges say

Chambers & Partners

Banking & Finance (Band 2)

Has a fast-growing reputation as a highly accomplished banking junior, whose practice in the area is partly informed by his background as a derivatives trader. He is also often called upon by instructing solicitors for representation in company law and offshore disputes.

Strengths: “He is really good on his feet, is very commercial, technically brilliant and can understand complex financial products.” “A proper banking junior well capable of a mature presentation of the issues.”

Recent work: Appeared in the case between Standard & Poor’s and Deutsche Bank concerning the liability of ratings agencies for the ratings they grant financial products.

Chancery: Commercial (Band 2)

Has a broad-based commercial chancery practice. As befits someone who has years of experience of working in the financial services industry, many of his cases have a complicated banking or financial services component.

Strengths: “Sharif is incredibly hard-working and very willing to roll his sleeves up and get stuck in to the analysis of a financially complex project.” “A client-friendly, thoughtful strategist who is a pleasure to work with.”

Recent work: Represented the defendant in Autonomy Corporation v Dr Michael Lynch, a major case involving alleged breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.

Company (Band 2)

An impressive senior junior who is often instructed in shareholder disputes and financial services-related claims. He previously worked as a derivatives trader and regularly acts without a leader.

Strengths: “He is really creative, very energetic, and so bright that he thinks up points that aren’t obvious.”

Recent work: Appeared for the claimants in Stephen Akers v Deutsche Bank AG, a substantial dispute alleging, among other things, breach of fiduciary duty by directors in connection with the sale of toxic derivative financial instruments.

Financial Services (Band 3)

His previous background as a derivatives trader allows him to bring a wealth of direct and professional experience to his highly rated work advising on a range of domestic and international financial regulatory issues. He is also well regarded as an advocate and regularly appears before the Upper Tribunal.

Recent work: Successfully acted for the FCA against Timothy Roberts and Andrew Wilkins regarding the marketing of ‘death bonds’.

Offshore (Band 2)

An eminent junior with a background as a former derivatives trader. He delivers standout performances in financial services litigation, and has a highly international practice that sees him work in places such as Dubai, the BVI and Trinidad & Tobago.

Strengths: “Extremely knowledgeable about financial services issues. He is really on top of everything.”

Recent work: Acted in Al Khorafi v Bank Sarasin-Alpen (ME) Limited and others, a landmark banking and financial services case, and one of the highest-profile investment mis-selling cases in the Middle East.

Legal 500

Banking and Finance (including consumer credit)

Superb to work with – incredibly bright, thoughtful and responsive.

Commercial Litigation

A solicitor favourite; he provides excellent analytical and litigation skills.

Company and Partnership

Hardworking and respectful – it is a tremendous learning experience working with such a brilliant mind.

Insolvency

Very intelligent and analytical, and good under pressure. 

Career & appointments

Attorney General’s B Panel 2010 to 2015

Foreign jurisdictions

Called to the Bar in the DIFC, Dubai

Publications

Books:

Annotated Companies Acts, OUP 2012 (Contributor). Transaction Avoidance in Insolvencies, OUP 2011 (Co-author). Atkins’ Court Forms: Insolvency Volumes (Co-author). Atkins’ Court Forms: Company Volumes (Co-author). Tolley’s Company Law: Investigations by the BERR (Co-author).

Articles:  

“Cross-border transaction avoidance: Rubin v Eurofinance SA” Insolv. Int. 2010, 23(10), 149-154 “Financial collateral: trust issues in the administration of Lehman Brothers” (2010) 25(1) BJIB&FL 11. “The Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006: An Emerging Jurisprudence” American Bankruptcy Institute Journal Jan 2008, 40 “The Cross Border Insolvency Regulations 2006” (2007) 23(2) IL&P 37.

Education & awards

BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics. MA in Law from City University (thesis on Equitable Tracing). Wolfson Scholar, Lincoln’s Inn and Sir Walter Wigglesworth Scholar, Lincoln’s Inn.

Chambers & Partners Company and Insolvency Junior of the Year 2016, listed in Legal Week’s Future Stars of the Bar and The Lawyers’ Hot 100.