Practice

Zara has a busy practice across the full range of work undertaken by Chambers, including insolvencycompany lawcivil fraudbanking and financial services, and commercial litigation and arbitration.

Zara regularly appears both led and unled in the High Court and County Court, and has cross-examination experience, as well as experience of international arbitration and arbitration-related court applications. She is also comfortable working in teams with solicitors, together with counsel both from Chambers and elsewhere. Her work includes:

  • Insolvency: GEMA v Neon Reef Limited (2021); GEMA v Zog Energy Ltd (2021)GEMA v Social Energy Supply Ltd (2021); GEMA v Together Energy (Retail) Limited (2022): acting as sole counsel on behalf of OFGEM in urgent Part 8 claims brought in the High Court for declarations of insolvency in respect of energy supply companies. Zara has also acted in a number of other insolvency matters. In A v B (2021-2022), she was led by John Brisby QC in opposing an application to restrain the presentation of a winding-up petition in respect of an industrial company. In 2021-2022, she has acted as sole counsel for the joint administrators of the Oasis and Warehouse retail group, and assisted in respect of the administration of Greensill Capital. During this time, she has also acted as sole counsel in an application for the discharge of administrators, an application for the recognition of foreign insolvency disputes, a misfeasance claim against a director, an application to remove an office-holder, and an application for the provision of documents under s366 IA 1986.
  • Company law: Re Compound Photonics Group Ltd [2021] EWHC 787 (Ch), a s.994 unfair prejudice petition against the majority shareholders of an electronic display company, led by Andreas Gledhill QC of Blackstone Chambers and Donald Lilly (now on appeal). Zara is currently instructed in a number of other unfair prejudice petitions and related disputes both as sole counsel and as part of a team, including with counsel from other sets. She also regularly appears in company applications, including for extensions of time to register security.
  • Civil fraud: Autonomy and Ors v Lynch and Anor (2019-2020): led by Robert Miles QC, Richard Hill QC, and Sharif Shivji, acted for the former CEO of Autonomy in a claim for over $5 billion in respect of alleged accounting fraud. The case was one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2019, and remains the UK’s largest-ever civil fraud trial.
  • Banking and financial services: Oscar Trustee Limited v MBS Software Solutions Limited BVIHC (COM) 2021/0022, led by Sharif Shivji QC: acted on behalf of the defendant in relation to two applications relating to a claim for payment under an equity derivative executed pursuant to the ISDA Master Agreement, where the underlying equity stake arose out of mining interests on the Turkish-Syrian border. Zara has also recently been led by Jonathan Crow QC in advising a global bank on, inter alia, its Quincecare duty of care.
  • Commercial litigation and arbitration: Nissan v FIAMM (2021): assisted in relation to this claim listed in the Technology and Construction Court in respect of allegedly faulty car batteries. Zara is also currently acting as sole counsel in disputes regarding the sale of advertising space in a national football league, property development projects and proceeds from royalties for music recordings. She has also acted, led by Jeffrey Gruder QC of Essex Court Chambers, in an international arbitration under the ICC rules relating to a hospital in the MENA region.  

Before coming to the Bar, Zara read Classics and Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, with a year studying abroad in France. After her degree, she spent time living and working in Kazakhstan and Hong Kong. She has maintained her interest in both jurisdictions: she has rights of audience in the AIFC Court in Kazakhstan and was awarded the 2018 Inner Temple Pegasus Scholarship to Hong Kong. Zara also has rights of audience in the DIFC Courts, as well as experience of matters in the ADGM.

Practice areas

Banking & finance

Zara has been instructed both as sole counsel and as part of a team in various banking and finance disputes. These include:

  • Oscar Trustee Limited v MBS Software Solutions Limited BVIHC (COM) 2021/0022:  led by Sharif Shivji QC in a  dispute concerning the ISDA Master Agreement;
  • Advising a global bank on, inter alia, its Quincecare duty of care, led by Jonathan Crow QC;
  • Drafting pre-action correspondence and statements of case in claims regarding the mis-selling of investment products;
  • Assisting in relation to the insolvency of a bank in the MENA region;
  • Assisting the Independent Third Party addressing complaints from SME customers of RBS’ Global Restructuring Group during and following the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Robert Tchenguiz & Ors v Grant Thornton UK LLP & Ors: assisting in relation to the Commercial Court proceedings in the multi-billion pound dispute arising out of the Claimants’ financing arrangements with a major Icelandic bank;
Chancery: commercial

Zara’s work spans chancery areas with a business flavour, and she regularly appears both as sole and as junior counsel in the Business & Property Courts. Recent instructions include:

  • Autonomy Corporation Ltd & Ors v Lynch & Anor: led by Robert Miles QC and Richard Hill QC in the 10-month trial of a claim involving allegations of fraud, arising out of the acquisition of Autonomy by Hewlett Packard in 2011;
  • Drafting a statement of case and mediation position statement in a claim relating to alleged breaches of statutory and fiduciary duties in respect of the management of a business and its dealings with HMRC.
Commercial dispute resolution

Much of Zara’s practice concerns commercial disputes between businesses large and small in a range of different sectors. Recent work in this area includes:

  • Acting as sole counsel in a dispute regarding the sale of advertising space in a national football league;
  • Acting as sole counsel in a dispute over a property development project;
  • Acting as sole counsel in a dispute concerning royalties for historic music recordings;
  • Assisting in relation to the Nissan v FIAMM dispute, which concerned allegedly faulty car batteries;
  • As sole counsel, a statement of case in a dispute between a branding and communications agency and a former client;
  • As sole counsel, obtaining judgment for a design business in a money dispute with a former client;
  • As sole counsel, drafted a statement of case in a dispute between a telecoms company and a web hosting company.
Company law

Zara regularly advises on and acts in a wide range of company and partnership law matters, particularly concerning shareholder disputes. Recent instructions include:

  • Led by Nigel Dougherty of Erskine Chambers, acting for the petitioner in an unfair prejudice petition brought in respect of a PPI claims management company pursuant to s994 Companies Act 2006;
  • Acting as sole counsel for a respondent director and shareholder in a s994 unfair prejudice petition brought in respect of a manufacturer of specialist optical equipment;
  • Led by Gregory Denton-Cox, acting for the petitioner in a s994 unfair prejudice petition brought in respect of an ethical clothing company;
  • As sole counsel, applying to rectify the Companies Register pursuant to s859M Companies Act 2006;
  • As sole counsel, drafting a statement of case and advising in respect of a joint venture concerning a property development enterprise;
  • As sole counsel, applying to rectify the Companies Register pursuant to s1096 Companies Act 2006;
  • Re Compound Photonics Group Ltd [2021] EWHC 787 (Ch): led by Andreas Gledhill QC (of Blackstone Chambers) and Donald Lilly in the four-week trial of an unfair prejudice petition brought against the majority shareholders in an electronic display company;
  • As sole counsel, applying for the restoration of a company to the register under s1029 Companies Act 2006;
  • As sole counsel, drafting statements of case in an unfair prejudice petition/derivative action in respect of an international media company;
  • As sole counsel, advising on a potential s125 Companies Act 2006 application for the rectification of the register of companies;
  • As sole counsel, advising on a potential unfair prejudice petition in respect of a medical staffing company;
  • As sole counsel, obtaining extensions of time to register charges at Companies House under s859F Companies Act 2006;
Fraud – civil

Zara has been involved in a number of cases concerning fraud, and is thus familiar with the issues which often arise in such claims, as well as applications for interim relief (including freezing injunctions). Recent experience includes:

  • As sole counsel, acting on behalf of the claimant in a claim against six defendants in deceit, breach of fiduciary duty, dishonest assistance and knowing receipt;
  • Autonomy Corporation Ltd & Ors v Lynch & Anor: led by Robert Miles QC and Richard Hill QC in the 10-month trial of a claim involving allegations of fraud, arising out of the acquisition of Autonomy by Hewlett Packard in 2011;
  • Robert Tchenguiz & Ors v Grant Thornton UK LLP & Ors: assisting in relation to the Commercial Court proceedings in the multi-billion-pound dispute arising out of the Claimants’ financing arrangements with a major Icelandic bank;
  • Successfully obtaining a continued freezing injunction in a fraud claim brought by an individual against his former business partner.
Insolvency & restructuring

Zara is regularly instructed on behalf of both creditors and debtors in both personal and corporate insolvency matters arising under the Insolvency Act 1986 and the Insolvency Rules 2016. She is also a contributor to Loose and Griffiths on Liquidators (9th Ed.) (2019). Her work in this area includes:

  • Acting as sole counsel in a misfeasance claim against the former director of an insolvent company;
  • Acting as sole counsel in an application to set aside a statutory demand for £5 million;
  • Acting as sole counsel for the joint administrators of the Oasis and Warehouse retail group in extending the administrations;
  • As sole counsel, obtaining permission for joint administrators of an investment holding company to make distributions of over £6 million to an unsecured creditor;
  • Acting as sole counsel on behalf of OFGEM in four urgent Part 8 claims brought in the High Court for declarations of insolvency in respect of energy supply companies (Neon Reef Limited; Zog Energy Ltd; Social Energy Supply Ltd; Together Energy (Retail) Limited);
  • Led by John Brisby QC, opposing an application to restrain the presentation of a winding-up petition issued in respect of an industrial commodity company;
  • Acting as sole counsel in an application for the discharge of administrators;
  • Acting as sole counsel in an application to recognise foreign insolvency proceedings;
  • Assisting in relation to the administration of Greensill Capital;
  • Acting as sole counsel in an application to remove a trustee in bankruptcy;
  • Acting as sole counsel in an application for the provision of documents under s366 Insolvency Act 1986
  • Applying for the approval of administrators’ statements of proposals;
  • Assisting in relation to the insolvency of a bank in the MENA region;
  • Drafting statements of case in respect of a matter concerning phoenix companies under s216 Insolvency Act 1986;
International arbitration

Zara has a strong interest in international arbitration. During her Pegasus Scholarship in Hong Kong in 2018, she spent a number of weeks at the HKIAC, which coincided with the launch of the HKIAC Rules 2018. She also assists in coaching the Middle Temple team for the Vis Commercial International Arbitration moot. Instructions include:

  • Acting (led by Jeffrey Gruder QC of Essex Court Chambers) in a multi-million-dollar ICC dispute concerning the management of a hospital in the MENA region, including successfully opposing an application for interim relief;
  • Successfully applying under s9 Arbitration Act 1996 for a stay of proceedings in favour of arbitration.
Offshore litigation

Zara has a range of offshore experience, including in relation to matters in the DIFC, ADGM and BVI. She has rights of audience in the Dubai International Finance Centre and the Astana International Finance Centre. Recent work includes:

  • Oscar Trustee Limited v MBS Software Solutions Limited BVIHC (COM) 2021/0022: led by Sharif Shivji QC in a dispute concerning the ISDA Master Agreement;
  • Advising on potential claims against a director in an ADGM-incorporated company for alleged misconduct;
  • Advising on the potential insolvency of an ADGM-incorporated company;
  • Assistance in relation to an application for joinder and associated requests for information by a non-party to a shareholder dispute in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court concerning an investment fund;
  • Assisting in relation to the insolvency of a bank in the MENA region;
  • Drafting a statement of case in an unfair prejudice petition concerning a Singaporean product testing company;
  • Assistance in relation to requests by a trustee in bankruptcy to a major law firm for delivery up of documents under s342(1) Gibraltar Insolvency Act 2011;

Additional info

Career & appointments

Registered in Part II of the DIFC’s Register of Legal Practitioners, Dubai
Registered in the AIFC’s Register of Legal Practitioners, Kazakhstan

Member of the Chancery Bar Association (ChBA)
Member of the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR)

Member of the Insolvency Lawyers Association (ILA)
Member of the British-Russian Lawyers Association (BRLA)
Member of the British-Kazakh Lawyers Association (BKLA)
Volunteer barrister for Advocate

Education & awards

Introduction to Corporate Law & Governance, London School of Economics
BPTC, City Law School
GDL, City Law School
MA (Hons), Classics and Modern Languages, University of Oxford (Trinity College)
Study abroad at Université de Paris IV – Paris Sorbonne

Pegasus Scholarship, Inner Temple
Queen Mother Scholarship, Middle Temple
Diplock Scholarship, Middle Temple
Lingen Fund Award, Trinity College
Finalist, HRLA National Judicial Review Competition
Middle Temple Team and Team Leader, Willem C Vis international Commercial Arbitration Moot
National Moot Team, City Law School
Secretary, the Oxford Union

Languages

French, Russian