The Lawyer has published its list of the ‘Top 20 Cases of 2021’ (link here), which this year features Stanford International Bank v HSBC Plc. Two members of Chambers, Andrew de Mestre QC and James Knott, are acting for Stanford International Bank (“SIB”), led by 4 New Square’s Justin Fenwick QC and instructed by Stewarts.
The claim, worth over £100m, stems from the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme orchestrated by disgraced former banker Robert Allen Stanford (currently serving a 110-year fraud sentence in the US) and alleges that HSBC breached its duty to SIB to refrain from acting on instructions where there were grounds for suspecting a fraud was being perpetrated (the Quincecare duty). The case, which is listed for a five week trial in the Hight Court in October of this year, has already been before the Courts when, last year, HSBC failed in its attempt to summarily dismiss the Quincecare claim but succeeded in striking out a portion of the claim alleging dishonest assistance (Judgment here). Both aspects of the decision are under appeal and due before the Court of Appeal in March.
The case and the related appeals are expected to provide guidance in a number of areas, including whether it is permissible to plead dishonesty against a company without being able to identify a specific dishonest individual or individuals within the company, whether an insolvent company whose assets available for distribution to creditors have been significantly reduced by wrongful payments can nevertheless be said to have suffered no loss in circumstances where the payments happened to discharge debts owed by the company, and the precise scope of the Quincecare duty.