The High Court seeks compensation for ERG from the SFO and Dechert for their misconduct
The UK High Court decided that UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the law firm Dechert must compensate for damages Eurasian Resources Group (ENG) for their illegal actions. This is a major victory for the Kazakh mining company ENG. As reported by portugalnews,сompensation could reach significant amounts, running into millions of pounds.
The court’s decision concluded that the SFO was unlawful in launching a criminal investigation into ERG in 2013. This was influenced by unauthorized information that was provided by former Dechert partner Neil Gerrard.
The ERG investigation, which ended in August 2023 due to insufficient evidence, resulted in unnecessary labor and financial costs for the company. The decision, handed down by Justice David Waxman in the High Court, highlighted the misuse of lawyers as confidential informants for law enforcement. The associated financial implications for organizations that were involved in the investigation were also revealed.
The High Court ruling has determined that the SFO and law firm Dechert must pay for their actions – literally. Owners ERG initially sought compensation of more than £21 million. Dechert has already paid out around £9 million, leaving only a claim of nearly £12 million outstanding. The court found that the SFO was liable for a quarter of the damages assessed. Dechert and Neil Gerrard will be jointly responsible for the remaining balance. The final amount to be paid by the SFO, Dechert and Neil Gerrard will be determined at a hearing scheduled for early 2024.
In addition to damages, ERG is seeking up to $1 billion in damages for future losses. They are related to a criminal investigation, which will be assessed at separate court hearings.
The SFO, under new director Nick Ephgrave, and law firm Dechert are currently reviewing the High Court ruling and preparing to address damages issues. This case serves as a clear warning against using lawyers as informants for law enforcement agencies. Moreover, with an emphasis on the potential financial and reputational risks associated with this.
In addition, this case draws attention to the important aspect of compliance with the rules and regulations in the field of legal ethics. Abuse of attorney-client privilege and the use of attorneys as undercover law enforcement informants is not only contested in court, but also raises serious questions about compliance with professional and legal standards.
The ERG company insists on compensation, and thus tries to protect its reputation and financial interests. This case may serve as an important precedent and strengthen clients’ assurances in relations with law firms and law enforcement agencies.
Ultimately, the decision in this ERG-SFO case will have far-reaching consequences. It has the potential to change standards and practices in the areas of legal compliance, confidentiality, and cooperation with attorneys in the context of criminal investigations.