High Court Upholds £34 Million Worldwide Asset Freezing Order
Worldwide freezing orders (WFOs) have serious impacts. This is why those who apply for them are under a strict obligation to present judges with a true and unvarnished picture of underlying facts and arguments. The High Court emphasised that point in finding that an overseas property developer had met that demanding test.
The developer was engaged in a dispute with a UK-resident businessman in respect of certain high-value property dealings in Dubai. Extensive litigation in Dubai led to mixed results. But, ultimately, the developer obtained a substantial money judgment against the businessman. On the basis that his assets in Dubai were insufficient to satisfy that judgment, the developer took enforcement action against him in England. Following a hearing, at which the businessman was not represented, the developer was granted a WFO, freezing his assets up to a value of £34 million.
In applying to discharge the WFO, the businessman argued that the developer had dishonestly misrepresented the facts of the case and the opposing arguments to the judge who granted it. He submitted in his defence that the Dubai judgment should not be recognised and enforced in England. This was due to it having been obtained by fraud, and having not been properly aired before the judge.
In rejecting his arguments, however, the Court acquitted the developer and its legal team of the serious charge of dishonesty. They had made full and frank disclosure to the judge and had fairly presented arguments in favour of, and against, the grant of the WFO. They had made specific reference to the businessman’s potential fraud defence, as was reflected in the judge’s ruling.
The businessman’s plea that there was no danger of him dissipating his assets, or of the Dubai judgment remaining unsatisfied, also fell on fallow ground. The developer having established a good arguable case against him, the WFO continued to be necessary and there were solid grounds for maintaining it.
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