Foot Anstey's Fraud Team celebrate Court of Appeal success in £70M conspiracy claim

The Fraud Team at national law firm Foot Anstey LLP has advised a former non-executive director of the auction house Bonhams on the successful dismissal of a £70M claim against him and various other parties (including Bonhams itself) following the obtaining of a recent decision in his favour from the Court of Appeal.

The Foot Anstey team was led by Steven Richards (Head of Fraud) and included Ben Hay (Managing Associate) and Adam Davies (Paralegal) who provided pragmatic and expert legal advice to the client in the context of successfully securing a dismissal of the claim.

The £70M claim related to the purchase and subsequent auction/sale of a high value collection of vintage Ferraris. At the heart of the dispute was an allegation that the defendants had collectively conspired to use unlawful means to injure the interests of the selling owner of the vehicles. In advancing this allegation, the owner sought to argue that it was not precluded from bringing the claim by virtue of the terms of a settlement agreement in connection with the auction process.

The team had previously advised the client in 2021 on a successful application to the High Court to strike out the claim. The owner then appealed this decision.

Following a three-day hearing in 2022, the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the first instance decision. In doing so, the Court handed down a significant judgment on the interpretation of settlement agreements, and in particular on the question of whether a settlement agreement had the effect of releasing claims arising from fraud, conspiracy or other intentional wrongdoing, despite not expressly referring to such claims in its terms.

The full judgment can be accessed here.

Steven Richards, Head of Fraud at Foot Anstey, commented: "We are incredibly happy with the result as this provides our client with clear vindication in terms of the very serious and public allegations that had been advanced. The outcome is also testament to the team's expertise, knowledge and capability in successfully advising on and achieving fantastic results on complex and high-profile fraud disputes."

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Other advising parties included:

  • Robert Weekes KC and Luka Krsljanin at Blackstone Chambers were instructed as counsel.

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