The Commercial Court has dismissed part of a long-running case surrounding the Tchenguiz brothers and a lawsuit sparked by a failed Serious Fraud Office (SFO) probe. Businessmen Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz took action against Icelandic bank Kaupthing, accountancy firm Grant Thornton and Jóhannes Jóhannsson, who was a member of Kaupthing’s winding-up committee.
The SFO investigated the brothers in 2011 regarding transactions with Kaupthing, which collapsed in the 2008-11 financial crisis. Both settled with the SFO in 2014 but pursued cases against the remaining defendants.
In judgment last week, Mr Justice Knowles at the Commercial Court said a claim brought by Robert Tchenguiz against Grant Thornton and Jóhannsson that centred on the proceeds of sale should be dismissed.
Tchenguiz sought damages for the loss of a chance to obtain a more favourable result in a claim related to the proceeds from the sale of supermarket Somerfield to the Co-operative Group in 2008.
According to the claim, the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust, owned by Robert, would receive its share of the proceeds of the sale free of any repayment obligation to Kaupthing.
Tchenguiz said the claim was worth up to £153m, but Knowles dismissed this part of the claim and said it ‘demonstrably has no foundation and should never have been brought’.
The remainder of the claims against Jóhannsson and Grant Thornton continue.
Stephen Paget-Brown, head of dispute resolution at international firm Travers Smith, which represented Kaupthing and Jóhannsson, said the decision ‘represents a further important victory for Jóhannsson. Subject to any attempted appeal, this brings a substantial part of the entirely baseless claim brought by Robert Tchenguiz against Jóhannsson to an end,’ he added.
Last month the Gazette reported that the Court of Appeal’s Civil Division said Vincent Tchenguiz could be granted permission to appeal in his case against Jóhannsson.