The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision to strike out a multi-million pound claim by French financial services company Société Générale (SocGen), in a judgment that reinforces the need to bring claims in a timely manner.
In Société Générale v Goldas, appeal judges Lord Justice Longmore, Lady Justice Macur and Lord Justice Simon upheld a judgment by Mr Justice Andrew Popplewell in the Commercial Court in April last year which struck out SocGen’s claim - largely because the bank’s application was made eight years after a first claim was issued.
In 2008, Société Générale (SocGen) obtained worldwide freezing orders against the defendants Goldas Group - a Turkey and Dubai-based gold trading entity.
After obtaining each order SocGen issued two sets of insolvency proceedings in London, in respect of sums due for bullion delivered on consignment. The quantum of the claims was around £384 million but neither claim went beyond an initial filing stage.
SocGen took no further steps to progress the claims in England, but focused instead on litigation in Turkey.
During the Turkish case, it was determined that it could not be resolved until the English court had resolved the questions before it. However, rather than prosecuting the English proceedings, SocGen appealed in Turkey.
It was not until 2016, eight years after the Turkish proceedings were issued, that SocGen restarted its case in England. It applied to the Commercial Court for an order seeking permission of service by an alternative method or for an extension of the time allowed for service of the claim. Goldas applied to strike out the proceedings.
Popplewell, whose judgment recognised that it is now ‘common ground’ that there was no valid service in Turkey because of SocGen’s failure to use the process set out in the Hague Convention (to which Turkey is a signatory), refused the application and struck out the claim.
In its 15 May judgment, the Court of Appeal agreed.
The court found Popplewell had made a ‘balanced and careful judgment’ – including taking into account SocGen’s failure to ‘expeditiously’ progress the hearing and that Turkey was a party to the Hague Convention.
SocGen was represented by international firm Mayer Brown in the appeal, having previously been represented by Clifford Chance. Goldas was represented by Morgan Rose Solicitors.