International firm Dechert and three current and former partners have been accused of torture by a Jordanian lawyer, who claims he was kidnapped, interrogated and placed in solitary confinement for 560 days during an investigation conducted by the firm.
In a claim against Dechert’s London office, Karam Al Sadeq alleges he suffered human rights abuses during an investigation into the sovereign investment fund of Ras al Khaimah, an emirate of the UAE.
The High Court was told that Dechert, along with its partners Neil Gerrard and Caroline Black, and former partner David Hughes (now a partner at Stewarts Law), committed ‘serious wrongs’ against Al Sadeq, including arbitrary detention in inhumane conditions; solitary confinement; torture and inhuman treatment; physical and psychological harm; unlawful search; deprivation of contact with family; and denial of the right to a fair trial.
The particulars of claim said the three solicitors were ‘fully aware of the atrocious and abusive conditions in which Mr Al Sadeq was being kept’ and Gerrard and Hughes ‘repeatedly made it apparent…during interrogation that they had the power to ensure that the conditions of his detention improved, if only he were to give them what they wanted’.
Dechert denies the claim, stating: ‘The allegations against the firm and its personnel are completely without foundation and we shall be vigorously defending ourselves against them.’ Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Stewarts Law said Hughes ‘emphatically denies’ the allegations against him.
The civil claim continues and a defence is expected to be filed in due course.
Dechert is already embroiled in a dispute between Ras al Khaimah and an airline tycoon, Farhad Azima. In January the High Court heard that Gerrard, global co-head of Dechert’s white collar and securities litigation practice, was complicit in human rights breaches in the Middle East and took an ‘overly muscular’ approach to investigations. Gerrard was giving evidence at the time in Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority v Azima.