International firm Dechert’s former head of white-collar crime must provide a witness statement giving details of the theft of a mobile phone he used at the time a Jordanian lawyer was allegedly kidnapped in Dubai, the High Court ordered today.

Neil Gerrard and Dechert face a claim from Karam Al Sadeq for alleged responsibility for his arrest and abduction and orchestrating his unlawful detention in Ras Al Khaimah, one of the United Arab Emirates. The defendants deny ‘in the strongest possible terms’ that they committed any unlawful acts, the High Court has previously heard. A trial in Al Sadeq’s claim is due to be heard in October 2022.

According to documents before the court, Gerrard has used 24 separate mobile phones since 2012, six of which were lost and one of which was stolen, as well as two iPads. A BlackBerry which Gerrard used ‘at the very time Mr Al Sadeq was kidnapped from Dubai and illegally detained in Ras Al Khaimah’ was stolen in 2015, the court was told today.

The former partner, who retired at the end of last year, will now provide a witness statement detailing how his phone was stolen and whether the theft was reported to the police, Dechert’s IT department or insurers. Dechert must also review back-ups of Gerrard’s phones and provide any disclosable material.

Al Sadeq’s claim – and a similar claim by fellow Jordanian lawyer Jihad Quzmar, which is brought only against Gerrard and Dechert – is one of several concerning the former police officer.

In a high-profile case brought by former client Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, Gerrard is accused of leaking confidential information to newspapers and the Serious Fraud Office in order to provide the ‘fodder he needed to expand his investigation’. In cross-examination, Gerrard accepted he had not ‘properly’ covered his use of electronic devices in his evidence and said he suffered from ‘global amnesia’.

The court heard today that ‘certain alarming discoveries’ about Dechert’s ‘less than thorough’ approach to disclosure had prompted Al Sadeq’s application for further material. John Brisby QC, for Al Sadeq, said Gerrard’s reference to global amnesia was a ‘somewhat memorable phrase’.

Stokoe Partnership Solicitors, which is acting for Al Sadeq, is also bringing separate proceedings against Gerrard and Dechert, and two private investigators, for alleged involvement in illegal hacking and data theft attacks. Gerrard and his former firm were added to those proceedings by consent in September and a trial of that claim is due to begin next April. They both ‘emphatically deny’ the allegations, the court was told.

Al Sadeq has now applied to amend his particulars of claim to include ‘further particulars of the hacking attempts made against … Stokoe and others connected to his representation’. John Brisby QC, for Al Sadeq, said his client’s case was that ‘Gerrard and/or Dechert were ultimately behind those attempts’ to unlawfully obtain confidential information from Stokoe.

The amendments are not opposed in principle by the defendants on the condition that the allegations are not pleaded against current Dechert partner Caroline Black and former partner David Hughes, who are also defendants in Al Sadeq’s case.

The defendants argue that the hacking allegations in Al Sadeq’s claim ‘should be tried alongside the like allegations’ in the claim brought by Stokoe. Philip Edey QC, for Gerrard and Dechert, said in written submissions that Al Sadeq and Stokoe should not have ‘two bites at the cherry’, arguing that it would be ‘fundamentally unfair for Mr Gerrard and Dechert to face the very same factual allegations twice’.

Mr Justice Murray told Edey, however, that he was 'struggling' to understand ‘exactly how that will work in practice’. Judgment was reserved.