In a judgment handed down on Tuesday 19 May 2020 (the “Judgment”), the Honourable Mr Justice Henshaw found in favour of GFH Capital Ltd’s claim to enforce a judgment of the Dubai International Finance Centre Courts (“DIFC”) against Mr David Haigh and Ors. This is the end of a long-running piece of litigation between GFH Capital Ltd (a Middle-Eastern investment bank) and David Haigh, the former Managing Director of Leeds United who defrauded GFH Capital, his former employers, of several million pounds.
After a trial in the DIFC Court in July 2018 Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke (a former English High Court judge) found that:
“The Court, bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegations made, is satisfied on the evidence that [David Haigh] is a fraudster who caused to be paid into his own bank accounts and that of his close friend, monies belonging to [GFH Capital Ltd] in the sums of £2,039,793.70, AED8,735,340 and US$50,000. Moreover, his conduct throughout these proceedings has been entirely consistent with that finding, in seeking to delay matters, in failing to give disclosure and in seeking to manipulate or play fast and loose with the court’s procedures.”
GFH issued proceedings to enforce the DIFC Judgment in England, and to seize a farm and a hotel bought by Haigh with the proceeds of his crime. Haigh sought to argue various reasons why the DIFC Judgment should not be enforced, but Mr. Justice Henshaw concluded that:
“I do not consider that Mr. Haigh can arguably establish a prima facie case, or indeed any case, that the claim against him in the DIFC Court was fictitious such that the DIFC Judgment was procured by fraud. On the contrary, as Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke said at § 5 of the Judgment, ‘no-one has ever come forward with a coherent explanation for the fact that large sums of money found their way into the bank accounts of the Defendant and that false invoices were created with payment instructions which disguised the receipt of those sums by the Claimant.’”
In addition to being the first UK enforcement of a DIFC judgment, the Judgment is a rare summary of the common law relating to the enforcement of foreign judgments, and is likely to become a key precedent in future cases.
Please contact Robert Dougans if you have any questions in relation to the Judgment, or the enforcement of overseas judgments in general. See, in particular, our Guide to the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in England.