Libyan Investment Authority v Societe Generale SA & Ors (2015)
The court adjourned applications intended to elucidate the authority of those acting on behalf of the claimant Libyan Investment Authority pending the outcome of an application to appoint a receiver and manager to manage the action on the claimant's behalf.
The claimant Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) applied for an adjournment of applications brought by the defendants.
The LIA was a sovereign wealth fund of the state of Libya. Its claim related to five transactions between November 2007 and July 2009, while Colonel Gaddafi was still in power, between the LIA and the first to fourth defendants. Those defendants made payments totalling about US$58 million to the fifth defendant in connection with the transactions, via the sixth defendant Panamanian company. The LIA alleged that the payments were made for fraudulent and corrupt purposes with the object of directly or indirectly influencing its decision to enter into the transactions. The defendants' case was that the payments were for deal-making and consultancy services in the ordinary course of legitimate business. The fifth defendant raised an issue as to whether the proceedings had been properly commenced on behalf of the LIA. A further issue then arose as to who was the validly appointed chairman of the LIA. There were competing chairman in Tripoli and Tobruk. In the circumstances the first to fourth defendants sought orders requiring both sides of the LIA to provide information and documents demonstrating their authority to act; the fifth defendant sought an order requiring the LIA to provide an address for service within seven days failing which its claim would be struck out, and an order requiring the LIA to re-verify its statement of case by its proper officer. The LIA contended that the applications should be adjourned pending the determination of a joint application by those claiming to represent it for the appointment of a receiver and manager who would manage the proceedings on behalf of the LIA and would reinstruct the solicitors who had been instructed to act at the outset of the proceedings and had detailed knowledge of them.
The trial of the action was expected to be in 2017. A two-day case management conference was listed for the end of June. Extraordinary developments had taken place which raised questions about the institutional arrangements within the LIA in the complicated political environment in Libya. There had been an intensive effort by the legal teams of all parties to fashion a solution and progress the heavyweight litigation on behalf of the LIA. In the circumstances the court had to do the best that it could and excuse the absence of proper evidence. Both sides of the LIA supported the appointment of a receiver to manage the litigation. The defendants argued that that agreement might not last in the light of the previous falling out, but the difference was that the court was to become involved with the appointment of a receiver and manager. The best chance of making the most of the imminent CMC was to adjourn all the defendants' applications for seven days in the hope and expectation that the outcome of the application to appoint a receiver would be known by then. That would also give the LIA parties time to file evidence. That would maximise the amount of information and evidence that would be available to the parties and the court at the CMC. The case could then be taken forward at the CMC, including the authority issues.