Insolvency Litigation

Signature’s insolvency litigation practice is based on significant experience of representing a wide spectrum of clients – creditors, investors, debtors and officeholders – across a range of complex insolvency disputes.

“The team at Signature is highly talented, experienced and dedicated. They are a skilled litigation practice who set the bar very high.” The Legal 500
We have a strong track record of working with the business recovery teams at the major accounting practices, including incepting insolvency proceedings, advising on the appointment of liquidators, receivers and other officeholders and acting in litigation proceedings to recover assets and enforce judgments.

Insolvencies and frauds are very often international in nature. Our lawyers are experienced in coordinating claims in multiple jurisdictions, working alongside specialist law firms across the world, particularly offshore, where SPVs or asset-holding structures are often domiciled. We also have experience in relation to restructurings and corporate re-organisations in a distressed context, as well as formal winding-up and insolvency proceedings.

We regularly act for officeholders, typically administrators, liquidators, court appointed receivers and trustees in bankruptcy, and we also regularly represent other stakeholders, such as directors and shareholders of distressed companies, lenders and investors.

Our experience allows us to understand our clients’ commercial objectives across a broad range of insolvency disputes. We are particularly well placed to advise on the exercise of statutory powers by liquidators to obtain evidence from or bring claims against third parties such as banks, financial institutions and former professional advisors. Our senior practitioners have significant experience in these matters developed from their time at international law firms acting for such institutions and are familiar with the strategic and tactical initiatives typically deployed by them in defending claims of this nature.

Our experience includes applying for early disclosure from parties such as banks and professional advisors as well as using the compulsory powers available to liquidators to gather evidence. It is often helpful to target disclosure of key documents relating to the causes of the failure of a business such as internal investigations. Arguments can be deployed to weaken claims to privilege or confidentiality which are typically made by custodians over sensitive documents of this nature.

We also look to identify regulatory breaches by third parties, which can form the basis of damages claims by officeholders to maximise recovery for creditors. In cases involving fraud, for example, the steps taken by banks to comply with anti-money laundering regulations and duties to customers will be particularly relevant.

As a conflict-free litigation practice, we are uniquely positioned to work with officeholders on discrete disputes where the incumbent law firm is conflicted, as is often the case in claims against third parties such as banks or professional advisors and in the financial services sector.

Distressed or insolvent entities’ lending and funding arrangements tend to come into focus as their financial position deteriorates and are often a source of disputes. In instances where the incumbent full-service legal advisor sits on the relevant bank’s panel, for example, we are able to assist. We also have a strong track record in co-counselling arrangements in such circumstances. We also regularly work with litigation funders.

Paul Brehony has nearly 30 years’ experience in complex multi-jurisdictional commercial and insolvency related disputes and has acted in some of the largest and most high-profile insolvencies of recent times. Paul is recognised as a “notable practitioner” by The Legal 500 UK Guide and is also “highly recommended” for commercial litigation expertise. He is further described as “charming, well organised and a pleasure to litigate with.”

Abdulali Jiwaji has over 20 years’ commercial disputes experience, advising on matters relating to financial products, mis-selling, regulatory investigations and compliance issues. Abdul is regarded as a ‘Recommended Lawyer’ in The Legal 500 UK 2021 and the Guide notes he “is always on the ball and has a good tactical brain” and recognises he “has always provided sound and very considered advice”. Abdul is also praised for being “a steady hand during turbulent times”. Chambers Global has described him as a “technically sound, sensible and robust litigator who always finds practical solutions”.

Ritwick Ghosh has nearly 10 years’ experience advising clients in relation to financially distressed situations. He has represented insolvency officeholders and creditors of insolvent or distressed businesses, both in the financial services sector and in the real economy. He has acted in compulsory liquidations and other formal insolvency proceedings as well as in applications for sanction of restructurings. He has also advised on informal workouts.

Insolvency Litigation Team

“The lawyers at Signature are outstanding – they grasp the issues and get things done.”

Chambers and Partners

Paul Brehony

Paul is recognised as a “notable practitioner” in banking litigation by The Legal 500 UK Guide and is also “highly recommended” for commercial litigation expertise. He is further described as “charming, well organised and a pleasure to litigate with.”

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Ritwick Ghosh

Ritwick has represented corporates and individuals in various sectors including banking, asset management, insurance, other professional services, energy and logistics. He has also advised governments and other public bodies in commercial matters and in relation to law reform. He has acted for clients in a broad range of contentious situations including court proceedings across a number of jurisdictions, in commercial arbitrations and in response to regulatory enforcement action.

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Abdulali Jiwaji

Abdul is regarded as a ‘Recommended Lawyer’ in The Legal 500 UK 2021 for Banking Litigation: Investment and Retail and Commercial Litigation. The Guide notes he “is always on the ball and has a good tactical brain” and recognises he “has always provided sound and very considered advice”. Abdul is also praised for being “a steady hand during turbulent times”. Chambers Global has described him as a “technically sound, sensible and robust litigator who always finds practical solutions”.

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Insolvency Litigation Experience

Acting for the holders of convertible bonds issued by an African financial institution in relation to litigation proceedings following default and a subsequent debt rescheduling.

Advising an international investment bank in relation to the enforcement of a margin loan and associated financial collateral arrangements.

Advising an international investment bank in relation to the enforcement of a non-performing credit facility granted to a UAE conglomerate, related guarantees and an escrow arrangement.

Advising a financial institution in relation to issues arising from the winding-up of a subsidiary and co-defendant to litigation proceedings.

Advising a sovereign wealth fund in relation to a dispute with a joint venture partner and associated steps to wind-up a BVI entity on the ‘just and equitable’ ground.

Acting for a distressed oil services company in multi-million dollar litigation claims against an African financial institution, including a Quistclose trust claim and a claim in dishonest assistance.

Advising in relation to various contested and uncontested applications for sanction of restructurings and schemes of arrangement.

Advising the liquidators of a regulated asset management firm in relation to all aspects of the multi-jurisdictional winding-up over a number of years including bringing claims against directors and counterparties, defending claims against the estate (including a claim for a purported trust over certain estate assets), making applications in the course of the winding-up proceedings and advising on cross-border regulatory investigations.

Advising the insolvency officeholders of a listed international engineering business on a claim against former auditors and relevant aspects of insolvency law and regulation.

Acting for a French creditor in proceedings arising from the Lehman Brothers administration in respect of various claims and counterclaims concerning forward financial instruments made under FBF Master Agreements.

Successfully defending an insolvency practitioner in the ACCA disciplinary tribunal and in related civil proceedings against misconduct allegations arising from the appointment of a court appointed receiver of an insolvent law firm

Acting for two BVI companies in litigation before the courts of England and Wales, Georgia, and the BVI relating to alleged misuse of powers of attorney resulting in the dishonest misappropriation of substantial businesses and companies.

Advising Cayman based liquidators in AHAB v SICL in relation to an investigation into the nature and propriety of certain esoteric financial instruments (purportedly Accreting Strike Options).

Advising on successful court appointed receivership over shares in multinational corporate group with real estate within the European Union worth €120 million.

Advising listed banks (under syndicated security documents) as to the appointment of out of court receiverships which ultimately held real estate in Germany or the UK. Liabilities stood at over €140 million with €80 million worth of assets.

Advising on the investigation of the misappropriation and misapplication of funds by a collapsed law firm, which resulted in international asset recoveries and dishonest assistance claims against private banks (namely Jyske Bank) (value of claim was circa £40 million).

Acting for the Applicant liquidators in Akers and Anr v Deutsche Bank AG (Re Chesterfield United Inc and Partridge Management Group SA) [2012] EWHC 244 (Ch). A cross border insolvency case comprising a lengthy investigation including multiple applications deploying the liquidators’ statutory investigative powers claims resulting in claims in unlawful means conspiracy, fraudulent trading and dishonest assistance against Deutsche Bank in relation to the propriety of €500m credit-linked notes referencing Kaupthing Bank HF in proceedings in England, Iceland and later the British Virgin Islands.

Advising the former directors and shareholders of an offshore company on a US$400m corporate insolvency, defending claims by liquidators, and assisting with responses to criminal and regulatory investigations.

Defending the fund managers of an investment management fund in a €200 million dispute arising out of re-organisation of the fund, and involving the defence of claims brought by various investors and creditors in conspiracy, fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty under English and Luxembourg laws. The case was listed as one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2014.

Acting for the liquidators of Stanford International Bank Ltd in regard to claims against HSBC arising from the fraud perpetrated by Robert Allen Stanford and others which resulted in an estimated US$4.4bn loss.

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