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‘A very satisfactory outcome’: Hill Dickinson wins payment in ‘Alexandros T’ case

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment on the long-running litigation between Starlight Shipping versus Hill Dickinson, a host of insurance companies, and others, allowing defendants Hill Dickinson and insurance services company Charles Taylor Adjusting to recover damages of £225,000 and £100,000 respectively and giving a 60% interim payment.

The landmark case dubbed ‘Alexandros T’ arose after the Starlight Shipping Company launched litigation against insurers Alliance Marine and Aviation, Royal Sun and Alliance, General Insurance, Rembrandt Insurance and Brit, after its vessel Alexandros T was lost in 2006. While the case was settled in 2008, in 2011 Starlight brought another lawsuit against the insurers, their advisors and a number of employees in Greece, which alleged that the defendants had fabricated false evidence and bribed key witnesses in the English proceedings.

In the latest judgment, the Court of Appeal dismissed issues remitted to it by the Supreme Court, and that following the Supreme Court’s decision, the English proceedings were not subject to a stay under Articles 27 and 28 of the Judgments Regulation. In the recent ruling, the Hill Dickinson parties sought an interim payment equalising approximately 60% of the costs incurred to date by them in the Greek proceedings of £225,000. It also allows for the monies to be recovered by the insurers on behalf of and for Hill Dickinson.

In the previous settlement regarding the loss of the vessel in 2006, the shipping company was paid the total value of the claim but no judgement was made. This settlement was subject to English law and contained an exclusive English jurisdiction agreement.

Now, the English court has found that the dispute brought in Greece was in breach of the original agreement, and affirmed the right under English law of a party to a contract to obtain damages from the other contracting party if it brings proceedings in tort in another member state in breach of an express jurisdiction clause.

Mayer Brown advised Hill Dickinson, instructing David Bailey QC and Jocelin Gale of 7KBW. Bailey told Legal Business: ‘It is a very satisfactory outcome for Hill Dickinson.’

But despite the outcome, the shipping company may still bring forward its case in Greece that alleges that law firm Hill Dickinson, other lawyers, and the insurers were involved in a wider conspiracy that created false evidence at the time of the original settlements.

Bailey added that its defence has been solid so far and is in place if anything should take place in Greece.

Clyde & Co represented insurers Alliance Marine and Aviation Insurance, Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance, General Insurance and Rembrandt Insurance, and instructed Mark Howard QC and Tony Singla of Brick Court Chambers.

Norton Rose Fulbright advised Brit UW and the underwriting members of the Lloyd’s syndicate, alongside Steven Gee QC and Tom Whitehead of Stone Chambers.

Bentleys, Stokes & Lowless also advised on the case alongside Stephen Cogley QC and Christopher Jay of Quadrant Chambers.