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Changing counsel: Clyde & Co swaps XXIV Old Buildings for Brick Court Chambers in $285m mining tussle

The bitter dispute between Zamin Ferrous, the mining company run by Indian billionaire Pramod Agarwal, and embattled natural resources group ENRC over a Brazilian mine has taken another turn with Zamin drafting in barristers from Brick Court Chambers to replace existing counsel XXIV Old Buildings.

Zamin’s solicitors, Clyde & Co, opted to change counsel, switching from Philip Shepherd QC, Bajul Shah and Erin Hitchens at XXIV Old Buildings to Neil Calver QC and Stephen Midwinter at Brick Court Chambers. Clyde & Co litigator Andrew Preston is spearheading the case for Zamin. The firm would not comment on why it decided to drop XXIV Old Buildings.

The mining company has claimed $220m from ENRC, alleging it failed to pay the final instalment for Zamin’s share in their Brazilian iron ore mine joint venture. The spat stems from a $670m deal in 2010 for ENRC to purchase the stake in the Pedra de Ferro iron ore project in Brazil that it didn’t already own.

Zamin claims that profitable extraction and a port licence triggered a $220m payment, but ENRC’s defence is that the port installation licence issued by Brazil’s federal environmental agency is illegitimate and thus the trigger for the $220m payment was never met. The case goes before the High Court in February and will test the illegality defence in English law.

ENRC which recently rebranded as Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) after being beset by corruption allegations, has filed a $65m counterclaim over repayment of a loan it paid to Zamin’s subsidiary Ardila Investments as part of the original sale.

ENRC, which is under investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office over allegations of bribery and corruption in Africa, has instructed Hogan Lovells litigation partner Richard Lewis for its legal tussle with Zamin. Stephen Smith QC of Erskine Chambers was chosen as counsel.