A hacking claim involving City of London firm Dechert and an airline tycoon has been resurrected having previously been dismissed after the Court of Appeal remitted the claim for retrial as new evidence became apparent.
In Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) v Farhad Azima  EWHC 1327 (Ch) the Emirati investment fund had successfully argued its case in May 2020 against the airline tycoon for both fraudulent misrepresentation and unlawful means conspiracy. Azima, meanwhile, had his counter-claim against RAKIA rejected after he accused them of hacking to attain the documents on which the claim was based on. Azima had claimed that he was hacked by RAKIA and that they had published on the dark web.
The initial judgement from Andrew Lenon QC stated there was not ‘sufficiently cogent evidence’ of any conspiracy between the witnesses including retired Dechert partner Neil Gerrard. However, this counter-claim has now been remitted for retrial but did not comment on whether RAKIA was responsible for the claimed hacking. Also of note was that RAKIA’s successful judgement would stand regardless of whether the hacking claim is proven.
The court said that there are “at least two mutually inconsistent accounts of how the hacking came about” and therefore evidence would need to be re-examined before a final conclusion could be made with regards to the claim. The barrister for Azima indicated that Gerrard and the other witnesses who had previously given evidence would be recalled to the High Court to provide fresh accounts.
In the 2020 ruling the judge stated that ‘I can well believe that Mr Gerrard conducted the meeting in a forceful and even aggressive way.’ but was unable to come to a conclusion with regards to unlawful interrogations nor were there attempts to extort money. Dechert and Gerrard had been accused of torture by a Jordanian Lawyer during the course of their investigations.
A spokesperson for RAKIA has stated that they will continue to defend against the hacking claims and maintained that the initial judgement was correct with regards to the actual hacking as well as the release of the data onto the dark web. Azima’s spokesperson stated that he “continues to investigate the hacking and to pursue the full range of legal options available to him.”
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