Alexander Halban

Profile

Alexander specialises in commercial, company, insolvency and civil fraud disputes, often with an international element. He speaks and reads Russian fluently and regularly appears in cases from Russia and the CIS. He has wide experience of appearing in the High Court (both led and as sole counsel) and in the Court of Appeal. He also appeared in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights and the Privy Council.

Russia and the CIS

Alexander has a strong interest in cases from Russia and the CIS. He speaks and reads Russian fluently and regularly uses Russian in his practice. Cases in which he has acted include:

National Bank Trust v Yurov (ongoing): acting for defendants (with Simon Davenport QC and Tom Poole) in a claim by a Russian bank alleging misappropriation of $1 billion in assets against its former directors and shareholders, through a Cypriot corporate structure raising complex issues of Russian law on director’s and employees’ liability. The case was listed as one The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2017 (see here).

Re Trefilov (2016): acting (with Thomas Roe QC) in the bankruptcy of a Russian businessman, concerning his alleged entitlement under a multi-million-dollar settlement agreement relating to interests in Russian commercial property.

Denisov v Ukraine (2017): hearing in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of a senior Ukrainian judge who was dismissed for political reasons, raising issues of breach of the right to a fair trial, reputation and political interference in the judiciary. The hearing can be watched here.

Re Bennet Invest; Hniazdzilau v Vajgel [2016] EWHC 15 (Ch) acting for the defendant (with Thomas Roe QC) in a multi-million-dollar dispute over the beneficial ownership of Belarusian assets held through an English corporate structure and the effects under Russian, Belarusian and English law of illegal transactions.

Rikotrans v LLC Torgovo-Promyslovyj Centr: expert opinion on English contract law given for proceedings in the Ukrainian Economic Court.

Hniazdzilau v Vajgel: expert opinion on English company and trust law given in proceedings in the Belarusian Economic Court.

• Advising on English law in an LCIA arbitration of a €10-million contractual dispute between a Ukrainian bank, off-shore companies and Ukrainian businessmen.

• Reviewing Russian-language documents for legal professional privilege, in a high-value LCIA arbitration concerning commercial property in Moscow.

Kazakhstan Kagazy plc v Zhunus: reviewing Russian-language documents for legal professional privilege, in a major commercial fraud claim from Kazakhstan.

BTA Bank v Ablyazov: instructed in part of the long-running fraud claim to review Russian-language documents, obtained after a search order, for legal professional privilege.

Barber v Rasco International Ltd [2012] EWHC 269 (QB): acting for the claimants (with Thomas Roe QC) in a dispute concerning a partnership to operate an oil and gas pipeline protection contract in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Other commercial, company and insolvency disputes

Alexander appears in many other commercial and company claims and insolvency disputes (acting for both officeholders and individuals). In addition to the CIS-related case above, recent cases include:

Vange Consulting Ltd v RBOS Shareholders Action Group Limited (ongoing): acting for the claimant in a claim arising out of the RBS shareholders’ class action, for commission payments due to a company which recruited shareholders to the class action.

Ali Muhuammad v ARY Properties Ltd (2018): acting for the defendants (with Aidan Casey QC) in a dispute over security over property in London to secure loan agreements entered into in Dubai.

Re Friendly Pensions Ltd (ongoing): liquidation of a group of pension enrolment companies, to recover millions of pounds worth of assets misappropriated from the pension schemes.

Re David Wright Associates Limited (2017): acting for the liquidator in a claim for wrongful trading and breach of duty against a director who had previously been disqualified as a director for paying himself money from the company instead of paying creditors under a CVA.

Re Cohen (2017): acting for the trustees in the bankruptcy of a businessman, in a High Court trial focusing on disposals of business and personal assets and the law of the equity of exoneration.

Re FX 247 Limited (2017): acting for the liquidators in a High Court claim for £4 million against a director for misappropriation of assets as part of a fraudulent VAT scheme.

Saulawa, Aquashield Oil and Marine Services Ltd v Abeyratne, Prime Gulf International (UK) Ltd (2015): acting for the claimants (with Aidan Casey QC) in a dispute over the beneficial ownership of a shipping and marine services company operating in the UK and Nigeria.

Boots UK Ltd v Goldpine Estates Ltd, CA, 18 June 2014: acting for the appellants (with Thomas Roe QC) in a second appeal to Court of Appeal on the renewal of business tenancies and agreements for leases ‘subject to contract’.

Re HLC Environmental Projects Ltd [2013] EWHC 2876 (Ch), [2013] BCC 337: acting for the director (with Thomas Roe QC) in a claim brought by liquidators for unlawful preferences made by a director of a company operating substantial PFI contracts.

Sharma v Sharma [2013] EWCA Civ 1287, [2014] BCC 73: acting (with Richard Snowden QC and Thomas Roe QC) in a shareholders’ dispute in the High Court and Court of Appeal over the ownership of a series of a family companies, raising issues of trusts and breach of director’s duties.

Public law and human rights

Alexander also has an interest in constitutional law and human rights.

He has appeared in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Denisov v Ukraine, a case concerning political interference in the Ukrainian judiciary. He has also acted pro bono in other ECHR cases, concerning the Ukrainian judiciary, the freedom of assembly and expression in Russia, and redress for historical war crimes in Russia and Poland.

He has also appeared (with Thomas Roe QC) in Hunte and Khan v The State [2015] UKPC 33, (2015) 40 BHRC 633, a Privy Council appeal from Trinidad and Tobago raising issues of constitutional law and the jurisdiction of the Privy Council to commute death sentences.

Lectures and Publications

Alexander regularly writes and gives talks in his main areas of practice. Recent examples include:

• ‘Enforcement of Russian court judgments in England’, 2017 Bar Council/Law Society English Law Week, British Embassy, Moscow

• ‘Recovering assets through bankruptcy and liquidation: cross border issues’ 2015 Bar Council/Law Society English Law Week, British Embassy, Moscow

He has written articles on jurisdiction, the enforcement of foreign judgments, and on conflict of laws issues relating to torts, companies and insolvency.

Scholarships and Prizes

Queen Mother Scholarship, Middle Temple 2009
Certificate of Honour, Middle Temple 2009
The Times Law Awards 2009, Second Prize
Worshipful Company of Arbitrators’ Prize 2009
St John’s College, Oxford Finals Prize 2007

Qualifications

MA (Oxon) Modern History and Russian (First Class), St John's College, Oxford
Graduate Diploma in Law (Commendation), City Law School
Bar Vocational Course (Outstanding), City Law School

Languages

Russian (fluent, including study at the State University of St. Petersburg, Russia)
French (fluent)