In Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London & Ors. v Syrian Arab Republic & Ors. (Case No: CL-2015-000667), Mr Justice Butcher has ordered a UK bank to disclose whether it holds funds on behalf of the Syrian Arab Republic, Syrian Airforce Intelligence, President Bashar Al-Assad and Gen Muhammad Al Khuli (former Chief of Syrian Airforce Intelligence).
The claimants in the proceedings were the insurers of the hull of the aircraft involved in the 1985 hijacking of EgyptAir Flight 648 by the Abu Nadal Organization terrorist group. The aircraft was destroyed on the ground at Malta on 25 November 1985 following a rescue attempt, resulting in the deaths of most of the passengers.
By a 2012 judgment, the US District Court for the District of Columbia held the Syrian Government, its Air Force Intelligence Agency, and the head of that Agency, liable to the claimant insurers as State sponsors of the hijacking. The claimants successfully registered and enforced the US judgment in the UK.
This was an application against a UK bank for post-judgment disclosure of the assets of the judgment debtors, suspected to be frozen pursuant to EU sanctions, in aid of enforcement. On 13 March 2020 Mr Justice Butcher, sitting in the Commercial Court, granted the disclosure order in an oral judgment, requiring the bank to disclose assets held for or on behalf of the defendants and/or President Al-Assad. He also awarded costs to the claimants. The decision was reported here.
Anthony Peto QC and Tim Parker acted for the claimants, instructed by Clyde & Co.
In the earlier application to register and enforce the US judgment in the UK, the claimants were represented by Timothy Otty QC and Naina Patel, also instructed by Clyde & Co.