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ALEXANDER HALBAN

Alexander specialises in commercial disputes, civil fraud, asset tracing, insolvency and company law. Most of his cases have an international element and originate from a wide range of jurisdictions including the CIS, Europe and the Caribbean.

Alexander is a fluent Russian speaker and has a particular expertise in CIS disputes. Amongst many other CIS cases, he recently appeared in National Bank Trust v Yurov, a nine-week Commercial Court trial of a Russian banking fraud claim for US$1 billion. Alexander also speaks fluent French.

Alexander has wide experience of appearing in the High Court (led and as sole counsel) in trials and interlocutory matters, particularly in jurisdictional challenges and applications for injunctive relief. He has also appeared in the Court of Appeal, Privy Council and the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.

Alexander read History and Russian at St John’s College, University of Oxford, where he graduated with First Class Honours in 2007. He completed the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Bar Vocational Course at City University, London, during which he was awarded a number of scholarships and prizes.

Full details of his experience can be found below. Recent cases include:

  • National Bank Trust v Yurov (2016-19): acting for defendants (led by Paul Stanley Q.C. and Tom Poole) in a nine-week Commercial Court fraud claim brought by a Russian bank alleging misappropriation of $1 billion against its former directors and shareholders, raising complex issues of Russian law on directors’ and employees’ liability and involving detailed scrutiny of forensic accountancy evidence. The case was listed as one The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2017
  • A v B (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in an LCIA arbitration concerning an attempted corporate raid on a Russian airline by a former joint venture partner, claiming debts of US$220 million
  • Cossac Holdings v Preferred Management (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in a shareholders’ dispute between two rival factions for control of a major Russian insurance company, in which the minority shareholders accuse the majority of wrongfully taking control of the company, and embezzling money from the company
  • VTB Bank v Laptev (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in bankruptcy proceedings for £25 million brought by a Russian bank against a Russian-domiciled individual who is already in Russian bankruptcy proceedings, raising complex issues on bankruptcy jurisdiction and conflicts of laws
  • Lefebvre d’Ovidio v Lefebvre d’Ovidio (2019): acting for the claimants (led by Charles Samek Q.C.) in an application for a freezing order under s. 25 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 in support of proceedings in Italy million concerning the ownership of Silversea Cruises, valued at €750 million
 

    Russia and 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. CIS cases in which he has acted include:
  • National Bank Trust v Yurov (2016-19): acting for defendants (led by Paul Stanley Q.C. and Tom Poole) in a nine-week Commercial Court fraud claim brought by a Russian bank alleging misappropriation of $1 billion against its former directors and shareholders, raising complex issues of Russian law on directors’ and employees’ liability and involving detailed scrutiny of forensic accountancy evidence. The case was listed as one The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2017
  • A v B (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in an LCIA arbitration concerning an attempted corporate raid on a Russian airline by a former joint venture partner, claiming debts of US$220 million
  • Cossac Holdings v Preferred Management (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in a shareholders’ dispute between two rival factions for control of a major Russian insurance company, in which the minority shareholders accuse the majority of wrongfully taking control of the company, and embezzling money from the company
  • Nescare Group v Global Trade Export (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in a Commercial Court claim on a loan agreement arising out of the acquisition of Kazakhstani agricultural companies, raising allegations of illegality under Kazakhstani law
  • C v D (2019): advising a Russian businessman and former government minister exiled in England, prosecuted on politically motivated charges in Russia, seeking to recover his business from a former partner who took control of it for himself.
  • VTB Bank v Laptev (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in bankruptcy proceedings for £25 million brought by a Russian bank against a Russian-domiciled individual who was already in Russian bankruptcy proceedings, raising issues of conflicts of laws and Russian bankruptcy law
  • Re Trefilov Ltd (2016): acting (led by Thomas Roe Q.C.) 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
  • Re Bennet Invest Ltd; Hniazdzilau v Vajgel [2016] EWHC 15 (Ch) acting for the defendant (led by Thomas Roe Q.C.) in a 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.
  • Barber v Rasco International Ltd [2012] EWHC 269 (QB): acting for the claimants (led by Thomas Roe Q.C.) in a dispute concerning a partnership to operate an oil and gas pipeline protection contract in Azerbaijan and Georgia
  • Advising on English law in an LCIA arbitration of a €10 million contractual dispute between a Ukrainian bank, offshore companies and Ukrainian businessmen
  • Expert opinions on English law (on issues of jurisdiction, contract and sale of goods, company and trusts) for proceedings in the Russian Arbitration Court, the Ukrainian and Belarusian Economic Courts, and in the Irish High Court between CIS parties.

    Commercial and Civil Fraud

Alexander appears in many other commercial and civil fraud disputes from a wide number of jurisdictions.

Recent cases include:

  • National Bank Trust v Yurov (2018): acting for defendants (led by Paul Stanley Q.C. and Tom Poole) in a nine-week Commercial Court fraud claim brought by a Russian bank alleging misappropriation of $1 billion against its former directors and shareholders, raising complex issues of Russian law on directors’ and employees’ liability and involving detailed scrutiny of forensic accountancy evidence. The case was listed as one The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2017
  • A v B (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in an LCIA arbitration concerning an attempted corporate raid on a Russian airline by a former joint venture partner, claiming debts of US$220 million
  • Nescare Group LP v Global Trade Export Ltd (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in a Commercial Court claim on a loan agreement between arising out of the acquisition of Kazakhstani agricultural companies, raising allegations of illegality under Kazakhstani law
  • C v D (2019): advising a Russian businessman and former government minister exiled in England, prosecuted on politically motivated charges in Russia, seeking to recover his business from a former business partner who took control of the business for himself
  • Lefebvre d’Ovidio v Lefebvre d’Ovidio (2019): acting (led by Charles Samek Q.C.) in an application for a freezing order and other injunctive relief under s. 25 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 in support of proceedings in Italy for €750 million concerning the ownership of Silverseas Cruises
  • Vange Consulting Ltd v RBOS Shareholders Action Group Ltd (2018-19): acting (as sole counsel) in a claim arising out of the RBS shareholders’ class action, claiming commission payments due to a company which recruited shareholders to the class action
  • E v F (2018): acting (as sole counsel) in a dispute between a Canadian investor and a Greek bank concerning a commercial development in Bucharest, alleging bad faith and breach of contract under Romanian law
  • Adams v Atlas International Ltd (2018): (as sole counsel) secured a post-judgment freezing injunction against a Spanish lawyer who had been found to have breached his fiduciary duties in the acquisition of Spanish property by English claimants
  • Ali Muhammad v ARY Properties Ltd (2018): acting for the defendants (led by Aidan Casey Q.C.) in a dispute over security over property in London to secure loan agreements entered into in Dubai
  • Boots UK Ltd v Goldpine Estates Ltd, CA, 18 June 2014 acting for the appellants (led by Thomas Roe Q.C.) in a second appeal to Court of Appeal on the renewal of business tenancies and agreements for leases ‘subject to contract’

    Insolvency and company law

Alexander regularly acts in insolvency disputes (both for officeholders and for directors and bankrupts), as well as in shareholder and other company law disputes.

  • Cossac Holdings Ltd v Preferred Management Ltd (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in a shareholders’ dispute between two rival factions for control of a major Russian insurance company, in which the minority shareholders accuse the majority of wrongfully taking control of the company, and embezzling money from the company
  • VTB Bank v Laptev (2019): acting (as sole counsel) in bankruptcy proceedings for £25 million brought by a Russian bank against a Russian-domiciled individual who is already in Russian bankruptcy proceedings, raising complex issues on bankruptcy jurisdiction and conflicts of laws
  • Re Friendly Pensions Ltd & Re Friendly Investments Co Ltd (2016-19): acting (as sole counsel) for the liquidators in the long-running liquidation of a group of pension and investment companies, to recover £15 million misappropriated from the pension schemes
  • Re David Wright Associates Ltd (2017): acting (as sole counsel) for the liquidator in a claim for wrongful trading and breach of duty against a director, who previously been disqualified as a director for paying himself company money instead of paying creditors under a CVA
  • Re Cohen (2017): acting (as sole counsel) 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 Ltd (2017): acting (as sole counsel) for the liquidators in a High Court claim against a director for misappropriation of assets as part of a fraudulent VAT scheme
  • Re Trefilov Ltd (2016): acting (led by Thomas Roe Q.C.) 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
  • Re Bennet Invest Ltd; Hniazdzilau v Vajgel [2016] EWHC 15 (Ch) acting for the defendant (led by Thomas Roe Q.C.) in a 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
  • Saulawa, Aquashield Oil and Marine Services Ltd v Abeyratne, Prime Gulf International (UK) Ltd (2015): acting for the claimants (led by Aidan Casey Q.C.) in a dispute concerning the beneficial ownership of a shipping and marine services company operating in the UK and Nigeria
  • Re HLC Environmental Projects Ltd [2013] EWHC 2876 (Ch), [2013] BCC 337: acting (led by Thomas Roe Q.C.) for a company director in a misfeasance claim brought by liquidators for unlawful preferences made by the company operating substantial PFI contracts
  • Sharma v Sharma [2013] EWCA Civ 1287, [2014] BCC 73: acting (led by Richard Snowden Q.C. and Thomas Roe Q.C.) in a shareholders’ dispute in the High Court and Court of Appeal over the beneficial ownership of a group of companies, with diversion of corporate opportunities and breach of directors’ 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 (2017), acting for a senior Ukrainian judge who was dismissed on political grounds. The Grand Chamber gave judgment in his favour, finding a large number of violations of the right to a fair trial. 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 in the Privy Council (led by Thomas Roe Q.C.) in Hunte and Khan v The State [2015] UKPC 33, (2015) 40 BHRC 633, an appeal from Trinidad and Tobago raising issues of constitutional law and the jurisdiction of the Privy Council to commute death sentences.

    Professional background

Education
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

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

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

Memberships
COMBAR
Russia and CIS Arbitration Network (RCAN)
Rusfor (Russian-Speaking Legal Professionals Forum)
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