Steven is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading fraud and asset recovery lawyers, known for his creativity and strategic expertise. He has been appointed as the English member of Fraudnet, the global network of leading asset recovery lawyers set up by the International Chamber of Commerce. He is also a founder member and former chairman of the Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association, and has been recognized by The Times as one of the 100 key influential legal professionals in the United Kingdom.
Steven is frequently instructed to manage multi-jurisdictional asset-tracing cases, to which he brings more than 30 years of experience of fraud and asset recovery cases in developing and driving forward winning strategies.
What the directories say
Steven Philippsohn, is ranked in the top tier of civil fraud lawyers in both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 and has been described as “unparalleled”, a “doyen”, “guru” and “rainmaker”, “an eminent player in the fraud world” who is a “visionary in terms of his command of tactics” and a “great strategist and fighter”. He is noted for being “very aggressive for clients’ aims” and for acting in major litigation emanating from Russia and Ukraine.
The Legal 500 has singled out Steven as being “focused and creative”. He has been described as “always seeking to push the boundaries of what you can achieve to maximise a client’s position”, “he thinks outside the box”, and is “a wise and excellent strategist” who “has a breadth and depth of experience, extensive knowledge of the market, and a willingness to take things on”.
In the Asset Recovery Section of the 2016 edition of Who’s Who he is described as being renowned for being “a true visionary in the field” with “strategic acumen and long-standing experience.”
In Chambers he is described as a “brilliant thinker” according to market sources, who also commend him as having “very good instincts” and being “result orientated”, as well as “a great strategist” who “is completely driven and spares no effort.”
Cases of note
PCB acted for the claimant in respect of US$17m invested with the defendant, alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty. The defendant disputed jurisdiction on the grounds that he was not domiciled in England and that the proceedings should be stayed as Russia or Belarus was clearly a more appropriate forum than England. PCB successfully resisted the jurisdictional challenge, with the Court finding that the claimant had the better of the argument on domicile, and even if the issue of appropriate forum arose, neither Russia nor Belarus were a more appropriate forum.
PCB acted for the claimant, a company connected to a large bank to which claims of the bank against the guarantor of loans had been assigned. The claimant brought proceedings in Russia against the guarantor and at the same time, PCB obtained freezing orders in the BVI, Jersey and Cyprus, and interim receivership orders in Cyprus in order to preserve a complex structure through which substantial Russian real estate assets were held. PCB alleged that assets held by a Jersey foundation were in truth still owned by the guarantor, alternatively that the transfer of those assets to the foundation should be set aside as a transaction to defraud the claimant. At the same time, having obtained judgments in Russia for US$40m (and judgments in Jersey and BVI on the back of the Russian judgments), PCB successfully applied to the BVI Court for the appointment of an interim receiver over the guarantor’s beneficial interest in 2 BVI companies. Those BVI companies had the power to change the management of the Jersey foundation, so as to be able to take control of it for the purposes of winding it up or making a distribution to the guarantor, either of which would have led to successful enforcement. The case subsequently settled.
PCB acted for the primary defendant to a US$1bn claim. The claimants obtained permission to serve him out of the jurisdiction, a worldwide freezing order in the sum of £100m and other injunctive relief to stop him publishing allegations against claimants of serious wrongdoing, including the breach of various banking regulations. In obtaining such relief, the claimants had relied upon a very large volume of emails that had been hacked from the defendant’s email account and accounts of friends and family. The claimants however claimed not to have been involved in the hacking, saying that the material had been provided to them anonymously in the post. Following cross-examination of the claimants’ witnesses, the court concluded that they had given dishonest evidence about the hacked material and also breached undertakings regarding the preservation of related evidence. As a consequence the permission to serve PCB’s client out of the jurisdiction was set aside and the freezing order and other injunctive relief was discharged. An inquiry was ordered in respect of damage caused by the freezing order.
PCB were instructed by the receiver of a convicted tax fraudster to collect in his worldwide assets to satisfy a confiscation order. One asset was a claim in the name of an Irish company which had been dissolved and struck off. PCB applied to restore the company but, as there was a potential limitation defence that might arise whilst the company was being restored, PCB obtained permission to bring proceedings in the name of the dissolved company. PCB successfully resisted a challenge in the Court of Appeal to the grant of that permission.
PCB acted for the claimants in a US$25m claim against a city firm of lawyers alleging professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. PCB made an application for extensive electronic disclosure at a time when there was little case law as to when electronic disclosure should be provided. The defendant solicitors alleged that all electronic communications would have been printed and put into hard copy files and that the costs of restoring back-up tapes would be substantial, making the exercise wholly disproportionate. PCB was however able to persuade the court that some electronic searches should be undertaken, which ultimately led to critical evidence being uncovered.
PCB acted for a former senior employee of a state-owned aluminium company. This was one of a series of claims that the company made against former senior officers and employees alleging corruption. All of the other claims led to large judgments or settlements. PCB’s client was faced with a multi-million dollar claim for accepting alleged secret commissions and other alleged breaches of fiduciary duty. Following trial, the court held that PCB’s client had acted honestly and had not breached his duties. He received payments to which he was entitled and with the company’s knowledge. The claims against him were therefore dismissed.
PCB acted for a landlord of a property that was in disrepair. It had until then been generally accepted that a landlord’s remedies for breach of the tenant’s repairing covenant were forfeiture and/or damages, not specific performance. However, PCB was able to persuade the court that in exceptional cases (and this was one such case) specific performance could be ordered of a tenant’s repairing covenant.
PCB acted for the respondent to a worldwide freezing order and a search order. The claimant had in its investigations obtained evidence through the use of pre-text calls to a Swiss bank. PCB led evidence that such conduct was under Swiss law prima facie criminal. As a consequence, PCB submitted, and the court accepted, that there could be no legal privilege in the reports of the investigators. Those reports were therefore ordered to be disclosed. PCB also submitted that the claimant’s conduct should lead to the discharge of the orders they had obtained, which led to agreement being reached in relation to more limited relief going forward.