Alexander Halban

Profile

Alexander has a broad Commercial and Commercial Chancery practice, covering contract claims, company and shareholder disputes, insolvency, civil fraud and international cases. He has wide experience of appearing in trials and appeals in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, as well as in the Privy Council. He is a fluent Russian speaker and regularly appears in cases from Russia and the CIS.

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 (2016): Commercial Court claim by a Russian bank for $800 million alleging misappropriation of assets against its former directors and shareholders, raising complex issues of Russian and English law on director's liability and insolvency.

Re Trefilov (2016): as junior counsel in the bankruptcy of a Russian businessman, securing his discharge from bankruptcy in the face of allegations by the trustees of non-cooperation and non-disclosure of significant assets.

Re Bennet Invest; Hniazdzilau v Vajgel [2016] EWHC 15 (Ch): as junior counsel in a multi-million-dollar dispute over the beneficial ownership of an English company which owns commercial property in Belarus. The judgment contains a detailed discussion of the illegality defence in trust and property claims.

• 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.

• Giving an expert opinion on English company and trust law to the Belarusian Economic Court.

Barber v Rasco International Ltd [2012] EWHC 269 (QB): as junior counsel in a dispute concerning a partnership to operate an oil and gas pipeline protection contract in Azerbaijan and Georgia, raising issues of conflict of laws, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.

Kulykov v Ukraine (2015): application to the European Court of Human Rights concerning political interference with the Ukrainian judiciary.

Other commercial, company and insolvency disputes

Alexander appears in a broad range of commercial, company and insolvency disputes, increasingly focused on shareholder disputes and insolvency claims (acting for both officeholders and individuals). In addition to the CIS-related cases above, cases include:

Re Friendly Pensions Ltd (2016): as sole counsel in the liquidation of a group of pension enrolment companies, to recover millions of pounds worth of assets misappropriated from the pension schemes.

Saulawa, Aquashield Oil and Marine Services Ltd v Abeyratne, Prime Gulf International (UK) Ltd (2015): as junior counsel in a dispute over the beneficial ownership of a shipping and marine services company operating in the UK and Nigeria.

Re Invokon Ltd, Re Rivermead Ltd (2015): claim brought by a liquidator against former company employees to recover money paid as alleged transactions defrauding HMRC.

• Confidential injunction and gagging order against a bank to recover assets hidden by a bankrupt in the UK and abroad.

Boots UK Ltd v Goldpine Estates Ltd, CA, 18 June 2014: as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal and sole counsel in the courts below, in a case on the renewal of business tenancies and the meaning of ‘subject to contract’.

Re HLC Environmental Projects Ltd [2013] EWHC 2876 (Ch), [2013] BCC 337: as junior counsel 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: as junior counsel in the High Court and Court of Appeal in a shareholders’ dispute over the ownership of a series of a family companies, raising issues of trusts and breach of director’s duties.

• Advising on English bankruptcy law related to a commercial dispute in Mauritius.

International and foreign law

Alexander’s practice regularly involves private international law issues, which have featured in many of the above cases. He has advised foreign lawyers on English law and has given expert opinion on English company and trust law for a foreign court. He has also written articles on jurisdiction, the enforcement of foreign judgments, and on conflict of laws issues relating to torts, companies and insolvency. Alexander has experience of other legal systems, having worked as a foreign law clerk to the then President of the Supreme Court of Israel, Dorit Beinisch. While working at the Court, he wrote memoranda on English and comparative Commonwealth law on constitutional, administrative, commercial and criminal cases.

Public law and human rights

Alexander also has an interest in constitutional law and human rights. He acted as junior counsel in a Privy Council appeal from Trinidad raising issues of constitutional law and the jurisdiction of the Privy Council to commute death sentences, Hunte and Khan v The State [2015] UKPC 33.

He has also worked with at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, an NGO representing applicants from Russia and the CIS at the European Court of Human Rights. He continues to work on EHRAC cases pro bono, including recent cases concerning political interference in the judiciary in Ukraine and the freedom of assembly in Russia.

Lectures and Publications

Alexander gives talks and seminars in his main areas of practice. He recently spoke at English Law Week 2015 in Moscow, organised by the Bar Council and the Law Society, on the use of English insolvency procedures for Russian and other CIS claimants. He also jointly edits the monthly chambers commercial law email update ‘The City Lawyer’.

Recent lecture and seminar topics include:

• 'Recovering assets through bankruptcy and insolvency: cross-border issues': talk on the use of English insolvency procedures for Russian and other foreign claimants at English Law Week 2015 in Moscow.

• 'Jurisdiction and applicable law in commercial contracts' to the Solicitors' Group commercial litigation conference

• 'Injunctions in commercial litigation' to the Solicitors' Group commercial litigation conference.

Publications include:

Westlaw Insight online encyclopaedia, articles on jurisdiction, the enforcement of foreign judgments, and on conflict of laws issues relating to torts, companies and insolvency

• ‘Direct actions against insurers’ (with Howard Stevens QC), APIL Guide to Accidents Abroad, ed. Sarah Crowther

Scholarships and Prizes

Queen Mother Scholarship, Middle Temple
Certificate of Honour, Middle Temple
The Times Law Awards 2009, Second Prize

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)