Monday 24 May 2021 8:26 am

ENRC opens £70m claim against SFO and top law firm Dechert

A multi million pound claim against a top City law firm and the Serious Fraud Office for an alleged breach of contract will be heard at the High Court today. 

Mining firm Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) is suing law firm Dechert and one of its former partners Neil Gerrard for an alleged breach of contract. 

Dechert represented ENRC in an investigation by the SFO, which began in 2011, over allegations of corruption and bribery. 

The Kazakh mining giant claims Gerrard provided inside information to his contacts at the fraud office and leaked confidential documents to the media, both of which he denies. ENRC also claims the watchdog encouraged Gerrard to breach his contract and argues the agency is liable for misfeasance in public office. 

The SFO, Gerrard and Dechert all deny the allegations and have responded with allegations of their own against the former FTSE 100 miner, including fraud, bribery and corruption. 

The 11-week trial will begin at the High Court today before Mr Justice Waksman and is the culmination of a three-year battle as ENRC awaits a charging decision from the SFO. 

The court is expected to hear opening submissions from all parties this week before adjourning for a week ahead of witness evidence early next month. It is due to conclude in mid-September. 

In a statement before the hearing, the SFO said: “We regard ENRC’s case as without merit and will robustly defend our actions.”

Dechert said: “We stand by the work we did and reject any suggestion that there was any unauthorised disclosure of information to the SFO.”