DLA Piper triumphs in Hirco Fraud Arbitration

DLA Piper has successfully defended Niranjan Hiranandani, one of India's leading property developers, against multi-million pound fraud claims pursued by Hirco plc, a London-listed investment company, and its subsidiary.  Following a four-year, multi-jurisdictional battle,  each and every one of Hirco's allegations has been dismissed by an LCIA tribunal in Singapore, which was chaired by the highly respected international arbitrator Henri Alvarez QC.

Hirco, represented by Allen & Overy, had originally brought proceedings against Mr Hiranandani and his daughter Priya Hiranandani-Vandrevala in London and the Isle of Man, alleging fraud, conspiracy and breaches of fiduciary duty concerning Hirco's 2007 GBP 350 million investment in 4 major mixed-use real estate developments in India. The claims ultimately totalled in excess of GBP 400 million. In response, Mr Hiranandani commenced LCIA arbitration in Singapore, seeking declarations of non-liability.

Hirco were unsuccessful in their attempts to prevent the arbitration from proceeding, and the Singapore arbitration ultimately assumed primacy as the dispute resolution forum for determining Hirco's claims.

After hearing detailed factual and expert evidence over many weeks, the eminent 3-person tribunal rejected all of Hirco's many claims, and ordered Hirco to pay 80% of Mr Hiranandani's GBP 25 million legal bill.

Niranjan Hiranandani said: "I am extremely happy with the outcome of the arbitration against Hirco. Truth has prevailed and I have been completely exonerated. I am unable to express my delight in the achievement of the entire DLA Piper team. The financial and reputational issues at stake for me were huge, and they ably salvaged it all. All that is now left is to recover the GBP 20 million that I am owed from those responsible."

Henry Quinlan, Head of Litigation, Arbitration & Investigations in the Middle East, said: "We are absolutely delighted for Niranjan. On what was a highly complex, multi-faceted case, this is a comprehensive victory and a complete rejection of Hirco's claims.  

"We have always maintained that this was a contrived claim, pursued by hedge funds which bought Hirco Plc's shares at a distressed price in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and whose strategy has been to exert pressure on Mr Hiranandani in order to extract a significant settlement. Hirco threw everything they had at this case (which has spawned many proceedings across the world), but an experienced tribunal has seen straight through their claims."

Mr. Hiranandani's defence was run primarily by DLA Piper's large arbitration team in Dubai. However, the case also required the heavy involvement of lawyers in DLA Piper's London, Sheffield, Singapore, Melbourne and Philadelphia offices.

The full arbitration team comprised:  

Dubai: Henry Quinlan, legal director Adam Peters, senior legal consultants Adam Bradshaw and Sam Stevens, legal consultants Natalie Roberts and Charlotte Leith.

: Jim Delkousis.

U.S.: Matthew Goldberg.

Singapore: Yu-Jin Tay and of counsel Matthew Shaw.

UK: Ashley Mott, James Carter and Jeremy Andrews with senior associates Mick Lawlor, Sarah Ellington, Philip Williams, associates Maria Scott and Yasmin Bailey.