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Judgment handed down in “Hollywood blockbuster” Upham et Ors v HSBC Bank plc

On 26 April 2024, Mr Justice Bright handed down judgment in Upham et Ors v HSBC Bank plc, previously called a “Hollywood blockbuster” of a case by the Lawyer in its Top 20 list of cases for 2024. Zachary Kell appeared as junior counsel (led by Philip Coppel KC) in a 9-week trial in the Commercial Court of a claim originally issued for c.£1.3billion.

The claim was brought by investors in the Eclipse film finance scheme against HSBC for allegations of, inter alia, fraud in one of its employees devising and marketing the scheme. The court dismissed the claims finding there had been no fraud and the claims had not been made out (and in event were statute barred by the Limitation Act 1980).

In his judgment, Mr Justice Bright indicated his approval of the use of junior counsel in the claim, stating at [627]:

“I should also note my delight that all the leading counsel involved delegated significant portions of the oral advocacy to their respective juniors. Those junior counsel rose to the challenge with flair. It was a real source of joy to see the pleasure with which they went about their allotted tasks, and to note that this pleasure appeared undimmed even when each of them, in turn, had to fend off a series of chest-high bouncers hurled down from the bench. They returned to the pavilion bruised but exhilarated, and with the scorecard in each case reading “Not Out”. They may or may not be grateful to me for the experience, but I know that it will have made all of them even better advocates than they were before the trial commenced.”

Read the full judgment here.