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Musst Holdings Ltd v Astra Asset Management UK Ltd [2023] EWHC 432 (Ch) – Mr Justice Freedman hands down judgment addressing law of res judicata – Christopher Boardman KC and Tom Beasley

Freedman J has handed down his latest judgment in the series of ongoing claims brought by Musst Holdings Ltd against Astra Asset Management UK Ltd.

Relying upon an introduction agreement said to have been novated to Astra, Musst claims it is entitled to a share of certain management and performance fees. Astra is a leading alternative credit manager specialising in structured credit investments. In particular, Musst seeks a share of fees earned from investments that follow a strategy involving synthetic asset backed securities (ABS) and collateralised debt obligations (CDOs).

In this latest judgment, the court considered two sets of proceedings at the same time. Freedman J refused to grant Musst further relief under a first claim. However, he declined to strike out a newer second claim which sought similar relief and which had been issued during the trial of the first claim. In assessing the strike out application, the Judge considered the various principles that are covered by the “portmanteau” term “res judicata” and which involve: (i) cause of action estoppel; (ii) further relief estoppel/merger; (iii) issue estoppel; (iv) the rule in Henderson v Henderson; and (v) abuse of process, including the need to comply with the “Aldi requirements” as set out in Aldi Stores v WSP Group plc [2007] EWCA Civ 1260; [2008] 1 WLR 748.

Christopher Boardman KC and Tom Beasley appeared for Astra, instructed by Lucas Moore and Nick Grant of Payne Hicks Beach LLP.

The judgment of Mr Justice Freedman can be found here. It follows a decision handed down earlier this year by the Court of Appeal which involved the same parties, a note of which can be found here and where Christopher Boardman KC and Tom Beasley also appeared for Astra.