The Republic of Cuba has obtained a landmark ruling that the High Court of England and Wales does not have jurisdiction to hear a claim brought by creditor CRF I Limited ( “CRF”). PCB Byrne is pleased to have assisted Cuba to obtain what is a significant decision of sovereign immunity
CRF brought claims against Banco Nacional de Cuba (“BNC”) as principal obligor in relation to two sovereign debts of c.€70 million, and against Cuba as guarantor of one of these debts. CRF had initially brought a claim in relation to the second debt against Cuba as guarantor, however it was forced to withdraw this claim when it was unable to provide sufficient documentation to evidence it.
CRF was not the original lender, and was established to invest in defaulted Cuban debt (CRF standing for “Cuban Recovery Fund”). CRF alleged that it had obtained a valid assignment of the debts from the lenders and their successors (most recently ICBC).
In a judgment handed down on 4 April 2023, Mrs Justice Cockerill found that the two debt positions from ICBC had been assigned from ICBC to CRF, however Cuba’s guarantee had not. Significantly, Cockerill J found that BNC did not have capacity or authority to consent to the assignment on behalf of Cuba, such that the Court has no jurisdiction to hear the case as against Cuba.
The PCB Byrne team consists of Ben Davies, Catherine Eason, Harley Freemantle and Emily Hynes, assisted by Alison Macdonald KC, Anton Dudnikov and Mark Belshaw of Essex Court Chambers