On Monday 29 July the Supreme Court handed down judgment in Akçil & ors v Koza Ltd & anr, ruling unanimously that the English courts had no jurisdiction over Mishcon de Reya's clients, Koza Altin and its former trustees, under Article 24(2) of the Brussels (Recast) Regulation. After almost three years of litigation, the large part of the claim against Mishcon’s clients will now be dismissed. Koza Altin continues its fight to gain back control of its subsidiary under provisions of English Company Law.
Koza Altin is a publicly listed gold mining company and a part of the Koza group, a mining and media conglomerate in Turkey. It is alleged that the Koza group was among the main financial backers of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) whilst under the control of Mr Ipek. Criminal proceedings against Mr Ipek and companies connected to him prompted the Turkish Court to appoint trustees to take control of the group and its assets in 2015.
The English litigation revolves around control of Koza Ltd, an English wholly-owned subsidiary of Koza Altin. In 2015, Mr Ipek purported to make amendments to the constitution of Koza Ltd to give himself entrenched rights and control over the company. Koza Altin does not accept that these amendments were valid, and is attempting to resume control over its subsidiary. Koza Ltd and Mr Ipek commenced proceedings against Koza Altin and its (now former) trustees in the English courts, trying to stop Koza Altin's attempts to resume control of Koza Ltd under the Companies Act 2006. Mr Ipek also argued that the English courts should not recognise the authority of the trustees because (he claimed) they were appointed in breach of the rules of natural justice and infringed his Human Rights.
The Mishcon team applied to challenge the English court's jurisdiction over Koza Altin and the trustees in relation to this ‘authority claim’. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal dismissed the application and held that the English courts had exclusive jurisdiction under Article 24(2) of the Brussels (Recast) Regulation. However, the Supreme Court has now overturned those decisions and unanimously allowed the jurisdiction challenge spelling an end to Ipek’s claims against the trustees entirely and knocking out any authority claim against Koza Altin.
This decision is a welcome clarification of the law relating to jurisdiction under the European rules and regulations which - at least for now - continue to govern the UK whilst it remains a Member State.
The Supreme Court's ruling is a further blow to Mr Ipek, who has suffered a series of defeats in the on-going litigation over control of Koza Ltd. The High Court has previously found that the authenticity of documents relied upon by Mr Ipek was "open to very serious doubt" as Mishcon’s clients produced evidence to show that a share purchase agreement created by Mr Ipek and his family had been backdated.
The Mishcon team comprises Hugo Plowman, Naomi Simpson, Oli Gepfert, Emily Wright and Sofia Berggren.