Michael Lazarus’ practice encompasses most areas of domestic and international commercial and business litigation and arbitration with particular emphasis on IT/Telecoms and banking/finance disputes. In 2011 and 2012 he represented the second defendant in the ground-breaking VTB Capital v Nutritek and others, successfully arguing against the extension of the corporate veil piercing doctrine to impose contractual liability on non-parties on behalf of all the defendants in the Chancery Division, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, the only advocate in the case who addressed the court on the substantive issues at all three levels.
In the IT/telecoms fields, Michael is frequently instructed to advise on and conduct disputes concerning systems and software supply, development, outsourcing and licensing. His specialist banking & finance expertise includes bills of exchange, documentary credits, guarantees and similar instruments, asset finance, commercial and sovereign loans and other capital raising transactions.
More generally, Michael has extensive experience in share and asset sale disputes especially misrepresentation/breach of warranty claims; commercial fraud; sale and supply of goods and services; financial services including group misselling claims; professional negligence; breach of confidence and joint ventures. He has appeared in cases in the Privy Council in a number of fields including commercial law, constitutional law, land law and taxation.
“a highly gifted litigator who is particularly strongly rated for his knowledge of the IT sector. His talents, however, extend to many areas of commercial law as illustrated by his appearance in VTB Capital v. Nutritek, a huge fraud claim brought by the UK subsidiary of a major Russian Bank that was one of the biggest cases of recent times.”
Chambers & Partners 100 UK Bar Juniors 2013
“He’s absolutely excellent - he has a very good mind and cuts through detail very well.”
Chambers & Partners UK 2016
Michael's recent cases include:
Tablet Investments (Guernsey) Ltd v. Brahma Finance (BVI) 2016/2017. Tort; conspiracy; malicious falsehood; breach of confidence; summary judgment; third party costs orders. Represented defendants to claims based on alleged lawful means conspiracy and other tortious conduct relating to loan agreements; claimant ordered to pay the amount counterclaimed into court and when it failed to do so and the claim was dismissed, the defendants obtained a third party costs order against the claimant’s parent company.
VTB Capital Plc. v. Nutritek International and others  UKSC 5. Fraud; company law; conflicts of laws. represented the second defendant in the Chancery Division, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, the only advocate in the case to argue the main issues at all three levels, contending that the High Court had no jurisdiction over the claimant's claim for damages in deceit and that jurisdiction cannot be established by extending the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil so as to make a company's controllers liable on its contracts.
Various claims on behalf of mortgage lenders against allegedly fraudulent or negligent solicitors, valuers and architects.
Claim on behalf of a corporate customer against a high street bank where the bank alleged that the improper transfers had been affirmed by proceedings against the fraudster.
Uzinterimpex JSC v. Standard Bank Plc  2 Lloyd's Rep 187. Banking; fraud. Represented the defendant resisting a claim to recover the sums paid under a demand guarantee on the ground that the demand was fraudulent. Further claims in contract, restitution and conversion.
Autobiography Ltd v. Byrne  EWHC 213 (Ch). Banking; cheques. Represented the claimant seeking to recover on cheques drawn and then countermanded by the defendants who argued that there was no consideration for the cheques.
Tayeb v. HSBC Bank Plc  4 All ER 1024. Banking; electronic payments. Represented the claimant seeking to recover funds transferred to his bank account by CHAPS but wrongfully withheld by the bank due to suspicions as to the propriety of the payment.
Coutts & Co v. Stock  1 WLR 906. Banking; insolvency. Represented the claimant in a claim against the guarantor of the customer's overdraft where the guarantor contended that the debits made to the company's account were invalidated by s.127 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
Ross v Misra (2017). Trusts, contract. Represented the defendant to a claim for a share in the proceeds of an AIM flotation on the basis of an alleged trust created informally three years previously, alternatively for a 10% share under an alleged contract. Alternative claim dismissed following an application for summary judgment.
Otkritie Capital International Ltd v. Threadneedle Management Services  EWHC 2329 and  EWCA Civ 274. Represented the defendant asset management company applying to strike out a US$100 million claim as an abuse of the process of the court.
BMIC Ltd v. Sivasankaran  EWHC 1880 (Comm). Represented the claimant seeking to recover US$185 million under a settlement agreement following the abandonment of a joint venture in the Indian telecoms market.
Greenwood v. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc  EWHC 227 (Ch). In the RBS rights issue group litigation, represented over 3,000 retail shareholders to obtain an order that their costs liability should be proportionate to the amounts they stood to gain in the litigation.
Merchant International Company v. Natsionalna Aktsionerna Kompania Naftogaz 28.01.11 QB Comm Ct. Conflicts of laws, enforcement. Represented the claimant resisting defendant's challenge to jurisdiction of the English court to enforce a Ukrainian judgment where enforcement in Ukraine was subject to a statutory suspension. Subsequently representing the claimant seeking to enforce the judgment by obtaining Third Party Debt Orders  EWCA Civ 1603, on an application for the appointment of a Receiver  EWHC 1930 (Comm), on an application for an order requiring the defendant to give security for the sum claimed  EWCA Civ 710 and an application for directions in the receivership (03.05.17).
RFS Capital v. Md7 (Europe) Ltd 18.02.10 QBD. Costs. Represented the beneficial owner of claimant companies resisting the defendant's application to make him personally liable for the costs of a failed slander action.
Accident Exchange v. Autofocus Ltd  EWCH 3304 QB. Witnesses; immunity from suit. Represented the defendant seeking to strike out a claim in conspiracy based on allegedly false evidence produced by car hire rates surveyors in numerous road traffic claims.
HLB Kidsons (a firm) v. Lloyd's Underwriters  EWHC 2415 (Comm). Partnership; liability of former partners. Represented former partners in a firm resisting liability for the costs of proceedings brought by continuing partners after their retirement in relation to events occurring before retirement.
Signet Partners Ltd v. Signet Research & Advisory SA  EWHC 1263. Hedge funds; agency. Represented the defendant resisting a claim by a former marketing representative to recover commissions on investments in hedge funds.
Islamic Republic of Iran v. Berend  2 All ER Comm 132. Conflicts of laws; title to property. Represented the claimant seeking to recover a fragment of wall frieze from the archaeological site at Persepolis that was removed from Iran during the 1930s and purchased by the defendant in New York in 1974 and thereafter retained by her in France until she consigned it to London for sale.
NBH v. Hoare and others  2 BCLC 649. Fraud; company law. Represented the claimant companies seeking to recover sums from former management.
Murray v. Leisureplay Plc  EWHC 1927 and on appeal  IRLR 946. Employment; penalty clauses. Represented the defendant resisting a claim for compensation on loss of office.
MCI WorldCom v. Primus Telecommunications  1 All ER (Comm) 138 (and on appeal  2 All ER (Comm) 833. Telecoms; misrepresentation. Represented the claimant seeking to recover charges in the face of allegations that the underlying contract was procured by misrepresentation.
Readers Digest Children's Publishing v Premier Books Ltd (2002) Sale of goods. Represented the defendant resisting a claim for the cost of children's books. The dispute was as to the charging basis, per book or per set.
Killick and Anor v. Pricewaterhousecoopers  PNLR 1;  1 BCLC 65. Represented the claimant seeking damages for negligence against a valuer appointed under compulsory purchase provisions of Articles of Association.
Bim Kemi AB v. Blackburn Chemicals Limited  2 Lloyd's Rep 93. Set off. Represented the claimant in a dispute about whether cross claims against separate but linked agreements could be set off against each other.
Satnam Investments Ltd. v. Dunlop Heywood & Co  3 All ER 653. Breach of fiduciary duty; constructive trusts. Represented the claimant in claims against property agents and their client for damages and declarations in relation to the exploitation of an opportunity obtained by the agents in the course of their agency.
The Technology Partnership Plc v. Afro-Asian Satellite Technology (UK) Ltd (1998) Guarantees. Represented the defendant to a claim under a guarantee where the claim turned on whether there was a sufficient memorandum of the guarantee for the purpose of s.4 of the Statute of Frauds 1677.
Michael has recently advised or acted on IT cases relating to payment processing software, EPOS implementation, defective internet routers, fraudulent loss of bitcoins, web portal design/agile design, crowdsourcing and video upload software.
Reliance Globalcom Ltd v. O.T.E. International Solutions SA  EWHC 1848 (QB). Telecoms; conflicts of laws. Represented defendant resisting jurisdiction of the English court on the basis that the case was not within EU Regulation No. 44/2001 because services were not provided within the jurisdiction.
Various domestic and international IT/Telecoms arbitrations including disputes concerning a major UK public sector implementation; the provision of a telecommunications system in a middle eastern country; regulatory issues between a foreign telecoms regulator and a network operator; licensing of industrial process software.
Verizon (UK) Ltd. v. Swiftnet Ltd  EWHC 551 (Comm). Telecoms; breach of contract. Represented the claimant seeking to recover wholesale charges from defendant operator who alleged oral variations to standard rates agreements.
Fujitsu Services Ltd. v. Electronic Data Systems Ltd  EWHC 211 (Comm). IT; software licensing. Represented the Defendant resisting claim to recover licence charges for operating system software deployed on business recovery systems at the same rates as for production systems.
Tayeb v. HSBC Bank Plc  4 All ER 1024. Banking; electronic payments. Represented the Claimant seeking to recover funds transferred to his bank account by CHAPS but wrongfully withheld by the bank due to suspicions as to the propriety of the payment.
MCI WorldCom v. Primus Telecommunications  1 All ER (Comm) 138 (and on appeal  2 All ER (Comm) 833 Telecoms; misrepresentation. Represented the Claimant seeking to recover charges in the face of allegations that the underlying contract was procured by misrepresentation.
BCT Software Solutions v. Arnold Laver  2 All ER (Comm) 85. IT; software licensing. Represented the Defendant resisting claim for software licence fees.
London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
Cambridge University Open Entrance Scholarship 1983
Middle Temple Queen Mother's Scholarship 1985
Spanish (working knowledge).