Recognition application used to obtain solicitor’s files

The US Trustee of a chapter 11 Bankruptcy applied for an order recognising the process in the UK, which the court granted without much controversary.

The application also requested the files of solicitors instructed by the individual in UK proceedings. The proceedings involved two other connected parties incorporated in the BVI. They claimed that the files requested were privileged as the solicitors were also jointly instructed by them and therefore objected to the application.

The BVI companies also objected on other grounds, including that the trustee was a partner at a law firm in the US who was connected to the defendant to the UK proceedings, connected to the individual’s creditors and was connected to the Chinese state.

The ICCJ held that, as the trustee did not intend to waive privilege in respect of the documents and did intend to deal with the documents inconsistent to the other parties’ privilege, just review the documents, privilege was not a bar to the request for the files.

On the other points, many of which having been determined by the US courts, as the trustee had confirmed that his law firm would not act in the UK litigation and no-one at that firm would see the documents apart from the trustee, who had taken the appointment in his personal capacity, the court was satisfied that those issues raised were dealt with either by the US decisions or the agreements provided by the trustee.

Despins v Ho Wan Kwok and others [2023] EWHC 74 (Ch)

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