Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Deborah HorowitzCall Date: 2010

Deborah has a broad commercial, banking and regulatory practice. Recent instructions include representing RBS in the litigation relating to its £12bn 2008 rights issue (one of The Lawyer’s “Top 10 Cases of 2017”), as well as acting for GE Capital in its successful defence in the Court of Appeal in respect of a claim brought by Alpstream AG for US$30m in relation to aircraft finance.

She has also acted in a number of commercial court cases, often with a cross-border element, and her practice spans disputes covering banking transactions, commercial contracts, company law, aviation, regulatory investigations, and corporate crime, including fraud and bribery. She has acted for clients and in disputes in a range of jurisdictions, including Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, Bermuda, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Russia, France and Italy.

Prior to commencing work at the Bar, Deborah was a solicitor at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP in London and at King & Wood Mallesons in Melbourne, specialising in banking and commercial litigation, as well as regulatory investigations and enforcement.

She is also regularly instructed in cases relating to international trade finance, construction, guarantees and fraud, in respect of which she obtained a doctorate at the University of Oxford, which was subsequently published as a book: Letters of Credit and Demand Guarantees: Defences to Payment. She is a contributing author to Brindle & Cox (eds), Law of Bank Payments, as well as the author of a number of journal articles on banking and commercial law.

Areas of Expertise

  • Banking & finance
  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Company
  • Financial services
  • Fraud: civil
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • Professional negligence
  • Aviation

Recent practice

Banking and finance

Deborah’s practice has a particular focus on banking and financial disputes, often with an international component, and she frequently acts on behalf of major investment and retail banks, either on a led basis, or as sole counsel, and both offshore and within England.  She deals with a wide range of matters, including structured finance, aircraft finance, enforcement of guarantees, letters of credit and loan agreements.  For example:

  • The RBS Rights Issue Litigation: acted for RBS (in a team led by David Railton QC) in a large-scale piece of litigation relating to representations made in RBS’s Prospectus for its £12bn 2008 Rights Issue.
  • Deborah is currently acting (with Patricia Robertson QC) for a large international bank in proceedings relating to alleged fraud, fiduciary duties, employee liability, money laundering, unconscionable receipt and unjust enrichment.
  • Alpstream AG v PK Airfinance and GE Capital Aviation Services: Acted (with Akhil Shah QC) for GE Capital in trial proceedings and then in its successful defence in the Court of Appeal of a US$30 million claim brought following the collapse of the Blue Wings airline in Germany and arising out of the financing of 7 Airbus A380 aircraft.
  • Deborah advised in relation to proceedings in France dealing with the enforceability of an English-law governed US$9m guarantee. Issues raised covered fraud, novation and alleged abusive calling under the guarantee.
  • Deborah acted for a large international bank in relation to a trade finance claim, connected with the fraudulent procurement of funds from the bank.
  • Deborah also advised in relation to proceedings in Singapore as regards the enforceability of a S$3.9m performance bond.
  • HSBC Management (Guernsey) and HSBC Bank Russia LLC (HBR) v Mr Nogotkov of Dalnyaya Step LLC: Provided formal English law advice on behalf of HSBC for use during Russian banking/insolvency proceedings, on the subject of a judgment regarding a recognition order under the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006.
  • Seymour Direct v Worldpay (UK) Limited: Acted for Worldpay in respect of a claim regarding the payment of commission.
  • Deborah advised as to English law issues raised in Indian proceedings, relating to a US$5.4m loan agreement, aircraft mortgage, guarantee and lease agreement.
  • Nomihold Securities Inc v Mobile Telesystems Finance SA: Instructed (with Richard Handyside QC) in relation to an application for a declaration that an investment bank could assist in a transaction involving the purchase of US$400m notes.
  • The Argo Fund Limited v Merrill Lynch International: Instructed (with Richard Handyside QC) in a dispute in relation to a credit default swap governed by the ISDA Master Agreement, in which the reference obligation was a US$175 million loan from the bank. The case involved consideration of the principles from BNY Corporate Trustee Services Ltd v Eurosail-UK 2007-3BL Plc [2011] 1 WLR 2524.
  • RBS v Axis Bank Ltd: Acted (with Akhil Shah QC) on behalf of RBS in its claim for reimbursement of US$15.5m from an Indian issuing bank under a standby letter of credit.
  • Represented (with Michael Blair QC) Deutsche Bank in its defence of Italian proceedings involving alleged mis-selling of bonds issued by Parmalat pursuant to an EMTN programme.
  • Acted for a large international investment bank in its defence of allegations, including those made by the FCA and the SEC, that it mis-sold mortgage-backed CDOs.
  • Acted on behalf of banks in swaps-related cases, including: a large commercial bank in its defence of a claim for £18 million in relation to an interest rate swap; and an investment bank in a dispute emerging from the Icelandic financial crisis, in which the bank had entered into a total return swap, pursuant to an ISDA Master Agreement, with an Icelandic bank.
  • Represented investment banks in disputes involving jurisdiction issues in the context of derivatives, including: acting for a bank in relation to claims brought against its Spanish branch in the Madrid courts, relating to swaps, forwards and puts; and acting for a bank in its defence of claims by Turkish entities in connection with swaps and puts.
  • Acted for a large bank in its defence of claims brought by Korean banks in the Seoul District Court for payment under letters of credit and bills of exchange; participated in an associated mediation.
  • Acted for a large airport in proceedings involving the enforcement of a guarantee given by the Italian parent company of an insolvent subsidiary.

Commercial dispute resolution and company law

Deborah has acted in relation to a wide range of commercial disputes, including company law-related cases, professional negligence, asset management disputes and hostile takeover cases.  For example:

  • Acting (with Richard Lissack QC) for a private equity investment firm, in relation to the scope and enforceability of its contractual rights in respect of certain investment funds based in Guernsey and Luxembourg.
  • Acting for an organisation which provides medical facilities, in a dispute involving the faulty installation by a supplier of equipment at a medical site, leading to a large-scale claim for damages.
  • Gasfin and Abberfield v Fisher: Acted for Russian clients as regards an Isle of Man-related claim dealing with unjust enrichment, directors’ duties and other company law issues, and misrepresentation in respect of investments and a loan agreement.
  • Acted (with Nik Yeo) for a large football organisation in a dispute with an entity in Hong Kong regarding a contract covering rights to televise matches and an associated standby letter of credit.
  • Acted for an Egyptian entity in a claim against an English company regarding the defective supply of agricultural equipment.
  • Acted for an Egyptian entity in a dispute with a consultancy firm regarding commission payments.
  • Acted in relation to a claim against a consultancy firm and also a firm of solicitors as regards potential fraud and negligence.
  • Represented a large international investment bank in its defence of allegations, including those made by overseas regulators, that certain bank employees engaged in misconduct in relation to precious metals trading.
  • SPL Private Finance (PF1) IC Limited and 17 others v Arch Financial Products LLP: Instructed (in a team led by Richard Coleman QC) for a Guernsey incorporated cell in pursuing a claim for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty against an investment management company which was entrusted with the management of assets in excess of US$150 million.
  • Cluff Gold Plc v IAF Capital Limited: Instructed to advise and appear on behalf of a mining company in an appeal in relation to costs issues.
  • Validus v IPC Holdings and Max Capital: Acted for a Bermudian reinsurer, which was the target of a hostile takeover bid, in two sets of court proceedings in Bermuda: first, involving the enforceability of a break fee clause in a merger agreement; and secondly, in relation to a proposed scheme of arrangement.
  • TTI Team Telecom v Hutchison 3G: Represented the telecommunications company in its defence of proceedings brought by the supplier of technology for a 3G network.
  • Advised on actions against the manager of feeder funds affected by the Madoff Ponzi scheme.
  • Defended a large accounting firm in a claim brought against it by a commodities broker.
  • Represented an international pharmaceuticals company in its defence of claims brought in relation to allegedly defective hair-dye products.
  • Advised the purchaser of a property business on claims for breach of warranty.

Aviation

Deborah has a strong interest in aviation cases, and continues to act in a range of disputes, covering (for instance), aircraft mortgages, lease disputes and the representation of airlines in response to passenger claims:

  • Alpstream AG v PK Airfinance and GE Capital Aviation Services: Acted (with Akhil Shah QC) for GE Capital in trial proceedings and then in its successful defence in the Court of Appeal of a US$30 million claim brought following the collapse of the Blue Wings airline in Germany and arising out of the financing of 7 Airbus A380 aircraft.
  • Deborah advised as to English law issues raised in Indian proceedings, relating to a US$5.4m loan agreement, aircraft mortgage, guarantee and lease agreement.
  • Acted (with Michael McLaren QC) for a company in respect of a dispute dealing with an aircraft purchase and lease agreement with a value of US$14.4m. Issues raised included questions of title to the aircraft, lease interpretation, constructive trusts, unjust enrichment and estoppel.
  • Represented a major aviation entity in its US$10m claim against a company for failing to arrange a standby letter of credit on the required terms, leading to the loss by the claimant of a major contract for the provision of aircraft to an overseas military operation.
  • Represented numerous airlines in their response to claims brought by passengers in relation to delays and cancellations of flights – dealing with issues such as industrial strikes, etc.

Financial regulation and investigations

Deborah has extensive experience in financial services and regulatory matters, having completed a secondment at the UK Financial Conduct Authority and also represented large institutions (banks, reinsurers, etc) in their response to allegations by local and overseas regulators in relation to a number of different areas.  For example:

  • During part of 2018, Deborah completed a secondment at the FCA and assisted with its review of overdraft charges, including considering industry views on proposals and drafting rules relating to repeat use.
  • During part of 2014, Deborah completed a secondment at Linklaters LLP, in its Financial Regulation Group, where she was acting on behalf of a large bank in its response to an investigation by the FCA into the Bank’s handling of PPI complaints.
  • Acted on behalf of a large investment bank in its response to allegations by an overseas regulator that certain of the bank’s employees engaged in misconduct when conducting precious metals trading.
  • Represented a large international reinsurance broker in its response to claims and regulatory investigations (brought by the FSA (at it was), the SEC and the DOJ) in relation to alleged third party payments and bribery in the UK, US and Asia.
  • Represented a large investment bank in its response to regulatory investigations by the FSA (at it was) and the SEC in respect of alleged mis-selling of CDOs – involving consideration of the FSA’s Principles, SYSC, COBs, etc.
  • Represented a bank in relation to an SEC investigation associated with Sarbanes-Oxley issues.
  • Represented banks and other institutions in relation to FCA and FOS-related matters – eg data theft, mis-selling, etc – involving frequent consideration of the FCA Handbook.

Business crime

Deborah has considerable experience in business crime cases, with a particular interest in bribery and money laundering matters:

  • Deborah advised (with Richard Lissack QC) a leading international law firm in relation to issues concerning financial transactions, POCA notifications and money laundering.
  • Deborah is currently acting (with Patricia Robertson QC) for a large international bank in proceedings relating to alleged fraud, fiduciary duties, employee liability, money laundering, unconscionable receipt and unjust enrichment.
  • Represented a large international reinsurance broker in its response to claims and regulatory investigations (brought by the FSA (at it was), the SEC and the DOJ) in relation to alleged third party payments and bribery in the UK, US and Asia.

Other experience

  • Admitted to practise in the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of Victoria (2004 to present)
  • Solicitor, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, London (2007-2010)
  • Solicitor, King & Wood Mallesons, Melbourne (2004-2005)
  • Former Lecturer and Tutor in Contract Law, University of Melbourne and Trinity College, Melbourne (2000, 2002)
  • Volunteer Legal Adviser at the Bethnal Green Legal Advice Centre (September 2011 – September 2012)
  • Fluent in French

Education

D.Phil, Merton College, Oxford

M.Phil, Merton College, Oxford (Distinction)

BCL, Merton College, Oxford (Distinction)

BA (Hons) (English and French), University of Melbourne

LLB (Hons), University of Melbourne

Appointments, memberships, prizes

UK Foundation for International Uniform Law Scholarship for Doctoral Studies (UKFIUL)

Rae and Edith Bennett Travelling Scholarship for Doctorate (University of Melbourne)

Exhibition for the BCL (Merton College, University of Oxford)

British Chevening Scholarship and Rotary Scholarship for the BCL (British Council and Rotary)

David Wells Law Scholarship (Trinity College, University of Melbourne)

Faculty Prize for Restitution Law (University of Melbourne)

Faculty Prize for Property Law (University of Melbourne)

Melbourne National Scholarship (inaugural) (University

Publications

Sole author of Letters of Credit and Demand Guarantees: Defences to Payment (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Contributing author, Brindle and Cox (eds), Law of Bank Payments (Sweet & Maxwell, 5th edn, 2018)

Co-author, with Anneliese Day QC, of “Fraud, Unconscionable Conduct and Beyond: A Cross-Border Analysis of Letter of Credit and Demand Guarantee Cases” (2020) LMCLQ (forthcoming, subject to referee review)

Tetronics: Fraud Revisited” (2020) Journal of International Banking and Finance Law (forthcoming)

“Banco Santander and the UCP 600” (2008) 6 Journal of Business Law 508

“The Fate of High Seas Fisheries in the Southern Bluefin Tuna Case” (2001) 25 Melbourne University Law Review 810

Deborah also regularly gives lectures to law firms, banks and other clients on a variety of subjects, in both London and Singapore


BSB Barristers' Register