FAILS TO PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT EVIDENCE
The UK Supreme Court delivered its judgment this morning in respect of the Bank Mellat appeal in relation to its listing under the Iran nuclear sanctions list. Because of the importance of this case, Bank Mellat's appeal was heard by 9 out of the total 12 Supreme Court Judges.
Bank Mellat, Iran's largest private bank, has seen British sanctions held against it declared unlawful after the Supreme Court dismissed claims that its banking services facilitated Iran's nuclear programme. The result follows a victory in the European Court in January 2013, where no evidence was found connecting Iran's largest private bank to the government's nuclear programme.
The ruling will come as a gift to Iran's newly elected President, whom commentators hope will aim to progress towards a mutually acceptable resolution of Iran's nuclear activity.
The Supreme Court during the course of the appeal hearing had reluctantly entered into “secret session” for the first time in its history after pressure from HM Treasury, effectively barring the Bank from accessing the evidence against it. The failure of the Treasury to produce compelling evidence, despite the controversial new powers, puts the spotlight back on to the Justice and Security Bill, which expanded the system of closed courts to civil cases.
The Supreme Court is now expected to order the British Government to pay Bank Mellat all of its legal costs and damages for the wrongful listing of Bank Mellat.
Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors, the international London bases law firm representing the bank, had argued against the imposition of closed courts on the grounds that it contravenes the British common law principle of open justice.
The ruling sends a strong message to the UK government that political expediency is not a sufficient legal justification for sanctions placed against Iranian private businesses which operate out of Iran. Ultimately, the Supreme Court has upheld the principle of Rule of Law.
This judgment will also give enormous confidence world over of the independence of British Judiciary and will set an example to show that even controversial disputes can be resolved applying the principle of Rule of Law through the British Courts.
After the failure of Bank Mellat before the English High Court and the Court of Appeal, Bank Mellat had replaced its earlier large City of London law firm Stephenson Harwood in favor of Zaiwalla & Co in 2010 and has since gone from strength to strength in the European and now Supreme Court. The firm, led by Sarosh Zaiwalla, have shown that even in cases of national security, the UK government must abide by the rule of law, with the sum of the justifications for the sanctions considered “arbitrary”, “irrational” and “discriminatory”.
Sarosh Zaiwalla, Senior Partner, Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors says: “Today's ruling is a victory for the rule of law as much as it is for Bank Mellat. The judgement will put enormous confidence in the independence of the British Judiciary and sets an example that even controversial disputes can be resolved by applying the principle of rule of law through the British courts.
Nevertheless, the reading of the closed judgement clearly contravenes the British principle of open justice, the bank's success demonstrates just how unjustified closed sessions are.”