UK Government accused of not respecting Surpreme Court sanctions ruling…
Bank Mellat, Iranian bank represented by Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors, files application for a judicial review against the UK Government
Bank Mellat, Iran’s largest private bank, has launched a fresh legal battle against the UK Government for “refusing to accept” a Supreme Court judgment which found sanctions imposed on the bank illegal.
The bank, which is being represented by international law firm Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors, filed an application for a judicial review against the UK Government in the Administrative Court on 16 April 2014.
The move comes after the UK Government has refused to withdraw from a petition calling for Europe-wide financial sanctions against the bank. The bank claims that the government is acting “contrary to the Rule of Law” and not in consonance with the letter and spirit of the previous judgment made by the UK Supreme Court in favour of Bank Mellat.
Sanctions were originally applied in 2009 over the bank’s alleged links to Iran’s nuclear programme. However, the bank has since successfully challenged the legality of those sanctions in both the UK Supreme Court and the European Court.
In its final ruling last June, the UK Supreme Court found that by imposing domestic sanctions against Bank Mellat, the UK Government acted both “unlawfully and irrationally”. That ruling came after the Supreme Court sat in a closed session to consider confidential intelligence evidence that the UK Government shared with the court but not with the bank. The Supreme Court found that the evidence was not credible and ruled that the sanctions were illegal.
In 2010, the Council of European Union imposed financial sanctions against Bank Mellat following a listing proposal made to it by the UK Government. The UK Government made that proposal on the basis of the same evidence which the Supreme Court has since found not to be credible. Bank Mellat challenged the EU sanctions before the European Court and, as in the UK, the Court found them to be illegal. The EU Council is currently appealing that decision.
Following the UK Supreme Court decision, Bank Mellat had asked the UK Government to withdraw its 2010 listing proposal to the EU Council. It was hoped that this may have been sufficient to convince the EU Council to give up on its own sanctions against the bank.
However, the UK Government has refused to withdraw the proposal. The UK Government has also now applied for permission to intervene in support of the EU Council’s appeal against the first European Court decision.
Sarosh Zaiwalla, Senior Partner of Zaiwalla & Co LLP, who represented Bank Mellat in the Supreme Court said: “The UK Supreme Court has not found any wrongdoing on the part of Bank Mellat. The UK Government should accept that decision and take steps to formally withdraw its proposal to the EU Council to list Bank Mellat, on the basis that the Supreme Court has held that the evidence in its possession does not support the listing of Bank Mellat.”
Mr Zaiwalla added: “It seems clear that the UK Government’s intervention would involve adducing the same evidence before the European Court that has already been rejected as incredible by the UK Supreme Court. If it did so, it would effectively be disregarding the judgment of its own Supreme Court. Such an act is impermissible under the principles of the Rule of Law.
“Bank Mellat therefore has no alternative but to challenge UK Government’s disregard of the Supreme Court’s Judgment before the Administrative Court in the UK.”
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