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Iranian Bank Sanctions Settlement with The EU

Previous cases are not always outdated and its chain of reasoning and arguments can be applied towards the common law and relevant recent cases. Zaiwalla & Co represented Iran’s Bank Mellat in its 2015 trial.  Bank Mellat is 80% privately owned 20% governmental. The law firm successfully won the vote of the UK Supreme Court and won another favor in the European Court of Justice.

This case of the Iranian bank was outstanding and pending and was waiting to reach a conclusion for many years against the EU inclusion and UK sanctions lists. It was claimed that the Bank was related to the nuclear missile program in Tehran. In October of 2015, the court ruling of Bank Mellat v. Her Majesty’s Treasury  held the claim damages of 4 billion U.S dollars against the EU.

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According to the case records stated in Bailii, “This is the judgment following the trial of three preliminary issues in the claim by Bank Mellat for damages under section 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (“the HRA”) for loss and damage caused by the Financial Restrictions (Iran) Order 2009 (“the 2009 Order”) made under section 62 and Schedule 7 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.”

According to an article published on Reuters, “…that comes six years after the UK Supreme Court ruled that sanctions imposed on the bank in 2009 were unlawful and that the government had been “irrational” and “disproportionate”. It referred the case back to the High Court. Sarosh Zaiwalla, said the case spoke volumes for the independence of the British judiciary.”

Moreover, the EU Blocking Statute therefore only had a limited effect in ameliorating US sanctions. Despite the EU’s efforts, major companies, such as TOTAL and Reuters, took commercial decisions to cease trading with Iran as a direct result of US sanctions. Airbus also cancelled an Iranian order for 100 aircraft. According to Kartik Mittal, partenr at Zaiwalla & Co.LLP:

Despite the above difficulties, the EU has continued to make significant additional efforts to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive by supporting trade with Iran. In January 2019, the EU established Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) as a transaction mechanism to facilitate enable trade with Iran while avoiding US sanctions. On 29 November 2019, six additional EU states – Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Sweden – declared that they would join France, the UK and Germany as shareholders of INSTEX.

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In sum, it is important to analyze this as a case study since Iranian entities and financial institutes are under pressure by previous and recently EU imposed sanctions. The stated case above opened up many further cases and granted courage for similar individuals, entities, and institutes to file a case.

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