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February 24, 2021

Broadsheet ends up paying £20,000 to Sharif family in London lawsuit

Top Story

February 24, 2021

LONDON: Broadsheet LLC -- hired to recover money and assets from the Sharifs – has ended up making a payment of around £20,000 to the Sharif family in a lawsuit before the London High Court, according to legal evidence.

Broadsheet LLC has made a payment of £20,000 to the Sharif family for the settlement of the Sharif family’s legal costs after having withdrawn the Avenfield Apartments attachment application before the English High Court for the seizure and sale of four Avenfield Apartments in the Broadsheet vs Pakistan/National Accountability Bureau (NAB) case.

Lawyers acting for the Sharif family have confirmed that the payment has been received in their bank account whereas Broadsheet’s lawyers have also confirmed making the payment.

The Sharif family’s lawyers, who dealt with the case at the English High Court, said: “Had there been any opportunity to win against the Sharifs, Broadsheet would have seized it as it would provide credibility to their stance against the Sharif family since the year 2000. Resultantly, Broadsheet had to pay the Sharif family’s legal costs.

“As the general rule in litigation is, costs ‘follow the event’, i.e. the losing party pays the successful party’s legal costs. The same rule applies if a claimant backs away before the logical conclusion of his claim in an English Court. Hence, Broadsheet agreed to pay £20,000 to the Sharif family.”

The Sharif family lawyers said: “The Sharifs could have claimed higher amounts from Broadsheet. However, in view of additional recovery costs and the uncertainties due to Broadsheet’s liquidation, they chose to accept the settlement which was GBP 20,000. The fact that Broadsheet retreated from a case that formed the basis of its undertakings with NAB answers all questions.” Broadsheet LLC was hired by Pakistan in 2000 to trace and recover assets of chief ‘target’ Nawaz Sharif, his family members and around 170 other Pakistanis but the deal has ended up costing Pakistan over US $65 million.

According to legal papers available with this reporter, Broadsheet on June 19, 2020 started the process in the London High Court for the recovery of money awarded through two court judgments through the sale of four Avenfield Apartments. Before starting the attachment process, Broadsheet (an Isle of Man company, in liquidation) obtained arbitration awards from the Court of Arbitration against Pakistan/NAB for breach of contract and damages in the sum of nearly $29 million.

In late 2019, Broadsheet was granted permission by the High Court to enforce these arbitration awards as if they were judgments of the High Court.

The High Court in the UK normally enforces judgment debts by issuing a Charging Order whereby the creditor ‘charges’ assets belonging to the debtor. Charging orders generally follow a three-stage process: first, the claimant obtains an Interim Charging Order (ICO) which is issued on an ex parte basis; second, an application is made for a final charging order which if contested by the opposite party has to be argued before the court; and third, after a party succeeds in obtaining a final charging order, a subsequent order is made for the sale of the assets.

Broadsheet sought an order on the basis that the government of Pakistan held beneficial interests in the Avenfield Apartments pursuant to the judgment of the Accountability Court in Islamabad in the Avenfield reference dated July 6, 2018 -- convicting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in an assets beyond means case.

Broadsheet’s solicitors notified Nielsen and Nescoll about the case on July 6, 2020. Since the Sharif family decided to contest, a hearing was listed for October 19, 2020. If Broadsheet were able to convince the court to issue a Charging Order, the next stage would be to request the sale of the apartments. But on October 5, 2020, it was learnt that the hearing was adjourned to December 17, 2020. This was the same date when hearing was set for the charging of Pakistani High Commission’s bank accounts at the United Bank Limited (UBL) which was decided in favour of Broadsheet.

Lawyers for the Sharif family said that from the outset, their position was that on well-established English legal principles, the accountability court judgment, which has serious legal and factual flaws, did not vest any interest in the Avenfield Apartments and that it was therefore incapable of being enforced by the UK High Court.

On December 2, 2020, Broadsheet withdrew the case from the High Court whereas the court made an order on the same day clearly discharging the Avenfield Apartments from any future proceedings.

Broadsheet stated that it withdrew the case for seizure and sale of the Avenfield apartments because it did not wish to proceed as it had secured its judgment debt by way of a separate Interim Third Party Debt Order.

Broadsheet as of date has not secured the judgment money in its entirety and is still pursuing an unpaid amount close to US$3 million against the government of Pakistan.