Earlier this year, in fraud proceedings against African businessman Abdourahman Boreh, counsel acting on behalf of the Republic of Djibouti successfully obtained a proprietary injunction in respect of assets held by the defendant and his companies. The claimants had initially been granted both a freezing injunction and a proprietary injunction; however, in light of evidence that solicitors for the claimants had deliberately misled the court, Flaux J decided that the freezing injunction should be set aside as they “had not come to court with clean hands”. The order contained an undertaking that the claimants would not seek any form of relief, including a freezing injunction, in other jurisdictions without the permission of the English court.
On 6 May 2015, the matter came back before the court in an application for permission to seek a freezing injunction in Singapore. This was made on the basis that the claimants would be able to demonstrate to the Singapore court that there was both a good arguable case and a risk of dissipation of assets, such that a freezing injunction should be granted against the defendant.
In dismissing the application, Flaux J held that the claimants were seeking to go behind the English court order by seeking such permission. He cited the “particularly disgraceful conduct” of the claimants and their solicitors when making the earlier application for injunctive relief, taking into account the defendant’s solicitor’s argument that the claimants were essentially seeking to obtain what the court had denied them, “through the back door”.
While unsurprising, this outcome interestingly demonstrates the court’s application of the equitable doctrine of clean hands.
Djibouti v Abdourahman Mohamed Mahmoud Boreh  EWHC 1338 (Comm). The judgment is available to Westlaw and Lawtel subscribers.
Natalie Lim (Work experience student)