Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
28 October 2021

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Summary

The financial and humanitarian crisis in Lebanon continues to

be on the first page. Our commercial litigation team supports

Families domiciled in English with funds held in Lebanese banks for

take expedited legal action with the English courts to enable them to

access it outside of Lebanon.

While all cases depend on their own facts, there is

still time to engage with the English courts for

relief.

EU consumers with overseas bank accounts held an asset

This advantage has enabled consumers to overturn the usual rules of

where all disputes must be heard – in fact consumers

could choose to bring an action in their own home court,

despite, for example, what the terms of the contract might say. For

English consumers domiciled with bank accounts in Lebanon, being

able to deploy these EU rules and use English courts instead

that the Lebanese to recover their funds proved to be vital given

the persistent problems related to the withdrawal of the country’s currency.

EU rules in the Brussels Regulation (recast) gave an advantage

card to consumers based in the EU who have concluded contracts with

foreign organizations for goods or services (such as

services), as long as the foreign organization had directed its

commercial activities or activities marketed to potential customers in this

the domicile of the Member State of the consumer who, before Brexit,

including the UK.

One example is the claim we are currently pursuing in the

English courts, Manoukian v. Societe Generale De Banque in Lebanon

SAL and another. We acted quickly last year to start the claim

before the English courts while the consumer rules enacted in Brussels

(Recast) still applied to consumers domiciled in England. Since

we persuaded the tribunal to work on an expedited basis so that

the final hearing of our request can be heard as soon as possible.

The trial is scheduled for early 2022, which is crucial given the

deterioration of the situation in Lebanon and the persistent risk to our

customer funds.

Was the trump card last distributed?

A key development that may have gone unnoticed during Brexit

Titles are, however, a saving grace for

consumers who have not yet taken legal steps to file complaints

recover funds held in Lebanon. The rules of jurisdiction set out

in Brussels (Recast) can no longer be deployed by the British

courts on behalf of consumers here, but the consumer sections of

this instrument has in fact been lifted almost en bloc and added as we go

“Retained EU law” in UK law, such as s15A-E of the

Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 (CJJA).

So what about English speaking consumers with complaints?

Significantly, now in English law, the English court

can take up a consumer claim against a Lebanese bank,

such that, if the complaint is successful, an attribution to the consumer can be

made in a jurisdiction outside Lebanon and, if the deposits

are held in non-Lebanese foreign currencies, may allow

enforcement and collection.

Although many complaints of this nature were, to good effect, made before

until the end of the Brexit transition period to take advantage of the

Brussels overhaul of consumption rules, we are now seeing the first cases

in the court where the claims were made in England after Brexit

in accordance with the new articles of the CJJA. While each case is

depending on the facts, and a key question to establish

jurisdiction will be whether the bank in question has actually

“Direct” its marketing activities to potential customers

in the UK to trigger consumer rules, it is clear that

English-speaking consumers still have the advantage and can choose to

pursue their cause here rather than in Lebanese courts.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general overview

guide on the subject. You must seek the advice of a specialist

on your particular situation.

The message is clear: despite Brexit, all is not lost for

consumer claims against foreign entities. Since a rapid movement

vital because of the persistent problems in Lebanon, the capacity to

pursuing claims in “home” courts keeps a vital avenue open

the recovery of funds held there.

Confirmed LIBOR end dates

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