World-wide freezing order dismissed in Hiranandani family dispute

(Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

Priya Hiranandani-Vandrevala agrees to pay brother's legal costs

Hardnews Bureau Delhi

 

A $80 million worldwide freezing order (WFO) sought by the daughter of property tycoon Niranjan Hiranandani against her brother Darshan has been dismissed with consent as Priya Hiranandani Vandrevala has agreed to pay her brother's legal costs as part of the settlement.

A WFO is an interim injunction that prevents a party from disposing of or dealing with their assets. Vandrevala obtained the order following a without-notice hearing in the courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in October last year. She argued that her father and brother were attempting to dissipate their worldwide assets in order to frustrate the enforcement of a $60 million LCIA-India arbitral award against them. Darshan, a resident of Dubai who holds no assets in the DIFC, was not present at the hearing to defend himself. Following the hearing, Hiranandani filed an application seeking dismissal of the WFO, alleging various material non-disclosures after which Vandrevala voluntarily agreed to settle the dispute and to pay her brother's legal costs totalling $50,000.

The granting of the WFO was controversial for a number of reasons apart from the fact that there were legal question marks over the DIFC Court's jurisdiction to grant such an order. Vandrevala did not apply to enforce the LCIA-India award in Dubai's premier financial freezone but was merely attempting to do so at some point in the future. In addition, Darshan Hiranandani and his legal team contended that Vandrevala had failed in making a full and frank disclosure to the court such that the court was not in possession of all material and relevant facts when it agreed to grant the order.

In a statement released to the press, Darshan said, “I do not believe that this worldwide freezing order would have been granted had Priya presented the position in a manner which complied with her legal obligation of making a full and frank disclosure to the DIFC court.”

He added, “Her application was made without notice to me, and so I was not present in court to challenge the many misleading statements and half-truths, particularly when it came to the accusation that my father and I were liquidating prime real estate assets in India in order to frustrate the enforcement of the award.”

The final verdict on the quantum in the LCIA-India arbitration was handed down last year following a five-year legal battle between Vandrevala and her father and brother concerning the operation of a private family business association agreement. Vandrevala's original claim for damages was in excess of $1 billion, but ultimately she was only awarded approximately 6 percent of her total claim by an eminent arbitral tribunal which included AP Shah, a former Chief Justice of India and was chaired by Cherie Blair QC who is a senior English barrister and the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Both Niranjan and Darshan have applied to the Bombay High Court to have the quantum award set aside under section 34 of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996. This application, along with other ancillary applications, are currently pending with courts.