Leading offshore law firm, Mourant Ozannes, has successfully represented la Génerale des Carrières et des Mines Sarl (Gécamines), a state-owned mining company based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in an appeal before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The Privy Council has today (17 July 2012) handed down judgment setting aside orders made by the Jersey Royal Court in November 2010 in favour of the US distressed debt fund, FG Hemisphere Associates LLC (FG).

The appeal concerned determining whether FG could enforce arbitration awards made in its favour against the DRC against the Jersey assets of Gécamines.

The Privy Council unanimously agreed with the position advanced by the Mourant Ozannes team that Gécamines is a separate legal entity and not an organ of the state of the DRC.

The appeal before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was led by Jonathan Hirst QC of Brick Court Chambers with Mourant Ozannes' partner Justin Harvey-Hills, and Giles Richardson of Serle Court Chambers, as co-juniors.

Justin Harvey-Hills led the Mourant Ozannes litigation team of Oliver Egerton-Vernon, Damian Evans, Charlotte Brambilla, and Eloise Layzell over a three and a half year period to bring the case to its successful conclusion. Instructing lawyers on the case were Nicolas Angelet and Aimery de Schoutheete of leading Belgian law firm Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick.

Advocate Harvey-Hills said: 'This case has involved some very complex issues of international law on which there was little, if any, authority directly on point. The case confirms the importance of separate corporate personality and makes it clear that exceptional circumstances will be required before the separate corporate personality of a state-owned corporation is overridden.'

Jonathan Rigby, Mourant Ozannes managing partner, said: 'The outcome of this complex case demonstrates the tenacity and dedication of our Litigation team, whose determination to succeed, from the Royal Court hearing, the Court of Appeal, right through to the Privy Council judgement, resulted in this very significant win for our client.'