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Senior Partner Sarosh Zaiwalla pays tribute to football legend Diego Maradona
30 Nov 2020

Senior Partner of Zaiwalla and Co Sarosh Zaiwalla had the honour of meeting football legend Diego Maradona in October 2015 when Maradona’s manager attended the Zaiwalla & Co offices for a meeting, at which Mr Zaiwalla was presented with a football signed by the entire Real Madrid team. Mr Zaiwalla thereafter was privileged to be invited for a personal meeting with Diego at the Intercontinental Hotel in London where they discussed Diego’s interest in supporting an English Charity, of which Mr Zaiwalla was a trustee, which works to create opportunities for homeless children in the UK and Europe to learn and to play sports. Mr Zaiwalla pays tribute to Diego Maradona in light of his sad passing, remembering him as a kind man who had many supporters. May his legacy live on. 

(photo left to right: Sarosh Zaiwalla, Diego Maradona, Varun Zaiwalla)

EU Blocking Statute: a review of its attempt to maintain relations with Iran
30 Jan 2019

Kartik Mittal examines the contents of the EU Council's Blocking Statute that entered into force on 7 August 2018, and the impact it has had on the conduct of EU companies.

The Islamic Revolution began in February 1979 resulting in a series of sanctions against Iran imposed by the United States. Over the intervening 40 years, these sanctions have taken a major toll on Iran's economy and people as the United States has led international efforts to use these sanctions in order to influence Iranian government policy.

Most recently, in 2006, the UN Security Council passed a Resolution which demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment programme. But things began to change over the following decade as a thaw in relations developed between Iran and the major Western powers. President Obama became the chief instigator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was agreed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany: from January 2016, UN sanctions were lifted in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Things changed again when Donald Trump was elected as US President. Last May, he made good on his election promise by announcing that the US would unilaterally dispense with the JCPOA agreement. The EU’s response was to confirm that it would aim to preserve the JCPOA and positively encourage Iran’s government not to allow US efforts to destroy it. In May 2018,  the European Commission (EC) began the process of updating the EU Blocking Statute (the Statute) .

The EC’s immediate response was to launch a formal process, under the EU budget guarantee, to remove obstacles for the European Investment Bank to finance activities in Iran. The EC also strengthened its sectoral cooperation with Iran. This included facilitating financial assistance through the Development Cooperation or Partnership Instruments. Finally, the EC encouraged EU Member States to explore the possibility of one-off bank transfers to the Central Bank of Iran, enabling the Iranian authorities to receive their oil-related revenues.

After two months of scrutiny by the European Parliament and the Council, the update became effective on 7th August 2018. The immediate catalyst was President Trump’s Executive Order which re-imposed secondary sanctions against Iran. By way of response, the aim of the updated Statute was to counter the effects of US sanctions re-imposed on EU companies. In addition, the EU reaffirmed its position in support of the continued lifting of sanctions against Iran under the international nuclear deal.

According to its published statement, the updated Statute is part of the EU’s support for the ‘continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, including by sustaining trade and economic relations between the EU and Iran’. When the first cluster of re-imposed US sanctions on Iran began to take effect in August, the stated aim of the updated Statute was ‘to mitigate the impact of these sanctions on the interests of EU companies doing legitimate business in Iran.’

The EU Council outlined measures in the updated Statute that would protect persons and companies of EU member states. Most notably, EU nationals (including those outside the EU), residents and companies (EU parties) are prohibited from actively complying with the US sanctions. The EC issued a Guidance Note which states that the Statute’s principal objective is to protect EU parties engaging in "lawful international trade and/or movement of capital as well as related commerce activities with third countries in accordance with EU law".

The Statute further clarifies the position on a variety of issues. 

It recognises that EU parties are free to choose whether or not to conduct further business activities in Iran "on the basis of their assessment of the economic situation". The Statute also confirms that foreign judgments or administrative decisions based on the listed US sanctions are unenforceable. EU Member State authorities are required to shield EU parties from any decision requiring, for example, seizure or enforcement of a penalty in the EU.

Although EU subsidiaries of US companies must comply under the Statute, EU branches of US companies are not required to because their legal personality is not distinct from their parent company. Meanwhile, EU parties can claim compensation before the courts of EU Member States for damages caused by applying the US sanctions.

The Statute also requires that EU parties report to the EC (or through a Member State authority) within 30 days of any event that results in an impact on their economic or financial interests, directly or indirectly, because of the US sanctions. In exceptional circumstances, the EC can authorise compliance with these sanctions if non-compliance would "seriously damage" the interests of EU parties or the EU as a whole. This does not, however, include "every nuisance or damage suffered" directly as a result of the sanctions.

It is therefore clear that applying for an exemption from US Authorities to continue activities in Iran would itself be a breach of EU law unless the EU authorises making such an application for an exemption to the US Authorities. As a result, the Statute sends out the strongest possible signal that the EU does not support the US decision to abandon the JCPOA and to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Although EU businesses and individuals receive significant  protection under the Statute, it does not compel them from continuing their business activities in Iran: they are therefore entirely free to choose whether or not they want to cease doing business in Iran.

Events have put many EU companies in a very difficult position: the Statute makes it unlawful for them to comply with US measures while any breach of those measures will be also actionable in the US. Some big companies in the EU, such as Reuters and TOTAL, have already taken a decision to suspend doing business with Iran. It seems likely that businesses which have significant exposure in the US will continue that course of action. Nevertheless, the Statute does offer some comfort for SMEs in the EU which have minimal or no US presence because it affords the necessary protections to negate any actions that US authorities might take. 

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Dispute Resolution Clause: Exclusive Jurisdiction of the English Courts
27 Jun 2018

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Could you be liable for costs of a litigation you were never a party to?
04 Oct 2016

Lawyer Issue publishes article on litigation costs for losing parties by Solicitor David Manasyan of Zaiwalla & Co

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Hurdles for Iran
03 Oct 2016

Solicitor, Azadeh Meskarian is interviewed by International Finance Magazine on banking and payment systems 

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Explaining Worldwide Freezing Orders issued by English Court
08 Sep 2016

Zoya Burbeza of Zaiwalla & Co has been published in the Ukrainian Journal of Business Law for September 2016 along with Volodymyr Bogatyr of Bogatyr & Partners Advocates.

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United Kingdom Parliament to reform the law of Unjustified threats of infringement of Intellectual Property rights
19 Aug 2016

United Kingdom Parliament to reform the law of Unjustified threats of infringement of Intellectual Property rights

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Transparency key to Iran attracting foreign investment
02 Aug 2016

In an interview with ICIS, Azadeh Meskarian, a solicitor working for London-based Zaiwalla & Co, a law firm currently contesting the legality of EU sanctions against two of Iran’s largest banks

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Amendments to Indian Arbitration Act
21 Jul 2016

Kartik Mittal of Zaiwalla & Co speaks with The Indian Arbitrator Journal on the topic of “Amendments to Indian Arbitration Act”

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Zaiwalla & Co - Spearheading the Indian Legal Roots Globally
21 Jul 2016

While the air today is of opening up of the Indian gates to foreign law firms, there are instances when one wonders if at all there are boundaries yet to be opened out. Lex Witness visits Zaiwalla & Co. a London firm of high repute founded by Sarosh Zaiwalla, Senior Partner in 1982.

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