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In a judgment handed down on 4 September 2023, Mr Justice Robin Knowles held that the sitting President of Mozambique, His Excellency President Nyusi, is entitled to immunity in respect of a Part 20 Claim brought against him by the Privinvest group.
The underlying proceedings involve a claim brought by the Republic of Mozambique worth over $2 billion against entities in the Credit Suisse and Privinvest groups among others.
The claims concern an alleged international fraud perpetrated on the Republic of Mozambique to procure sovereign guarantees without proper authorisation. In 2021, Privinvest issued a Part 20 claim against President Nyusi, among other persons, and obtained permission to serve out of the jurisdiction by reference to the differing obiter approaches to section 20 of the State Immunity Act 1978 by Vos J and Briggs LJ (as they then were) in Apex Global Management Ltd v Fi Call Ltd & Ord  EWHC 587 (Ch) and  EWCA Civ 642.
President Nyusi applied to challenge the English Court’s jurisdiction over him. The Court rejected Privinvest’s contention that President Nyusi had been served via “direct service” in October 2021. Rather, he was served via the Mozambican courts in April 2023 after which a jurisdiction application was lodged. The Court held that this application succeeded in respect of section 20 of the State Immunity Act 1978, such that it was unnecessary to address other points that had been raised on President Nyusi’s behalf, save the Court rejected a challenge to the adequacy of Privinvest’s disclosure when obtaining permission to serve out of the jurisdiction.
The trial of the main proceedings is due to commence in October 2023.
Matters consequential to the judgment in respect of immunity remain to be addressed.
Rodney Dixon KC and Russell Hopkins were instructed by Simon Bushell and Gareth Keillor of Seladore Litigation. They are working with Mohammed Nyaoga SC and Kennedy Ogetto, Mohammed Muigai LLP, Nairobi, who are also instructed by President Nyusi.
A copy of the judgment can be found here.