Court Of Appeal Gives Judgment In Complex Committal Proceedings

The Court of Appeal yesterday handed down judgment in an expedited appeal in complex committal proceedings.
UK Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeal yesterday handed down judgment in an expedited appeal in complex committal proceedings. Peters & Peters' client Mrs Nebahat İşbilen was respondent to the appeal brought by her one-time personal financier and trusted adviser, Mr Selman Turk, who had been sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment in March 2024 following findings that he was in serious and deliberate contempt of court.

The Court of Appeal has now robustly dismissed Mr Turk's appeal, finding that there was no error of fact, law or procedure by the first instance judge. The court has uniquely suspended Mr Turk's sentence for three months so that he can try to remedy his continuing serious non-compliance with his disclosure obligations.

The judgment shows that appellate courts will be very slow to overturn findings of fact or decisions properly made by committal or trial judges, who are best placed to assess the evidence available to them. It will be of interest to fraud practitioners and to those bringing, defending or seeking to appeal committal proceedings.

This is the latest development in long-running fraud proceedings brought by Mrs İşbilen against various defendants, including Mr Turk, whom she alleges orchestrated a wide-ranging and complex fraud through which she lost about £40 million.

In March 2021, Mrs İşbilen obtained a freezing and disclosure order against Mr Turk. Following his repeated failures to explain what he had done with her money, Peters & Peters then pursued an application for search and inspection orders to enforce the obligations in the freezing order. That application was granted in March 2022.

In November 2022, following Mr Turk's continuing serious failure to comply with his disclosure obligations, Mrs İşbilen issued an application to commit him to prison for contempt of court. A lengthy hearing of the application took place before Sir Anthony Mann in late 2023 and his judgment on liability was handed down on 5 March.

Sir Anthony Mann found, beyond reasonable doubt, that Mr Turk had committed serious and contumacious breaches of disclosure obligations in the March 2021 order. After hearing submissions on sentencing, in March 2024, Sir Anthony Mann handed Mr Turk a sentence of 12 months' imprisonment.

Mr Turk appealed against both the liability judgment and the sentence.

Commenting on the decision, Jonathan Tickner, Partner and Head of Civil Fraud, who led Mrs İşbilen's legal team, said:

"Mrs Işbilen is a victim of a wide-ranging and exploitative fraud by Selman Turk and others. The Court of Appeal has now roundly dismissed Mr Turk's attempt to appeal the earlier judgment of Sir Anthony Mann. Mr Turk remains in serious and deliberate contempt of court, and it remains to be seen whether he will now belatedly attempt to remedy his breaches. Mrs Işbilen remains determined to continue pursuing the recovery of her stolen funds."

Alice McDonald and George Pizzey of Peters & Peters also acted for Mrs İşbilen. Dan McCourt Fritz KC and Andrew Gurr of Serle Court were instructed as counsel.

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