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The decision of the High Court in the case of The Federal Republic of Nigeria v JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA although an application for summary judgment and clearly (given the enormous sums at stake) the opening salvos of what might turn into a protracted legal battle discusses some important points which banks and other financial institutions will need to consider where they use terms and conditions which seek to narrow duties to their customers. As the case progresses to a full trial it will be interesting to see how the Courts construe the bank’s exculpatory clauses and assess their interaction with the law relating to implied terms and tortious liability.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria v JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA  EWHC 347 (Comm)
Two preliminary points should be borne in mind about this case.
Firstly, the judgment was on an application for reverse summary judgment by the bank against the claimant ie a strike out application where certain facts are assumed rather than proven.
Secondly, the facts of the case are unusual in that the bank’s customer was a state, the sums involved were over $875m and everyone agreed that corruption and fraud by some of the officers of the state was ultimately responsible for the loss to the Nigerian people.
Despite these two factors the case is likely to be of interest to anyone advising on the ability of a bank to limit its contractual and non-contractual duties to its customers through the use of some standard contractual clauses commonly found in the terms and conditions on which banks accept deposits.
In particular the case discusses:
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Miranda is a solicitor specialising in leveraged and acquisition finance. She trained at Hogan Lovells International LLP and qualified into the international banking and finance team. During her time at Hogan Lovells she worked on a variety of domestic and cross-border transactions, acting for both borrowers and lenders. She also experienced secondments to Barclays Bank PLC and Kaupthing Bank hf.
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