Top court quashes UK sanctions on Iranian bank
London, June 19, 2013
The UK's highest court has ruled that the British government was wrong to have imposed sanctions on an Iranian bank in 2009 over alleged links to Iran's nuclear programme.
The Supreme Court decision on Wednesday mirrored a January ruling by the European Union's General Court, which overturned sanctions imposed in 2010, and could result in the bank suing Britain for damages.
Bank Mellat said in January that it would sue individual governments for damages, and a bank spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday that it is considering launching a claim against Britain that "could exceed 500 million pounds".
Europe and the United States have imposed sanctions against Iran in an effort to persuade it to rein in its nuclear programme. Western nations believe that the country is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, though Tehran says the programme is for domestic power generation and medical purposes.
In a majority judgment, Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Sumption said that the British government had been "arbitrary", "irrational" and "disproportionate" to single out Bank Mellat, Iran's largest private bank, for sanctions.
Bank Mellat has long denied allegations that it aided Iran's disputed nuclear programme and argued that it had not been consulted before sanctions were imposed.
It also questioned the Supreme Court's use of secret sessions for the first time, excluding the bank from parts of the proceedings, though a majority of the nine judges ruled that it was appropriate in this case.
"Today's ruling is a victory for the rule of law as much as it is for Bank Mellat," said Sarosh Zaiwalla, a senior partner at the bank's law firm Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors.
The British government's sanctions on Bank Mellat prevented the whole of the UK's financial sector from having any business relationship with the bank. Sanctions imposed on the bank by the United States remain in place.
Wednesday's rulings come against the backdrop of a debate over the use of secret evidence in British courts. The government is keen to extend the use of so-called Closed Material Procedures to civil court cases.
It was the first secret session in the Supreme Court's history and meant that the bank itself was not shown all the evidence. – Reuters
More Government & Laws Stories
- Qatar outraged over terror claims
- Bahrain PM condemns exploitation of children
- Qatar will not alter foreign policy: source
- Bahrain accuses Iran of fomenting trouble
- 'Put security before rights' in Bahrain: publisher
- 'Hizbollah trained Daih blast suspect'
- Key terror blast suspects named in Bahrain
- $2.6m Royal Fund for martyrs set up
- Bahrain to draw up new anti-terror laws
- GCC ROW: Qatar voices surprise over envoys pull out
- GCC tobacco tax rise ‘will fuel illicit trade’
- Saudi, UAE, Bahrain withdraw envoys from Qatar
- Bahrain explosion draws global condemnation
- GDN photographer hurt in blast is discharged
- Iran playing increasing role in Bahrain unrest
- Bahrain launches 6-point plan to fight terror
- Sisi gives sign he will run for president
- New Saudi clamp on energy drinks
- Health insurance must for Saudi visa
- Qatari doctor gets 7 years jail in UAE
- Family violence law articles approved in Bahrain
- Credit card thief jailed in Bahrain
- GDN photographer hurt in Bahrain explosion
- Bahrain King orders crackdown on terrorists
- Bahrain's 4-year development plan on track
- Bahrain authorities warn of rogue labour camps
- Experts draw 'startling comparisons' in explosives
- Bahrain reforms 'far exceed recommendations'
- Kuwaiti Emir undergoes minor surgery
- Special court to deal with travel bans backed