Saima Hanif QC

Saima Hanif QC

Call: 2002 | Silk: 2021

“She is standout – she is one to watch and will make waves.”

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

“She has an absolute mastery of the crossover between the financial regulation and banking and finance areas.”

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2022)

“A fantastic lawyer. She is technically very gifted, very responsive and commercially savvy.”

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2020)

“She packs a punch as an advocate.”

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2020)

“She has piercing legal insight and understanding of all the issues within any case.”

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2022)

Practice Overview

Saima is “a fantastic litigator” (Chambers & Partners) who is “persuasive before any forum” (Legal 500) and has “the versatility to do anything she turns her hand to”. She is recognised for her “excellent judgement” (Chambers & Partners), “piercing legal insight” (Legal 500) and “great knowledge of the FS industry”. “A very clever advocate” who “exudes confidence” she “packs a punch” in court (Chambers & Partners): “her stand-out characteristic is her performance on her feet”). Solicitors note she is “a good team player” with “excellent client skills” (Legal 500), who is “commercial and outstanding” (Chambers & Partners).“

She was commended for Barrister of the Year at the Lawyer Awards 2021 and is listed as one of The Lawyer's ‘Hot 100’ for 2022.

Saima’s practice spans banking and financial services, commercial litigation, insurance and commercial judicial review. She is currently representing a defendant in the $2 billion Commercial Court SKAT ‘dividend arbitrage’ litigation, a foreign state seeking to intervene with an application before the UK Listing Authority and the main defendant in the high profile FCA Qualia Care Homes civil proceedings. She is also instructed by regulators, having acted several times for the PRA, and as retained counsel for the Guernsey Financial Services Commission.

Unbelievably clever”, with “an absolute mastery of the crossover between… financial regulation and banking”, Saima is able to “creatively argue against accepted legal principles” (Legal 500). Her landmark victories include: T v FCA (a Judicial Review ordering the FCA to stay an investigation pending the outcome of a trial in the SKAT litigation), Rollet v DFSA (a rare successful privacy application preventing publication of the Decision until the hearing), Tinney v FCA (where she “set a new precedent” representing a Barclays COO in the Upper Tribunal in the only reported case where a P1 breach did not result in a ban or a fine), and Sogexia v Raphaels Bank (where she obtained a rarely-granted short notice mandatory injunction against the bank). Saima has uniquely acted in both of the only successful Judicial Reviews of the FCA since FSMA 2000 and scored multiple wins against other regulators including the FOS. Ultimately, she seeks the best result for her clients (she is “commercial savvy…’ and “client friendly”, Chambers & Partners) and many of her cases settle successfully without going to Court.

Saima’s practice is global. Listed in the legal directories for three regions (UK, EMEA and Asia Pacific) she acts in jurisdictions including Dubai (“she is involved in some of the most visible DFSA regulatory investigations”), Hong Kong (she has “great technical knowledge” and “experience of… matters surrounding Hong Kong Stock Exchange listings” Legal 500) and Guernsey. Her international cases include the 1MDB investigation in Singapore, the forex manipulation scandal and the Abraaj litigation. She has also been instructed in foreign proceedings as an expert witness on UK financial services law.

“She offers very clear guidance on the law and isn’t scared to give her opinion… She exudes confidence.” (Chambers & Partners)

She’s very… commercial and incredibly knowledgeable at what she does.” (Chambers & Partners)

“She has great knowledge of the FS industry.” (Chambers & Partners)

Saima has extensive experience in banking and finance disputes, acting for corporations and individuals across areas including retail, business and investment banking. She has cross-border experience and has acted in Dubai, Hong Kong and represents the regulator in Guernsey.

Notable cases include:

  • Currently acting for a custodian in the high profile SKAT ‘dividend arbitrage’ litigation in the Commercial Court;
  • Representing the PRA in enforcement proceedings against a credit union.
  • Acted for Soxegia (a French payment provider) in a dispute against Raphaels Bank, where she obtained a mandatory short notice injunction [2019] EWHC 2577 (Ch);
  • Represented a borrower, suing Lombard for misstating the outstanding arrears under a loan facility.  Default judgment obtained by Lombard was successfully set aside, nearly 4 years after it had been obtained: Lombard North Central Plc v European Skyjets Ltd [2020] EWHC 679 (QB) (20 March 2020)
  • Represented RBS in defending a claim alleging a breach of a freezing injunction;
  • Acted for a private individual in proceedings arising out of the collapse of Abraaj, the largest private equity fund collapse;
  • Acted for a bank in the Middle East in a dispute arising from the collapse of Banco Espirito Santo;
  • Acted for a borrower against a major bank that was seeking to assign a loan in contravention of the loan agreement;
  • Assisted in the restructuring of Northern Rock;
  • Represented a group of depositors following the collapse of Kaupthing, Singer & Friedlander; Advising various SMEs in respect of IRHP mis-selling claims;
  • Acting for an investor disputing the validity of an OTC derivative transaction;
  • Represented an individual in the 1MDB banking scandal in Singapore;
  • Acted for a leading payday lender facing potential enforcement action from the FCA;
  • Drafted the law of partnership for Qatar.

“She is a standout… and will make waves.” (Chambers & Partners)

“She has an absolute mastery of the crossover between the financial regulation and banking and finance areas.” (Legal 500)

“A very smart advocate who really understands how FCA enforcement investigations work.”

“She has a good appreciation of the inner workings of the regulatory authority. (Chambers & Partners)

Her stand-out characteristic is her performance on her feet.” (Legal 500)

“She has a good appreciation of the inner workings of the regulatory authority and, accordingly, provided us with excellent advice.” (Chambers & Partners)

Saima is a leading specialist in financial services, recognised for her “high profile in the field” (Chambers & Partners). She has acted in some of the leading cases in the area (see below) and has represented clients before the RDC, the Upper Tribunal and regulatory bodies in Dubai, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.  She recently acted for Mr Tinney in the landmark Upper Tribunal case [2019] UKUT 0227 (TCC) which is the first reported decision where, despite a lack of integrity finding, no ban or fine was imposed, and she successfully represented the PRA in its first enforcement action against the former directors of a failed credit union,  In addition to this she has undertaken expert witness work, providing expert evidence on the FS regulatory framework in both domestic and foreign proceedings.

She is one of the few advocates with experience of all the domestic FS regulators and has a rare understanding of the legal and policy issues that arise in this sector. She has undertaken secondments at the FCA (GCD), FSA (Enforcement) and the Bank of England, and was also seconded to the Financial Services department of Clifford Chance during the credit crunch, where she worked on numerous high-profile matters including the collapse of Northern Rock. At the Bank of England, she was the Legal Assistant to the Financial Markets Law Committee and assisted with the drafting of 8 papers on esoteric legal issues in financial markets (see http://www.fmlc.org/), including the problems created by the s235 FSMA definition of a collective investment scheme.

UK FCA & PRA Regulatory Investigations

Saima has a particular expertise in contentious regulatory investigations, acting frequently for the party under investigation. She has attended compelled interviews, drafted responses to investigation reports and assisted with the s166 FSMA process. She is regarded as “a very smart advocate who really understands how FCA enforcement investigations work” (Chambers & Partners). She has represented individuals who are dual regulated by the FCA and the ICAEW.

Her cases include:

  • Y v FCA (confidential, ongoing): currently acting for a senior manager in a high profile FCA investigation relating to non-professional misconduct.
  • A v FCA (confidential, ongoing): acting for a former CEO of a financial institution in an investigation arising out of a cum-ex trading scheme.
  • X v FCA (confidential): acted for a senior manager in one the FCA’s few investigations alleging a breach of the SMR. The investigation was successfully closed.
  • Y v FCA (confidential): acted for the CEO of a DFM. Investigation successfully closed.
  • P v FCA (confidential): acted for a senior manager in a SIPP administration company. Investigation successfully closed.
  • X v FCA (confidential): acted for a financial institution in the FCA forex manipulation investigation.
  • X v FCA (confidential): acted for a major payday lender. Successfully avoided being subjected to an FCA formal redress scheme.
  • Acted for a high profile DFM, being investigated by the FCA and the SEC in the USA.
  • Ford v FCA: acted for the CEO in the FCA’s investigation into the bond distributer Keydata.
  • Roberts v FCA: acted for the CEO in the FCA investigation into the life settlement bond provider, Catalyst.
  • Z v PRA (confidential): acted for the PRA in supervisory action against a bank.
  • X v PRA (confidential): advised the PRA on limitation and disclosure issues in respect of enforcement action against a senior individual

RDC/Upper Tribunal Appearances

Saima is “a very smart advocate” who “packs a punch” (Chambers & Partners) and has represented clients at all stages, from the compelled interview stage, right through to the Court of Appeal. She appears regularly before the RDC and the Upper Tribunal. Appearances include:

  • Tinney v FCA [2019] UKUT 0227 (TCC): acted for Mr Tinney a former COO of Barclays. Successfully argued that no ban or fine should be imposed, despite a finding of a lack of integrity.
  • Representing the CEO of an IFA Firm: successfully persuaded the FCA not to revoke Part IV Permission.
  • Paivi Grigg:  successfully persuaded the RDC not to prohibit Ms Grigg from working in the industry.
  • Acting for a senior banker before the RDC, accused of recklessly permitting misuse of client funds.
  • Roberts v FCA [2015] UKUT 0408: acted for the former CEO of the bond-distribution company Catalyst, in the widely reported Upper Tribunal decision.
  • Amir Khan v FCA [2014] UKUT B6: acted for Mr Khan before the Upper Tribunal. Permission was given to appeal to the Scottish Court of Appeal, whereupon the matter was settled, as the FCA agreed not to impose a financial penalty on Mr Khan.
  • Karan v FSA & UBS [2012] UKUT, Upper Tribunal:  representing Ms Karan, a former UBS employee, in respect of unauthorised use of client funds on the India Desk in UBS.

FOS and FSCS

Saima has extensive experience of both regulators. Examples of her work include:

  • Advising the FSCS as to the effect of an insurance policy and whether it enabled claims to be aggregated.
  • Successfully challenged an FSCS determination that a customer was not eligible for compensation.
  • Advised a DFM undergoing a s166 review as to the interaction between the FSCS, the FOS and the FCA.
  • Assurant v FOS (ongoing): permission obtained to judicially review the FOS in respect of a jurisdiction decision.
  • X v FOS (ongoing, confidential): acting for a high-profile mortgage lender in respect of the alleged ‘mortgage prisoner cases’ seeking to challenge the FOS’s jurisdiction.
  • Y v FOS (ongoing, confidential): acting for an investment manager in relation to the high-profile collapse of a mini-bond issuer.
  • A v FOS (confidential, 2022): acted for an online broker and successfully challenged the FOS’s Provisional Decision on both merits and jurisdiction.
  • X v FOS (confidential, 2021): acted for a finance provider disputing the jurisdiction of the FOS.
  • X v FOS [2019-2020]: acted for a major pay-day lender seeking to challenge the FOS’s consideration of bulk complaints. Raised issues of time limitation, the interpretation of CONC, evidential burden and the point at which case fees became payable.
  • Pitts v FOS [2018] successful JR of a FOS jurisdiction decision, which purported to decline jurisdiction on the basis that the claimant was neither a consumer nor a micro-enterprise, and that the activity was not regulated.
  • Timur v FOS [2018]: JR of a FOS decision, which sought to rely on allegedly confidential information that was not disclosed to the Claimant.
  • Stone v FOS [2017]: JR of a FOS decision relating to alleged negligent pension transfer advice.
  • Chancery v FOS [2015]: JR of a FOS jurisdiction decision relating to tax avoidance advice given in respect of a film partnership scheme. Permission was granted to go to the Court of Appeal.

International Regulatory Work

She has extensive cross-border experience, acting for clients facing enforcement action in Dubai (“she is well-versed in… the DFSA’s rules and their application”, Legal 500), Hong Kong (“she has experience of dealing with regulatory matters surrounding Hong Kong Stock Exchange listings”, Legal 500), Singapore, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Cases include:

  • Siddique v DFSA, FMT October 2022: representing Mr Siddique in a 5-day hearing before the FMT in October 2002, arising out of the collapse of Abraaj.
  • Rollet v DFSA, FMT 2021 successfully obtained a privacy order preventing publication of the Decision Notice until commencement of the hearing.
  • Acting in DFSA proceedings relating to the collapse of Abraaj, the largest-ever private equity fund collapse.
  • X v GFSC, 2019: acting for the regulator in enforcement proceedings against a company and its directors concerning allegations of KYC and AML failings.
  • Vida v Guernsey Financial Services Commission, 2019:  acting for the regulator in successful enforcement proceedings against an insurance company and its CEO.
  • X v DFSA 2017, acting for a Dubai institution following the Banco Espirito collapse.
  • X v DFSA, 2017: acting for the CEO of a financial advisory company, under investigation by the DFSA. The investigation was ultimately dismissed by the RAC and no further action was taken.
  • Al-Ansari v DFSA 2015: enforcement proceedings before the RAC of the DFSA, alleging, inter alia, misleading the regulator.
  • X v Guernsey Financial Services Commission: acting for the regulator in proceedings against an insurance company potentially involved in a global re-insurance fraud;
  • X v Hong Kong Stock Exchange: acting for a large corporate institution facing proceedings by the HKSE for, potentially, breaching the listing rules;
  • X Ltd v Hong Kong Stock Exchange: acting for a Caymans incorporated company and successfully challenged the refusal of the HKSE to list the company on the Main Board;
  • X Ltd v Hong Kong Stock Exchange: acted for a company facing an enquiry from the HKSE relating to alleged dishonest statements in the prospectus;
  • Y v Monetary Authority of Singapore:  acting for a senior banker facing enforcement action from MAS;
  • Acting for a private wealth management company facing enforcement action by the Isle of Man regulator.

Saima represented the claimant in Ford v FSA, in “one of the few successful JRs of the FCA” (Chambers & Partners) and successfully judicially reviewed the FCA again in the landmark decision of T & I v FCA [2021].   She has extensive experience in challenging FS regulators, including the FOS where she has acted for multiple claimants seeking to challenge jurisdictional and substantive decisions of the FOS.

With a strong grounding in public law, regulatory law and FS, Saima is particularly well-placed to advise on claimant judicial reviews of FS regulatory decisions.

Financial Services Judicial Reviews

  • T & I v FCA [2021]: a landmark JR of the FCA, leading to a stay of the RDC proceedings pending the outcome of the parallel Commercial Court SKAT dividend arbitrage proceedings.
  • Ford v FSA [2012] (“one of the few successful JRs of the FCA”, Chambers & Partners) successful challenge to the FSA’s reliance on privileged material in the  course  of  an enforcement investigation;
  • Pitts v FOS [2018] successful JR of a FOS jurisdiction decision, which purported to decline jurisdiction on the basis that the claimant was neither a consumer nor a micro-enterprise, and that the activity was not regulated.
  • Stone v FOS [2017]: JR of a FOS decision relating to alleged negligent pension transfer advice.
  • Timur v FOS [2018]: JR of a FOS decision, which sought to rely on allegedly confidential information that was not disclosed to the Claimant.
  • Chancery v FOS [2015]: JR of a FOS jurisdiction decision relating to tax avoidance advice given in respect of a film partnership scheme. Permission was granted to go to the Court of Appeal.

She has also advised on a number of potential JR challenges, e.g.

  • Advising an insurance group in respect of a FOS decision in which the FOS sought to hold the insurer liable for the acts of an independent intermediary. (The FOS capitulated upon receipt of a pre-action protocol letter);
  • Advising a group of IFAs on a challenge to the appointment of a skilled person under s166 FSMA, on the basis that the business could not sustain the cost;
  • Application of the FOS micro-enterprise test to an SME;
  • Advising an interest group on the merits of a judicial review of the FCA’s conduct of the IRHP mis-selling redress scheme;
  • Challenge over a warning on the FCA’s website relating to a party who was not carrying on a regulated activity and therefore did not fall within the FCA’s jurisdiction;
  • Advising on the application of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to information provided to the FCA by a regulated entity pursuant to its regulatory duties.

Judicial Reviews of Other Regulatory Decisions

  • PSNC v Secretary of State for Health: Court of Appeal [2018]: landmark challenge by the industry trade body for pharmacies to the widespread funding cuts made by the SoS;
  • Pepe Hart v TRA [2018]: successful judicial review of a TRA case management decision that certain witnesses were vulnerable and therefore could give evidence via video-link;
  • Sports Direct v HMRC [2018]: challenge to a decision of HMRC to issue a C18 Post Clearance Note, relating to the alleged non-payment of anti-dumping duty;
  • F v HMRC [2017]: successfully judicial review of HMRC’s erroneous application of an ESC;
  • Lifeways v HMRC [2017] permission granted to judicially review HMRC in respect of a decision relating to an alleged failure to pay national minimum wage;
  • AML v HMRC [2016]: successful challenge to the decision of HMRC to issue a conduct notice pursuant to the Finance Act 2014;
  • Challenge to a decision of the Property Ombudsman.

“Excellent on her feet.” (Legal 500)

“She has piercing legal insight.” (Legal 500)

Saima has an established commercial litigation practice, across a range of commercial disputes. Examples of notable instructions include:

  • Representing a director in the FCA Qualia Care Home civil proceedings, where the FCA are alleging that the business constituted the operation of an unauthorised CIS contrary to s19 FSMA.
  • Currently acting for a custodian in the high-profile SKAT ‘dividend arbitrage’ litigation in the Commercial Court.
  • Acted for a FX provider, Monex, in a multi-million pound High Court civil fraud claim, defending allegations of bribery, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of constructive trust.
  • Acted for Soxegia (a French payment provider) in a dispute against Raphaels Bank, where she obtained a mandatory short notice injunction [2019] EWHC 2577 (Ch).
  • Lombard North Central Plc v European Skyjets Ltd [2020] EWHC 679 (QB) (20 March 2020): represented a borrower, suing Lombard for misstating the outstanding arrears under a loan facility.  Default judgment obtained by Lombard was successfully set aside, nearly 4 years after it had been obtained:
  • Apollo Ventures v Manchanda and ors [2018] EWHC 58 (Comm): represented defendants in Commercial Court proceedings, issued by a Thai incorporated company against defendants in Thailand, India and the UK.     As part of those proceedings:  she successfully set aside default judgment.
  • Represented RBS in defending a claim alleging a breach of a freezing injunction.
  • Acted for a private individual in proceedings arising out of the collapse of Abraaj, the largest private equity fund collapse.
  • Successfully represented defendants in a multi-million-pound dispute arising out of a SPA relating to the sale of a accountancy company.
  • Acted for a bank in respect of an LMA trade.
  • Assisted in the restructuring of Northern Rock.
  • Represented a group of depositors following the collapse of Kaupthing, Singer & Friedlander.
  • Advising various SMEs in respect of IRHP mis-selling claims.

As a result of her expertise in financial services, regulatory and commercial law, Saima frequently advises individuals and financial institutions in respect of issues relating to sanctions She as acted in matters concerning the EU Blocking Regulation, the Libyan, Iranian and Russian sanction regimes, as well as the US secondary sanctions regime. She has a particular expertise with sanctions as they apply to the FS sector.

Examples of matters in which she has acted include:

  • Advising a law firm as to whether it could accept a mandate in respect of a corporate client, which had a sanctioned party as one of it’s investors.
  • Advising a fund manager as to whether it could unilaterally redeem the holding of a sanctioned investor.
  • Advising whether a sanctioned individual ‘owned or controlled’ a related corporate entity.
  • Advising a party whether it could argue that the performance of a contract was frustrated by virtue of the application of the UK sanctions regime.
  • Advising a party whether it could accept a cargo of fruit without breaching the applicable EU sanctions regime.
  • Acting for an insurance company accused of being in breach of the EU Blocking regulation.
  • A large part of her FS regulatory work involves reviewing the systems and controls of financial institutions to see if they are equipped to detect and prevent sanctions breaches.
  • She has acted for numerous individuals and SMEs facing bank account closures as a result of sanction-related issues.

She is technically brilliant.” (Legal 500)

Provided us with excellent advice.” (Chambers & Partners)

Saima has expertise in insurance disputes with a regulatory angle. Her practice covers advisory work, regulatory disputes and civil litigation.  Examples of recent cases include:

  • Advising a high-profile insurance group as to whether, in relation to the sale of PPI products, the appointed intermediary was acting as it’s agent or as an independent intermediary;
  • Advising an insurance group as to the prospects of successfully judicially reviewing a decision of the FOS relating to the alleged mis selling of insurance policies.  (Following service of a PAP letter the FOS capitulated);
  • Advising on the legality of ‘advance payments’ to insurance intermediaries;
  • Acting in regulatory proceedings involving an insurance company and its CEO;
  • Acting in regulatory proceedings involving a re-insurer where it was alleged that it had breached the minimum licensing criteria;
  • Advising a DFM on coverage issues and the aggregation of claims under the insurance policy.

In addition, as a junior barrister, Saima completed a secondment to the FSA (as it was then) where she worked on insurance regulation.

Saima is recommended in the areas of Financial Services, Professional Discipline and Commercial Law by Chambers UK, Legal 500 UK, Asia Pacific EMEA.

Chambers and Partners

She is a standout – she is one to watch and will make waves.”

A fantastic lawyer. She is technically very gifted, very responsive and commercially savvy.”

Incredibly thorough, intelligent, quick to respond and someone with incredible analysis.”

A pleasure to work with, she is a very smart advocate who really understands how FCA enforcement investigations work.”

She packs a punch as an advocate.

Fast, accurate, commercial and outstanding. She saved us a great deal of time.”

She’s very practical, commercial and incredibly knowledgeable at what she does.”

“…assertive and highly knowledgeable on the regulatory sector, making it easy for her to defuse arguments from the other side.”

“…extremely intelligent but also very  good with  clients as she’s not intimidating to them.”

Her advice is detailed, thorough, commercially focused and client-friendly. She has great knowledge of the FS industry and is very approachable and responsive.”

She’s very hard-working, and pays great attention to detail.”

She offers very clear guidance on the law and isn’t scared to give her opinion and points clients in the right direction. She exudes confidence.”

She’s very user-friendly and very switched on to the issues at hand. She  looks at instructions from the viewpoint of the client and gives a tailored work product.”

[Saima acted for the successful claimant in] “one of the most headline-grabbing cases of its kind for many years.”

“…She handles clients very well and has a lovely manner.”

“…Her excellent judgement and high work rate is valued by clients, instructing solicitors…”

Legal 500 UK, Asia Pacific & EMEA

She has piercing legal insight and understanding of all the issues within any case.”

She is technically brilliant and extremely accessible to solicitors and lay clients alike.”

She has an absolute mastery of the crossover between the financial regulation and banking and finance areas.”

Bright. Effective, eloquent and persuasive advocate. Excellent client skills. A good team player.”

Very bright, she tends to specialise in cases in the DIFC and has a good knowledge of financial services and the relevant regulatory framework.”

She is immensely hardworking, very bright, produces excellent and elegantly argued documents, and is a terrific team player. She’s is a top quality commercial barrister, and will be an extremely successful QC – deservedly so.”

“…technically strong, highly responsive and commercially focused” “…excellent on her feet.”

She is well-versed in the intricacies of the DFSA’s rules and their application…”

Able to grasp concepts and creatively argue against accepted legal principles.”

Saima Hanif is extremely user friendly, fast, efficient and extremely bright.”

“…She has a good appreciation of the inner workings of the regulatory authority and, accordingly, provided us with excellent advice.”

Very energetic and enthusiastic, easy to deal with and approachable but robust when needed.”

Saima Hanif recently acted in the high-profile Court of Appeal case Albert Hall v Westminster CC and another.”

Saima has published widely and in many leading texts including:

  • Phipson on Evidence, 20th ed, contributor;
  • Disciplinary & Regulatory Proceedings (10th ed, co-editor,  Jordans)
  • Tribunal Practice (co-editor, Jordans)
  • Prospectuses and Public Offers, contributor to Tolleys Company Law
  • A Practitioner’s Guide to FSA Investigations and  Enforcement, contributor

Her articles on Brexit and financial services include:

  • “Equivalence: panacea or Pandora’s box?” on the extent  to which  third  country equivalence could  be  a  satisfactory substitute for  passporting (Nov  2016, Butterworths Journal of International Banking)
  • “Brave New World” about the  impact of Brexit  on financial services (Dec 2016, Counsel magazine)
  • “Brexit, interim arrangements and the  WTO  rules: much ado  about nothing?” (May 2017, Butterworths Journal of International Banking)

The Lawyer Awards 2022: Chambers of the Year