JP Morgan's Jersey trust sued for USD120m by Saudi beneficiaries

Members of the Alhamrani family, who run a group of industrial companies in Saudi Arabia, have brought an action against JP Morgan (Jersey) Trust Company, in what could become the longest and costliest civil trial in the Crown dependency's judicial history.

The action centres on two trusts that were set up in Jersey in 1998 to hold most of the Alhamrani family's foreign investments.

Legal proceedings in connection with the case have been ongoing in Jersey since 2003, with numerous appeals to the Jersey Court of Appeal and the Privy Council in London.

The first stage of the trial is likely to last until next summer.

Sheikh Mohamed Ali M Alhamrani heads the plaintiffs and is bringing the action with four of his brothers.

The complainants raise allegations of breach of trust, conflict of interest, gross negligence, and lack of communication between trustee and beneficiaries.

There are also similar complaints against Sheikh Mohamed's younger brother, Sheikh Abdullah Ali M Alhamrani, who is protector of the trusts.

JP Morgan (Jersey) Trust Company and Sheikh Abdullah deny these complaints.

In addition there are claims by the plaintiffs against a local trust company called Russa Management, which are also denied.

To date, the claims with interest exceed USD120m.

Jersey's Royal Court is the principal court of the jurisdiction. The trial judge in this case is a Queen's Counsel, Commissioner Howard Page who is sitting with two Jersey jurats, lay assessors and sit as judges of fact.

Bedell Cristin are acting for the plaintiffs who are all beneficiaries under the trusts.

The defendants are represented by Mourant du Feu and Jeune, Crill Canavan and Carey Olsen.

The defendants also have three London law firms acting for them: Clifford Chance, Speechly Bircham and Farrers.

Hanson Renouf are instructed on behalf of another beneficiary.