Cortado Q&A: Freddy Khalastchi


Cortado Q&A is a series of short interviews taking you on a caffeine-fuelled tour of some of the most interesting folks in litigation.

Freddy Khalastchi is a Chartered Accountant and Insolvency Practitioner at Menzies.  We first encountered one another on opposite sides of an insolvency claim that was hard fought.  Years later, Freddy was introduced to me by Chris Felton and Michelle Di Gioia, after they had worked closely on a number of matters.

I caught up with Freddy at Café Tropea in Russell Square Park, a tranquil hidden gem in the hubbub of London.

Which leader in your field inspires you and why?

No one person stands out, but over the years I have had the pleasure of working alongside some of the brainiest barristers and solicitors in the insolvency world and they have given me inspiration in the way they go about their job and the power of their thinking.

What topic or issue always makes you read deeper?

I feel very strongly about media bias, especially by high profile and respected outlets.  I think that it’s a real problem as the public will often only hear half a story about matters reported in the media and believe it to be true based purely on the outlet’s name.  Sometimes one needs to see things for themselves in order to gain a real understanding of the issues at hand.

What is your career highlight?

This has to be the first significant recovery that I made for the benefit of a company’s creditors.  The case had been through two firms of IPs in the preceding five years before it landed on my desk as a nil-asset liquidation.  After an in-depth look at the case, I concluded that there was potential to pursue a number of significant claims and so, after taking legal advice, we issued proceedings on the last day before the limitation date.  It was initially a big risk for my firm as we were not only committing substantial time but also laying out for expenses associated with the claim.  When things got quite pressurised, I was then introduced to the intriguing world of litigation funding and this was a number of years before the industry started to take off.  After a couple of meetings, we managed to put an arrangement in place that worked really well for all stakeholders, especially the creditors who received a surprise dividend 10 years after the company went into insolvency. That was when I began to appreciate the fantastic potential of litigation funding!

What do you think is the next big thing?

Until last week, and for quite a while, I thought it was going to be litigation funding!  Then Muddy Waters came along. [Muddy Waters is hedge fund that recently took a short position on litigation funder Burford Capital’s stock (essentially betting that the value of its shares would fall).  Muddy Waters then publicly denounced Burford Capital’s accounting practices.  Burford Capital’s share price subsequently dropped by 65%, reducing the value of the funder by £1 billion.  Burford Capital denies Muddy Waters’ allegations.]  Until last week, Burford was the darling of the Stock Market but it just goes to show that nothing is permanent!

If you could do any other job, what would you be and why?

I enjoy music and what I have always really wanted to do is own a classy live music venue that serves up beautiful Italian food and has a lovely dance floor.  I once went to such a place but it has closed down now, unfortunately.  I’ve been involved with running Indonesian and Malaysian restaurants in the past, so I’m definitely up for the challenge!

Where should I go to enjoy London’s best coffee?

I am the last person to ask as I don’t drink coffee, but the people in the know suggest that you go to Chapter Coffee in West Kensington and ask for Macro.  The rest will take care of itself!

If, on the other hand, you would like the best hot chocolate, I would definitely recommend Dark Sugars in Brick Lane, London.  The owner imports the cocoa beans from Ghana, and makes everything herself.  And apparently, she has recently started making ice cream – that’s going to be a treat!

Katie Dyson

Commercial Disputes

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