Continental Breakfast: Sarosh Zaiwalla, Zaiwalla & Co

, The Am Law Daily


Sarosh Zaiwalla and Dalai Lama
Sarosh Zaiwalla and Dalai Lama

After a Christmas of almost impossible excess—I put on nine pounds in as many days—I opt for the “Dorchester Healthy Breakfast." It proves a surprisingly substantial meal for something billed as a lighter option. I start with a bowl of fruit and seed-packed Bircher muesli, served with natural yogurt; move on to a huge and piping hot egg white omelette with herbs and mushrooms; before finishing with whole wheat toast and a plate of blueberry and carrot mini-muffins, which are delicately spiced with ginger. I polish off the lot.

Zaiwalla says the next step for Bank Mellat is to file a damages claim with the High Court, which he plans to do on February 7. (The High Court is the U.K.'s highest civil court of first instance; the Supreme Court is the country's highest appellate court.) Zaiwalla will not be drawn on the exact value of the claim—a strict embargo from the client prevents him from doing so—but he says it will be “much more” than the £500 million ($820 million) that has been reported in the press. He claims it will be the first time that an Iranian plaintiff fighting against sanctions in Europe has reached the stage of claiming damages after a top court sided in its favor.

“It’s a brave step for Bank Mellat to take on the U.K. government in such a way,” he adds.

Zaiwalla looks at his watch. He is due in court to represent an international defendant in an $80 million commercial claim, but before we draw our meeting to a close, there's time for one last anecdote. While at a Diwali party of Indian billionnaires the Hinduja brothers, who according to Forbes have a net worth of $9 billion, Zaiwalla was introduced to U.K. prime minister John Major. The two hit it off and became friends, and in 1991 they cohosted a dinner for Asian business leaders at 10 Downing Street—something Zaiwalla considers one of the highlights of his career. When Major's Conservative party lost the 1997 general elections in a landslide defeat to Tony Blair's Labour, Zaiwalla sent Major a letter of consolation. In it, he quoted a poem, The Patriot by Robert Browning, which he now recites perfectly, word-for-word:

"Thus I entered, and thus I go. In triumphs, people have dropped down dead. "Paid by the world, what dost thou owe me?" God might question; now instead, 'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so."

Zaiwalla says that one day he'll write a book about his life. I get the impression it would be well worth reading.

Breakfast for two came to £51.19 ($84), with service.

Chris Johnson is The American Lawyer's chief European correspondent. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter at @chris_t_johnson.

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