Maher Chahlawi, Marwan Junior Chahlawi, Pierra Chalhoub, and Sarah Bibi were all sentenced in their absence. Dell secured a judgment from the UK’s High Court in April committing four current and former directors of Systems Equipment Telecommunication Services SAL (SETS) to prison, having spent in excess of £225,000 on the case.
SETS was an authorised, non-exclusive Dell distributor between 2004 and 2017 until the contract was terminated. Dell claimed SETS broke the contract; SETS said Dell wrongfully terminated the contract and sued in Lebanese courts.
Citing an “exclusive jurisdiction” clause in the contract, Dell filed an anti-lawsuit case in London’s High Court. As Mr Justice Henshaw put it in a previous judgment, “SETS nonetheless continued to pursue the Lebanese proceedings, and indeed commenced a second set of proceedings” against Dell in mid-2018.
Dell hit back, securing an anti-lawsuit injunction from the High Court which should have prevented SETS from suing it anywhere at all over the end of the contract.
Meanwhile, SETS kept its Lebanese lawsuit going and asked the local courts to declare the High Court’s anti-lawsuit order invalid in that country. Maher Chahlawi told the High Court that Lebanese law meant he had to sue Dell for terminating his company’s contract, claiming he had “no choice” about it.
Mr Justice Henshaw rejected Maher Chahlawi’s legal arguments that he was somehow forced to sue Dell, adding that they “had no substance.”
Maher and Marwan Junior Chahlawi were ordered to be committed to prison for 18 months with Sarah Bibi and Pierre Chalhoub both receiving nine month sentences. The judge made “non-binding” statements in his judgment committing them all to prison that “the court would be likely to give favourable consideration” to halving everyone’s sentences if the Lebanese legal case was dropped.