It is more than four months since a Dubai court awarded Dh940,000 to someone who invested in Exential.
The Filipino, an airline cabin crew worker who does not want to be named, is yet to receive anything from the company – despite a last-minute appeal by Exential being thrown out.
Lawyers representing Exential’s customers say many victims fear their chances of arriving at a favourable settlement will be reduced if they go public with their claims.
Lawyer Barney Almazar, a director at Gulf Law in the Middle East and Philippines, has been offering legal advice to scores of claimants.
“Winning a case does not automatically mean you will recover your lost money unless the losing party voluntarily pays, which is unlikely,” he said.
“The need to secure a favourable judgment is crucial, considering the majority of Exential assets are still intact and were just hidden away from creditors’ reach.
“Before any jurisdiction - the UAE or elsewhere - can order the confiscation of Exential’s assets in favour of a claimant, a legally enforceable document must be produced by the claimant.
“This document, such as a court decision, is the confirmation that indeed the claimant has the right to the amount being demanded.”
The decision of a UAE court can also be executed abroad, where it is believed that the assets of the defendant, Sydney Lemos, are located.
This process is known as enforcement of foreign judgment and is possible if the two countries have an agreement in place and if a court order exists confirming the debtor is liable.
As there is a hierarchy of claims, a “gold rush” to locate and commandeer assets is under way, led by lawyers who will want a slice of the recovered cash.
“Those with writ of execution enjoy the highest priority and those who have not terminated their investment agreement have no right to claim, as their cause of action is based on termination of the agreement,” Mr Almazar added.
“At this stage, where many have brought the matter to the courts, it will be not logical for Exential to offer an amicable settlement to those who have not filed a case against them, and therefore has no legal standing to execute a claim against their assets, compared to those with writ of execution.”