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Fountain Court Chambers’ Michael Brindle QC went to the High Court last week (2 November) in a bid to strike out a $5bn (£3.05bn) claim against his client, Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
The hearing began before the court’s summer recess and is expected to continue for another week. One partner close to the case said it is “unprecedented” for the Commercial Court, which sits in the High Court, to spend three weeks on a strike out hearing.
Appearing on behalf of Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky, One Essex Court’s Laurence Rabinowitz QC argued that Abramovich used intimidation to force his client to sell shares in Russian oil company Sibneft and TV channel ORT at a discounted price.
Berezovsky was granted political asylum in the UK after fleeing Russia, where he was wanted on charges of fraud and political corruption, in 2001. Attempts to extradite him have been rejected by the UK courts. The Russian oligarch is seeking between $3bn and $5bn in damages for breach of contract, breach of trust and breach of fiduciary claims. It is thought to be one of the largest claims ever to be heard in the Commercial Court.
Rabinowitz has been instructed by Addleshaw Goddard partner Mark Hastings, while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom partner Paul Mitchard QC instructed Brindle for Abramovich.