Brick Court Chambers heavyweight Mark Hapgood QC has secured the mandate to represent self-exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky in his six-month trial set for October.
Berezovsky’s lawyers at Addleshaw Goddard were left without counsel in the build-up to the six-month trial after One Essex Court’s Laurence Rabinowitz QC withdrew, citing prior diary commitments. Addleshaws partner Mark Hastings, who is leading the Chancery proceedings for Berezovsky, has lined up Hapgood as his replacement.
This latest case follows on from Berezovsky’s furiously fought battle with Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich. It is hoped that the judgment in that commercial case will be handed down by Mrs Justice Gloster before proceedings begin in the Chancery division.
The billion-dollar trial pitches Berezovsky against three defendants: Russian metal magnate Vasily Anisimov, represented by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ian Terry; the estate of Arkady ’Badri’ Patarkatsishvili, formerly Georgia’s richest man, represented by Hogan Lovells partner Graham Huntley; and investment company Salford, represented by Macfarlanes partner Iain Mackie.
Huntley is believed to be lining up a leading silk to lead Serle Court’s Jonathan Adkin.
The dispute revolves around allegations made by Berezovsky that a significant proportion of assets and funds worth between $2bn and $3bn (£1.3bn and £1.9bn) held by the Patarkatsishvili estate, or a large number of trusts and funds set up by Patarkatsishvili, as well as assets held by Anisimov, are in fact part-owned by Berezovsky.
Lawyers involved in the matter are keeping tight-lipped about their counsel line-up, such is the animosity surrounding the case.
“The Russians want a punch-up – they want to go to court,” a source close to the case said. “There’s no way these cases will settle.”
Hapgood’s appointment underlines how much is at stake. He rose to prominence in 2005 when he was instructed by Ernst & Young to defend a negligence and breach of duty claim by Equitable Life. In that case, which went on to settle, Rabinowitz was among counsel for the defendants, instructed by six former non-executive directors.