Addleshaw Goddard has secured a High Court victory for Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky after Mr Justice Floyd granted him summary judgment against Aeroflot Russian Airlines.
The ruling means that Aeroflot is not entitled to enforce in England a judgment obtained in Russia in 2011 in the Golovinsky District Court.
Addleshaws partners John Kelleher and Mark Hastngs instructed George Leggatt QC, who has since been elevated from Brick Court Chambers to the High Court bench (27 October 2012), in defence of the case. Boodle Hatfield partner Simon Fizpatrick was instructed for joined defendant Nikolay Glushkov, with Serle Court’s Philip Jones QC leading the advocacy. Gushkov was a former deputy director general of the airline
Serle Court’s Philip Marshall QC led for the claimant, having been instructed by Pinsent Masons partner Michael Fenn for Aeroflot.
In dispute was a judgment handed down against Berezovsky, in his absence, by the Savelovsky District Court in 2007, in which Berezovsky was ordered to pay 215m roubles (£4.3m) to the airline for his part in an alleged fraud that had caused a loss to the airline. Although the liability had been settled Aeroflot had requested in 2011 that the fine be ‘indexed’ for inflation.
The Golovinsky court obliged, increasing Berezovsky’s liability to Aeroflot by 2.1bn roubles, a factor of 10.
The claimants sought to enforce the 2011 judgment through the London court, claiming the balance between the 2.1bn roubles and the amount it had already recovered: a balance of £10.8m.
According to the judgment Leggatt argued that the second Golovinsky judgment, and the proceedings which led to it, breached the principles of finality and legal certainty.
The judgment continues: “In the Golovinsky court, commenced several years after the second Savelovsky judgment had become final, the court was asked, by a state owned entity, to find that the loss suffered was 10 times greater. No new facts or circumstances were advanced or considered by the court. He [Leggatt] submits that this amounts to a glaring shortfall from the necessary standard under the convention.”
Floyd J dismissed the claim stating that: “Enforcement of the judgments would breach the finality principle. I will grant summary judgment dismissing the action accordingly.”
For Berezovsky the High Court win will be welcome. At the end of August Mrs Justice Gloster threw out Berezovsky’s billion-dollar claims against Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, slating him for being an unreliable witness (31 August 2012).
That case generated a fee bonanza for the firms involved, with Addleshaws understood to have uplifted its fee to £1,000 an hour for the work it carried out for the billionaire (22 October 2012).
After losing his commercial court action Berezovsky was ordered to pay costs of £35m to Abramovich’s lawyers at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom with a further £3.75m to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which represented Russian metal magnate Vasily Anisimov (12 October 2012).