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Hogan Lovells has picked up the mandate to represent Ukrainian industrialist Victor Pinchuk in his $2bn High Court battle after White & Case was debarred from the case.
It will be a major boost to the London litigation team, which has been on the hunt for a fresh multi-billion dollar trial since Addleshaw Goddard client Mukhtar Ablyazov failed to defend a $6bn case against him by Hogan Lovells Kazakhstan-based client JSC BTA Bank (17 May 2012).
Partner Chris Hardman, who led the battle for BTA Bank, is leading the team for Pinchuk along with partner Michael Davison, who co-heads the arbitration practice.
Last month Mr Justice Field debarred White & Case from acting for Pinchuk in his commercial court battle against Gennady Bogoliubov and Igor Kolomoisky (31 January 2014).
Field J upheld an application to debar the firm because the firm’s internal conflicts checking procedures had failed. While he agreed that there had been no breach of client confidentiality, there was a risk that such conflict could arise, he said.
During the case it had emerged that the firm had been advising Bogoliubov and Kolomoisky in the US on a corporate restructuring and potential IOPO, while also advising Pinchuk in London on the dispute.
The court heard that the US firm decided internally there was no conflict of interest between its acting for the claimants and also acting for Pinchuk and did not establish any information barriers separating the teams for two years.
Litigation boutique Enyo Law had acted for the applicants, a group of companies whose majority shareholders are Bogoliubov and Kolomoisky. Enyo partner George Maling instructed Brick Court Chambers’ Daniel Jowell QC and Richard Eschwege.
The move to Hogan Lovells for Pinchuck will be seen as bold and dynamic. Whilst acting for BTA Bank Hardman became one of the biggest billers in the London litigation group, consistently breaking new ground in the area of fraud law.
Despite Ablyazov absconding before the full trial could be heard, the firm obtained judgments worth $2.1bn against the former BTA Bank chairman.
That case involved more than 200 court hearings, which generated 49 reported decisions among which were a raft of legal firsts and ground-breaking rulings.
The case is shaping up to be a bruising battle, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ian Terry instructed for defendant Kolomoisky and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom partner David Kavanagh instructed for Bogoliubov.
The claims centres on the alleged failure to deliver ownership of an iron ore business for which Pinchuk, one of Ukraine’s highest-profile and wealthy businessmen and the son-in-law of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is understood to have paid $143m (10 July 2013).