Appeal court limits Coudert’s liability in share purchase case

The Court of Appeal has ruled that Coudert Brothers did act negligently on a £5.5m Russian share purchase, although it has reduced the firm’s liability from the first instance decision.

In allowing Coudert’s appeal, the appeal court judges ruled that the firm had been 40 per cent negligent, rather than 70 per cent negligent.

Lord Justice Laws noted in the judgment: “If a man’s chance of a
cure from a potentially fatal cancer has been reduced by another’s negligence from 42 per cent to 25 per cent, would not a reasonable jury say that he had been grievously hurt by the negligence?”

Coudert’s counsel, Michael Swainston QC of Brick Court Chambers and Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, are reviewing the judgment to see if they can take further action.

“We are particularly pleased that the Court of Appeal recognised the difficulties and risks of doing business in Russia over a decade ago. The judgment, in allowing our appeal to a limited extent, reflected that,” said Coudert Brothers’ London managing partner Dean Poster.

The February 2003 judgment ruled that Coudert failed to notice a discrepancy in a share agreement signed by client IML. A Moscow arbitration declared the share purchase invalid as a result.