Mishcon de Reya is the latest firm to take on Addleshaw Goddard client Boris Berezovsky after the firm was instructed for the oligarch’s ex-partner Yelena Gorbunova in a battle for his reduced wealth.
Mr Justice Mann delivered a split ruling after Maitland Chambers’ Anthony Trace QC convinced the court that a £200m freezing order against Berezovsky’s assets should be knocked out.
However, parts of the order granted by deputy high court judge Roger Wyand QC in December should remain in place, Mann J said.
Trace was instructed by Addleshaws partner Mark Hastings, who has acted for the oligarch since 2008 alongside partner John Kelleher (8 November 2010).
The December application was made by Mishcon partners Mark Keenan and Claire Broadbelt, who instructed Henry Legge QC of 5 Stone Buildings for Gorbunova. Blackstone Chambers’ Robert Anderson QC has also been instructed to take the case forward.
Berezovsky amassed legal fees in excess of £70m during his six-month legal battle with Chelsea FC owner Roman Abamovich (31 August 2012) and the subsequent legal battle with the estate of Arkady ‘Badri’ Patarkatsishvili alongside Russian metal magnate Vasily Anisimov (13 September 2012).
Gorbunova had applied for the order after fearing that assets the oligarch had promised to her, including proceeds from the sale of properties in the UK and the south of France, would instead be used to settle his legal bills.
Gorbunova’s lawyers also contended that she had been promised a portion of the Patarkatsishvili settlement – reportedly £100m – but no money had been handed over.
Trace argued that such an injunction was excessive and had not followed correct procedure. Mann J rejected the argument but lifted the £200m order before the return date, the deadline for defendant papers, had been set.
Berezovsky, however, will not be able to sell his French properties until the dispute is settled.
The judgment was handed down yesterday despite an attempt by the lawyers instructed for both sides to have the case anonymised.
A further hearing will take into consideration costs arising from the pre-trial hearing, although a date for the substantial trial is yet to be set.