Leading article: Roubles talk in British courts

 

Share
Related Topics

Those in Britain with an appetite for intricate court cases have already enjoyed a vintage year, with the lawsuit brought by the exiled Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, against Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club (and much else). Even as the judgment in that case is awaited, though, we now have the metals billionaire, Michael Cherney, suing the aluminium magnate, Oleg Deripaska, in London's same brand-new commercial court. The case was opened and adjourned yesterday to allow the judge to review the documents; battle recommences in the autumn.

These labyrinthine cases have much in common. They both have their origins in the chaotic carve-up of Russia's natural resources in the "wild east" years after the Soviet Union's collapse. They concern complex business arrangements for which there is scant documentation. They pit the word of one oligarch who keeps (relatively) good relations with the Kremlin against that of another who definitely does not, and in both huge sums are at stake.

But they also pose questions. Wherever the disputed deals were hatched, they relate to businesses and resources based in Russia. They have helped push the proportion of Russian and East European business disputes heard at the High Court above 60 per cent, tying up London court space and legal teams and – perhaps – pushing up the cost of litigation for others. Doubt may also surround the court's capacity to enforce its judgment.

Obviously, it is preferable for oligarchs to seek redress through the courts than settle scores by extra-judicial means. And it should be a source of some satisfaction that the English courts are so much in demand by wealthy foreigners – though it is worth asking, too, how far this reflects their faith in the quality of English justice and how far the quest for publicity and cachet. A bigger question, though, is whether advances in the Russian court system may be retarded because the super-rich have a London option, even when their dispute has no clear link to this country. Their qualms about corrupt and politicised Russian justice are understandable. But if the richest can use their money to buy justice elsewhere, the pressure will be that much weaker for better courts in Russia.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Britain's Queen Elizabeth delivers her speech to the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster, during the State Opening of Parliament in London  

The Queen’s Speech was full of pledges made in a panic during the election campaign

Steve Richards
 

Letters: Imagination needed to solve GP crisis

Independent Voices
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir