Russian oligarch challenges jurisdiction ruling

Mike Taylor,Press Association
Tuesday 21 July 2009 00:00 BST

The Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has challenged a court ruling that a £2bn-plus lawsuit launched against him by a former friend should be tried in England rather than Russia.

A year ago, a High Court judge in London held that the claimant, Michael Chernoy, was entitled to a hearing in England – to ensure he received a fair trial and to protect him from the risk of "assassination or arrest on trumped-up charges".

Yesterday, Mr Deripaska's lawyers argued in the Court of Appeal that the case should be heard in Russia and that the earlier jurisdictional judgment was wrong as it effectively amounted to an allegation that the Russian Federation was unable to exercise its sovereignty by administering justice.

Ali Malek QC, for Mr Deripaska, told Lords Justices Waller and Moore-Bick and Sir John Chadwick that the lawsuit had "absolutely nothing to do with this country".

The governing law of the disputed contract was Russian law, large parts of it were in the Russian language and the events leading up to it all took place in Russia.

The High Court judge, Mr Justice Christopher Clarke, had no grounds for finding that Mr Chernoy might be under threat in Russia. There was no evidence that he was a political opponent of the regime in Moscow. In any event, there was no question of the Russian state exercising improper influence over a litigant for political reasons.

"There is no evidence that Mr Deripaska has ever received support from the Russian government that involves improper government interference," said Mr Malek.

He said Mr Deripaska had been treated like any other litigant – his companies had in fact lost 16 recent cases.

"It isn't true that oligarchs always win in the Russian courts," added Mr Malek.

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