On 8 November 2016, and after 5 days of argument in early October, the Commercial Court (Picken J) allowed applications by the defendants for (a) the summary dismissal of a claim valued at in excess of US$334 million; (b) the discharge of a worldwide freezing injunction set at US$380 million; and (c) the setting aside of an order serving the proceedings out of the jurisdiction.
The claim was brought by a Russian state owned oil company (PJSC Tatneft) against four Ukrainian businessmen and arose out of a refusal by a Ukrainian oil refinery to pay the claimant for oil delivered in 2007. It involved an attempt by the claimant (a) to fashion a claim in delict based on Article 1064 of the Russian Civil Code and (b) to sidestep a contractual chain to which none of the defendants were party. The claimant purported to bring its claim as an assignee of one of the parties to the contractual chain, notwithstanding the fact that its own delictual claim was statute barred as a matter of Russian law.
In a reserved judgment running to 78 pages, Picken J held that the claimant had not (as a matter of Russian law) taken a valid assignment of the claim and found that the claimant had not properly formulated a claim under Article 1064. As a result, the Court granted reverse summary judgment to two of the defendants and set aside the order serving the proceedings out of the jurisdiction against the other two defendants.
Tom Weisselberg QC (instructed by Nicola Boulton and Elizabeth Seborg of Byrne & Partners) acted for the Fourth Defendant.