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High Court Enforces £150 Million Russian Bank Judgments

Diplomatic relations between nation states ebb and flow but political differences are not a bar to cross-border cooperation between legal systems. In one case, the High Court directed enforcement of Russian judgments worth £150 million against a Russian businessman resident in London.

The businessman had been the president of a large Russian construction group that was declared insolvent. A state-owned Russian bank obtained three judgments against him from a court in Moscow in respect of personal guarantees that he had given as security for the company’s debts.

In seeking summary judgment against the businessman, the bank argued that it was a straightforward matter in that the judgments of the Russian court were binding, conclusive and final and the businessman had no arguable defence. It argued that he was merely playing the system, both in Russia and England, in an attempt to delay the inevitable.

The businessman accepted that the Court had jurisdiction in the matter due to his residence in England. However, he argued that there were compelling reasons why the bank’s claim should not be resolved without a trial. It was submitted that the Russian judgments had been procured by fraud and that he had been denied a fair hearing in breach of the rules of natural justice.

In upholding the bank’s application, however, the Court found that the businessman had raised no triable issue and that his attempts to impeach the Russian judgments were unarguable. The Russian judgments were straightforward and reasonable on their face and there were no public policy grounds for refusing to recognise them.