Oligarch case whets appetite for more
A leading City lawyer says he would welcome more foreign litigation coming to London after the conclusion of a high-profile case involving two Russian oligarchs.
The High Court last week found that exiled Russian Boris Berezovsky (pictured) had no claim to the business interests of Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club, and dismissed his appeal for damages worth £3.15bn. Legal costs are reported to have exceeded £100m in what is the most expensive case in British legal history.
City of London Law Society chairman Alasdair Douglas said the priority must now be to attract more high-profile cases from around the world, even if they appear to have little to do with the UK.
‘Every country would like to take these cases but in some places people are worried about the quality of judges and the lack of certainty,’ he said. ‘The rule of law is one of England’s greatest exports and this case was an important confirmation of what we can offer to people wanting to bring their dispute here.’
Abramovich was not present in court to hear Mrs Justice Gloster’s judgment, but his lawyers said outside court that the case had confirmed his ‘great faith in the fairness of the English legal system’.
Berezovsky heard his testimony described by the judge as ‘deliberately dishonest’ and a sign that he had ‘deluded himself’ into believing his own version of events. The judge also said the ‘heavily lawyered’ nature of the case had made her sceptical of witness statements which ‘reflected more the industrious work product of the lawyers, than the actual evidence of the witnesses’.
The judgment revealed that Berezovsky, who is considering an appeal, had told the court that his witnesses would not benefit from the case, despite one such witness, a solicitor named as Mr Lindley, standing to gain ‘very substantially’ if Berezovsky were to win.