The relevance of England and Wales to a multi-billion-pound row involving two oligarchs and a stake in one of the world’s largest fishing companies will play out tomorrow in the High Court.
In Tugushev v Orlov & Others the court will finally begin to hear a three-day challenge to the English courts’ authority to hear the case. It follows a string of pre-trial hearings in which there were rows over securities of costs and attempts to have evidence relating to personal finances heard in private.
The judgment is the latest twist in an ongoing battle between Vitaly Orlov and another Russian businessman, Alexander Tugushev, surrounding control of the $1.5bn (£1.2bn) Norebo Group.
Orlov took control of Norebo in 2016 but Tugushev, who is backed by a third-party funder, claims that his one-third stake in the company is not being recognised. An order against Orlov, freezing £270m of his assets, was granted earlier this year.
Orlov is being represented by City firm Macfarlanes while Peters & Peters is acting for Tugushev. Neither party is domiciled in the UK.
The Gazette understands that Orlov’s side is set to argue that the case is an entirely Russian matter which should not be heard in the English courts. If the challenge to jurisdiction is successful then the freezing order could be set aside.
Last year Orlov applied for a security for costs order, or failing that, an order that Tugushev reveals who is funding his case. The court made an order of £1.5m, rejecting Macfarlanes’ estimate of £2.7m.
It will be the second jurisdiction argument involving former Soviet parties in recent months.
In November, the High Court ruled that a case accusing two men of an alleged multi-billion-pound fraud at a now state-owned Ukrainian bank should not be heard in London.
In a judgment PJSC Commercial Bank Privatbank and Igor Valeryevich Kolomoisky & Others, Mr Justice Fancourt said the English courts do not have jurisdiction to hear claims by claimant PrivatBank. PrivatBank alleged that its two former owners, Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov, misappropriated billions of pounds between 2013 and 2014 before Ukraine’s government took control of the bank at the end of 2016.
The bank, which is represented by international firm Hogan Lovells, said it will appeal the finding.