Another high-profile foreign dispute, this time related to a stake in a Russian fishing company valued at more than a billion pounds, has opened in the High Court - though the relevance of England and Wales as a jurisdiction has again been called into question.
Russian businessman Alexander Tugushev is fighting billionaire Vitaly Orlov for a stake in the $1.5bn (£1.2bn) valued Norebo Group. The Norebo Group is one of the largest international fishing companies in the world. Orlov took control of Norebo in 2016 but Tugushev claims his one-third stake in the company is not being recognised.
An order against Orlov, freezing £270m of his assets, was granted late last month.
Appearing in court last week Orlov, represented by Paul Sinclair QC of Fountain Court Chambers, instructed City firm Macfarlanes, sought ‘orderly determination of the application to continue the freezing injunction’. However Orlov is questioning whether the court is the appropriate forum to hear the case: a skeleton argument seen by the Gazette says Orlov’s attendance ’is not, and should not’ be treated as a submission to the jurisdiction of the English court.
Orlov requested that any information he does provide about his assets should handed over only to Tugushev’s legal representatives as there is ’a well-founded fear’ that the asset disclosure will be used for what he described as a 'collateral purpose’. He was expected to respond to the asset disclosure request today. He will then have until September to lay out his full evidence.
Tugushev is represented by Richard Slade QC of Brick Court Chambers instructed by Peters & Peters.
Meanwhile, in a separate dispute at the same court, City lawyers working on a case involving an alleged multi-billion pound fraud by two oligarchs at the now state-owned Ukrainian bank PrivatBank, will have to wait until October to find out if the case will proceed at after jurisdiction was challenged. The court heard earlier this month that a claim was ‘bizarrely’ brought in English courts as there are only tenuous links to the jurisdiction.
PrivatBank claims that Igor Kolomoisky, together with business partner Gennadiy Bogolyubov, misappropriated billions of pounds between 2013 and 2014 while they were owners of the bank.
As well as Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov, six companies - of which three are listed in the UK - are also defendants. It is alleged that at one time they were owned by either of the two men. Representatives for Kolomoisky submitted that the companies’ involvement was limited and that they were being named as defendants only so that the case could be brought in the English courts.
Fieldfisher is representing Kolomoisky, Bogolyubov is represented by US firm Skadden and the six companies are being represented by Pinsent Masons. Hogan Lovells is acting for PrivatBank.