A £400m dispute between two heavyweight Russian businessmen is to be heard in private, a judge ruled today, after ‘very, very hard-fought litigation’ surrounding confidential financial information was predicted.

In an order handed down this morning at the Rolls Building Mr Justice Males determined that the dispute between Alexander Tugushev and Vitaly Orlov - which surrounds ownership of a £1.2bn fishing company - should be heard privately due to confidentiality issues.

The court was due to hear arguments that Orlov had violated terms of a freezing order but first considered an application by Orlov to have the case heard behind closed doors. During the application, it was submitted that confidential information related to Orlov’s personal wealth and finance was likely to be referred to.

Tugushev is challenging billionaire Orlov over a stake in the Norebo Group - one of the world’s largest international fishing enterprises. 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.

Orlov’s barrister said today this was not an ‘idle issue’ and would likely involve ’very very hard-fought litigation’. He submitted that the case should be heard in private on two grounds – it involves a potential breach of confidentiality and it is in the interests of justice to avoid such breaches.

Details of Orlov’s financial interests referred to at a previous hearing had already been used by Tugushev, the court heard.

Richard Slade, counsel for Tugushev, submitted that his client had been the victim of ‘corporate raiding’ and manipulation. He added that there was no foundation to the claim that the case should be heard in private.

Mr Justice Males said he was satisfied that confidentiality issues may arise and that he would determine at a later date whether to give judgment in public.

UK firm Peters & Peters is instructing Richard Slade QC of Brick Court Chambers on behalf of Tugushev while Orlov is represented by City firm Macfarlanes.