A marathon London court case between two Russian fishing tycoons looks set to continue as the parties prepare to settle ‘substantive’ costs.
The case, Tugushev v Orlov & Others, concerns a dispute between Vitaly Orlov and Alexander Tugushev over a stake in Norebo, an international business which supplies fish to the likes of McDonalds, Tesco and Birds Eye.
Orlov took control of Norebo in 2016 and Tugushev claims that his one-third interest in the company is not being recognised, alleging that Orlov and other defendants conspired to remove him from the company.
The High Court on Friday refused to continue a worldwide freezing order on Orlov, on the grounds that there is no ‘real risk’ of the businessman dissipating his assets.
According to the judgment, the Honourable Mrs Justice Carr first discharged the freezing order because of a non-disclosure issue. She said it was a ‘serious failure’ on Tugushev’s part not to investigate evidence which was inconsistent with his case.
Carr J then refused to re-grant the freezing order, stating ‘I am not satisfied that there is a real risk of dissipation.’ In her analysis, Carr J said that Orlov ‘did not start out a rich man’ and that his fishing business ‘represents his life’s work of which he is proud’. She added: ‘He says that he would not sell or dismantle it to avoid a judgment against him.’
The issue of costs now looms over the case. In her judgment, Carr J states: ‘I (perhaps over-optimistically) invite the parties to agree all consequential matters so far as possible, including costs.'
Tugushev, the claimant, is being funded by anonymous third parties, whose identity is being carefully protected. According to Orlov’s solicitors, Macfarlanes, those funders will now have to pay a significant proportion of Orlov’s costs in discharging the freezing order ‘or face being revealed’.
A spokesperson for Tugushev said: 'Mr Tugushev is disappointed that the High Court has set aside the worldwide freezing order obtained in 2018, and is considering his options in relation to this decision. This decision does not affect at all Mr Tugushev’s ability to continue to prosecute his claim in the London courts, which he will continue to do in order to secure the full value of his ownership interests in the Norebo Group.'
The dispute originally attracted attention when the High Court of England & Wales ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the case. Orlov had challenged whether the English courts have jurisdiction.
Helen Davies QC, Richard Slade QC and Richard Blakeley, instructed by Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP, appeared for the claimant; Christopher Pymont QC, George Hayman QC, Benjamin John and James Kinman, instructed by Macfarlanes LLP, appeared for the first defendant.