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Judgment handed down in the battle of the Ukrainian oligarchs


Mr Justice Picken handed down his 225 page judgment in the battle of the Ukrainian oligarchs on 14 July 2020 after a 7 week trial last year. The Judge found that on a balance of probability Avonwick (Vitaly Gaiduk) had not proved his claim that Mr Mkrtchan and Mr Taruta had made an oral fraudulent representation to him when he sold his shares in IUD, the Ukrainian metallurgical business, in 2009. However, the Judge also found that Mr Taruta had failed to prove each of his various claims against Mr Gaiduk, which were worth in total approximately $400m. The Judge found Mr Gaiduk to be a satisfactory and indeed persuasive witness. In contrast, he found Mr Taruta (cross examined by Avonwick over 4 days) not to be a satisfactory witness and on a number of occasions he was “plainly just not telling the truth”, with his evidence being “uncompelling or worse”. As a result, the Judge ordered Mr Taruta to pay on an indemnity basis Mr Gaiduk’s costs of defeating the many counterclaims. The judgment contains an analysis amongst other things of the test for fraudulent misrepresentation; the test for whether a binding contract has been reached; the circumstances in which the court may draw adverse inferences from the failure to call particular witnesses; and the circumstances in which a restitutionary claim may be pursued where the parties have concluded a binding contract.

On 20 July 2020 Picken J refused the Taruta Parties permission to appeal against the dismissal of all of their counterclaims.

The judgment is here.

Neil Calver QC, Edward Ho, Ben Woolgar and Alexandra Whelan (of Fountain Court Chambers) appeared for Avonwick/Mr Gaiduk at the trial, instructed by Quinn Emanuel.  Stephen Midwinter QC advised at an earlier stage in the proceedings.

The case was featured in The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases of 2019.