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Berezovsky v. Abramovich


On 31 August 2012, Gloster J. handed down judgment in Berezovsky v. Abramovich, a case which has been described in the media as the biggest private court case in British legal history.

Mr Berezovsky brought two claims against Mr Abramovich.  In his first claim, Mr Berezovsky alleged that he had an interest in the Russian oil company Sibneft and that as a result of alleged intimidatory threats by Mr Abramovich, he was coerced into selling the interest to Mr Abramovich. Mr Berezovsky claimed loss in excess of $5 billion.

In his second claim, Mr Berezovsky alleged that he and Mr Abramovich had acquired assets in the Russian aluminium sector following which Mr Abramovich held a shareholding in the aluminium company RusAl on trust for Mr Berezovsky. He alleged that when Mr Abramobvich sold the shareholding in RusAl to Mr Oleg Deripaska, this was in breach of contract and/or trust. Mr Berezovsky's second claim was opposed not only by Mr Abramovich, but also by a number of other defendants from related Chancery actions. Mr Berezvosky claimed loss of at least $564 million.

The case was long-running and hard fought. During the 4 month trial, Gloster J heard evidence not only from numerous factual witnesses (including from several well known businessmen) but also evidence on Russian law and Russian history.  Ultimately Mr Berezovsky's claims were dismissed in their entirety. In the executive summary of her judgment, the Judge paid tribute to the highly professional and efficient way in which the case was conducted on both sides.

The executive summary of the judgment is here.

Mr Abramovich's counsel team for the trial was composed entirely of members of Brick Court Chambers, past and present, namely,  Jonathan Sumption Q.C. (now Lord Sumption of the Supreme Court), Helen Davies Q.C., Daniel Jowell Q.C., Andrew Henshaw, Richard Eschwege, Edward Harrison, and Craig Morrison (instructed by Skadden Arps).

Roger Masefield was among those who were instructed on behalf of Mr Berezovsky (instructed by Addleshaw Goddard)