Commercial Court lifts stay of enforcement proceedings in relation to $50bn+ Yukos arbitration awards

3 November, 2022

The Commercial Court (Butcher J) has given a further judgment in Hulley Enterprises Ltd & Others v The Russian Federation EWHC 2690 (Comm). It has lifted a stay of proceedings to enforce $50bn+ arbitration awards against Russia which has been in place since 2016.

This is the second time question of lifting the stay has come before the English Court. In April 2021, Henshaw J decided that the stay should remain in place. A key reason for this decision was that issues concerning arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction over Russia – which are also said by Russia to lie at the heart of its challenge to the jurisdiction of the English Court on the basis of state immunity – were in the process of being determined in the courts of the arbitral seat (namely the Netherlands).

However, in a judgment handed down in November 2021, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands rejected Russia’s case on those jurisdictional issues. Butcher J was therefore prepared to lift the stay, albeit only for the purposes of determining Russia’s assertion of state immunity. He also directed the hearing of certain preliminary issues – the focus of which is whether and to what extent Russia is now precluded from re-arguing issues on which it has lost in the Netherlands before the English Court. That hearing will take place during the course of 2023.

The judgment is available here.

The Claimants were represented by Jonathan Crow QC and David Peters, Instructed by Ros Prince of Stephenson Harwood.