The Commercial Court in London today starts hearing the trial of Yukos Finance BV & others v. Stephen Lynch & others. This is the first of four major trials this year involving members of Essex Court Chambers as featured in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2019.
The claim is brought by seven claimants against five individual defendants seeking substantial damages under Article 1064 of the Russian Federation Civil Code. The dispute arises out of a bankruptcy auction held in Moscow on 15 August 2007, pursuant to which an investment consortium purchased the issued share capital of Yukos Finance BV for approximately US$307 million. Extensive litigation in the Netherlands, as well as USA and Luxembourg, culminated in a decision of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in January 2019. A further claim is made in respect of the sale in April 2009 of Yukos Finance’s minority stake in a company which owns and operates a crude oil pipeline in the Republic of Slovakia. Amongst a range of substantive defences, both claims are said to be time-barred as a matter of Russian law.
The trial is set down for six weeks before Sir Michael Burton (formerly Mr Justice Burton).
Stephen Houseman QC, leading Sebastian Isaac of One Essex Court, represents the fourth defendant, instructed by Julian Acratopulo of Clifford Chance LLP.