Tuesday 19th – Wednesday 20th October 2021
The claimants appeal against the orders dated 10 June 2020 and 17 July 2020 of Mr. Justice Andrew Baker striking out and dismissing their application that the defendant be committed to prison and seeking an order for damages to be assessed
The parties were involved in a long-running dispute concerning valuable real property in Central Moscow owned through a joint venture vehicle, Navio Holdings Ltd (Navio). The main issue between them was whether the second claimant, Mr Vladimir Chernukhin, was party to a shareholder agreement relating to Navio that was concluded between Mr Deripaska and his company Filatona Trading Ltd (Filatona), on the one hand, and Ms Lolita Danilina and the first claimant, Navigator Equities Ltd, on the other hand. Mr Chernukhin said that Ms Danilina was acting throughout as his nominee, to the knowledge of Mr Deripaska. An arbitration tribunal decided that issue in favour of Mr Chernukhin. The issue was effectively re-litigated before Teare J at a trial of a challenge to the arbitration award under s.67 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (the Section 67 Proceedings). There were also issues between the parties over the value of Mr Chernukhin’s interest in Navio, if indeed he was the interested party.
By an Application Notice dated 14 November 2019, the claimants applied for an order that the defendant, Mr Oleg Deripaska, be committed to prison or sanctioned in any other manner the court might think appropriate for what they said were contempts of court. Mr Deripaska denied being in contempt of court and by Application Notice dated 18 February 2020 sought to have the contempt application struck out as an abuse of the process of the court.
The suggested contempts of court were breaches, as the claimants said there had been, of an undertaking given by Mr Deripaska to the court in June 2018. The claimants said that undertaking constituted or gave effect to an agreement with them that operated as a binding contract, so that the breaches of the undertaking (if proved) were also breaches of contract sounding in damages. The claimants’ Application Notice sought, effectively by way of summary judgment, an order for damages to be assessed.
Baker J struck out the contempt application and dismissed the damages claim by orders dated 10th June and 17th July 2020, which are now the subject of this appeal.
Lower Court Judgment: