Russians hit new records in London Commercial Courts despite the war and sanctions

Despite the conflict in Ukraine and international sanctions, a record number of Russians have appeared in London’s Commercial Courts in the past year, while the number of Ukrainian litigants has decreased to zero, according to a new report released on Thursday.

According to the annual Commercial Courts Report by consultant Portland Communications, the number of Russian plaintiffs in Commercial Court judgments increased by 41% to 58 in the year to March 2023, trailing only the 441 British litigants in number.

Rich Russians filed cases in London courts after the dissolution of the Soviet Union because that city has long been a center for the settlement of business disputes. These disputes were a valuable source of income for law firms since they typically involved conflicts for control and money.

However, after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many law firms severed ties with Russian clients, which could still have an impact on the number of Russian litigants in the future, according to the report.

38 Russian people and 19 Russian firms were identified in judgments, according to Portland, which collated the data from 257 judgments. This included a case involving the sanctioned Bank Otkritie and a well-known Russian tycoon and his kids.

Although Ukraine ranked among the most frequent litigant nationalities in prior years, no Ukrainian litigants have appeared in Commercial Court judgments since July 2021.

The research stated that although the invasion had hampered Ukrainian parties’ access to the legal system, it was still too early to link the data to the conflict due to the time lag between filing claims and receiving verdicts.

The biggest percentage of foreign litigants ever recorded (60%) was represented by plaintiffs who appeared in Commercial Courts last year. According to the report, Singaporeans, Americans, and Indians followed the Russians in popularity.

The data seemed to indicate that it had been “business as usual” for Russian litigants, according to Susan Hawley, executive director of the lobbying organization Spotlight on Corruption.

“It should give the government pause for thought about how UK courts have been a playground for foreign claimants without any real scrutiny of whether the UK should be hosting some of these claims,” she said.

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