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United Kingdom Supreme Court reserves judgment in proceedings regarding the so-called Russian bonds until a later date


Today saw the conclusion of the final appeals to the United Kingdom Supreme Court in respect of Russia’s application for summary judgment against Ukraine in the case concerning the $3 billion Eurobonds purportedly issued by Ukraine in December 2013.

On 14 September 2018, in a significant victory for Ukraine, the English Court of Appeal held that the decision of the first instance Judge, Mr Justice Blair, to enter summary judgment in favour of Russia and against Ukraine was wrong and should be overturned. The Court of Appeal ordered that Ukraine’s defence of duress, based on Russia’s threats and acts of aggression towards Ukraine during 2013 and beyond, which Ukraine says coerced it to enter into the contracts for the Russian bonds, is capable of being adjudicated by the English Court and should be the subject of a full public trial. The Court of Appeal further held that, if the case were not capable of being adjudicated by the English Court, the proceedings should (contrary to the decision of Mr Justice Blair) be stayed, since in those circumstances Ukraine would not be able to avail itself of its basic right to a fair trial of its defences. 

Russia, unwilling to have its conduct towards Ukraine scrutinised publicly by a fair and impartial English Court and having refused Ukraine’s offer to consent to determination of all international law issues between the countries by the International Court of Justice, now appeals to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn that Judgment of the Court of Appeal. Ukraine strongly resists Russia’s appeal and, in turn, appeals other aspects of the Judgment of the Court of Appeal on which it did not succeed.

In a sign of the great importance and legal complexity of the case, the final appeal hearing took place before the Supreme Court over 4 days. Ukraine’s legal team conveyed Ukraine’s strong legal arguments and presented its legal position to the eminent tribunal of five Supreme Court Justices.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judges reserved their judgment until a later date. The results of the final appeals on Russia’s summary judgment application will be announced after the Supreme Court hands down its judgment, likely to be sometime in 2020.

The English legal proceedings are brought at Russia’s behest in pursuit of a broader strategy of unlawful and illegitimate aggression by Russia against Ukraine. Ukraine reaffirms its commitment to standing firm in the face of this  aspect of Russia’s aggression .