Joint Stock Co Aeroflot - Russian Airline v (1) Boris Abramovich Berezovsky (2) Nikolay Alexeevit

Facts

The applicants (B and G) applied for summary judgment on an action brought by the respondent (X) to enforce a money judgment of the Russian court.

G and others had been convicted in Russia of fraud perpetrated against X, and in 2006 a Russian district court found them liable to compensate X for a certain sum. In 2007 B, who had left Russia and was living in the United Kingdom, was convicted of the fraud in his absence, and also found liable to compensate X on the basis that he was jointly and severally liable with G and the others for the sum claimed. X subsequently issued a claim in the Russian district court for an uplift or indexation of the amount of damages awarded in 2007, although the judgment debt had already been collected in full. In May 2011 the court granted the indexation claim, increasing the sum payable to X tenfold. X issued proceedings in the UK seeking recognition and enforcement of that judgment against B and G.

B and G contended, inter alia, that enforcement of the judgment in the indexation claim would breach the principle of finality, contrary to public policy. They submitted that the Russian court had already given a final judgment determining the amount of compensation payable, and that that judgment debt had been recovered. B and G complained that X had, by its indexation claim, asserted that the loss it had suffered was ten times greater, but no new facts or circumstances were advanced or considered by the court granting that application, which amounted to a glaring shortfall from the necessary standard under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.6.

Held

The finality principle, that parties to litigation were bound by its outcome and could not re-open the subject matter, was based on public policy interests in (a) the termination of disputes and the finality and conclusiveness of judicial decisions; (b) an individual's right to be protected from vexatious multiplication of suits and prosecutions. The principle of finality was also recognised by art.6 of the Convention, Brumarescu v Romania (28342/95) (2001) 33 E.H.R.R. 35 applied. The 2011 decision to re-open the 2007 judgment as to the amount of damages payable by B and G was a plain breach of the finality principle. There was no question of any new facts having subsequently come to light, and no suggestion that the indexation claim was a separate cause of action; it was, instead, the re-opening of a final judgment. The enforcement action was, accordingly, summarily dismissed (see paras 69, 71, 79, 101 of judgment).

Application granted.

Comment

A Russian company's action to enforce a money judgment of the Russian court was summarily dismissed on the basis that it breached the principle of finality. The money judgment arose from indexation proceedings to increase the amount of damages assessed in an earlier final judgment, which had already been satisfied.

Members