Maxim Kulkov’s expert evidence on over a hundred Russian law issues in PJSC Tatneft v Bogolyubov & Ors helped the defendants defeat a US$300 million claim in the English High Court

After a 12-week trial in the High Court of England and Wales involving the cross-examination of witnesses and experts from the UK, the US, Russia and Ukraine by video conference – the longest entirely remote trial in the Commercial Court’s history – Mrs Justice Moulder handed down a judgment against the claimant (Tatneft).

The key reasons for the dismissal of the claims were that the claimant missed a limitation period and failed to establish that it suffered ‘harm’ in the meaning of Article 1064 of the Russian Civil Code. Mrs Justice Moulder largely based her decision on the expert reports and oral evidence of Maxim Kulkov given during three days of cross-examination, preferring them to the conclusions of the claimant’s expert.

In addition to issues typical for disputes of this type and calibre, such as the statute of limitations, cause of action in tort claim, res judicata, estoppel, etc., Maxim Kulkov was faced with issues which were absolutely novel for Russian law. One of these was the recovery of so-called “pure economic losses” and liability for interference with one’s contractual rights. The claimant argued that it was entitled to bring a tort claim under article 1064 of the Russian Civil Code because it had a “legitimate expectation” of receiving economic benefits which was breached by the defendant interfering in the claimant’s contractual relations with its counterparties. The claimant’s expert witness relied on the newest legal commentaries in order to prove that the concept of “pure economic losses” is developed in Russian law, however, could not provide the court with persuasive evidence as to the existence of such a concept in case law. In accordance with Maxim Kulkov’s evidence, the court found that the concept of “pure economic losses” may be part of Russian law’s future development but does not exist in current Russian law.

The judgment on these points will undoubtedly be used by lawyers in subsequent disputes in English courts when similar issues of Russian law are be heard.

The long-lasting PJSC Tatneft v Bogolyubov & Ors lawsuit was brought by Tatneft, one of the largest Russian oil companies, against Messrs Bogolyubov, Kolomoisky, Yaroslavsky and Ovcharenko. The dispute concerns transnational financial and industrial oil company Ukrtatnafta and alleged fraudulent misappropriation of funds therefrom to the benefit of the defendants.


You can read the full judgment in English here (view in pdf).