COVID 19 Update – $500m Financial List Trial may proceed remotely

Re: National Bank of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Kazakhstan v Bank of New York Mellon, Anatolie Stati and others 

On 19 March 2020, Ali Malek QC, David Quest QC, William Edwards and Ravi Jackson (instructed by Stewarts Law partners Fiona Gillett and Ian Gatt QC for Kazakhstan) successfully argued that the trial of this 7-day $500m dispute, due to start next week, could go ahead remotely.

Teare J, sitting as a judge of the Financial List of the Commercial Court, rejected the defendants’ application that the trial should be adjourned because of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. He referred to the Lord Chief Justice’s recent guidance on the conduct of hearings during the crisis and said: “The court has to be optimistic, rather than pessimistic. It is the duty of all of the parties to seek to co-operate to ensure that a remote hearing is possible.”

He ruled that, if practicable, the trial could take place using video conferencing facilities, both for the cross examination of witnesses (in Belgium, the US and Kazakhstan) and if necessary for the judge and other participants. Consideration is being given to live streaming the proceedings so that those with an interest in the case can follow it remotely.