Hodge Malek KC and James Potts successful in missing will case

Hodge Malek KC and James Potts successfully represented Brigita Morina, the fiancée of deceased Russian businessman Vladimir Scherbakov, in proving the validity of his last will and testament. The original will went missing after Mr Scherbakov’s death in Belgium in 2017, and only resurfaced in 2021 when it was used in an attempt to extort €35 million from Ms Morina. The extortionist produced the original for inspection in Paris by a French document examiner, who established its authenticity. The probate claim was opposed by Mr Scherbakov’s ex-wife and their two adult children.

Following a 3-week trial, involving forensic document analysis and foreign law expert evidence, Mrs Justice Bacon handed down judgment in which she found that:

  • Mr Scherbakov’s ex-wife and the adult children were involved in the suppression of the original will.
  • The will was formally valid under English law and, given that it existed when Mr Scherbakov died, it was not revoked either under English law or Belgian law.
  • Mr Scherbakov died domiciled in England and succession to his worldwide moveable assets is governed by English law.

Hodge Malek KC and James Potts, together with Sparsh Garg of Serle Court, acted for Ms Morina, instructed by Justin Michaelson of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan UK LLP.

A copy of the judgment can be found here

Winner: UK Bar Awards 2023
The Lawyer Awards 2022: Chambers of the Year