Yukos Enforcement Stay Maintained: Christopher Harris QC, Mark Wassouf and Cameron Miles successfully resist application to lift the stay on the Yukos enforcement proceedings

Christopher Harris QCMark Wassouf and Cameron Miles (with Laurence Rabinowitz QC and Henry Hoskins), instructed by White & Case LLP, have successfully resisted an application to lift the stay on the Yukos enforcement proceedings in the Commercial Court in London on behalf of the Russian Federation in Hulley Enterprises Limited, Yukos Universal Limited & Veteran Petroleum Limited v Russian Federation. Mr Justice Henshaw handed down judgment on 14 April 2021.

The case concerns the attempted recognition and enforcement in England of three awards obtained by the claimants from a Hague-seated arbitral tribunal in 2014. Russia has asserted its immunity from the English Court’s jurisdiction, but the English proceedings were stayed following the decision of The Hague District Court setting aside the Awards. The claimants then succeeded on appeal to The Hague Court of Appeal and sought to lift the stay, despite the pendency of Russia’s appeal to the Supreme Court of The Netherlands.

The claimants argued that the stay should be lifted or, if it was not, that (a) it should be replaced by an adjournment under s.103(5) of the Arbitration Act 1996; and (ii) the Court should order Russia to pay US$7 billion of security pursuant to its discretion under the same provision. Russia’s position was that the stay should remain in place until proceedings in the Netherlands had been finally resolved – and that given the Court had yet to determine the question of Russia’s immunity, it had no jurisdiction to grant security under s.103(5) AA, which amounted to taking jurisdiction over the underlying enforcement application.

In his judgment of 14 April 2021, Henshaw J determined that the stay should be maintained without Russia providing security.