MOSCOW, March 17 (RAPSI, Ingrid Burke) - The London High Court of Justice has granted Friday a second adjournment in litigation between the Bank of St. Petersburg and Russian businessman who now resides in France Vitaly Arkhangelsky and his wife, according to court documents obtained by RAPSI.
“The Court must accept the reality of the matter that the Defendants [Arkhangelsky and his wife] are simply not near to being ready for a trial,” the judge asserted.
According to The Lawyer, the Bank of St. Petersburg initially sued Arkhangelsky in England for enforcement of various guarantees. The bank further seeks declaratory relief based on accusations by the defendants that it participated in an asset-raiding conspiracy.
Arkhangelsky then moved to introduce a counterclaim, which the High Court allowed in November, essentially asserting that the claimants had wrested control and majority ownership of the Oslo Marine Group (OMG) of companies by corrupt means. At the time, the judge postponed the trial until May 1.
The London proceedings brought by the bank got underway in 2012, shortly after a similar case launched by defendants ”collapsed” in the British Virgin Islands.
In granting the first postponement from January to May, the court emphasized that the parties should strictly comply with the new time frame, stating: “The parties should be in no doubt that the Court will now rigorously enforce these time-tables. The trial must not slip again.”
In Friday’s judgment, the court recognized its position on the matter, but pointed to the defendants’ general lack of readiness. He added that a number of considerations weighed in favour of a delay.
The claimants’ own interlocutory applications that have been filed since November have consumed time and resources. The defendants continue to face incredible difficulty in finding funding for legal representation, as their right to launch a counterclaim is currently on appeal.
It would be strenuous to the point of near impossibility to prepare for both an appeal and trial at once.
Obtaining evidence from witnesses in Russia has proven difficult. The judgment describes Arkhangelsky as an exile, currently living in France.
Although he noted that the delay could be seen as prejudicial, he reasoned that a few weeks or months won’t ultimately matter in terms of the quality and recollection of evidence, and that various other concerns are outweighed by the requirement of a fair and proper trial.
Likewise, the Appeals decision will materially impact the trial.
Accordingly, the judge vacated the May date and adjourned the trial. A new date has not yet been chosen. The judge proposed that the matter should be brought before him again after the Court of Appeals’ decision is made.