Ellex Valiunas and White & Case Developed a Successful Legal Position for the Republic of Lithuania

Press Release
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Ellex Valiunas and White & Case Developed a Legal Position for the Republic of Lithuania in Connection with a Claim Brought by Former Snoras Bank Owner Vladimir Antonov in the Russian Courts

Ellex Valiunas and White & Case developed a legal position for the Republic of Lithuania, represented by the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice, in connection with a claim brought by Vladimir Antonov, the former owner of Snoras bank, in the Russian courts. The claim of over 40 billion rubles concerned compensation for Lithuania's alleged expropriation of the bank's shares and the alleged damage caused to Mr Antonov's business reputation by the Lithuanian President's statements to the Lithuanian press.

The Commercial Court of Moscow agreed with the line of reasoning suggested by White & Case and Ellex Valiunas, terminating the proceedings based on the court's lack of jurisdiction over the dispute.

The court reached its decision in reliance on, inter alia, the Russian-Lithuanian "Agreement on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family and Criminal Matters" dated 21 July 1992 and "Investment Promotion and Protection Treaty" dated 29 July 1999.

The former provides that claims for damages shall be considered by the competent court of the state-party in whose territory the action or circumstance giving rise to the claim took place.

The latter provides that investment-related disputes between a state-party's investor and anther state-party shall be submitted to the competent court of the state-party in whose territory the investment was made or to arbitration under the Rules of the SCC, ICC or UNCITRAL.

The Ninth Commercial Appellate Court upheld the ruling of the Commercial Court of Moscow and dismissed Mr. Antonov's appeal. The appellate court also pointed out that Federal Law No. 297-FZ "On Jurisdictional Immunities of Foreign States and Their Property in the Russian Federation", dated 3 November 2015, does not apply to this dispute, as it arose from circumstances which took place in 2011 before the law was enacted.

The Commercial Court of Moscow Circuit later returned Mr. Antonov's cassation appeal after he missed the deadline for filing the appeal.

This is a landmark case with respect to investment claims against foreign states in the Russian courts. It explores the legal provisions on jurisdictional immunity and resolves other issues with regards to the competence of Russian courts.

The White & Case team working on this dispute was headed by partner Julia Zagonek and counsel Pavel Boulatov and included associates Daria Scheglova, Anton Vasin and Alexander Sysoev (all based in Moscow). They worked together with colleagues from Ellex: partner Valiunas Vilija Vaitkute Pavan and senior associate Darius Bugailiskis.

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