Freshfields advises BGEO Group Limited on the successful strike out of a US$300m claim
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP (‘Freshfields’) has successfully represented BGEO Group Limited (‘BG UK’), a holding company of the Bank of Georgia, in striking out Commercial Court proceedings brought by Mr Roman Pipia for a claim for around $300 million in damages.
The trial of the case was due to start on 19 April 2021 for eight weeks. Yesterday, Mrs Justice Cockerill struck out and dismissed Mr Pipia’s claims against BG UK, having found that Mr Pipia had “in a flagrant fashion” breached a Court order requiring him to pay further security for BG UK’s costs, including the costs of the trial.
Patrick Swain, partner at Freshfields, commented: “We welcome this decisive victory for our client which faced entirely groundless allegations in the English Courts. Mr Pipia chose to bring his claim in the English Courts. He has no doubt, at the eleventh hour, recognised the weakness of his position and, as the Court has found, has chosen not to meet orders of the Court rather than to prolong his inevitable day of reckoning. This decision is a timely reminder to litigants that those who choose to bring claims in the English Courts must abide by English Court rules. We look forward to assisting BGEO Group Limited in its pursuit of outstanding claims against Mr Pipia for the costs of this litigation.”
The claim related to enforcement action taken against Rustavi Azot, the largest industrial enterprise and employer in Georgia, which Mr Pipia claimed he at one time owned indirectly. At all stages of the litigation, BG UK vigorously challenged Mr Pipia’s claims as being entirely without factual or legal foundation, and an abuse of the English Court’s process. Mr Pipia initially issued proceedings against BG UK and a number of defendants based in Georgia. Freshfields acted for five of those defendants including the Bank of Georgia. Mr Pipia subsequently abandoned his claim against those defendants after they indicated their intention to challenge jurisdiction, and he has since pursued his claim only against BG UK.
Ana Kostava, Director at BG UK, commented: “We are delighted to have been represented by a legal team of this calibre, which has deservedly achieved a fair and effective resolution to this abusive and unmeritorious claim. The Freshfields and counsel team demonstrated remarkable dedication and rigour to achieve this result.”
The partners advising BG UK were Patrick Swain and Samantha Trevan, with support from senior associate Emily Tilden-Smith and associates Jonathan Kelly, Sean Pitt, Victoria Rowley, Christine Simpson, Fiona McHugh and Liam Symonds. Freshfields instructed Sonia Tolaney QC, Alexander Polley and Timothy Goldfarb, all of One Essex Court.
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