33 Bedford Row Arbitrator Hon. Barry Leon was quoted in both Global Arbitration Review and Global Restructuring Review commenting on a judgment of the BVI Commercial Court which declined a law firm’s application to cease representing a sanctioned Russian party, VTB.
The Court held that the Russian sanctions regime is exclusively aimed at freezing the assets of sanctioned entities, not confiscating them. Apart from that their assets are frozen, sanctioned entities retain all their civic rights, including full access to the BVI courts and an entitlement to have their rights and obligations determined by the BVI courts.
The Court continued: “VTB may be a pariah,” as the law firm’s counsel submitted, “That does not afford a ground for its legal representatives to withdraw from representing them. Quite the contrary. It is precisely when VTB are stigmatised as a pariah that VTB need the best endeavours of their legal representatives to advise them and to advocate in Court on their behalf. However uncomfortable it may be for [for the law firm], this is, a vital safeguard for ensuring the rule of law in this Territory. Even pariahs have rights.”
Links to the judgment and to the GAR article (which has a paywall) can be found below:
Judgment: VTB Bank v Taruta - 2014-0062 - judgment (sanction & discharge) - 220322 - final as handed down.pdf (lbr.cloud)
GAR article (with paywall): “Even pariahs have rights”: law firm can't drop sanctioned Russian client - Global Arbitration Review