Serving foreign proceedings on Russian defendants in Russia
under the Hague Convention is often problematic and time-consuming.
The BVI and English High Courts have recently addressed a similar
problem in this respect, but in rather different ways.
Effective service of BVI and English proceedings in Russia
In the BVI case of JSC VTB Bank v Katunin and another
(BVIHC (Com) No. 62 of 2014), the bank sought to enforce a Russian
judgment at common law in the BVI. The bank's evidence was that
Mr Katunin would not attend at the relevant Russian Court through
which Hague service of the BVI proceedings might be effected.
Accordingly, the bank said Mr Katunin could and likely would simply
evade Hague service. The BVI Court accepted this evidence and
agreed that Mr Katunin could be served by alternative means, by
service at the registered offices of companies he controlled in the
BVI, without even an attempt at Hague service being made.
Shortly after this decision, the English High Court wrestled
with a similar problem but with a rather different outcome. In
Vladimir Sloutsker v Olga Romanova  EWHC 545 (QB),
attempts were made to serve the intended Russian defendant through
the Hague process. The defendant was served with a summons to
attend at the requisite Russian Court hearing at which service of
the English proceedings would have been effected. However, she did
not attend the hearing.
Nonetheless, and notwithstanding that the Russian judge herself
stated that service of the English proceedings had not been
effected, the English High Court determined on the basis of expert
evidence of Russian law that service had, in fact, been effected.
The English judge noted in his summary of the evidence that:
"it would be a very strange and improbable gap in Russian
procedural law if it permitted a defendant to evade effective
service of proceedings by the simple expedient of not turning up at
a Service Hearing". As such, an order for alternative service
The decision in Sloutsker v Romanova is positive news
for those who regularly have to attempt service in Russia under the
Hague Convention. It suggests that the sort of alternative service
order made in VTB v Katunin will rarely be needed in cases
with similar facts, if the relevant court is satisfied that the
Russian defendant cannot easily evade Hague service. The starting
point is likely to be that Hague service should usually be
attempted before an application for alternative service is
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The claim followed the conclusion of two years of litigation (ORD 12/0035 & ORD 12/0034) between the parties in respect of the Bank's contractual claim for amounts owed by TSEL to the Bank pursuant to certain business loans.
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