The court in Belgium denied Russia the lifting of arrests in the “Yukos case”


The court of first instance of Brussels refused to consider the request of Russia, which asked to cancel the arrest of Russian property, carried out in June 2015 on the initiative of Yukos Universal Limited, one of the former shareholders of Yukos. The decision (a copy is in) was issued on 9 Dec. This is the first few months, the failure of the Russian side in an international dispute with Yukos shareholders after a series of positive decisions of the Western courts.

In July 2014, the international court of arbitration in the Hague awarded former shareholders of Yukos a record compensation of $50 billion Russia has refused to pay, after which the shareholders of Yukos have begun the process of compulsory execution of decisions in several Western jurisdictions, including Belgium and France. In Belgium the court of first instance on 24 June 2015 issued exequatur — permission for the execution of the verdict of the Hague Tribunal, after which the bailiffs on behalf of former shareholders of Yukos began to describe the Russian possessions in order to draw a penalty on him. As reported “Interfax” with reference to the resolution of the bailiffs, the document included the rating of state property of Russia in Belgium of €1.6 billion.

In Belgium in the list of seized property hit the accounts of Russian diplomatic missions, including the Russian mission to NATO and the European Union (diplomatic accounts were soon defrosted). Action to recover property related to the Archbishopric of Brussels and Belgium of the Russian Orthodox Church and branches of the state media (in particular, TASS and “Russia today”).

Russia challenged the arrest through a procedure known as “the opposition of third parties” (tierce opposition) by the Belgian Judicial code. However, Yukos Universal used as protection in bilateral Convention between Belgium and the Netherlands from 1925 on mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments and arbitral awards. As the arbitral Tribunal awarded the former shareholders of Yukos $50 billion, was located in the Hague (Netherlands), pursuant to that decision on Belgian territory must be carried out in accordance with this Convention, adopted more than 90 years ago, argued lawyers for Yukos Universal. Article 18 of the Belgian-Dutch Convention States that the exequatur is not subject to appeal through the objection procedure, the only possible way is to appeal, which must be filed within 14 days.

Russian lawyers objected to the applicability of the Convention in 1925, Recalling in particular that the Convention fell out of use. However, the court disagreed with this argument, stating that Belgium and the Netherlands have not agreed to its termination. “To date there is no evidence that Belgium intends to exclude from their legal Arsenal, this bilateral Convention,” said the court, confirming that the document remains in force and is fully applicable to the dispute of Russia with Yukos Universal. The court ordered Russia to compensate Yukos Universal Limited legal costs in the amount of €12 thousand

In April 2016 the district court of the Hague at the request of Russia has cancelled the decision of arbitration on the payment of $50 billion to Yukos shareholders, but they appealed the decision to the local court of appeal — where the hearing has not yet begun and are expected to take place until at least the end of 2017. In most countries, the decision of the district court of the Hague means the termination or suspension of enforcement of an arbitral award (as happened in the UK, USA, Germany, India), but in Belgium and in France, the enforcement proceedings were continued. In France, the former shareholders of Yukos recently suffered a series of setbacks (including some arrests of ownership was deemed illegal by a French court). In Belgium the court of Antwerp in June 2016, did not allow the former shareholders of Yukos to arrest the Russian sailing ships “Kruzenshtern” and “Sedov” as they pass through the territorial waters of Belgium at an international festival in France.

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