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Russia Disputes Practice

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Having been again voted the “most feared” law firm in the world for the fourth time in the last five years[1], Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP is uniquely positioned to litigate cases stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. QE has been acting for Ukraine and its interests against Russia in highly important international cases for many years. QE’s experience in high-stakes litigation and arbitration around the globe puts it in a class by itself. And when it comes to Russia-related disputes, QE has no peer.

  • QE is global, with 34 offices and 1000+ lawyers around the world. Our areas of expertise and specialty – sovereign debt, international arbitration, multijurisdictional and complex cross-border disputes, commercial litigation, ESG, business and human rights, tax, insolvency, sanctions – make it uniquely qualified to try Russia-related cases.
  • QE has multiple partners located across its international network with recognized expertise in Russia and Russian disputes.
  • QE has multi-disciplinary teams whocan advise clients across the entire range of Russia disputes, including but not limited to:
    • Ukrainian or international businesses or other affected parties wanting to sue Russia in international fora, including before the European Court of Human Rights, in the UK, US or other domestic courts for losses (e.g. property damage) suffered as a result of the war. 
    • Creditors of the Russian state and Russian issuers.
    • Litigation stemming from defaults by Russian issuers— both sovereign and corporate.
    • Litigation arising out of foreign owned assets located in Russia subject to seizure / confiscation / nationalization by the Russian government, including claims against insurers. 
    • Litigation between market participants arising out of the imposition of the principal Russian sanctions programmes on pre-existing commercial contracts.
  • QE is not conflicted, unlike other firms. QE closed its Moscow office in 2019, in part because of its advocacy for Ukraine against the Russian Federation and is not accepting any new engagements from parties or interests connected with the current Russian regime.
    • *QE does have one case for a Russian client (FTE) dating back to 2004 involving the trademark for Stoli vodka in the US. But that’s it.
    • Combined with our longstanding ability to act adverse to all of the major money centre banks, we expect that we will be the only top tier firm that will be able to act in many of these cases.
    • QE already represents Ukraine and significant Ukrainian banking institutions in legal disputes against the Russian Federation, including concerning both Putin’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 and his present war against Ukraine.
    • QE was recently appointed as counsel by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine in inter-state proceedings brought by Ukraine against the Russian Federation under the European Convention on Human Rights arising out of Russia’s invasion. 
    • QE is proud of its work for Ukraine (including pro bono) and will continue vigorously to advocate on behalf of its clients’ interests.  

[1]   The BTI Consulting Group’s “Most Feared Law Firms in Litigation” Guide 2024.


Recent Representations

  • Law Debenture Trust Corporation Plc -v- Ukraine (represented by the Minister of Finance of Ukraine acting upon the instructions of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine): In this long-running case which began in early 2016, QE is defending Ukraine against a claim brought before the English courts by Law Debenture, the trustee under the US$ 3bn Eurobonds purportedly issued by Ukraine in December 2013 and taken up as to 100% by the Russian Federation. The claimant, Law Debenture, acts upon the instructions and for the 100% economic benefit of the Russian Federation in seeking to obtain payment of all principal and accrued interest allegedly due by Ukraine under these bonds. The case is presently pending a decision of the UK Supreme Court.
  • Oschadbank -v- The Russian Federation: In one of the largest bilateral investment treaty claims arising out of Russia’s illegal invasion and purported annexation of the Ukrainian sovereign territory of Crimea in early 2014, in November 2018 QE obtained a final award in Oschadbank’s favour against Russia for a sum in excess of US$ 1.3 billion (inclusive of interest) as compensation for the bank’s loss of business and assets in Crimea. That award is now under challenge by Russia in France, with the French Supreme Court set to rule within the coming months on Russia’s attempt to have the award annulled.
  • PrivatBank -v- The Russian Federation: In another major Crimea-related bilateral investment treaty claim, QE represents the largest bank in Ukraine, PrivatBank, in its claim against Russia seeking compensation for the Bank’s losses in Crimea. The tribunal having previously ruled in PrivatBank’s favour on jurisdiction and liability, the proceedings are at the quantum stage with the final hearing coming up. At the same time, QE is defending PrivatBank against Russia’s attempt to have the prior award on jurisdiction and liability set aside before the Dutch courts.
  • Ukraine -v- The Russian Federation: Most recently, QE has been instructed by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine to represent Ukraine in its forthcoming inter-state claim against Russia before the European Court of Human Rights arising out of Russia’s illegal invasion and war.  QE acts pro bono for Ukraine in this most important case which will shine a light on and seek to hold Russia to account for its egregious breaches of the fundamental protections provided by the European Convention on Human Rights. QE recently led a team of international firms filing hundreds of pages of evidence of Russian war crimes including first-hand witness statements and expert analysis by eminent international humanitarian law scholars.  To learn more about this representation, refer to John Quinn’s interview of Alex Gerbi in the Law, Disrupted podcast available at https://www.law-disrupted.fm/quinn-emanuel-representation-of-ukraine-in-proceedings-against-russia-in-european-court-of-human-rights/.  
  • VTB -v- Firtash: QE is instructed by Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash adverse to Russian stated owned bank VTB in Cyprus and London court proceedings. We are defending a debt and fraudulent conveyance claim brought by VTB in the Cyprus courts. The Cyprus claim arises out of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its effect on an insolvent borrower group with Crimean factory assets. In 2021, we set aside VTB’s London freezing order over GBP 100m of Mr Firtash’s property in Knightsbridge, London, after VTB refused to pay GBP 10m security required by the London court.
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