On 8 June 2017, the Brussels Court of First Instance handed down its decision on the legality of the seizures of assets belonging to Russia carried out by Yukos Universal Ltd (YUL) in the context of the Belgian enforcement proceedings of the Yukos case. As you certainly know, the Yukos case refers to an arbitral saga that saw three arbitral tribunals issuing three arbitral awards which cumulatively ordered Russia, in 2014, to pay USD 50 billion as reparations for the irregularities committed during the nationalisation of the Russian oil company Yukos (click here for a report of the hearing that took place before the Brussels Court of First Instance in November 2016).
Following the issuance of the award in 2014 in its favour, YUL (one of Yukos‘s former shareholder) sought the exequatur and the enforcement of the award in several countries, including Belgium. The Belgian exequatur of the award was granted to YUL in June 2015. In addition, YUL was also allowed to freeze and seize several key assets belonging to Russia as well as assets belonging to two Russian press agencies (ITAR TASS and Ria Novosti).
As a response to those precautionary seizures, Russia filed a third-party opposition before the Brussels Court of First Instance in which it challenged the legality of those seizures. As explained earlier, Russia’s main argument in opposing those seizures was that the three awards rendered in favour of Yukos‘s former shareholders had all been annulled by the District Court of the Hague (the Netherlands being the seat of the arbitration) in April 2016. As a consequence of this judgment by the District Court of the Hague, Russia argued that the Belgian exequatur order which had initially been granted to YUL in June 2015 was null and void and YUL was thus not entitled to proceed with the seizure of Russia’s assets.
In its decision of 8 June 2017, the Brussels Court of First Instance fully sided with Russia on this point.READ MORE