Anna Stavitskaia: “The tribunal failed to provide Sergei Pugachev with a chance to set forth his arguments”

Sergei Pugachev’s lawyer comments on the decision of the Appellate Court dated 8 February 2018

On 8 February 2018 the Ninth Commercial Court of Appeal rejected ex-senator Pugachev’s appeal against the decision of the Moscow Commercial Court dated 26 October 2017. The latter had rejected a request, filed on the basis of newly discovered circumstances, to revise the Court’s initial decision on subsidiary liability in the amount of 75.6 billion rubles.

Neither Sergei Pugachev nor his lawyers had been informed of the hearing of the claim by the Court of first instance. They were not present at the hearing and were thus unable to set forth their arguments, which was one of the grounds for filing an appeal.

At the sitting of the Ninth Commercial Court of Appeal that took place on 8 February 2018 the interests of Sergei Pugachev were represented by lawyer Anna Stavitskaia.

“We had a sound legal basis to claim the annulment of the decision of the court of first instance on  procedural grounds, says Mrs Stavitskaia. In accordance with the Code of Commercial Procedure, a decision issued by a commercial court is subject to annulment, in case any of the parties to the proceedings were not duly informed of the date of hearing of the case.”

The claim clearly articulated that Sergei Pugachev had not been duly informed of the date of the hearing, given that he is a national of a foreign state, in which case the code provides for a specific notification procedure. The latter was not respected. The standard procedure intended for citizens of the Russian Federation was not implemented either. “The case contains no indication whatsoever of Mr. Pugachev’s being notified of the hearing, noted Anna Stavitskaia. During the hearing of first instance even the bankruptcy manager of Mezhprombank was against the case being heard without notifying Mr. Pugatchev, but both the court of the first instance and the appellate court found it perfectly normal.”

“It was obvious that the tribunal was not interested to hear the parties’ statements, because the decision had already been taken before we had even gathered in court. The judge’s aim was to get done with the case as quickly as possible, assures Anna Stavitskaia. This travesty of justice could barely be called a court hearing. It was clear from the moment we entered the court room that the tribunal was not interested in investigating the case, because for them the situation was perfectly clear. The judge did not actually listen to any of our points.  He said right away that he needn’t hear anything from the parties, because the documents contained all the relevant information.”

The judge of the Ninth Commercial Court of Appeal Anton Maslov rejected the lawyer’s request to postpone the hearing. Anna Stavitskaia received authority to represent the interests of Sergei Pugachev only on the day preceding the hearing. In order to prepare for it she had to familiarise herself with the case, but the judge decided that she “had had sufficient time for preparation”.

Furthermore Anna Stavitskaia provided the Court’s registry with a statement of appeal, in accordance with the Code of Commercial Procedure of the Russian Federation. “Such statements are usually accepted by the tribunal, Anna Stavitskaia says. But in this particular case the judge had the statement returned to me, observing that in his view the case was entirely clear as it was, and required no additional explanations.”

Anna Stavitskaia also notes that at the hearing that took place on 8 February, the judge failed to provide both Sergei Pugachev and Mezhprombank’s creditors with an opportunity to state their respective claims. Mezhprombank’s creditors are convinced that defining Sergei Pugachev’s status as Russian or foreign citizen is essential for the enforcement of the court’s decision. In order to do that, the decision of the first court must be annulled and revised. But when the representative of the creditors attempted to state her position, the judge had her expelled from the court room, claiming that she was violating the court’s regulations, while she was, in fact, only setting forth her arguments.

The decision of the Ninth Commercial Court of Appeal dated 8 February 2018 shall be contested, assures Anna Stavitskaia.