Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: High Court delay deemed “inexcusable”

April 24, 2020

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Sir Geoffrey Vos, Chancellor of the High Court, while pronouncing the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the case of Bank St Petersburg PJSC v Arkhangelsky, called a delay of 22 months by the High Court “inexcusable”.

What does this mean?

Upon dealing with the deal between the Bank of St. Petersburg and Dr. Vitaliy Arkhangelsky, his wife and their company Oslo Marine Group Ports LLC(OMG), the Court of Appeal discussed how Justice Hildyard had violated one of the principles of natural justice. Hildyard J took 46 sittings to conduct the trial up until July 2016 upon a matter worth millions of pounds while the judgment was given in May 2018.

What's the big picture effect?

Chapter 40 of the Magna Carta lays down “To none will we sell, to none will we deny, or delay, the right of justice”. On 9 May 2018, the High Court of Justice (London) announced the outcome of the long-running case. As a result of the proceedings, the High Court of Justice granted the Bank’s claim to recover the debt under the loan and suretyship agreements of over RUB 1.5 bn from Dr. Arkhangelsky. The counterclaim of Dr. Arkhangelsky and OMG was dismissed. The defendants followed with an appeal on the grounds that Justice Hildyard had misdirected himself as to the standard of proof and set too high a bar for establishing dishonesty.

Sir Vos, while regretting the delay that had taken place, stated that the “three-month rule” must be adhered to even in long and complex cases. In civil and commercial cases especially, unnecessary delays in deciding pending litigation may cause damage to the confidence that individuals have in the judicial system and have implications on the market as well. The Court ordered a retrial as the Chancellor, despite recognising the logical and methodical approach Justice Hildyard had followed,  found certain inconsistencies in the dismissal of the counterclaim.

Report written by Pratyush Chaturvedi

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