In defence of litigating civil claims in England: a primer by Judge Matthews in Paralel Routs v Fedotov.

This is a case with no immediate conflict of laws interests (jurisdiction for instance was not disputed), other than a helpful summary by Matthews J on the overall conduct of proceedings in civil law cases in England.

In [2019] EWHC 2656 (Ch) Paralel Routs v Fedotov, the claim is brought by the claimant, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, but administered in Cyprus,  against the defendant, a Russian citizen, currently in prison in Russia. The defendant says that these proceedings have been brought as part of a process of so-called “corporate raiding” (“reiderstvo” in Russian) against him, by the claimant, at the instigation and direction of his former business associate.

Witnesses and evidence were the sticking point in the litigation, leading Matthews J to summarise the English law of civil proceedings, at 35 ff, concluding at 41:

‘decisions made by English civil judges are not necessarily the objective truth of the matter. Instead, they are the judge’s own assessment of the most likely facts based on the materials which the parties have chosen to place before the court, taking into account to some extent also what the court considers that they should have been able to put before the court but chose not to. And, whilst judges give their reasons for their decisions, they cannot and do not explain every little detail or respond to every point made.’

And at 95 ff just before conclusion, a robust defence of proper oral proceedings:

‘it is sometimes thought that the English procedural rules are too time-consuming and expensive to operate, without any corresponding advantage in terms of justice. But this is a case which amply illustrates the importance of procedural rules in ensuring a fair trial and the best opportunity to deliver a just result between the parties. This case illustrates the importance in particular of advance disclosure and production of documents in unredacted form, control by the court of expert evidence, and (at trial) cross-examination of witnesses, all properly pursued by a party’s lawyers. The persistence of the defendant’s legal team in enforcing these procedures has made all the difference in this case.




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