Judgment in the biggest trial in UK history was rendered on 31 August after being reserved for seven months. The claim by Boris Berezovsky against Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich (owner of the Chelsea football club) for damages of $5 billion was dismissed.
In part Berezovksy claimed that Abramovich used intimidatory threats to coerce Berezovsky into selling his interest in the Sibneft oil company at a price that was substantially undervalued. He also alleged that Abramovich breached a shareholders’ agreement concerning an aluminum business RusAl, causing damages.
Here is an executive summary of the judgment.
There was apparently little or no contemporary documentary evidence of the crucial agreements alleged by Berezovsky. He failed to meet the plaintiff’s onus. In withering language the judge found Berezovsky to be an unimpressive, inherently unreliable witness who, “…regarded the truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes”, and would have said “almost anything” to support his case.
Abramovich’s lead counsel was Jonathan Sumption Q.C., who is the newest member of the UK Supreme Court. The press reported that in closing argument he submitted Berezovsky could not be believed but added that he didn’t want to be unfair to Berezovsky. Not everything he said was dishonest. Some of it was due to his “prodigous capacity” for self-deception.