A huge victory for the Kremlin, apparently

The Hague district court has annulled the 2014 ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which awarded $50 billion to former Yukos shareholders (Mikhail Khodorkovsky not being one of them) as compensation for the expropriation by Russian authorities. The reason for the annulment appears to be the lack of jurisdiction: the arbitration court was not supposed to take up the case, ruled the district court.

The PCA is an international body: in the Yukos case, it consisted of the presiding Canadian lawyer Yves Fortier and two judges appointed by the parties. Russia nominated Stephen Schwebel, the American legal scholar and former president of the International Court of Justice. The Yukos party nominated Charles Poncet, a Swiss lawyer and comparative law specialist.

However the Hague district court has the authority, under the Dutch civil law, to review cases decided by the PCA. I strongly doubt it can judge the merits, but matters such as jurisdiction and standing are definitely within the district court’s scope. Further, the Yukos shareholders may turn to the appeals court immediately above the district court, and from there, to the supreme court.

That is guaranteed to take months and years with vague prospects for winning. The Kremlin crowd must be celebrating.

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