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Legal finance helps to achieve equality in the court

December 11, 2020
Christopher Bogart

“Litigation funding is the lifeblood of the justice system,” said Lord Neuberger when he was president of the Supreme Court.

Justice should not be available only to the rich. Litigation funding is needed to ensure that an imbalance of economic resources does not erode the rule of law and that the monied cannot simply perpetuate injustice because only they can afford armies of lawyers to do their bidding.

It is one thing for those lawyers to represent their clients zealously.  It is quite another for an eminent silk to purvey propaganda for former clients in the middle of an ongoing trial in the High Court.

The enforcement proceedings brought by Tatiana Akhmedova have attracted so much attention because her former husband, Farkhad Akhmedov, has not complied with a final judgment of the English courts.

Mrs. Akhmedova’s enforcement proceedings are not a divorce case—the divorce occurred long ago. After protracted litigation, the English courts determined how much of the Akhmedovs’ wealth would go to his former wife: much less than she sought, and much less than half of the family assets, but she still emerged with an English court judgment for a lot of money. 

That judgment became final in 2016; all appeal routes have been exhausted.  And all of that happened without any involvement of any litigation funder – although it would not have been wrong for one to have assisted to provide equality of arms to reach a fair outcome.

When the English courts render a final judgment, the expectation is that the losing party will pay up.  That is what the rule of law demands. 

But Mr. Akhmedov instead thumbed his nose at the English courts and has set lawyers around the world  to try to avoid paying a penny that the English judgment obliges him to pay.  That is shameful behavior.  It is worthy only of condemnation. 

When the rich and powerful believe that those laws are only for the little people and don’t apply to them, our system of laws and order breaks down.

That has nothing to do with family law or divorce.  The only public policy issue here is the simple question of whether you are allowed to ignore court orders if you do not like them.  The answer to that question should be no, even if Russian oligarchs feel otherwise.

This article first appeared in The Times newspaper in London. The full article can be read here.