VTB v Nutritek: Piercing the Corporate Veil: UK Supreme Court Preview

9 11 2012

The truly important and absorbing case of VTB Capital plc (Appellant) v Nutritek International Corp and others (Respondents) UKSC 2012/0167 has made it to the UK’s court of final recourse which granted permission to appeal on 26 July 2012. The case is going to be heard for three days by Lords Neuberger, Mance, Clarke, Wilson and Reed JJSC from 12 to 14 November 2012 . There are a lot of issues in this case. Notably a couple of juicy ones are (1) whether the court can pierce the corporate veil and treat a person as a party to a contract if that person uses a puppet company to enter into a contract with a third party in order to perpetrate fraud on that third party and (2) when determining whether England is clearly the appropriate forum, is there a presumption that a defendant who has committed a wrong in England ought to answer for that wrong in England. For some reason this case is not being broadcast live. Maybe it is just too high profile and controversial to show live. Too bad …  because upon appeal to the UKSC, even Special Immigration Appeals Commission dealing with national cases are aired. 


VTB (“V”), a London-based bank (the appellant) entered a facility agreement with a Russian company (“R”) in 2007. Under that agreement, V loaned R $225m to fund the purchase of six Russian Dairy Plants (“the dairy companies”) from the first defendant (Nutritek, “D1”: the “defendants” (at first instance) also became the “respondents” in subsequent proceedings). R subsequently defaulted on the loan. In 2010, V began claims in deceit, alternatively conspiracy to defraud, against the defendants. In May 2011, Chief Master Weingarten granted permission to serve the claims on the defendants out of the jurisdiction. In August 2011, V obtained a worldwide freezing order against Konstantin Malofeev or “D4”: see below.

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