NEW YORK, December 19 /PRNewswire/ --
- Russia's Highest Commercial Court to Hear Appeal Argument Based on 'Newly Opened Circumstances' - a Question in Punctuation and an Allegedly Errant Hyphen;
- Hearing Set for January 22, 2008
Moscow Oil Refinery (MOR) is blocking New York businessman and real estate entrepreneur, Tamir Sapir, from executing the 2005 landmark US$28 million judgment initially decided by international arbitration and later upheld by Russia's High Arbitrazh Court after a protracted legal battle. The judgment against MOR was in favor of Mr. Sapir's company, Joy-Lud Distributors International Inc., a New York corporation.
MOR continues to fight the enforcement of the arbitration award, upheld by the Russian High Arbitrazh Court most recently based on the argument that the name of Mr. Sapir's company, Joy-Lud, is in some instances spelled with a hyphen (Joy-Lud) and in others without (Joy Lud). Russia's High Arbitrazh Court is scheduled to hear this argument as a "newly opened circumstance" on January 22, 2008. Russia's High Arbitrazh Court gives credence to facetious litigation by its agreeing to hear MOR's argument before deciding whether or not there will be a hearing.
MOR is a Russian company located in Moscow. From 1992 to 1998 Joy-Lud and MOR executed a total of 16 contracts pursuant to which MOR would supply oil products to Joy-Lud. Since 1992 when MOR executed its first contract with Joy-Lud, both spellings were used and MOR failed to raise any concerns about multiple spellings, highlighting the surreptitious nature of this latest appeal. MOR likewise raised no concerns regarding a hyphen when the Company was given possession of Joy-Lud's corporate documents in 2003, and was thereby categorically aware of the correct name of Mr. Sapir's Company. High Arbitrazh Court was likewise aware of the correct name as it received the very same documents when it upheld the Stockholm judgment. Both the Court's and MOR's awareness of the correct name raise doubts about a missing hyphen being a "newly opened circumstance."
"I'm of course disappointed that Russia's highest commercial court is entertaining this frivolous effort on behalf of MOR to avoid paying the international arbitration judgment that it earlier, ultimately upheld after several previous appeals," said Tamir Sapir, Chairman of The Sapir Organization.
The decision by the High Arbitrazh Court to hear MOR's argument undermines Russian/Western business relations. Agreeing to hear this argument on the merits of an allegedly missing hyphen which both the Court and MOR were well aware of challenges the authority of the Stockholm arbitration, which is widely accepted as the de facto source for the resolution of former USSR related disputes. This decision has the potential to significantly set back investment in Russia if Western companies will fear having no recourse against ludicrous claims made by Russian companies that are taken seriously in Russian courts.
On January 19, 1995, Joy-Lud entered into a contract, written in Russian, in which the name of the Company was spelled as Joy-Lud (with a hyphen) based on the Russian language spelling convention in which compound names are spelled with a hyphen (i.e. New-York, San-Francisco, Los-Angeles).
In April 1998 MOR failed to perform under the Contract and subsequently, both parties agreed to an ad hoc arbitration in Stockholm, Sweden. On June 14, 2005, the tribunal issued an award pursuant to which MOR was required to pay to Joy-Lud US$28 million plus interest and arbitrators' expenses. Currently, the interest is over US$8 million. The award was written in Russian. The front page and body of the award stated the name of the claimant as "Joy-Lud" (with hyphen) while other portion of the award stated the name of the claimant as "Joy Lud" (without hyphen).
Olga Shmuklyer of Rubenstein Public Relations, +1-212-843-8364, for The Sapir Organization