Zaiwalla & Co acting for British citizen and investor Tamaz Somkhishvili to seek redress through English Court for unlawful actions destabilising court proceedings in Ukraine

June 05 2023

Zaiwalla & Co acting for British citizen and investor Tamaz Somkhishvili to seek redress through English Court for unlawful actions destabilising court proceedings in Ukraine

Internationally respected arbitration and litigation law firm based in the heart of legal London, Zaiwalla & Co, has been instructed by Mr Tamaz Somkhishvili to act as his English counsel to vindicate his rights as an investor in Ukraine before the English courts and United Kingdom authorities, in connection with a landmark case in Ukraine involving the municipal authorities of the city of Kyiv.

While the legal dispute has been ongoing in Ukraine, including recent hearings in the Kyiv Court of Appeals, Mr Somkhishvili has become the victim of a massive smear campaign. The public attack, which is based on false accusations, gives every appearance of being carefully coordinated, including as it does an attack and pressure on certain Ukrainian media outlets to suppress any investigation of the accusations and reporting of the true facts concerning Mr Somkhishvili, his investment in Ukraine, and the dispute with the Kyiv civic authorities.

It is feared that this unlawful campaign is being waged against Mr Somkhishvili with a view to harming his reputation as a British and international businessman and investor to influence the pending court proceedings. The case raises a serious concern about the way foreign investors, particularly UK investors, may be treated in Ukraine. Given the reconstruction work that will inevitably be necessary when the conflict draws to a close, the subversion of the justice system and rule of law, manipulation of the press, and violation of fundamental principles of investor protection, will be matters of grave concern to those countries that have been supporting Ukraine.

As the defamation attack launched from Ukraine is being echoed in the United Kingdom, and fair justice for Mr Somkhishvili appears increasingly illusory given the fragile state of the Ukrainian courts, Mr Somkhishvili is intending to commence a claim in the English court to hold accountable those who are defaming him and lending support to this unlawful campaign. Zaiwalla & Co has instructed leading defamation counsel, Lord Edward Garnier KC, to settle proceedings and to appear in court.

Zaiwalla & Co will also assist Mr Somkhishvili in his representations to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office regarding the violation of investment protection norms in Ukraine, and the dangers that this represents for the country’s future reconstruction.  Considerable British taxpayer money has been invested in Ukraine to improve its judiciary, strengthen freedom of speech, and promote investor protection and effective fighting of corruption. Each of these is crucial to rebuild the country.

Partner Leigh Crestohl commented: "It is surprising that in Ukraine, a country which has received such unconditional support from the United Kingdom in its current struggle, a British citizen and investor in Ukraine for more than 17 years should become the subject of such an attack, intended to deny him a fair adjudication of his claim in court and effectively to expropriate his investment without compensation. It is unfortunate not only that the Ukrainian authorities have done nothing to protect Mr Somkhishvili’s rights, but that members of the Ukrainian political elite and public officials may be standing behind the attack. The UK’s legal system enjoys a global reputation, often commented on by the President of Ukraine, and Mr Somkhishvili must now rely upon British justice to protect his rights and to hold those who stand behind the attack, accountable."

Leigh's comments were featured in The Legal Diary, 9 June 2023, and can be found here

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