OCTOBER 2019: GORBACHEV VICTORIOUS IN INTERIM RULING
Mr Guriev was served with Mr Gorbachev’s claim form in Berkeley Street, London, on 19 October 2018. Mr Guriev’s “assistants” intervened to physically block Mr Gorbachev’s service providers from reaching him.
On that basis, Mr Guriev tried to claim in court in July 2019 that the legal action was not properly served, that the incident was an “ambush” and therefore that it would be premature to proceed with the case.
Mr Gorbachev’s lawyers rejected these arguments and argued that the court should, if required, consider members of Guriev’s Berkeley Street entourage an appropriate proxy for receipt of service in the circumstances. Crucially, Mr Gorbachev’s team also invited the court to consider video and audio evidence of the papers being served.
That video led His Honour Judge Pearce to conclude that the legal claim had indeed been legitimately served – paving the way for an eventual showdown in the English court between Mr Guriev and his former partner.
In his ruling, the Judge suggested that Guriev and two of his companions may have "embellished their evidence”. Noting another discrepancy between the video evidence and the initial witness statement accounts of Guriev and his four companions, he states: “Having watched the video, I find it surprising that all five should make the same mistake unless they have colluded to agree a common account”.
The Judge had some harsh words for Mr Guriev. Having considered whether or not he was persuaded on the evidence that Guriev and his companions had colluded to give misleading or false evidence on the matters that they witnessed, the Judge sums up as follows: “Without having heard cross examination of these witnesses, I cannot safely conclude that all or any of them are lying, though I have a strong suspicion this is so”. He expressly makes it clear that this remark is intended to apply to Mr Guriev. Elsewhere he remarks that it “is at least arguable” that “Mr Guriev has not told the truth”.
Judge Pearce concluded that Guriev’s companions had acted to physically block Gorbachev’s process server from getting close to him. He said he was satisfied that the process server had “got as near to Mr Guriev as he could have done without assaulting someone and/or risking his own safety.”
Judge Pearce’s ruling can be viewed here. Mr Guriev has since suffered repeated defeats in his attempt to reverse this decision. Judge Pearce denied him permission to appeal in November 2019, as did the Court of Appeal in January 2020.
The video of the Berkeley Street incident can be viewed on the “The video ” tab of this website.