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JSC Alfa-Bank v Reznik (Commercial Court)

Josephine Davies obtained complete remission of the 18 month prison sentence imposed for contempt of court resulting from breaches of a worldwide freezing order.  It is thought to be the first case were complete remission has been granted where opposed.

Mr Reznik (the Defendant) was subject to a worldwide freezing order in support of an LCIA arbitration.  He failed to comply with the asset disclosure requirements.  He then failed to attend the committal hearing which took place, on the bank’s application, before Popplewell J in August 2016.  Popplewell J imposed a custodial sentence of 18 months [2016] EWHC B21 (Comm).   In the event, remaining overseas, the Defendant did not serve any part of that sentence.

The Defendant belatedly complied with the asset disclosure requirements and apologised to the court.  He applied to purge his contempt.  Despite the Defendant’s absence from court, Miss Davies was able to persuade Knowles J that this was a proper case for remission in full.   The judge described the case as “exceptional”.

The court thus rejected the Claimant’s argument that the Defendant must spend time in prison in order to be punished.  The court had particular regard to the Defendant’s compliance, the absence of any apparent asset dissipation, the reputational damage to him and his conduct which evidenced the sincerity of his apology.

Extempore judgment on 24 February 2017, transcript pending.

 

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