*Joint Stock Company “Aeroflot - Russian Airlines” v Wood and another (as Trustees of the insolvent estate of Elenin (also known as Berezovsky)) and others

Practice – Pre-trial or post-judgment relief. The Chancery Division, in the course of a pre-trial review, construed s 4(2) of the Civil Evidence Act 1972 in circumstances where the third and fifth defendants had sought to adduce, in evidence, previous conclusions of the High Court on questions of foreign law in another case, instead of producing an expert's report on Russian law. The claimant had objected, among other things, on the ground that the conclusions on Russian law in the previous case had been obiter. The court held that s 4(2) of the Act could not be read in isolation, but had to be read in conjunction with s 4(5) of the Act. It held that an obiter decision on a question of foreign law was an 'authority' within the meaning of s 4(5) of the Act. An document of the type envisaged by s 4(5), such as an approved written judgment (which contained obiter conclusions), could be 'cited as an authority', within the meaning of s 4(5) of the Act, in circumstances where the finding or decision reported or recorded in that document had been expressed as a clear conclusion and not merely as a provisional view. Accordingly, the court held that the conclusions of Russian law contained in the previous High Court decision were findings or decisions which were admissible in evidence under s 4(2) of the Act.

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