In an age in which members of the international business community call no country home and assets are held by nominees in a multiplicity of overseas vehicles, the enforcement of court judgments can be an intensely difficult process.
In one case, a foreign bank had obtained no less than 25 final judgments against an elusive businessman in his native Russia before seeking the assistance of the English Commercial Court in recovering about £15 million from him.
The bank targeted membership interests in a limited liability partnership (LLP) which were held by nominees but which it claimed were in the businessman’s beneficial ownership. The LLP owned Italian real estate worth about €17 million and the bank sought the appointment of receivers.
The LLP and the nominees argued that the interests were beneficially owned by a Liechtenstein foundation of which the businessman was only a discretionary beneficiary. However, in upholding the bank’s application, the Court found that the interests should be viewed as the businessman’s assets.
In those circumstances, it was just and convenient to appoint receivers under Section 37 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 with a view to placing the LLP into administration or otherwise selling its assets so that the proceeds could be distributed to the bank and the businessman’s other creditors.