Several recommendations were made by the Presidium of the Russian Supreme State Commercial ('Arbitration') Court (the 'SSCC') with regard to applying the criteria for disputes being considered by state commercial ('arbitration') courts to be regarded as complex.1 Using these recommendations may assist in the development of the practice for recovering legal expenses.

The SSCC suggested that whether cases are complex be determined depending on the degree of their legal and actual complexity.

Based on the legal criterion, the SSCC divided all cases into three groups depending on the category (legal nature) of the dispute:

  1. especially complex, for example corporate disputes, disputes regarding securities, protection of business reputation, challenges to regulatory acts and disputes connected with land legislation;
  2. complex, for example disputes connected with invalidating contracts or protecting IP, where budgetary, tax and antimonopoly legislation is applied; disputes connected with challenging arbitral awards;
  3. less complex, for example disputes connected with the failure to perform obligations under contracts, collecting compulsory payments and sanctions, disputes connected with applying legislation on customs, environmental or administrative offences and with applying interim relief.

The SSCC proposed that the actual complexity of a case should be assessed depending on the scope of the case and the amount of work done in connection with such case (for example, the number of persons involved in the case; whether there are any counterclaims, whether an expertise needs to be conducted, witnesses examined or provisions of foreign law applied).

Conclusions and recommendations

Recommendations of the Presidium of the SSCC are intended directly for state commercial courts. However, the positions contained in them may be used when considering a claim to recover legal costs on attorneys.

In a situation when courts, in the absence of a unified approach, reduce the amount of such costs, they may promote, by using criteria for the complexity of a dispute, a unified and readily understandable model being used to determine whether costs are reasonable.