Following the breach of a worldwide freezing order made against Mr Ablyazov (for which he was found to be in contempt), the claimant bank sought to bring a claim against his son-in-law on the basis that he had allegedly assisted the breach. The cause of action relied upon was the tort of conspiracy to injure by unlawful means. The son-in-law sought to argue that "unlawful means" did not include the breach of a court order, but that argument was rejected by Teare J. Although no prior case has decided that issue, the judge said that his conclusion was supported by the Court of Appeal decision in Surzur v Koros [1999], in which the unlawful means had been the creation of false documents. He also rejected an argument that Digicel v Cable & Wireless [2010] had held that unlawful means which are not actionable or criminal should fail. That case had not considered whether the breach of a court order could amount to unlawful means. It made no difference that, as Teare J found, the court does not have power to order damages for contempt.

A further issue was whether the court had jurisdiction over the son-in-law, who is domiciled in Switzerland. The bank sought to rely on Articles 6 and 5 of the Lugano Convention (the "special jurisdiction" rules):

  1. Article 6. This provides that where the defendant is one of a number of defendants, a court will have jurisdiction if one of the other defendants is domiciled here (provided that the claims are so closely connected that it is expedient to hear them together, which, it was accepted, was the case here). The issue therefore became whether My Ablyazov was domiciled here at the date the proceedings against the son-in-law were commenced. Mr Ablyazov had been domiciled in England until 2012. He then fled the country, fearing (correctly) that he was about to be imprisoned for contempt. After being on the run for some time, he was eventually found, and placed in custody in France, where he is currently awaiting extradition to Russia (not England). The judge held that, "in these unusual circumstances", Mr Ablyazov had abandoned England and no longer had any ties or connection with it. Whilst Mr Ablyazov, arguably, should not be allowed to benefit from his own wrongdoing, that did not affect the son-in-law. Accordingly, there was no arguable case for jurisdiction under Article 6.
  2.  Article 5. This provides that a person may be sued, in matters relating to tort, in the courts for the place where "the harmful event occurred". That phrase covers both the place of the event giving rise to the damage and also the place where the damage occurred.

The damage occurred (ie the bank suffered "harmful effects") in the place where the assets were wrongly dealt with in breach of the freezing order. On the facts of this case, that was not England.

As for the place of the event giving rise to the damage, that was the place where the conspiracy was implemented (not where it was hatched). Again, on the facts, some of the dates on which the various assets were allegedly wrongly dealt with pre-dated the time Mr Ablyazov left the country, and so the bank could establish jurisdiction in relation to those alleged breaches.