High Court Rules in Favor of Ukrainian Defendant in Jurisdiction Challenge Case

Citation: [2024] EWHC 122 (Comm)
Judgment on


In the case of WWRT Limited v Kostiantyn Valentynovych Zhevago before the High Court of Justice, King’s Bench Division, the court addressed several critical topics that are central to international disputes and civil procedure in the UK. This analysis provides a structured breakdown of the court’s reasoning and application of various legal principles and how they link directly to the relevant parts of the summary provided.

Key Facts

The case revolves around an application by the defendant, Mr. Zhevago, to challenge the jurisdiction of the English court regarding a claim brought against him by WWRT Limited. The underlying dispute pertains to Mr. Zhevago’s alleged fraudulent conduct regarding a Ukrainian bank. Notably, Mr. Zhevago is a Ukrainian citizen, while WWRT is registered in England, owned substantially by another Ukrainian citizen. The proceedings relate to rights allegedly transferred from a defunct Ukrainian bank through a chain of assignments to WWRT.

Jurisdiction Challenge

The court addressed the challenge to its jurisdiction under the traditional threefold test: whether there is a serious issue to be tried, if the claim falls within the jurisdictional gateway, and whether England is the forum conveniens.

  1. Serious Issue to Be Tried: Central to this test was whether the tortious rights claimed were validly transferred to WWRT. The court applied Ukrainian law and considered expert evidence, eventually concluding there was no serious issue to be tried as the assignment did not include the transfer of such tortious rights (page 57-61 of the summary).

  2. Jurisdictional Gateway: Under CPR PD 6B Paragraph 3.1 (9) (b), the court examined whether there were substantial and efficacious acts related to the alleged tort committed within the jurisdiction. Upon reviewing the evidence and the principles from case law such as Metall und Rohstoff AG v Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette Inc and Manek v IIFL Wealth (UK) Ltd, the court found that WWRT had not established a good arguable case that such acts occurred in England (page 89-90, 92-102).

  3. Forum Conveniens: The court applied the principles from Spiliada Maritime Corpn v Cansulex Ltd to analyze the appropriateness of the forum. Notably, the court considered the impact of the war in Ukraine, allegations of judicial corruption against Mr. Zhevago, and enforceability concerns of Ukrainian judgments. Despite these considerations, the court found that these did not amount to a real risk of injustice that would necessitate displacement from the natural forum, Ukraine (page 137-138, 142-143, 147-150).

Connected Proceedings

The case notes that litigation economy is important, highlighting how the administration of justice often benefits from related claims being tried in a singular forum to avoid irreconcilable judgments (page 160-161).

Expert Evidence on Foreign Law

Through expert evidence on Ukrainian law, the court made determinations essential for the jurisdiction challenge, underlining the engagement and significance of such testimony in international law disputes (page 150-152).


The outcome was that Mr. Zhevago’s application succeeded on all fronts. The court held that there was no serious issue to be tried concerning the assignment of tortious rights, WWRT failed to establish a claim through the jurisdictional gateway, and England was not the forum conveniens for the dispute.


The case of WWRT Limited v Kostiantyn Valentynovych Zhevago is a complex interplay of jurisdictional disputes, principles of international law, and procedural rules governing civil litigation. Despite the claimant’s efforts, the court deferred to the principle of natural forum, emphasizing the robustness of Ukraine’s judicial system, and the lack of cogent evidence establishing a real risk of injustice. This case serves as an insightful reminder of how English courts weigh jurisdictional challenges and their adherence to established principles respecting foreign jurisdictions and comity among international legal orders.