Phi owner loses UK court case
The detention of Phi has been deemed lawful by the UK High Court, despite the owner not being sanctioned…
Phi will remain in the custody of the UK Government, following the British High Court dismissing the owner’s claims of “unlawful detention” in a recent court ruling. The 59m yacht was seized last in London last year, despite its owner, Sergei Naumenko, not being sanctioned.
Phi first arrived in London following its delivery from the Royal Huisman in December 2021 for an awards show. It has remained there since its detention in May 2022. The UK Department of Transport, headed by Secretary of State Grant Schapps (then Minister of Transport), seized the yacht under Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Naumenko, represented by law firm Jaffa & Co, contested the decision, arguing that Grant Schapps’s action was improper and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically with property rights. However, the court ruled that the Secretary of State acted within the bounds of the Sanctions Regulations, which allowed for the detention of vessels connected to Russia, regardless if they are sanctioned or not.
Moreover, the claimants challenged the seizure by arguing that the decision targeted Naumenko personally, rather than his connection to Russia, and that it did not serve the sanction’s intended purpose of disrupting Russia’s maritime trade. However, the court upheld that the detention was made with a legitimate aim – to exert pressure on individuals the UK Government deems to be connected to the Russian regime.
The judge overseeing the case, Sir Ross Cranston, acknowledged the interference with Naumenko’s property rights, but ultimately ruled that the broader interest of Phi’s seizure is enforcing sanctions against Russia. He dismissed the case of review for these reasons.
This ruling could set a precedent for future challenges on the application of sanctions, with the question of property rights at the forefront of the argument.
With further litigation likely to follow, Phi will remain detained in London’s West India & Millwall Docks.
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