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AO "Rosnefteflot" v. Wilhelmsen Port Services Rotterdam B.V. Case of Debt Collection For Maritime Services Considering Sanctions

On 7 February 2024, the Arbitrazh Court of the city of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region (Russia) considered the claim of AO "Rosnefteflot" (the Plaintiff) in Wilhelmsen Port Services Rotterdam B.V. (the Defendant) for the collection of debt for payment for mooring/unmooring services and towing services for the vessels “Breiviken” and “Minerva Leo” in the port, as well as for the collection of interest.

The case was considered in the absence of the Defendant.

Facts of the case:

In January 2022, the Plaintiff provided the Defendant with services for mooring, unmooring and towing support of vessels in the port of Ust-Luga, St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Defendant intended to pay for these services without involving agents in the Russian port.

The Plaintiff is under the indirect control of PAO "NK Rosneft". The European Union has introduced restrictive measures (sanctions) in respect of PAO "NK Rosneft" establishing a ban on transactions with PAO "NK Rosneft" and its controlled entities (Article 1aa Council Decision (CFSP) 2022 /430 dated 15 March 2022).

In April 2022, the Defendant informed the Plaintiff that it would not be able to pay for the Plaintiff’s services due to sanctions imposed by the European Union against the Russian Federation.

The parties corresponded on this issue, and in August 2022, the Defendant confirmed the debt and again referred to sanctions as the basis for the inability to make payment.

The Plaintiff suggested that the Defendant make payment through Russian banks against which sanctions were not applied: PAO "Gazprombank", Bank RRDB (OAO), OAO "Raiffeisenbank". However, the Defendant did not accept this offer.

The Court's decision:

The Court accepted the statement of claim, referring to Part 1 of Article 248.1 of the Arbitration Procedure Code of Russia. It states that cases involving disputes with Russian persons against whom sanctions have been applied by foreign states should be considered in Russia.

The Court satisfied the claims in full.
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