Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Success in $16 million oil and gas claim following force majeure event

Edward Levey QC represented Nord Naphtha Limited (NNL) in its successful claim against New Stream Trading AG (NST), a Swiss company which previously acted as the marketing and sales agent of the Antipinsky Oil Refinery, one of Russia’s largest and most modern oil refineries.

In February 2019, NNL placed an order for 30,000 metric tonnes of ultra-low sulphur diesel and, pursuant to the contract, made an advance payment to NST in the sum of $16 million. Citing operational and production issues at the refinery, NST failed to deliver the diesel and invoked the force majeure provisions in the contract.

When NNL sought repayment of the advance, NST argued that it had already paid the monies to the refinery, as NNL knew it was going to do. NST said that, in the absence of an express right to repayment, NNL’s only right of recourse was against the refinery under a separate Comfort Letter which the refinery had provided.

Despite the absence of an express provision in the contract giving NNL the right to repayment, NNL applied for summary judgment on its claim and at a hearing before Charles Hollander QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court judge), the application was granted and judgment was entered against NST in a sum exceeding $16 million.

Edward Levey QC was instructed by Adrian Giles of Dentons LLP.