Boris Berezovsky wins £50,000

Libel jury awards damages against Mikhail Fridman for false threats allegation

A High Court jury in London today awarded Russian tycoon and political campaigner, Boris Berezovsky £50,000 in libel damages for a false claim that he habitually threatened people.


The Defendants, Mikhail Fridman and his company Alfa Bank, were found by the jury to have libelled Mr Berezovsky in a programme broadcast to viewers in the UK on a Russian satellite service, NTV World, in October 2004. During the programme, Mr Fridman had attacked Mr Berezovsky saying that the latter had threatened him in connection with the purchase of the Russian newspaper Kommersant and claiming: “He even threatened me. He threatened everyone. That’s how he works”.


Mr Berezovsky’s case was that Mr Fridman had alleged that he was guilty of threats of physical violence or otherwise improper threats and that this was his usual way of doing business. The Defendants contended that insofar as Mr Fridman had alleged that Mr Berezovsky threatened him and was used to making threats in business the words were true.


After the 8-day trial, the jury of 3 women and 8 men took 10-hours to reach a majority 10-1 verdict in favour of Mr Berezovsky rejecting the justification defence.


The Defendants were ordered to pay the £50,000 damages and £50,000 on account of costs within 21 days. As the Defendants had previously rejected an offer by the Claimant to settle only for an apology and his costs, Mr Justice Eady ordered the Defendants to pay costs on the indemnity basis from 12 December 2005 and interest on those costs at 10% above base rate. The Judge refused permission to appeal, but granted a short stay of execution pending any renewed application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.


5RB‘s Desmond Browne QC and Matthew Nicklin (instructed by Carter-Ruck) acted for Mr Berezovsky.