Interpretation of “Control” in UK-Russia Sanctions

October 2023
Region: Europe

The Court of Appeal’s judgment in the Mints v PJSC National Bank Trust case clarifies some key aspects of the legal interpretation of the sanctions the UK has applied to Russia – the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (Regulations). In essence, the Court of Appeal has done three things:

  • Confirmed that cases involving persons subject to an asset freeze can be heard by the English courts.
  • Confirmed that the courts can make judgments and awards (including costs) in cases involving persons subject to an asset freeze, though enforcement of any judgment or award may require Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) licences or delayed payment arrangements.
  • Clarified the interpretation of “control” in Regulation 7.

The first two of these are helpful confirmation of the position that many legal practitioners had held to be the case. The third, however, points to a very wide interpretation of “control”, which is not necessarily dependent on ownership but can be summarized as whether a designated person “calls the shots” over the entity in question.