Quinn Emanuel registers to expand work for Ukraine in bond dispute with Russia

Cum-Ex trial against two British bankers at a regional court in Bonn
REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
  • Quinn Emanuel's co-manager in London leads new engagement
  • Anticipated political work tied to debt default legal proceedings in England

(Reuters) - Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan's London arm said in new U.S. Justice Department filings that the law firm anticipates "political activity" in the U.S. as part of legal services defending Ukraine in a long-running $3 billion bond dispute with Russia in England.

Quinn disclosed the contemplated advocacy last week under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires law firms, lobby offices and public relations professionals to reveal certain foreign-client engagements beyond traditional court proceedings.

The registration comes amid renewed tension between Russia and Ukraine, a key U.S. ally. President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in September that the U.S. was "firmly committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression." Ukraine's allies in recent days have expressed concern about Russian troop movement near Ukraine's borders.

The registration papers, submitted by Alex Gerbi, co-managing partner of Quinn Emanuel's London office, said the scope and means of any U.S.-based advocacy were not immediately clear, "but may involve activity which engages with parts of the government of the United States which have relations with, take an interest in or have policies material to Ukraine, particularly in respect of the economic position of that country."

Gerbi declined to comment on Tuesday. The firm is working with Asters, billed as Ukraine's largest law firm, on the anticipated political advocacy. Asters also disclosed its work under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The underlying debt default proceedings in the UK involve $3 billion Russia loaned to Ukraine in 2013 in the form of a Eurobond. The Law Debenture Trust Corporation Plc acted as trustee on the bond.

Ukraine's lawyers contend it should have an opportunity at trial to challenge the bond before being forced to pay off the debt. Ukraine asserts the debt was incurred under duress from alleged Russian aggression.

The Supreme Court in the UK, the final court of appeal, is weighing Ukraine's arguments that it has "justiciable" defenses.

Norton Rose Fulbright partner Michael Godden, a lawyer for The Law Debenture Trust, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Quinn's Justice Department filing showed UK-based hourly rates of between $632 and $1,118 for associates, and $1,224 and $1,322 for partners. Asters' filing showed rates for partners between $270 and $420. Both firms said they would discount their rates for advocacy work for Ukraine.

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Ukraine to appeal court decision on $3 billion dispute with Russia

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