Tuesday 11 February 2020 6:55 pm

Burford Capital faces setback in bitter battle over £350m mega-yacht

Litigation funder Burford Capital has faced a setback in its battle to secure control of a £350m yacht in Dubai as part of a bitter divorce battle.

Burford has funded Tatiana Akhmedova’s fight to secure the £453m divorce settlement granted against her ex-husband Farkhad Akhmedov by the English courts in 2016.

Akhmedov refused to pay the settlement and the English High court granted a worldwide freezing order, under which Akhmedov’s yacht Luna was impounded in Dubai in 2018.

Luna, an expedition yacht built for Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich before Akhmedov bought it in 2014, has at least nine decks, space for 50 crew, two helipads, a vast swimming pool and a mini submarine.

The Dubai court of appeal has now rescinded the arrest warrant on the luxury yacht.

Initially, the English court order was upheld in Dubai’s commercial court and the yacht was impounded.

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However, Akhmedov’s lawyers argued that as this was a family case it should be heard in Dubai’s Shariah courts.

The Dubai appeal court ruled this month that the English law principle of a husband and wife splitting their property 50:50 did not apply in Shariah law and lifted the warrant on the ship.

Burford said it would continue to fight for control of the vessel.

“Farkhad Akhmedov is a judgment debtor evading an English court order. As he will discover nobody is above the law,” a spokesperson for Burford said.

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Akhmedov said in a statement: “I am a law abiding person but Burford is not the law. What it likes to call the law is simply its business interests and I will never obey the dictates of that business.

“This is a profoundly unfair and twisted legal ruling from which Burford is seeking to profit at the expense of me and my family.”

Burford was the subject of a scathing attack by shortseller Muddy Waters in August which questioned its corporate governance and accounting practices, sending its share price crashing.

London-listed Burford’s share price fell this afternoon by as much as seven per cent, but finished the day up half a per cent on 623p.