On 7 April, DELF hosted a hybrid seminar from the offices of Kingsley Napley on the future of Russia’s involvement in the international community, the Ukraine Justice Alliance and the practicalities and ethics involved in representing those subject to, or at risk of, sanctions.
We were delighted to welcome as our panellists for the evening, Professor Judith Pallot, Emeritus professor of Russian and Soviet Geography at the University of Oxford; Sergey Golubok, prominent lawyer and human rights defender; Dr Anna Bradshaw, Partner at Peters & Peters and co-editor of The Guide to Sanctions; and Ben Brandon, Partner and Barrister at Mishcon de Reya and member of the Ukraine Justice Alliance. The event was chaired by Áine Kervick, Senior Associate at Kingsley Napley and DELF committee member.
Providing context for the focus of the seminar, the discussion opened with an acknowledgement of the escalating war in Ukraine and the tragic events unfolding at the present moment. In response by the UK, there has been a series of sanctions against Russia, the scale of which is unprecedented.
The panel opened with an examination of the impact of the war in Ukraine on Russia’s position in the global order. The use of soft and hard powers in Russia was discussed and their potential to shape international behaviour and outcomes including the evolving political powers in Russia with the decline in influence of those perceived to be oligarchs. As a halfway point between soft and hard power, the use of sanctions in Russia as a political tool and alternative to war was discussed: in particular, what is the practical impact of these sanctions from a Russian perspective? Is there a tension between the utility of sanctions as a political tool and the increased harm of the sanctioned party / country?
Flowing from this conversation, the practicalities of the application of sanctions from the UK were discussed. Specifically, are sanctions meeting their intended purpose? How good is the UK at enforcing them? And when might we see the effects of the current sanctions’ regime? It was concluded that April was too soon to see any real impact of sanctions as supplies and production will not yet be impacted and that September 2022 may be a time to revisit the impact. The panellists also considered the rule of law issues that arise around the types of sanctions regimes that are currently being imposed on Russia and practical considerations when representing those who are subject to such sanctions. It was observed that rule of law issues connected to such sanctions regimes may go some way to undermining their effectiveness longer term.
In addition to sanctions, practical options were explored in anticipation of any future supranational legal action, such as evidence gathering in a conflict scenario, reparations for those who have suffered harm (including reparations from sanctions), and penalties for sanctions breaches. The seminar concluded with our panellists and attendees sharing ideas about the role legal practitioners in the UK can play and what we can do to assist on the ground in Ukraine through organisations such as the Ukrainian Justice Alliance, which to date is on track to be the largest mobilisation of the international private sector in solidarity against an act of war. Direct contact can be made with the UJA here: https://ukrainejusticealliance.com/contact