Rusal Loses U.K. Case to Force Disclosure of Law Firm Documents

United Co. Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminum company, lost a U.K. lawsuit in which it sought to force the New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP to turn over documents to aid its fight for control of competitor OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel.

The law firm, which represents Norilsk and Rusal’s opponent in the battle, Interros Holding Co. and its billionaire chairman Vladimir Potanin, can’t be made to reveal the papers because the request is “an abuse of process of the court,” Judge Michael Tugendhat ruled today at the High Court in London.

Rusal can’t claim “that an order for disclosure by this court is now necessary, before Rusal has pursued procedures in Russia,” Tugendhat said in the ruling. Debevoise & Plimpton, whose London office prepared papers related to a share buyback and other transactions, wasn’t accused of wrongdoing.

Rusal Chief Executive Officer Oleg Deripaska has been locked in a dispute with Interros since 2008 over control of Norilsk. Norilsk on Feb. 11 increased a bid to buy back shares held by Rusal, offering $12.8 billion for 20 percent of its stock -- a proposal rebuffed by Deripaska.

Rusal seeks the documents to aid lawsuits it filed in Russia and St. Kitts and Nevis, according to the judgment. Rusal also sued in Connecticut and New York, and an arbitration proceeding between Rusal and Interros started in London in August 2010.

Olga Iliina, spokeswoman for Moscow-based Rusal, declined to immediately comment.

Norilsk last month said its Corbiere Holdings unit resumed a share buyback after a court in St. Christopher & Nevis lifted an injunction on trading of its stock during the Rusal dispute. Rusal last month said a U.S. court granted its request to compel Trafigura Beheer BV to produce documents and testimony in relation to its purchase of a stake in Norilsk.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net.

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