The men who formerly owned Yukos Oil Co. have promised a “lifetime of litigation” against the Russian state over the 2004 seizure of their company, which they value at more than $100 billion. Half a world away, Chevron Corp. has warned that a “lifetime of … litigation” will follow if Ecuador does not render what it considers justice in its 18-year war with residents of the Amazon over oil pollution in the vicinity of Lago Agrio. The Yukos and Chevron cases have very different histories. But both are fought on multiple battlegrounds. Both involve allegations of domestic court abuse in emerging nations. And both feature litigants with the funding and motivation to make good on their vows never to back down.

The two megadisputes briefly converged in late September, making news within a span of less than 12 hours. First, on Sept. 19 the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the U.S. injunction on enforceability of the $18 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron. The next day, the European Court of Human Rights issued a mixed ruling on the Yukos property claim against Russia. The common lesson is that a lifetime of litigation is apt to end in arbitration.

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