For five years a Hogan Lovells team tracked the wild financial peregrinations of a Kazakh oligarch suspected of running a $10 billion fraud. Mukhtar Ablyazov started by looting his bank and continued by creating a global network of shell companies to hide the proceeds. To end that run, the Hogan Lovells lawyers chased his henchmen across the world with derring-do of a James Bond movie. But this is more than a cloak-and-dagger story. In legal consequence, which is the metric that matters most, BTA v. Ablyazov earned The American Lawyer’s Global Dispute of the Year grand prize on the merits.

More than 50 reported U.K. decisions in Ablyazov have carved out 26 entries in the White Book, the official compendium of English civil procedure. No other case has notched more than 10. The English Court of Appeal called it “extraordinary litigation on a large scale,” pursued with a vigor akin to “trench warfare.” A panel of 25 top London barristers, polled by Sonia Tolaney of 3 Verulam Buildings, called it the most groundbreaking recent case by common consensus.

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