The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has issued a resolution that reflects the current Russian trend for regulating the activities of foreign companies operating on the internet if they are connected with Russia. Even though Russia is not a common law country and its court decisions are not based on precedent, this decision of the RF Supreme Court will likely be seen as a model case triggering similar decisions.
The RF Supreme Court disagreed with the lower courts’ position that a dispute involving the defendant – a foreign dental clinic that advertises its services on the internet – is not admissible to Russian courts’ jurisdiction due to the clinic’s foreign status and the absence of any registered property in Russia. It stated that disputes with a foreign company targeting a Russian audience may be admissible to Russian courts and clarified that courts should assess whether such a company has a website in Russian, prices listed in Russian roubles, contact phone numbers with Russian codes, etc.
The RF Supreme Court cancelled the lower courts’ resolutions on the claim being inadmissible to Russian courts.
Although by default Russian law is only applicable within Russia, this position of the RF Supreme Court supports the current trend of Russian law being applied to foreign companies acting via the internet and targeting a Russian audience. It is therefore important for companies satisfying these criteria to take into account the fact that any claims raised against their activity in Russia may be subject to Russian courts’ jurisdiction even if such companies are incorporated outside the Russian Federation.