Together with the terrifying human loss and damage to civilians, more and more businesses are now endangered by the constant threat of attack by the russian federation—let alone those that have already suffered from it.

I. Documentation of Damages

While we hope that there will be no need to use the below manual, we want to ensure that companies are aware of the steps to take if their property in Ukraine is damaged as a result of the russian invasion.

!NB! Before performing any documentation activities, first ensure the safety of employees and other persons involved.

After ensuring their safety, documentation activities should be performed at the earliest convenience. All evidence and information collected in relation to the damaged property should be stored safely, as it is unclear how events will progress further and whether it will be possible to record and collect such information in the future. Additionally, it is recommended to store evidence and information collected in both physical hard copies and digital copies (on protected servers, reserve cloud storage, secured flash drives, etc.).

The main points to consider regarding the documentation of damages:

  • Define what exactly happened and what type of damage has been caused.
    (e.g., fire in a warehouse resulting in its partial destruction; the destruction of buildings used for administration purposes by missile attacks; seizure of an integrated plant, etc.)
  • Document damages by means available to you as soon as possible.
    Among the means available could be the following:

    • Surveillance camera footage at your business facility. If available, upload the footage to a safe digital storage platform (protected server, cloud, etc.) and make reserve copies;
    • Photo and video recording of the damaged property. Please note that the scene of the damage contains “footprints” and other evidence of crimes needed for future legal proceedings, as well as hazardous objects that can be still in place. Therefore, make sure that photo and video documentation is made from a safe distance and does not distort any footprints or evidence;
    • Photos and videos made by employees and bystanders during the damaging event. If available, collect and store photos and videos made at the time of the damaging event or thereafter. Make sure to obtain the consent of the individuals and secure their personal data privacy;
    • List of potential witnesses. Make a list of potential witnesses, with their full names and all contact details available, who were eyewitnesses of the damaging event and are ready to testify in future legal proceedings. Witnesses’ consent and permission of personal data processing must be obtained, and data privacy ensured; and
    • Internal investigation and damage report. Depending on the type of damage and business facility involved, it might be required by law, by-laws or company internal policies to conduct and issue an internal investigation and/or damage report. Ensure reasonable compliance with such requirements (if any).
  • Document damages by involving third parties. Depending on the type of damaging event and damage caused, consider the relevant types of evidence and other proof that may be collected from third parties and external sources:
    • Documents from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and other authorities. As a rule of thumb, if a damaging event occurs, call the State Emergency Service of Ukraine as soon as possible. Other relevant authorities and law enforcements may be contacted as well (if applicable to the event). After immediate danger from the emergency is mitigated, request copies of the event reports, expert reports and other documents issues in relation to the damaging event from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and other authorities (if applicable);
    • Internet publications. Check whether there are any confirmations from the aggressor’s side as to its involvement in actions that caused the damage, and collect and store them (if available)—this could be more than helpful in the course of establishing the cause of damage. Official publications issued by the Ukrainian authorities in relation to circumstances and the cause of the damaging event should also be collected. In order to ensure the preservation of evidence, it is recommended to order webpage documentation from specially authorised agencies;
    • Expert and forensic reports. Consider whether expertise or forensics are needed. It is likely that the involvement of experts will be needed. When arranging expertise, the following issues should be addressed:
      • what kind of expertise is most appropriate, depending on type of the event and damage caused;
      • whether it can be arranged by hiring an independent private expert or should be done through the government’s involvement (i.e., requesting expertise within criminal proceedings or other legal action); and
      • what actions should be performed to ensure the preservation of the scene of the damage and objects in the manner required for that particular type of expertise.
    • Amount of damages. Depending on type of the damage caused, consider appropriate means and evidence to prove the amount of damages caused (internal reports, balance sheets, experts’ report on damages, etc.).

II. Legal Remedies

We analyse below the available options for legal remedies and the possible restitution of damages caused by the russian federation, defining the most plausible and additional solutions.

When considering which options to implement, please note that the effectiveness of the available options to pursue restitution is not yet fully apparent and may change depending on further developments in national and international frameworks (international prosecution of russian aggression, new dispute resolution mechanisms, etc.).

  1. Most plausible options to consider

    • Commencement of criminal proceedings in Ukraine. This option entails additional documentation of the facts of the damaging event and the damages caused by it. A civil claim for compensation of damages may be submitted within initiated criminal proceedings, as well as in a separate civil proceeding. At the same time, the main drawbacks are the difficulty to identify the perpetrator, let alone the inability to prosecute the russian federation as a state.
    • Filing evidence of a war crime to the International Criminal Court (the ICC). The destruction of civil objects fulfilling a range of criteria may constitute a war crime. As the ICC actively collects related evidence, it would benefit a prospective prosecution of russian individuals to be found guilty of committing or organising attacks on Ukraine in violation of international law. There might also appear the possibility for organisations affected by war crimes to apply for reparations, subject to the relevant provisions of the Rules for Procedure used by the ICC. With that in mind, it is important to note that filing evidence should precede the trial itself, which might be held quite later. Evidence may be submitted via one or several of the following channels:
      • ICC Prosecutor. The Office of the Prosecutor has established a dedicated portal through which any person that may hold information relevant to the Ukraine situation can contact ICC investigators:
      • Official Ukrainian channels. 
  2. Additional options
    Please note that the options below are either not yet fully available (due to a lack of regulations needed) or less plausible (due to more significant drawbacks). It is important to keep track of further developments, which could make these options a more effective means to receive compensation.

    • Application against the russian federation to the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR).1 One may file an application based on the right to property (Art. 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention) being infringed. This option may be solid ground for establishing russia’s fault in destruction/damage of property shall russia be a plausible respondent in the case (e.g., when it has effective control over the territories where damage was inflicted). Drawbacks lie in the difficulty to enforce the ECHR’s decision in russia and their non-recognition of foreign courts’ decisions. Another issue to consider is that payments under the ECHR’s decision are usually of a compensatory nature and may not cover all damages claimed.
    • Filing a civil lawsuit in Ukrainian courts. Bearing in mind the difficulties of establishing the exact person/group of persons attacking property, it would seem to be more effective to pursue a claim against the russian federation as a country. However, these proceedings may not reach their aim unless russia accepts the jurisdiction of Ukrainian courts, which sounds unrealistic in the given situation. In addition to the invocation of jurisdictional immunity by russia, the enforcement of such decisions rendered by Ukrainian courts is likely to face serious obstacles, including the possible initiation of proceedings at the International Court of Justice by russia.
    • Further options to be considered. This may include the introduction of legislation that would allow businesses to be awarded compensation from the state budget. The international community is also now discussing options for an ad hoc tribunal for war crimes committed by the russian federation’s armed forces. Until such a tribunal is established, it is hard to predict whether it would cover questions as to individual payments to those having suffered. There is still the possibility that other effective means of awarding damages will be further created, e.g., special commissions as a part of international organisations with the specific purpose of administrating individual claims. One may also have plausible ground to pursue an investment claim against russia if the relevant requirements for jurisdiction can be established.


1. According to the 22 March 2022 Resolution of the ECHR, only those violations of the russian federation that were committed before 16 September 2022 will be adjudicated.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.