Sometimes you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't.
In recent weeks we have seen many business (including many international law firms) cutting ties with Russia no doubt for moral reasons, but also practical ones as the sanctions regime bites and makes international commerce impossible.
However for law firms who are in the middle of acting for sanctioned Russian entities in a piece of litigation, they are caught between a rock and a hard place. The recent decision of a judge in the British Virgin Islands to refuse an application by a law firm (Ogier) to come off the record as acting for a state-owned Russian bank (VTB Bank), is an interesting one and no doubt makes uncomfortable reading to many firms who have similar entities as clients.
The decision places the rule of law, a sanctioned party's rights in a piece of litigation, and its lawyers' duties as officers of the court, ahead of any harm to that law firm's reputation in acting for such a party. As to the impact of sanctions, and the concern Ogier had that it could not be paid for its services, the judge added that suspending the issuing of bills whilst applying for a licence to allow a prohibited activity would not be onerous. If it proved to be, then "the issue of payment as a ground for coming off the record would need to be revisited".