Monaco investigation into Lawyer Bersheda violated privacy rights, rules ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a Monaco judge’s investigation into lawyer Tetiana Bersheda, linked to billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, violated fundamental human rights. The case involved an invasive and unrestricted search of Bersheda’s phone.

Tetiana Bersheda, a lawyer for Dmitry Rybolovlev, was under investigation in Monaco in 2017 for allegedly recording a private conversation with a friend of Rybolovlev in relation to the fraud case with Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier. The case was entrusted to Edouard Levrault, a French judge seconded to the Monegasque judiciary.

In the context of her defence, Bersheda handed her phone to the police to verify the recording, but the investigating judge authorised a broad, unrestricted examination of her phone that she used for both private and professional purposes, recovering massive amounts of data, including previously erased information unrelated to the investigation.

A violation of the right to respect for private life

After both the Court of Appeal and the Cour de Révision in Monaco rejected Bersheda and Rybolovlev’s applications challenging the conduct of the investigation, the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously on 6th June that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, referring to the right to respect for private life.

The EU court determined that the investigation had exceeded its scope, lacked safeguards to protect Bersheda’s professional privilege as a lawyer and involved indiscriminate data recovery. These actions were deemed disproportionate and not “necessary in a democratic society”.

Following the court’s decision, Dmitry Rybolovlev’s attorneys released a statement, saying, “The defense had claimed for years that the previous investigating judge, in order to indict Mr. Rybolovlev, had no right to search indiscriminately through his lawyer’s phone to extract messages related to her legal activities. By doing so, he gravely breached attorney-client privilege.”

“These entire criminal proceedings are therefore tainted,” said Rybolovlev’s legal team. “Indeed, the proceedings were based solely on the illicit misuse of Ms. Bersheda’s phone and the false interpretation of the messages obtained in this manner. All procedural consequences in favour of Dmitriy Rybolovlev must be drawn from this.”

The Rybolovlev v Bouvier affair

Russian collector Dmitriy Rybolovlev, who is the owner of the AS Monaco football club, had accused Yves Bouvier of swindling him out of €1.1bn from the €2bn sale of 38 works of art between 2003 and 2014. Bouvier has always denied any wrongdoing, claiming he acted as a dealer, free to set his own profit margins, and not as an agent.

The epic legal battle that played out for almost a decade came to an end in December 2023, when the pair settled out of court in an agreement covering all of their legal disputes in all jurisdictions, from Hong Kong to Monaco. 


Join the Monaco Life community – sign up for the Monaco Life newsletter, follow our Podcasts on Spotify, and check us out on Threads, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tik Tok