Arbitration agreements and Premier League football

Wilfried Guemiand Bony v Gilbert Francis Kacou [2017] EWHC 2146 (Ch)).

The recent case of Bony v Kacou provides insight into when the courts will, and will not, find that an arbitration agreement exists under s5 Arbitration Act 1996. The Court also considered the interaction between s5 Arbitration Act and applications for stays of court proceedings under s9 Arbitration Act 1996.  This is the sixth and final post in our new term catch-up series.

Background Facts

Premier league footballer, Wilfried Bony, issued proceedings against his former agents accusing them of receiving secret commissions themselves (or through their corporate vehicles) in the course of contract negotiations with Swansea FC. The Defendants were alleged to have breached contractual and fiduciary duties to Mr Bony, and to have made fraudulent and/or negligent misrepresentations. Continue reading

The power of domicile

This post looks at two cases which show the  importance of the Brussels I Regulation’s primary rule of jurisdiction – that defendants should be sued in the jurisdiction of their domicile.  Those cases are Aspen Underwriting v Kairos Shipping [2017] EWHC 1904 (Comm), Bestolov v Povarenkin [2017] EWHC 1968 (Comm).  It is the fifth of our “new term catch up series”.

Aspen Underwriting achieves a potentially unsatisfactory result with some claims being tried in England and others capable of resolution only in the Netherlands (the place of domicile).  On the other hand, in Bestolov v Povarenkin, jurisdiction was established on the basis of domicile under the Brussels Regulation when it would not have been asserted at common law. Continue reading

China Signs the Hague Choice of Court Convention

On 12 September 2017, the People’s Republic of China signed the Hague Convention of 30 June 2005 on Choice of Court Agreements (the Convention). This is an important development in the field of cross-border dispute resolution, which will enhance the effectiveness of exclusive choice of court agreements concluded in commercial transactions. This is the fourth in the blog’s “catch up for the new term” series.

Continue reading

Enforcing Arbitration Awards: update

The third post in our “new term catch up” series looks at the law concerning the enforcement of arbitration awards.  This is often neglected by parties and their legal representatives alike. This is ironic as it is arguably the most commercially critical stage of the entire arbitral process. Many a party has spent much blood, sweat, and money to achieve a positive result, only to find it an essentially pyrrhic victory.

It is with the crucial importance of this area of law in mind that in this post, the third in our new legal term series, two recent Commercial Court decisions concerning the circumstances in which recognition or enforcement of a New York Convention award may be refused are summarised.  The cases are Zavod Ekran v Magneco and Anatolie Stati v The Republic of Kazakhstan. Continue reading

Merits of claim against anchor defendant matter (probably)

This second post in our “new term catch up series” looks at Sabbagh v Khoury [2017] EWCA Civ 1120, an important case about using an anchor defendant under the Brussels Regulation regime.

The use of anchor defendants in English proceedings is very common. Establishing a claim against an anchor defendant allows co-defendants to be sued in England when jurisdiction could not otherwise be established over them.  In Sabbagh v Khoury, the Court of Appeal considered whether, when the Brussels Regulation (or the Lugano Convention) applied, the claim against the anchor defendant had to be meritorious or whether even a hopeless claim against the anchor defendant would be enough to found jurisdiction.

Interestingly, but unhelpfully for litigants, the Court of Appeal judges disagreed with one another.  Patten and Beatson LJJ held that the claim against the anchor defendant must have a real prospect of success.  Gloster LJ considered that this was unnecessary although did agree that the anchor defendant regime cannot be invoked if the sole object of the claim is to oust the jurisdiction of the courts which would otherwise have jurisdiction over the non-anchor defendants.

There is also considerable scope for the issue to be re-argued because, in fact, the court’s decision on whether the claim against the anchor defendant needed to have a real prospect of success was obiter dictum. Continue reading

Position papers on judicial cooperation in civil matters: steps towards clarity?

As the new legal year starts in London, we’re running a short series of posts covering developments and cases you might have missed over the summer.  This first post in the series looks at the UK and EU position papers on Judicial Cooperation in Civil and Commercial Matters.

Since the Brexit Referendum of June 2016, there has been uncertainty as to how the current conflict of laws regimes concerning civil and commercial matters will change. (Other civil matters are outside the scope of this brief note.)

Until recently, there had been no indication from governmental levels as to the proposals both for the wind-down of the current regime and for the future basis of judicial cooperation (if any) between the UK and EU Member States.   This summer saw the publication of position papers by both the EU and the UK.  On 12 July 2017, the EU published its Position Paper on Judicial Cooperation in Civil and Commercial Matters.  On 22 August 2017, the UK published its paper entitled “Providing a cross-border civil judicial cooperation framework: a future partnership.”

Both papers set out proposals for the “wind-down” period.  The EU paper makes no proposals for any new relationship between itself and its former member, the UK. The UK makes some high level proposals in this regard. Continue reading

Permission to serve out required before alternative service order can be made

Marashen Ltd v Kenvett Ltd [2017] EWHC 1706 (Ch) (06 July 2017)

Foxton QC in the Chancery Division overturned an earlier order permitting service of third party costs order on a person resident in Russia by means of alternative service on his lawyers’ offices in London, on the basis that there was no pre-existing order for permission to serve out. A court must have already given permission to serve out of the jurisdiction, before the power to permit alternative service (under CPR 6.15) arises. Pre-existing permission to serve out must exist even for alternative service within the jurisdiction. The power to make alternative service within England and Wales on a defendant resident outside the jurisdiction derives from CPR 6.37(5)(b)(i). In Hague Service Convention cases, there must be “exceptional circumstances” to grant an order for alternative service, outside the terms of the Convention.

Exceptional circumstances is a test going beyond mere good reason. Mere delay or additional expense did not constitute exceptional circumstances. Article 15 of the Hague Service Convention itself offers comfort to a claimant in the case of excessive delay in that, in the event of a delay exceeding 6 months, this article would allow the claimant to continue on with proceedings despite a lack of formal confirmation of service.

Italian law is no way out of swap liability for Prato

The Court of Appeal’s recent decision is another blow for litigants who hope that foreign law will allow them to escape from liability under English law contracts.  This case, Dexia Crediop SpA v Comune di Prato [2017] EWCA Civ 428 (15 June 2017) arose from a claim by Dexia (the Bank) for some EUR 6.5 million due under an interest rate swap.[1]  The contract was subject to English law and jurisdiction.

The defendant, an Italian local authority (Prato), sought to rely on various Italian law arguments.  Not one arrow in Prato’s “capacious quiver” [2] of defences struck home, however.  The result of Walker J’s judgments[3] was basically reversed.

The case demonstrates how hard it is to show that “mandatory” rules of foreign law should apply (due to Article 3(3) of the Rome Convention) where parties have expressly chosen English law.  The 2016 Banco Santander case[4] (discussed in my post on Blair J’s March judgment and the Court of Appeal’s December decision) covered similar ground but this case is more extreme.  Continue reading

Article 50 and the Brussels Regulation

With Article 50 now triggered, amongst many other negotiations, attention will turn to the Brussels I Regulation. Rather than setting alarm bells ringing, this article by Sara Masters QC and Belinda McRae sets out three steps, based on previous examples of EU negotiations, of how the UK Government should assuage fears of upheaval in the system of commercial dispute resolution following Brexit.

The full article is here.

Asymmetric result?

The Commercial Court finds that asymmetric jurisdiction clauses are valid exclusive jurisdiction clauses for the purposes of the Brussels Recast. Given their prevalence in financial contracts,  a contrary decision could have produced significant instability.

Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft v Pauline Shipping and Liquimar Tankers  [2017] EWHC 161 Continue reading