The opportunity for claimants from developing countries to bring claims in England and Wales against multi-national corporate groups that have caused loss in their home country has been given a significant boost by Coulson J’s recent decision in Lungowe v Vedanta Resources Plc  EWHC 975 (TCC).
1,826 Zambian claimants commenced proceedings in the TCC alleging that Konkola Copper Mines (“KCM”) and its parent company Vedanta Resources PLC (“Vedanta”) were liable for personal injury, damage to property, loss of income, and loss of amenity and enjoyment of land due to pollution/environmental damage caused by the Nchanga copper mine which KCM operated. The Defendants, as invariably happens in claims of this sort, denied that the English Court had or should exercise jurisdiction, arguing the natural forum for the dispute was clearly Zambia.
Coulson J rejected both Vendata’s and KCM’s challenges to the jurisdiction. Continue reading
Is the separability of an arbitration agreement from the contract of which it is a part a matter for the law of the arbitration agreement or the law of the seat of the arbitration?
In his recent judgment in National Iranian Oil Company v Crescent Petroleum Company International Ltd  EWHC 510 (Comm), Burton J held it was a matter for the law of the seat. Continue reading
Does the doctrine of forum non conveniens apply in civil and commercial cases where the competing jurisdictions are countries within the UK? Put another way: does the English court have the power to stay or strike out a claim on the ground that the natural and more appropriate forum is Scotland or Northern Ireland?
To this short but significant question no authority provided any direct answer until the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Cook v McNeil  EWCA Civ 1287. Continue reading
In his judgment of 25 November 2015, Teare J showed the Commercial Court’s willingness to use anti-suit injunctions to restrain foreign proceedings brought by a party to an arbitration agreement. This was tempered, however, by his refusal to maintain an anti-suit injunction to restrain proceedings brought by a non-party to the arbitration agreement but which the applicant said would undermine the effect of the arbitration award.
The case was triggered by the decision of a London arbitral tribunal deciding rights of parties to a guarantee to join the security assignee of that guarantee to proceedings. This prompted one party to the original arbitration to bring proceedings against both other parties in China. The existence of such security assignments is commonplace; the joinder of such assignees to arbitrations is less common. Continue reading