No anti-suit although HK claims breach jurisdiction clause

Team Y&R Holdings v Ghossoub [2017] EWHC 2401 (Comm) is an interesting treatment of parallel proceedings. The exclusive jurisdiction clause was read to fulfil its purpose: the substance not the form of allegedly wrongful Hong Kong proceedings was important and third parties were not bound.  However, despite Mr Ghossoub being in breach of the jurisdiction clause, no anti-suit injunction was granted against him.  The decision should give parties pause for thought when drafting jurisdiction clauses and starting or resisting parallel proceedings. Chaos or at least inconvenience might be unavoidable without a clearly drafted jurisdiction clause. It also offers guidance on how to write a jurisdiction clause which bites on non-contracting parties.

The origin of the dispute

The case arose from a sale and purchase agreement (“SPA”) for the shares of Team Y&R Holdings (“TYRH”) and a service agreement (“SA”) between Mr Ghossoub and TYRH.  The SPA contained an exclusive jurisdiction clause as follows (the SA clause was less detailed).

“The English courts have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute arising out of or in connection with this agreement and the parties submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.” Continue reading

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

Limited scope for the application of Portuguese mandatory rules: Banco Santander Totta SA

This case (Banco Santander Totta SA v Companhia de Carris de Ferro de Lisboa SA [2016] EWHC 465 (Comm)), arises from a number of complex swap contracts under which, by October 2015, some EUR 272 million were due but not paid.

In his judgment on 4 March 2016, among other things, Blair J decided that Article 3(3) of the Rome Convention [1] could not be used to displace a contractual choice of English law with certain mandatory provisions of Portuguese law even where both contracting parties were Portuguese.  Had he held otherwise, Portuguese law might have provided a complete defence to payment.  Blair J’s decision was clearly influenced by the desirability of legal certainty in major financial transactions and upholding party autonomy.

Blair J’s decision is notable because his conclusion is at odds with that of Walker J in a similar case involving Italian parties (Dexia Crediop SpA v Comune di Prato [2015] EWHC 1746 (Comm)). Continue reading

Anchor does not outweigh exclusive jurisdiction clause: Jong v HSBC (Monaco) [2015] EWCA Civ 1057

Yesterday’s Court of Appeal decision under the common law rules is a useful reminder that merely bringing a claim against an English domiciled defendant (who may unquestionably be sued in England) will not always be sufficient to persuade the court that it should exercise its jurisdiction over a foreign domiciled defendant in a related claim. This is particularly so where the foreign defendant and the claimant are party to an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of another court.

The courts were clearly influenced by the fact that the claim against the foreign defendant was “the most important of the claims” while “it is difficult to see what practical advantage Mrs Jong would gain by suing the two English … companies.”  Continue reading