Court agrees with Deutsche Bank – Singapore is not more convenient

An alleged fraud (relating to a sale of Indian cotton) between an Indian, a Malaysian and a Hong Kong company has generated multiple claims in Singapore and one in London, Detusche Bank AG v CIMB Bank Berhad.  These arise from the typical web of letters of credit, finance facilities and guarantees found in international commodities finance.   In London, Deutsche Bank (DB) claim reimbursement from CIMB (a Malaysian bank) of sums paid out under letters of credit issued by CIMB.

Of interest for this blog is the Commercial Court’s decision last week ([2017] EWHC 81 (Comm)) refusing to grant CIMB a stay of the London proceedings on the basis of forum non conveniens.  Teare J’s judgment is a pithy demonstration of the English court’s approach to such arguments applying the Spiliada[1] principles (discussed below).

A key point to note is that the mere risk of inconsistent decisions on a factual point and the duplication of costs was not enough to justify a stay of English proceedings.  The case also should give parties pause to consider before beginning parallel proceedings in another jurisdiction (see my final thoughts on tactics)

20 Essex Street’s Andrew Fulton appeared for Deutsche Bank. Continue reading

Waived forum non conveniens? A claim could still be stayed…

Last week, in Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd v Independent Power Tanzania Ltd [2016] EWCA Civ 411, the Court of Appeal (judgment by Longmore LJ) allowed English proceedings to continue in parallel with Tanzanian proceedings involving the same parties and issues.

The case is of particular interest because the contracts included both a non-exclusive jurisdiction clause and a forum non conveniens (FNC) waiver clause (i.e. a clause by which each party irrevocably waived, among other things, any claim it might otherwise make that proceedings had been brought in “an inconvenient forum”).

The combination of those clauses ought severely to restrict the possibility of one party resisting proceedings on jurisdictional grounds.  On the other hand, the Court of Appeal’s decision in this case makes clear that such clauses cannot always prevent parallel proceedings being used to justify a stay of English proceedings, at least on case management grounds.

In general, though, non-exclusive jurisdiction clauses and FNC waiver clauses give rise to a real risk of parallel proceedings.  When deciding whether to include these types of clauses in a contract, this risk needs to be weighed carefully against the benefit of a choice of jurisdictions.

In addition, the court’s treatment of an abuse of process argument (not dependent on the jurisdiction clause points) provides a helpful outline of the relevant principles. Continue reading

Insurance Policies and Jurisdiction – AXA Corporate Solutions SA v Weir Services Australia Pty Ltd

The Commercial Court’s decision in this case (Axa v Weir  [2016] EWHC 904 (Comm)) late last week provides a useful restatement of the jurisdictional position concerning insurance written on the London market.

The case, confirms the English Court’s willingness to find that England is the natural forum in such cases even where (as here) there has been no express choice of jurisdiction.  It also shows a willingness to allow parties to continue related foreign proceedings and, if appropriate, to stay the English proceedings (see also, e.g. my post on Blue Tropic and Josephine Davies’ post on Jong v HSBC).
Continue reading

“May” or “must” arbitrate – what’s needed for a stay? Anzen Ltd v Hermes One Ltd [2016] UKPC 1

This advice delivered on 18 January 2016 by the Privy Council (a BVI case) examines the effect of a clause in an agreement providing that in the event of any unresolved dispute “any party may submit the dispute to binding arbitration” (emphasis added).

The Board concluded that in this case, the provision conferred an option on either party to require resolution of the dispute in arbitration.  Further, once such a request had been made, the requesting party could also obtain a stay of judicial proceedings under section 6(2) of the Arbitration Ordinance 1976 (Cap 6).  It was not necessary that the requesting party in fact began an arbitration. Continue reading

Pirouetting between jurisdictions: Blue Tropic Ltd v Chkhartishvili [2015] EWHC 3260 (Ch)

A recently reported case features an unusual application for a stay issued, after the conclusion of the trial, but before judgment. The applicant sought a stay based on a parallel proceedings in Georgia in which his counterparts were requesting that the Georgian courts also suspend proceedings pending the English decision.

The English court refused the application.  It found the existence of parallel proceedings to be of the Defendant’s own making and took a dim view of the Defendant’s “pirouetting between jurisdictions”. Continue reading