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 ( 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 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
Earlier this year (see my March post), Blair J held that Lisbon based transport companies could not use “mandatory” provisions of Portuguese law to defeat a multi-million Euro claim by Santander under interest rate swaps contracts. The Court of Appeal has now upheld this decision in Banco Santander Totta SA v Cia Carris de Ferro de Lisboa SA  EWCA Civ 1267 (main judgment, Sir Terrance Etherton MR).
In short, under article 3(3) of the Rome Convention, a “mandatory” provision of national law could only displace the parties’ express choice of law in a contract if the situation is truly domestic – an “international situation” (even if not pointing to a specific other country) is sufficient to prevent article 3(3) applying. Continue reading
Golden Endurance Shipping SA v RMA Watanya SA  EWHC 2110 (Comm)
An interesting recent judgment of Phillips J in the Commercial Court has clarified the law concerning submission to the jurisdiction of a foreign court. 20 Essex Street’s Michael Collett QC was instructed for the claimant.
The court held that a Moroccan judgment would not be recognised in England because the claimant had not submitted to the jurisdiction of the Moroccan court. Although the claimant had appeared in the Moroccan proceedings, it had done so in order to ask the court to stay the Moroccan proceedings in favour of arbitration and had only engaged with the merits as it was obliged to do so under Moroccan law.
As a result, the claimant ship-owner was not estopped by a Moroccan judgment from asking an English court for a declaration of non-liability for alleged damage to a cargo. Continue reading
A year after it entered into force in EU countries, the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements of 30 June 2005 will enter into force in Singapore tomorrow (1 October 2016).
I covered the basics of the Convention in my post last year. Since then, the the UK has voted for Brexit. This could add to the Convention’s importance. Post Brexit, the UK could sign up to the Hague Convention in its own right (not as part of the EU). This would make sure that, in other Convention States (1) jurisdiction clauses in favour of the English courts and (2) recognition and enforcement of English judgments, would continue to be effective.
It is important to remember, though, that the Convention applies only to choice of court agreements in “civil or commercial matters” (subject to certain exclusions, e.g. consumer and employment contracts).
Finally, the Convention may be spreading. In the last year, the Ukraine has signed the Convention (on 21 March 2016) but not ratified it.
Fujifilm Kyowa Kirin Biologics Company Ltd v (1) Abbvie Biotechnology Ltd and (2) Abbvie Ltd  EWHC 2204 (Pat)
Arnold J gave judgment today in this important case on jurisdiction. Thomas Raphael QC and I acted for the claimant biotechnology company (“Fujifilm”) and successfully resisted a challenge from a Bermudan domiciled defendant to the English Court’s jurisdiction which had been founded by service out of the jurisdiction. Alexander Layton QC, also from 20 Essex Street, acted for the defendants.
Whilst the issues in this case arose within the context of an intellectual property dispute, many aspects of Arnold J’s decision will have a broader relevance to commercial disputes that give rise to issues concerning the Court’s jurisdiction to serve out or domestic anti-suit relief. Continue reading
UNCITRAL continues to make progress towards improving the enforcement of settlement agreements which follow from conciliation or mediation in commercial cases.
In 2014, UNCITRAL agreed that a Working Group should consider the issue of enforcement of settlement agreements resulting from international commercial mediation or conciliation. This was based on a proposal from the US delegation, addressing a perceived need for greater ease of enforcement of settlement agreements that had not been converted into formal judgments or arbitration awards.
Progress has been made by the Working Group in 2016, leading to greater clarity as to any likely final proposal.
The Working Group has developed a concept of a framework for conciliated settlement agreements akin to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards. Continue reading
In Asefa Yesuf Import and Export v A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S (16 June 2016) Simon Bryan QC (as a Deputy Judge of the High Court) made an important decision on service under EU rules. I was instructed for the successful defendants.
The Judge set aside service of a claim form on defendant shipowners in Denmark on the basis that the proceedings had not been validly served under EU Regulation 1393/2007 on service of judicial documents on the territories of the Member States.
Although service did not establish substantive jurisdiction in this case, which was based on the Judgments Regulation, the failure to serve the claim form led the court to declare that it had no jurisdiction (in the narrow sense) to hear the case under CPR Part 11. The consequence for the claimants was that they had to issue a new claim form. Unfortunately for the claimants, by this time, their claims had been extinguished under the one-year time bar in the contracts of carriage on which they wished to sue. Continue reading
This briefing note explores some of the alternatives to the Brussels I Regime that may be introduced if the UK were to vote to leave the EU.
The law relating to civil jurisdiction and judgments has undergone substantial change in recent years, with the entry into force of the Brussels I Regulation (Recast) (‘the Recast Regulation’) on 10 January 2015. That Regulation is the latest in a line of European legislative instruments governing both the allocation of civil and commercial jurisdiction among EU member state courts and the recognition and enforcement of their judgments. This regulatory regime, which has been in force in the UK in various guises since 1987, is likely to be significantly modified, if not entirely replaced, in the event of Brexit.
Read the full note here.
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
In Iiyama Benelux BV v Schott AG  EWHC 1207 (Ch) (23 May 2016), Mann J struck out competition law damages claims for around 1 billion euros because, among other things, he found that the claims brought were outside the territorial limits of EU competition law.
This judgment indicates that, having regard to the requirements of international law and comity, the English courts will adopt a cautious approach to asserted competition law damages claims where there is only a relatively slight connection to the EU/EEA (see a similar approach, for different reasons, by the Court of Appeal in the Air Cargo case). Continue reading