Court of Appeal grants anti-suit injunction to enforce a foreign-seat arbitration agreement

21 September, 2023

At a hearing on 7 September 2023, the Court of Appeal (Nugee, Snowden, Falk LJJ) allowed an appeal by the claimant against the decision of Mr Justice Bright to refuse an interim anti-suit injunction (ASI) under s.37 of the Senior Courts Act 1981.  The case concerns an arbitration agreement presumptively governed by English law which provides for ICC arbitration in Paris. A copy of the judgment is available to view here.

The first instance decision, known as SQD v. QYP [2023] 2145 (Comm), was determined on the basis that England is not the “proper forum” to grant such relief given the reason, as understood by that judge according to evidence then filed, for its non-availability as a remedy in French law.  The first instance decision in SQD was subsequently distinguished in the meantime by Mr Justice Robin Knowles CBE in a hearing later the same week: see link here.

The Court of Appeal, referring to Lungowe v. Vedanta Resources plc [2019] UKSC 20; [2020] A.C. 1045, concluded that England is the most appropriate forum to determine the claim for interim ASI relief in circumstances where the courts of France would not grant such relief themselves but would recognise an English ASI order.  The Court of Appeal stated that it is the policy of English law to hold parties to their bargains, in particular arbitration agreements by which the parties impliedly agree not to litigate their disputes elsewhere.  It was satisfied for such purposes, as was Bright J, that there is a sufficiently well arguable case that the respondent/defendant (i) is a party to an arbitration agreement governed by English law and (ii) has breached such agreement by bringing claims against the bank in the Russian courts.

Paul Key KC acted on behalf of the claimant in the appeal, instructed by Philip Annett of Baker & McKenzie LLP.