UK court lifts anti-suit injunction against unpaid bunker suppliers proceeding in the US

In recent years, the English courts have been more reluctant to issue anti-suit injunctions preventing a party from bringing or pursuing foreign court proceedings, due to the concern that they conflict with the principle of comity between states and interfere with the foreign court’s jurisdiction. This case concerned the continuation of an anti-suit injunction granted on an ex parte basis in relation to ongoing proceedings in Florida brought by unpaid bunker suppliers. The Commercial Court held that the English jurisdiction clause in the bunker supply contract was “non-exclusive” and, given the substantive involvement of the claimants in the foreign proceedings and the delay in seeking injunctive relief, it would not be appropriate to continue the injunction.

The claimants in the English proceedings were the owners and technical managers of the MD Gemini, a passenger vessel which had been time chartered on usual terms whereby the time charterers agreed to provide and pay for all fuel oil. The defendant bunker suppliers provided bunkers to the vessel, which were consumed but not paid for by the time charterers, who suspended operations and advised the bunker suppliers that they could not pay.

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