London’s position as a leading arbitration centre has been dealt a blow following an MFB Solicitors victory in the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The ECJ ruling in West Tankers Inc v RAS Riunione Adriatica di Sicurta SpA & ors (2009) states that English courts cannot stop legal proceedings in another EU member state, even if the proceedings are in breach of an arbitration agreement.
The case concerned the collision of a ship with a jetty in Italian waters. The vessel’s insurers, Allianz SpA, made a damages claim in Sicily despite its contract with West Tankers stipulating that arbitration should be brought in the UK.
West Tankers sought an anti-suit injunction in the High Court to stop the claim going ahead in Sicily.
After an initial victory for West Tankers, Allianz appealed, saying the injunction was incompatible with a ;Brussels ;regulation allocating jurisdiction.
The ECJ rejected the use of anti-suit injunctions and ruled that it should be up to the Italian court to decide whether it had jurisdiction.
Ian Chetwood from Ince & Co advised West Tankers, instructing Timothy Brenton QC and David Bailey QC of 7 King’s Bench Walk.
Allianz was advised by MFB partner Edward Gray, instructing Stephen Males QC of 20 Essex Street.