Posts Tagged related actions
Villiers v Villiers. ‘Divorce tourism’ at the UKSC. An undisputed rejection of forum non; and a contentious discussion of ‘related action’.
Mr Villiers reacted to Villiers v Villiers  UKSC 30 with a letter in the FT on Monday, set against the general background of ‘divorce tourism’ said to have been encouraged by the Supreme Court ruling last week. Ms Villiers now lives in England however the majority of the marriage was spent in Scotland which is also where divorce proceedings were issued.
Sales J for the majority summarises the legislative background at 8:
The national legislation governing jurisdiction in cross-border cases is primarily contained in the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 (“the CJJA 1982”). That Act gave effect in domestic law to the  Brussels Convention… [which] was amended on the association of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom in 1978. It was replaced as the principal instrument governing jurisdiction in cross-border cases between member states of the European Union by [Brussels I] which in large part replicated the provisions of the Brussels Convention. The CJJA 1982 was amended to refer to and give effect in domestic law to the Brussels Regulation. The Brussels Regulation has been replaced by [Brussels Ia].
The Brussels Convention did not apply to issues of the status of natural persons, including marriage, nor to rights in property arising out of a matrimonial relationship (article 1(1)), but it did apply in respect of claims for maintenance. This was later carved out and titled into a separate Regulation, the Maintenance Regulation 4/2009. The UK until Brexit day chose to apply the Regulation intra-State, too, i.e. between the constituent parts of the Kingdom.
Lord Sales posits that all in all, the application of the jurisdictional rules is ‘straightforward’ (at 25) however his needing 32 paras to set out the test somewhat belies that statement, as does Lord Wilson’s and Lady Hale’s lengthy dissent at 93 ff. (and Lady Black’s at 58 ff).
There is no forum non conveniens rule in the Maintenance Regulation. The CJEU held so in C-468/18 R v P and Lord Sales refers to that judgment.
The only viable route to a stay of the jurisdiction in principle of the English courts, the place of habitual residence of Mrs Villiers, the maintenance creditor, is via the ‘related actions’ gateway of A13 of the Regulation.
Are the husband’s divorce proceeding in Scotland a “related action” for the purposes of A13? And, pursuant to that provision, should the English court decline jurisdiction in respect of the wife’s maintenance claim? At 45 Sales LJ holds that to be related actions, they must refer
‘primarily to maintenance claims of the kind to which the special regime in the Regulation applies. If the position were otherwise, and the word “actions” meant legal proceedings of any kind whatever, that would undermine the fundamental object of the Maintenance Regulation that a maintenance creditor has the right to choose in which jurisdiction to claim maintenance. On such a reading, there would be a substantial risk that this object of the Maintenance Regulation would be undermined by the commencement of proceedings by the maintenance debtor according to the jurisdictional provisions of instruments other than the Maintenance Regulation, laid down in pursuance of entirely different jurisdictional policies than that reflected in the Maintenance Regulation.’
At 48 he adds obiter (for the husband’s suit in Scotland here concerned the divorce and the divorce only) that contra to the likely position in Moore v Moore  EWCA Civ 361, even a maintenance debtor’s claim for distribution of family property with an impact on maintenance, cannot be a related action for the purposes of A13: for it would hand the debtor a torpedo against the creditor’s Regulation-protected choice.
It is on the issue of related actions that Lord Wilson and Lady Hale disagree at 147 ff., with Lord Wilson adding an arguably stinging postscript at 172 ff. At 162 Lord Wilson refers to A13(2) as ‘the dog. The reference to “irreconcilable judgments” is no more than the tail.’ A wide interpretation therefore of A13 (Lady Black, consenting with Sales, at 85 puts more emphasis on the irreconcilability of the judgments).
A most interesting to and fro of arguments and one which post Brexit will be recommended reading for the continuing application of the Maintenance Regulation in the EU.
Maintenance regulation Brussels II, applied intra-State (UK) by incorporation by that Member State.
Application of lis alibi pendens. Non-existence of forum non conveniens. Distinction with matrimonial Regulation. https://t.co/AllsUqm05Q
— Geert Van Calster (@GAVClaw) July 1, 2020
Divorce tourism, forum non, Forum non conveniens, Forum shopping, https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2020/30.html, intra-Member State, Lis alibi pendens, maintenance Regulation, Regulation 4/2009, related actions,  EWCA Civ 1120,  UKSC 30
Choice of court and lis alibi pendens in Generali Italia v Pelagic Fisheries. Article 31’s anti-torpedo mechanism further put to the test.
In Generali Italia & Ors v Pelagic Fisheries & Anor  EWHC 1228 (Comm) the claimants-insurers commenced proceedings seeking declarations that they are not liable to the Insureds. Pelagic had already commenced proceedings in Treviso, Italy on the basis of what it claims to be choice of court in favour of Italy. The first instance Italian court stayed the Treviso Proceedings (the insureds have appealed; the appeal is yet to be heard) pending a determination by the English court as to whether the Treviso Policies are subject to an exclusive English jurisdiction clause. The Italian stay order reads in relevant part:
‘the lis alibi pendens defence which has been raised requires that these proceedings are suspended in order to allow the High Court of London to rule on the exclusive English jurisdiction clause pursuant to art 31.2 of EU Reg 1215/2012. That since, in the light of what is established by the said provisions, it is irrelevant that the Italian Judicial Authority has been seised first, …. Indeed article 31 of the above mentioned regulation represents an exception to the operation of the ordinary rule of priority in matter of lis alibi pendens, in order to allow the judges chosen by the parties in contractual terms (cover notes) to be the first to rule on the validity of the clause itself (according to the law chosen by the parties). In the concerned case all the cover notes, in the special insurance conditions, contain the clause ‘English jurisdiction. Subject to English law and practice”, with consequent waiver to the general insurance conditions provided in Camogli Policy 1988 form”.’
Other parties are part of the proceedings, too – readers best refer to the facts of the case. They clarify that chunks of the proceedings bear resemblance to the kind of split stay scenario applied by the CJEU in C-406/92 The Tatry.
Foxton J refers to the good arguable case test viz Article 25 Brussels Ia of BNP Paribas v Anchorage, recently also further summarised by the Court of Appeal in Kaefer Aislamientos and further in Etihad Airways PJSC v Flöther.
The case essentially puts Article 31 BIa’s anti-torpedo mechanism to the test in related ways as the first instance judge and the Court of Appeal did in Ablynx. There is a dispute between the parties as to whether A31(2) obliges the English Court to stay proceedings unless and until there is a determination in the Treviso Proceedings that the Italian courts do not have jurisdiction. There are 3 core questions: i) Should the English Court proceed to determine whether there is an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of this Court, in circumstances in which Pelagic is contending in Italy that the Italian courts have jurisdiction, or should it await a ruling on jurisdiction in the Treviso Proceedings? ; ii) If it is appropriate to determine the issue, is there an English exclusive jurisdiction agreement in the Treviso Policies for the purposes of Article 25?; iii) Should the Court stay the remainder of the proceedings under Article 30?
At 65 counsel for the insureds take a similar position as Ms Lane did in Ablynx: he argues that the only issue which the High Court should consider is whether it is satisfied that there is a prima facie case that the Italian court has jurisdiction (which he says there is on the basis that the parties agreed that both the English and Italian courts would have jurisdiction) and that if it is so satisfied, it should stay the English proceedings, pending the outcome of Pelagic’s appeal in the Italian proceedings.
Foxton J however at 68 ff highlights the inadequate nature and limitations of A25(4), as also pointed out by the last para of recital 22 which accompanies it: in the face of conflicting choice of court provisions (typically, as a result of overlapping clauses in overlapping contractual relations between the parties), A25(4) loses its power and the more classic lis alibi pendens rules take over. At 70 he points to the ping-pong that threatens to ensue:
in circumstances in which the Italian court has stayed its proceedings to allow the English court to determine if it has exclusive jurisdiction, it would be particularly surprising if the English court was then bound to stay its proceedings pending a decision on jurisdiction by the Italian court. This approach, in which the dispute might become caught in the self-perpetuating politeness of an Alphonse and Gaston cartoon, is not consistent with enhancing “the effectiveness of exclusive choice-of-court agreements” and avoiding “abusive litigation tactics” which Article 31(2) is intended to achieve. It does not matter for these purposes that the decision of the Italian court granting such a stay is presently under appeal.
He holds therefore at 79 that his task is essentially to review whether there is a good arguable case that the Treviso Policies (the ones subject of the English litigation, GAVC) are subject to exclusive jurisdiction agreements in favour of the English court which satisfy the requirements of A25 BIa. At 95 he finds there is such case. At 113 ff he holds obiter he would have stayed the remainder of the claims under A30, had he held in favour of a stay under A31(2).
Fun with conflict of laws.
(Handbook of ) European Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 18.104.22.168, Heading 22.214.171.124.
Jurisdiction, Brussels IA. Choice of court A25, lis alibi pendens A29/30. https://t.co/F68mMIQ1jC
— Geert Van Calster (@GAVClaw) May 18, 2020
abuse, Article 25, Article 29, Article 30, Brussels Ia, Choice of court, Generali Italia & Ors v Pelagic Fisheries & Anor, https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2020/1228.html, Jurisdiction, Lis alibi pendens, Regulation 1215/2012, related actions, Torpedo,  EWHC 1228 (Comm)
SCOR v Barclays. High Court dismisses application for stay on the basis of Article 30 BIa (related actions). Leaves the Euroeco /Privatbank discussion unsettled.
In SCOR SE v Barclays  EWHC 133 (Comm), claimant SCOR is a reinsurance company incorporated in France. Covéa, a shareholder of SCOR, made an unsolicited offer to acquire a controlling shareholding in SCOR. Barclays was one of Covéa’s financial advisors and prospective lenders in relation to the Offer. The English proceedings, and related French proceedings, all concern French law claims brought by SCOR against Mr Derez, who was one of its directors, Covéa, and Barclays in connection with the Offer. It is alleged by SCOR that Mr Derez disclosed to Covéa and to its advisors, including Barclays, confidential information, which he obtained in breach of duties he owed to SCOR, and that the information was misused in relation to the Offer.
SCOR has commenced three sets of proceedings: On 29 January 2019, direct criminal proceedings in France. On the same day, the proceedings in England against Barclays. On On 6 February 2019, French proceedings against Monsieur Derez and Covéa. Concealment of breach of trust is the running theme in all 3 proceedings.
An application to stay the French Commercial Court proceedings, which had been made by the Claimant, had been dismissed.
Hancock J had two issues to decide under Article 30 Brussels Ia (at 6). The first was whether the French criminal proceedings, which were first in time, were related to the English Commercial Court action. The second was whether the High Court, as the Court second seised, should stay these proceedings, it being accepted that it had the power to do so under A30. The parties were agreed that, although the civil proceedings which formed part of the criminal action were an “adjunct” to the criminal part of the proceedings, they were nonetheless civil and commercial proceedings within the meaning of the Regulation.
Authority discussed includes of course CJEU C-406/92 The Tatry, however quickly attention focussd on the issue of ‘expediency’ in Article 30. Claimant pointed out that there had been a debate in the authorities as to what was meant by “expedient, with some authorities taking the line that this meant possible or capable, and others suggesting that the relevant synonym was “desirable” ‘. The Court of Appeal in Privatbank v Kolomoisky  EWCA Civ 1709, which I discuss here, settled the issue in the direction of ‘desirable’. However Hancock J then discussed counsel’s reference to Euroeco Fuels (Poland) Limited and others v Sczezin and Swinoujscie Seaports and others  EWCA Civ 1932 which at the time (December 2019) I called at most a ‘lukewarm’ application of Privatbank on this issue.
Hancock J leaves the discussion hanging for in his words at 15, ‘it is uncertain whether expediency in this context is to be treated as meaning desirability, or whether it is a jurisdictional requirement of the grant of a stay that the two cases can in fact be heard together: see Privatbank and cases cited therein, on the one hand, but compare the Euroeco decision on the other. I do not need to decide this question in this case, since my decision would be the same whichever test is applied, and I propose to consider the matter by reference to the test as set out in Privatbank.’
Yet at 24-25 he holds ‘on the basis the application of the test in Sarrio, as interpreted in later cases including in particular Privatbank, that the French criminal proceedings and the English proceedings are related. I move on to consider the exercise of my discretion on this basis.’ Yet ‘Of course, if the actual test is that which may be suggested by the Euroeco case, then the proceedings would not be related, and I would have no discretion to exercise.’
Here I do not follow. No proper decision is made on the authority or not of Privatbank or Euroeco (the latter suggested by counsel for the defence (fellow Bruges Stefan Zweig alumnus) to be at most per incuriam).
At 28 ff then follows a most relevant discussion of the wide nature or not of the discretion to issue a stay, once it has been established the cases are related (Hancock J at 31 deciding at that there is no presumption for a stay in favour of the applicant) deciding at 43 that there is no compelling reason for the stay, on the basis of the factors outlined there, with which I agree.
This is again a most relevant case. The relatedness or not of cases is a most, most crucial issue, including of course in an Article 33-34 context.
(Handbook of EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.14.
Article 30, Brussels Ia, expedient, https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2020/133.html, Jurisdiction, Lis alibi pendens, related actions, related proceedings, SCOR v Barclays,  EWHC 133 (Comm)
Sabbagh v Khoury. The jurisdictional gift that keeps on giving. In today’s instalment: the possibility for qualified acknowledgment of service (prorogation) following claimant’s alleged concessions, and amended claim.
Sabbagh v Khoury  EWHC 3004 (Comm) evidently builds upon the High Court and Court of Appeal previous judgments. Pro memoria: claimant established jurisdiction against all the defendants she wished to sue in relation to each element of her claim. Following judgment by the Court of Appeal and the refusal of permission to appeal further by the Supreme Court, the defendants had to decide whether to acknowledge service and accept the jurisdiction of the English Courts or to refuse to acknowledge service.
That jurisdiction should be debated at all was the result of claimant wanting to amend her claim, and having earlier been partially granted such permission. At 13: each defendant decided to acknowledge service and accept the jurisdiction of the English Courts but in each case they purported to qualify the terms on which they acknowledged service, hinging particularly on CPR Part 14: Admissions, and suggesting that a “concession” made on claimant’s behalf that certain Share Sale Agreements relied on by the defendants were “existent, valid and effective“, should have an impact on jurisdiction.
It is interesting to see the qualifications verbatim: at 13: ‘Thus in its letter of 26 March 2018, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP on behalf of the Sabbagh defendants qualified their Acknowledgement of Service as being “… confined to the existing claims set out in the Claim Form, to the limited extent that the Court of Appeal accepted the English court’s jurisdiction over such claims, but subject to the numerous concessions your client has made including but not limited to her explicit abandonment of any claim to be presently entitled to or for delivery up of shares …”. Jones Day, the solicitors then acting for the first defendant similarly qualified his Acknowledgement of Service – see their letter of 26 March 2018. Baker McKenzie qualified the other Khoury defendants’ Acknowledgement of Service as being “… only in respect of the two claims as set out in the Claimant’s Claim Form … and is subject to the numerous concessions the Claimant has made to date …” and added that: “We understand that the Claimant intends to seek to amend her Particulars of Claim and our clients’ position as to whether any such amendment(s), if allowed, impact on the jurisdiction of the court over our clients as regards any claims other than those to which this Acknowledgement of Service is filed is fully reserved, including as to jurisdiction and/or the arbitrability of any such amended claims”. In the circumstances, it is probable that the amendment Baker McKenzie had in mind was one substantially in terms of the draft re-amended Particulars of Claim that had been placed before the Court of Appeal.’
At 21 ff Pelling J discusses the relationship between the amended claim, the earlier findings on jurisdiction, and the ‘concession’, leading at length eventually to hold that there was no impact of the concession on the extent of jurisdiction,
As Pelling J notes at 1 in fine: ‘Even allowing for the value at risk in this litigation all this is obviously disproportionate.’ One assumes the role of various counsel in the alleged concessions made earlier, must have had an impact on the energy with which the issue was advocated.
The case will now proceed to trial, lest there be any other jurisdictional challenges.
(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 126.96.36.199
2019] EWCA Civ 1219, abuse, Anchor defendant, Anchor defendants, Article 22(2), Bevoegdheid, Brussels I, BVG, C-98/06, Case C-98/06, CJEU, Court of Justice, Curia, ECJ, EEX, EEX Verordening, Exclusive jurisdictional rules, Ferrexpo, Ferrexpo v Gilson, FNC, Forum non conveniens, Freeport, http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2017/1120.html, http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2014/3233.html, https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2019/1219.html, https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2019/3004.html, Insolvency, Interpretation, Judgments Regulation, Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Regulation, merits review, Mirror application, Reflexive application, Regulation 44/2001, Regulation 650/2012, related actions, Roche Nederland, Sabbagh v Koury, Scope of application, Succession regulation, Wills and succession, Wills and succession exception,  EWHC 3233 (Comm),  EWCA Civ 1120,  EWHC 1330 (Comm)]
Office Depot v Holdham et al. Lis alibi pendens in follow-on cartel damages suit. Delay in the Swedish proceedings crucial factor in High Court’s rejection of a stay
in  EWHC 2115 (Ch) Office Depot BV et al v Holdham SA et al, the High Court in August (I had promised posting soon after the Tweet. That did not quite happen) held on issues of lis alibi pendens (and, alternatively, a stay on case management grounds) in a follow-on cartel damages suit arising from the European Commission’s cartel finding in the envelopes market. That’s right: envelopes. Cartel cases do not always involve sexy markets. But I digress (and I also confess to finding stationary quite exciting).
Sir Geoffrey Vos’ judgment deals with the fate of the Office Depot claimants’ follow-on proceedings in England against certain Bong (of Sweden) corporate defendants, after the Bong parties had commenced Swedish proceedings for negative declarations as to their liability. In March 2019 the relevant Swedish court said in effect that Article 8 Brussel I a was not engaged so that the Swedish Bong proceedings for negative declarations could only proceed against the locally domiciled Office Depot company, which was Office Depot Svenska AB, but not the non-Swedish Office Depot entities. Parties at the time of Sir Geoffrey’s decision (Swedish followers may be able to enlighten us on whether there has been a decision in the meantime; at 23 the expected date is mentioned as ‘the autumn’) were awaiting a certiorari decision by the Swedish Supreme Court.
CJEU C–406/92 The Tatry of course is discussed, as is CDC. Sir Geoffrey also discussed C-129/92 Owens Bank, in particular Lenz AG’s Opinion (the CJEU did not get to the part of the Opinion relevant to current case). Discussion between the parties, at Sir Geoffrey’s request, focused on the issue of the judge’s discretion under lis alibi pendens for related actions, rather than on whether or not the actions are related (it was more or less accepted they are; see ia at 43 ff).
At 46 ff the Court then exercises its discretion and finds against a stay, on the basis in particular of the expected length of the Swedish proceedings: at 54: ‘the grant of a stay would be contrary to justice in that it would delay unreasonably the resolution of proceedings that can only be tried in England and already relate to events many years ago‘, and at 48: ‘The stage in the Swedish proceedings is a long way behind these. It will be between one and two and a half years before jurisdiction is resolved there, two courts already having refused jurisdiction. It will be perhaps between three and five years before the substantive litigation in Sweden is resolved, if it ever gets off the ground.‘
Swedish courts do not tend to get used for torpedo actions. Yet the swiftness of English court proceedings yet again comes in to save the day (or indeed, scupper the stay).
(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 188.8.131.52
anchor, Anchor defendant, Anti-trust, Article 101 TFEU, Article 30, Brussels Ia, Cartel, Competition, envelopes, Follow-on damages, follow-up damages, https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2019/2115.html, Jurisdiction, Lis alibi pendens, Office Depot BV et al v Holdham SA et al, Office Depot v Holdham, Regulation 1215/2012, related actions, the Tatry,  EWHC 2115 (Ch)
National Bank of Kazakhstan v Bank of New York Mellon. Branches’ activities, Article 7(5) Brussels I Recast and engagement of Article 30.
Update 22 April 2020 today’s judgment discusses the merits of the case:  EWHC 916 (Comm).
Finding on the merits following earlier confirmation of jurisdiction, discussed here https://t.co/sq8DJ1OaUI
Interesting exchanges on BE, EN, Kaz law.
Fellow faculty Storme and Allermeersch testifying as to the BE law elements. https://t.co/F1RPErQgkd
— Geert Van Calster (@GAVClaw) April 22, 2020
Thank you Ali Malek QC who acts for claimants (and who as I have noted, is a busy and efficient bee in international litigation land) for alerting me to a further episode of Kazakhstan v BNYM. This current jurisdictional challenge is part of a long-running saga relating to the enforcement of a Swedish arbitration award dated 19 December 2013 in favour of the “Stati parties”, the Second to Fifth Defendants, and against the Second Claimant, the Republic of Kazakhstan (“RoK”).
Many of the issues are ex-Brussels I Recast and /or Lugano Convention yet I report on them anyway for they reveal interesting issues on the relationship between foreign courts relevant to attachment (and enforcement generally), and courts with jurisdiction on the merits.
In  EWHC 3512 (Comm) National Bank of Kazakhstan v Bank of New York Mellon (BNYM) which I reviewed here, Popplewell J had dismissed claims essentially designed to establish that BNYM is not obliged or entitled to freeze assets of the National Fund by reason of Belgian and Dutch court attachment orders.
Teare J has now held a few weeks back – helpfully in  EWHC 3282 (Comm) also summarising the many proceedings which the blog has not always reported on. Trigger for this latest instalment of proceedings is claimants having sought to challenge a Belgian conservatory attachment before an “Attachment Judge” of the Belgian court. The Attachment Judge upheld the attachment order in a judgment dated 25 May 2018.
RoK seeks a declaration that the debts or assets held by BNYM(London) and said to be subject to the attachment order are in fact held by BNYM(L) solely for the National Bank of Kazakhstan (“NBK”), the First Claimant. They therefore submit that the attachment order has no subject-matter, because there are no assets to attach. The Claimants contend that this question was referred to this court by the Belgian court.
A provision of Belgian law cited by the Attachment Judge, article 1456(2) of the Belgian Judicial Code, provides as follows: “If the third-party debtor disputes the debt claimed by the creditor, the case is brought before the competent trial judge or, as the case may be, the case is referred to the competent trial judge by the enforcement court.” Further proceedings are now pending in Belgium, in which the Stati parties seek to convert the ‘conservatory’ attachment order into an ‘executory’ attachment order. In those proceedings, the Stati parties have raised a number of arguments in support of their contention that the GCA assets are properly held for RoK (rather than merely NBK). These include Belgian-law arguments relating (inter alia) to piercing of legal personality, sham trusts, and “abuse of law”.
The crucial consideration discussed by Teare J in current proceeding is that the Stati parties submit that there is no “serious issue to be tried” (hence no jurisdiction) as between the Claimants and the Second to Fourth Defendants, (i.a.) because “the declarations sought […] will not affect the Belgian Court’s decision” since that Court “faces a number of Belgian law arguments unrelated to the GCA with regard to the ROK debt question”.
There was a dispute between Belgian law experts as to precisely what had been remitted by the Attachment Judge to the High Court and it is worth repeating each assertion in full: at 28-29
‘The evidence of Mr Brijs (the Stati parties’ Belgian law expert [GAVC fellow Leuven Class of 1993] ) is that “a pure question of English contractual law will not resolve the core dispute” because “a Belgian enforcement court would still have to evaluate – amongst other things – the arguments raised by the Stati parties under Belgian attachment law” such as piercing legal personality, sham trusts, and abuse of law. Further, “the Belgian Enforcement court did not decide the arguments – not because the judge “envisaged” that these arguments should be resolved by an English Court or because the Belgian Enforcement Court found that it could not decide them (when in fact it can) – but solely because the Belgian Enforcement Court considered that it did not need to decide them… It is difficult to conceive why an English court should decide on e.g. matters that concern Belgian public policy, or on the question whether there is a sham trust structure to the prejudice of the creditors and what the sanction/effect thereof is on the Belgian attachment.”
The evidence of Mr Nuyts (the Claimants’ Belgian law expert [GAVC colleague and learned friend extraordinaire ) is that “[t]here is nothing in the Belgian judgment to show that the Belgian Court envisaged the English court deciding only some of the issues, and not the arguments raised by the Stati parties such as piercing of legal personality, sham trust, and abuse of law. These arguments had been raised at length by the Stati parties in written submissions in the Belgian proceedings, and the Belgian Court has distinctly decided not to address any of these arguments, leaving them to be decided by the English Court… The Belgian Judgment holds in general that the “challenge” relating to “the debt of the third party” must be referred to the English court… [and] that it is for the English court to decide in general “whether or not a debt exists from BNYM towards Kazakhstan”.”
It is Mr Nuyts’ evidence that convinced Tear J. At 31 ‘In this case, however [GAVC despite Meester Brijs’ correct statement that there are circumstances in which the enforcement court is competent to decide on the merits], the enforcement court has clearly decided that the English court is the competent court to decide the merits.’ At 35 the relevant passages of the Belgian Court are copied:
“The seized-debtor is entitled to challenge the declaration from the garnishee before the attachment judge. However, this challenge relates to the debt of the third party and must be referred to that trial court in the proceedings on the merits, under article 1456, 2nd para. BJC. The competent trial court is, as stated by Kazakhstan itself, the English court who must apply its own national substantive law. […] Both requests relate to the subject-matter of the attachment, notably whether or not a debt exists from BNYM towards Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan disputes the existence of such debt. The attachment judge cannot and may not settle such dispute, but only the judge on the merits. The judge on the merits is, as already mentioned above, the English court who must apply its own national law.”
That finding on the scope of referral to the English courts, also plays a role in the assessment of abuse: at 46: ‘I do not consider that it is an abuse of process for the Claimants to raise in these proceedings issues not argued before Popplewell J or the Court of Appeal in the earlier English proceedings. First, those proceedings served a different purpose, namely, the determination of BNYM(L)’s contractual entitlement to freeze the GCA assets and in particular the scope of clause 16(i). Second, it appears that the Claimants did in fact seek to raise the wider issue, or something like it, before Popplewell J. but were not permitted to because the Stati parties were not before the court. Third, it would be odd, to say the least, for this court to hold that these proceedings were an abuse of process in circumstances where the issues raised by the proceedings had been referred to it by the Belgian court. It cannot, I think, be in the public interest to frustrate the order of the Belgian court. On the contrary, comity and the public interest point to these proceedings serving a legitimate and proper purpose.’
Finally, a cursory look a the forum conveniens issue is warranted: at 58-61:
- Mr Sprange, for the Stati parties, submitted that “England is not a proper forum for a claim against the Second to Fourth Defendants, where that claim seeks (on the Claimants’ case) to conclusively determine issues of the validity of a Belgian executory attachment, which are properly the subject of Belgian attachment law for a Belgian attachment judge to decide”.
- Mr Malek, for the Claimants, submitted that the real dispute is not about “the validity of a Belgian executory attachment”, but rather “whether there is an obligation owed by BNYM London to RoK capable of forming the subject-matter of a Belgian attachment.” Further, he submitted that the effect of the Belgian Attachment Judge’s decision was to determine that England was the appropriate forum. Mr Malek relied upon this decision as giving rise to “an estoppel of a particular, autonomous, EU kind”; in the alternative, he submitted that it was a strong factor to be weighed in the analysis of the appropriate forum. Finally, Mr Malek submitted that the only realistic alternative to the jurisdiction of the English court would be the Belgian court, and that “the Belgian court is materially worse placed than this Court because it would be investigating matters by reference to an English-law governed contract, the GCA (so far as issues of Kazakh law, or facts in relation to the relationship between NBK and RoK, are concerned, the Belgian court enjoys no advantage over this Court).”
- I am unable to accept Mr. Sprange’s submission. This court will not be asked to determine the validity of the conservatory attachment order made in Belgium. Rather, it will be asked to determine what, if any, assets constitute the subject-matter of that order. The Belgian Attachment Judge plainly considered that a dispute concerning the content of the attachment – which, on its terms, constitutes only such assets (if any) as are held by BNYM(L) for RoK under the GCA – is a question for this court.
- The fact that the Belgian court has referred the dispute to this court is a cogent reason, indeed a compelling reason, for concluding that this court is a proper forum for determining the dispute. It would not be in accordance with comity to send the dispute back to Belgium. There is no need to consider Mr. Malek’s further submissions.
I quite like Ali Malek QC’s idea of “an estoppel of a particular, autonomous, EU kind”; linked to considerations of mutual trust, one assumes.
Finally, one of the defendants is based in Gribraltar and against it, (now) Article 8(2) Brussels I Recast applies, re third party proceedings. There is little to none CJEU authority. At 68 ‘I consider that the wording of article (2) is wide enough to encompass a situation in which a person is a proper party to a dispute between other parties to which he has a “close connection”, so long as that dispute has not been “instituted solely with the object of removing him from the jurisdiction of the court which would be competent in his case” and at 69 ‘This is a case in which “the efficacious conduct of proceedings” demands the presence of Terra Raf in this jurisdiction. I therefore find the requirements of article (2) to be satisfied.’
Teare J’s findings on this point also mean he need not consider (now) Article 7(5)’s jurisdiction for activities arising our of branch activity on which as I noted, I also have my doubts.
(Handbook of) EU private international law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.11, Heading 2.2.14.
1215/2012, 33/78, Article 30, Article 7(5), Article 8(2), Branch, Brussels I, Brussels I recast, Brussels I Regulation, Curia, FNC, http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2017/3512.html, https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2018/3282.html, https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2020/916.html, Jurisdiction, lex fori, lis, Lis alibi pendens, National Bank of Kazakhstan v Bank of New York Mellon, Recognition, Recognition and enforcement, Regulation 1215/2012, related actions, Somafer, Sovereign immunity, sufficient nexus, the Tatry, third party proceedings,  EWHC 3512 (Comm),  EWHC 3282 (Comm),  EWHC 916 (Comm)
National Bank of Kazakhstan v Bank of New York Mellon. Branches’ activities, Article 7(5) Brussels I Recast and engagement of Article 30.
In  EWHC 3512 (Comm) National Bank of Kazakhstan v Bank of New York Mellon, Article 7(5) makes a rarish appearance, as does (less rarely) Article 30. Popplewell J summarises the main facts as follows.
‘The Second Claimant is the Republic of Kazakhstan (“ROK”). The First Claimant is the National Bank of Kazakhstan (“NBK”). The Defendant is a bank incorporated in Belgium with a branch in, amongst other places, London. Through its London branch it provides banking and custody services to NBK in respect of the National Fund of Kazakhstan (“the National Fund”), pursuant to a Global Custody Agreement dated 24th December 2001, (“the GCA”). The National Fund has been the target of proceedings brought by Mr. Anatolie Stati and others, (“the Stati Parties”), who are seeking to enforce a Swedish arbitration award against ROK for a sum, including interest and costs, in excess of US$ 500 million. The Stati Parties obtained attachment orders from the Dutch court and the Belgian court, which were served on the Defendant (“BNYM”). BNYM, after taking legal advice, decided to freeze all the assets comprising the National Fund, which it holds under the GCA, on the basis that it was bound to comply with the Belgian and Dutch orders, breach of which would expose it to the risk of civil liability for the amount of the Stati Parties’ claims and criminal liability in Belgium and the Netherlands.’
Effectively therefore the London Branch of a Belgian domiciled bank, has frozen claimant’s assets which it holds in London (although the exact situs is disputed), on the basis that it wishes to prevent exposure to BE and NL criminal proceedings.
Parties arguments on jurisdiction are included at 41 and 42 of the judgment. Core to the Brussels I Recast jurisdictional discussions is Article 7(5) which provides
“A person domiciled in a Member State may be sued in another Member State: […]
(5) as regards a dispute arising out of the operations of a branch, agency or other establishment, in the courts for the place where the branch, agency or other establishment is situated;’
Beyond Case 33/78 Somafer, to which the High Court refers, there is little CJEU precedent – C‑27/17 flyLAL is currently underway. Popplewell J at 53 refers to Lord Phillips’ paraphrasing of Somafer in  EWCA Civ 147 as a requirement of ‘sufficient nexus’ between the dispute and the branch as to render it natural to describe the dispute as one which has arisen out of the activities of the branch.
At 54 he holds there is such nexus in the case at issue, particularly given the management of the frozen assets by the London branch, and the very action by that branch to freeze them. This is quite a wide interpretation of Article 7(5) and not one which I believe is necessarily supported by the exceptional nature of Article 7.
As to whether the English and Belgian proceedings are ‘related’, providing an opportunity for the English proceedings to be halted under Article 30 of the Recast (lis alibi pendens), the High Court refers at 57 ff to C-406/95 The Tatry to hold that there is no risk of conflicting decisions in this case: the argument specifically being that even if the issues addressed are the same, they are addressed in the respective (English, Dutch, Belgian) proceedings under different applicable laws (in each case the lex fori on sovereign immunity). I do not find that very convincing. The risk of irreconcilable outcome is the issue; not irreconcilability or not of reasoning. In the same para 60 in fine in fact Popplewell J advances what I think is a stronger argument: that the issue whether the National Fund was used or intended to be used for commercial purposes, requires to be determined or addressed in the English proceedings, with the result that there is no risk of conflict.
Article 30 not being engaged for that reason, obiter then follows an interesting discussion on whether there can be lis alibi pendens if the court originally seized had no jurisdiction under the Regulation: here: because the Belgian and Dutch proceedings are arbitration proceedings.
Does Article 30 apply to Regulation claims where there was a related action in a Member State in which the related action did not itself come within the Regulation? Referring to the new Article 34 lis alibi pendens rule for proceedings pending ex-EU, ex absurdum, would there not be an odd lacuna if Article 34 required a stay where there were related non-Regulation foreign proceedings in a third party State and the position were not to be the same for equivalent foreign proceedings in a Member State? I do not believe there would be such lacuna: the Article 34 rule applies to concurrent proceedings which are in fact in-Regulation, except international comity requires the EU to cede to foreign proceedings with a strong (typically exclusive) jurisdictional call. For intra-EU proceedings, the comity argument holds no sway – mutual trust does.
Like Poplewell J however I reserve final judgment on that issue for another occasion.
(Handbook of) EU private international law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.11, Heading 2.2.14.
1215/2012, 33/78, Article 30, Article 34, Article 7(5), Branch, Brussels I, Brussels I recast, Brussels I Regulation, Curia, FNC, Forum non conveniens, http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2017/3512.html, Jurisdiction, lex fori, lis, Lis alibi pendens, National Bank of Kazakhstan v Bank of New York Mellon, Recognition, Recognition and enforcement, Regulation 1215/2012, related actions, Somafer, Sovereign immunity, sufficient nexus, the Tatry,  EWHC 3512 (Comm)
Update 24 July 2019 the injunction was partially upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Update 7 June 2018 on 31 May the High Court  EWHC 1330 (Comm)] backed up the CA’s finding with an interim anti-suit (in arbitration) injunction.
In line with my previous post (readers unfamiliar with it may want to refer to it; and to very good Hill Dickinson summary of the case), of particular consideration here is the jurisdictional test under (old) Article 6(1) Brussels I, now Article 8(1) in the Recast, in particular the extent of merits review; and whether the subject matter of the claim comes within the succession exception of Article 1(2)(a) of the Brussels I Regulation.
As for the latter, the Court, after reviewing relevant precedent and counsel argument (but not, surprisingly, the very language on this issue in the Jenard report, as I mention in my previous post) holds in my view justifiably that ‘(t)he source of the ownership is irrelevant to the nature of the claim. ..The subject matter of the dispute is not whether Sana is an heir, but whether the defendants have misappropriated her property.‘ (at 161).
With respect to the application of Article 6(1) – now 8(1), the majority held in favour of a far-reaching merits review. Lady Justice Gloster (at 166 ff) has a minority opinion on the issue and I am minded to agree with her. As she notes (at 178) the operation of a merits test within Article 6(1) does give rise to risk of irreconcilable judgments, which can be demonstrated by reference to the present facts. She successfully, in my view, distinguishes the CJEU’s findings in Kolassa and in CDC, and the discussion at any rate one would have thought, deserves CJEU review.
(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 184.108.40.206
2019] EWCA Civ 1219, abuse, Anchor defendant, Anchor defendants, Article 22(2), Bevoegdheid, Brussels I, BVG, C-98/06, Case C-98/06, CJEU, Court of Justice, Curia, ECJ, EEX, EEX Verordening, Exclusive jurisdictional rules, Ferrexpo, Ferrexpo v Gilson, FNC, Forum non conveniens, Freeport, http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2017/1120.html, http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2014/3233.html, https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2019/1219.html, Insolvency, Interpretation, Judgments Regulation, Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Regulation, merits review, Mirror application, Reflexive application, Regulation 44/2001, Regulation 650/2012, related actions, Roche Nederland, Sabbagh v Koury, Scope of application, Succession regulation, United Kingdom, Wills and succession, Wills and succession exception,  EWHC 3233 (Comm),  EWCA Civ 1120,  EWHC 1330 (Comm)]
B.win v Emerald Bay. Article 34 Brussels I Recast (as well as dépeçage and lex causae for jurisdiction clauses)
Update May 2017. Judgment upheld on appeal.
Thank you David Lewis QC for signalling B.WIN v Emerald Bay at the courts of Gibraltar. The dispute arises between Bwin, the internet gaming company, and various former shareholders of Bwin, domiciled at Gibraltar and England (as well as Israel). The former shareholders had advanced a claim in the New Jersey Courts alleging that Bwin made fraudulent, alternatively negligent misrepresentations in relation to the opportunity for internet gaming in New Jersey, as a result of which they divested their shares for lower value prior to a lucrative take-over of Bwin.
Bwin Gibraltar in the proceedings at issue are seeking an anti-suit injunction in respect of the existing New Jersey proceedings (an earlier EU-wide and Lugano States anti-suit request was wisely dropped, seeing as it runs counter CJEU authority (Owusu).
Jack J, considers first of all the issue of dépeçage or bifurcation for choice of court made in two successive agreements with differing choice of court provisions (distinguishing recourse for regulatory as opposed to purely contractual issues). At 38 the court misses the ball on lex causae for choice of court. While it is true that Rome I exempts choice of court agreements from its scope, going straight to the ordinary rules of English and Gibraltarian conflict of laws ( under which in general the proper law of the contract will govern the jurisdiction clause), negates Brussels I a’s new Article 25 rule combined with the recitals. These oblige the court to apply lex fori prorogati with renvoi. This may have had an impact on the complex analysis of the choice of court provisions made in the 2010 as opposed to the 2014 agreement (with an interesting side-step made into the potential reflexive effect of Article 25’s choice of court provisions).
Briefly then the new lis alibi pendens /related actions regime of Articles 33-34 Brussels I Recast is discussed. (In a much more succinct way than Zavarco). At 73 in particular: ‘I am doubtful whether any part of the [FNC] doctrine survives in cases where this Court has jurisdiction under the Brussels I-Recast Regulation. [reference to Owusu]. Instead the extent to which this Court can and should say the current proceedings is likely to be limited by Arts 33 and 34 of Brussels I-Recast.’ This is an interesting reflection on Article 34 Brussels I Recast, despite inevitable parallel particularly experienced by common law courts, not amounting to a forum non conveniens light.
Continued then at 74 ff:
‘However, I do not need to determine that issue. Gibraltar is a perfectly appropriate venue for the determination of the dispute between the parties. The business of Bwin Gibraltar is run from here. All the parties reside here. The misrepresentations relied on were made in Gibraltar or London. Most of the lay witnesses are either in Gibraltar or in Europe.
75. It is true that the New Jersey courts will be more familiar with New Jersey gaming law. However, given that a trial there would be with a civil jury, that may not be such an advantage. In terms of disclosure of documents from the DGE, this is neutral in my judgment. If the proceedings continue in Gibraltar, the parties can apply in the federal courts of New Jersey…for disclosure of documents…
76. In my judgment, neither Gibraltar nor New Jersey is a forum non conveniens. In exercising my discretion as to whether to grant an anti-suit injunction, I consider that there is nothing substantial to weigh against Bwin Gibraltar’s contractual entitlement not to be sued in New Jersey. Accordingly, I will grant an anti-suit injunction.’
A further, brief, consideration of Article 34.
(Handbook of) European Private International Law – 2nd ed. 2016 , Chapter 2, Heading 220.127.116.11.
2016-Ord-46, A34, Article 34, Brussels I recast, Choice of court, depecage, FNC, Forum non conveniens, http://www.gcs.gov.gi/index.php/court-results/judgments/court-of-appeal/2017/668-emerald-bay-limited-ors-v-bwin-party-digital-entertainment-limited, lex fori prorogati, Lis alibi pendens, Reflexive, related actions, Rome I
In Winkler v Shamoon  EWHC 2017 Ch Mr Justice Henry Carr broadly follows Mrs Justice Susan Carr in Sabbagh v Khoury (which I have reviewed earlier) on the interpretation of the ‘wills and succession’ exception in the Brussels I Recast (and the Lugano convention). [The Justices themselves, incidentally, are neither related nor married, I understand]. In so doing, Sir Henry follows Dame Susan’s approach vis-a-vis the exclusions in the Brussels I Recast.
Ms Alexandra Shamoon accepts that she is domiciled in the UK for the purposes of the Brussels Regulation. However, she applies for an order on essentially the same basis as that set out above, contending, in particular, that the claim relates to succession and therefore falls outside the scope of the Brussels Regulation. Brick Court have summary of the case and hopefully do not mind me borrowing their heads-up of the facts:
the case concerns the estate of the late Israeli businessman, Sami Shamoon. Mr Shamoon owned and controlled the Yakhin Hakal Group of Israeli companies and was known in his lifetime as one of the wealthiest men in Israel. The claim was brought by Mr Peretz Winkler, formerly the Chief Financial Officer and manager of Yakhin Hakal, against Mrs Angela Shamoon and Ms Alexandra Shamoon, the widow and daughter respectively of Mr Shamoon and the residuary legatees under his will. In his claim Mr Winkler alleged that prior to his death Mr Shamoon had orally promised to transfer to him certain shares worth tens of millions of dollars. On the basis of the alleged promise Mr Winkler claimed declarations against Angela and Alexandra Shamoon as to his entitlement to the shares (which they are due to receive under Mr Shamoon’s will). Angela and Alexandra challenged the jurisdiction of the English Court to hear the claim on the basis that it was a matter relating to “succession” within article 1(2)(a) of the Brussels Regulation and therefore fell outside its scope (and that England was not the natural or appropriate forum for the dispute).
If the claim does fall within the scope of the Regulation, jurisdiction is quite easily established on the basis of the defendant’s domicile – albeit with contestation of such domicile in the UK by Mr Shamoon’s widow and daughter.
Carr J held that the claim was one relating to succession and therefore fell outside of the Brussels I Recast (at 53 ff). While I may concur in the resulting conclusion, I do not believe the route taken is the right one. Sir Henry follows Mrs Justice Carr’s approach in applying the excluded matters of the Brussels I Recast restrictively. I disagree. Exclusions are not the same as exceptions: Article 24’s exclusive rules of jurisdictions are an exception to the main rule of Article 4; hence they need to be applied restrictively. Article 1(2)’s exclusions on the other hand need to be applied solely within the limits as intended. Lead is also taken from Sabbagh v Koury with respect to the role of the EU’s Succession Regulation. Even if the UK is not party to that Regulation, both justices suggest it may still be relevant in particular in assisting with the Brussels I Recast ‘Succession’ exception. If the approach taken in Winkler v Shamoon is followed it leads to a dovetailing of the two Regulations’ respective scope of application. Not a conclusion I think which is necessarily uncontested.
The High Court concludes (at 72) ‘this claim is excluded from the Brussels Regulation and the Lugano II Regulation as its principal subject matter is “succession” within the meaning of Article 1(2)(a). In particular, it is a claim whose object is “succession to the estate of a deceased person” which includes “all forms of transfer of assets, rights and obligations by reason of death”. It is a succession claim which concerns “sharing out of the estate”; and it is a claim within the definition of “succession as a whole” in Article 23 of the Succession Regulation, as a claim whose principal subject matter concerns “the disposable part of the estate, the reserved shares and other restrictions on the disposal of property upon death”: Article 23(h); and an “obligation to …account for gifts, …when determining the shares of the different beneficiaries”: Article 23(i).
Intriguingly, of course, had the UK be bound by the Succession Regulation, and given the dovetailing which the judgment suggest, the next step after rejection of jurisdiction on the basis of the Brussels I Recast, would have been consideration of jurisdiction following the Succesion Regulation. It is ironic therefore to see the Regulation feature as a phantom piece of legislation. Now you see it, now you don’t.
(Handbook EU Private international law, Chapter 2, Heading 18.104.22.168).
Anchor defendant, Anchor defendants, Article 22(2), Bevoegdheid, Brussels I, BVG, C-98/06, Case C-98/06, CJEU, Conflict of laws, Court of Justice, Curia, dovetail, ECJ, EEX, EEX Verordening, geert van calster, http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2014/3233.html, Insolvency, Interpretation, Judgments Regulation, Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Regulation, Mirror application, Private international law, Regulation 44/2001, Regulation 650/2012, related actions, Sabbagh v Koury, Scope of application, Succession regulation, United Kingdom, Wills and succession, Wills and succession exception, Winkler v Shamoon, Winkler v Shamoon  EWHC 2017 Ch,  EWHC 3233 (Comm),  EWHC 2017 Ch
- ‘Like Dassonville on steroids’. Bobek AG in Rheinland on personality v territoriality, the nature of EU harmonisation, and its links with (as well as historic roots of) conflict of laws and regulatory competition. 29/07/2020
- Avonwick Holdings. The High Court awkwardly on locus damni, and on ‘more closely connected’ in Rome II. 24/07/2020
- CJEU in Novo Banco: confirms mere presence of a natural person’s core immovable asset (the ‘family home’) does not in itself determine COMI (in insolvency). 22/07/2020
- The Hungarian Supreme Court on conduct in litigation resulting in implied choice of law. 21/07/2020
- Forum non and infringing copyright in the air: The Performing Rights Society v Qatar Airways. 20/07/2020
Also of noteMy Tweets