Absence of a bilateral or multilateral treaty for enforcement of judgments between UK and Lebanon leads to English Court issuing anti-suit injunction in favour of arbitration

In the case of Perkins Engines Company Limited v Mohammed Samih Hussein Ghaddar & Ghaddar Machinery Co. S.A.L [2018] EWHC 1500 (Comm) the English Court was asked to issue an anti-suit injunction against court proceedings brought in Lebanon. The relevant dispute resolution clause between the parties provided for English court jurisdiction to the extent that “reciprocal enforcement procedures” exist between the United Kingdom and Lebanon, failing which, disputes were to be submitted to arbitration. The Court found that the ordinary and natural meaning of the words required the existence of a multilateral/ bilateral treaty facilitating reciprocal enforcement of judgments in the United Kingdom and Lebanon. Since no such treaty existed, an anti-suit injunction should be granted against the Respondents in respect of proceedings they had brought in Lebanon.

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Singapore Court of Appeal confirms the validity of “unilateral option to arbitrate” clauses

In the recent decision of Wilson Taylor Asia Pacific Pte Ltd v Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd [2017] SGCA 32, the Singapore Court of Appeal confirmed that the Singapore courts will enforce a dispute resolution clause which gives only one party the option to arbitrate.  The court also clarified the requirements and threshold for a stay of proceedings to be granted under section 6 of the Singapore International Arbitration Act ("IAA")

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English High Court refuses to determine the existence of a disputed arbitration clause prior to the commencement of arbitration proceedings

In a recent decision, the English High Court determined that it would be wrong in principle for the court to determine whether parties to a disputed contract had entered into a binding arbitration agreement in circumstances where one party intended to commence arbitration proceedings on the basis of the disputed arbitration agreement: HC Trading Malta Ltd v Tradeland Commodities S.L. [2016] EWHC 1279 (Comm) (click here for the full judgment).

The decision highlights the respect afforded to the arbitral process under the Arbitration Act 1996 ("the Act") and affirms that it is only in circumstances where the court is required to "fill a gap", such as with anti-suit injunctions preventing a party from commencing or continuing proceedings in another forum, that it will rule on the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal.

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English High Court: requirement to engage in time limited “friendly discussions” before arbitration is enforceable

In the 1 July 2014 decision in Emirates Trading Agency LLC v Prime Mineral Exports Private Limited [2014] EWHC 2104 (Comm), Teare J considered whether the parties’ agreement to first seek to resolve a dispute by “friendly discussion” constituted an enforceable condition precedent to arbitration.

In a decision which gives more ‘bite’ to a “friendly discussion” clause than has previously been the case in English authorities, Teare J ruled that holding a “friendly discussion” acted as a condition precedent to arbitral jurisdiction. The English courts have so far generally not enforced an agreement to negotiate (see Walford v Miles [1992] 2 AC 128 and Cable & Wireless v IBM [2002] EWHC 2059 (Comm)) or an agreement to settle disputes amicably (see Sulamerica CIA Nacional de Seguros SA and others v Enesa Engenharia SA and others [2012] EWCA Civ 638). This judgment represents a stark change in the English courts’ position on the enforceability of agreements to negotiate in dispute resolution clauses.

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