WAIVING THE RIGHT TO A FOREIGN ARBITRATION CLAUSE BY SUBMITTING TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE NIGERIAN COURT

  • INTRODUCTION
    Commercial arbitration is now very popular around the globe. It forms an important part of Nigerian jurisprudence. It is regulated by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act (“ACA”), Cap. A18, LFN 2004.

    Clauses designating an arbitral tribunal to resolve disputes between the parties are now common place in international commercial transactions. Generally, Nigerian courts respect and strictly enforce the parties’ choice to resolve their dispute before an arbitral tribunal in both domestic and international cases. This right is however not absolute. The right to resolve disputes before an arbitral tribunal could be waived by submitting to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court. Indeed, Section 5 (1) of the ACA provides that: “If any party to an arbitration agreement commences any action in any court with respect to any matter which is the subject of an arbitration agreement any party to the arbitration agreement may, at any time after appearance and before delivering any pleadings or taking any other steps in the proceedings, apply to the court to stay the proceeding.” In essence, if a party to an international arbitration clause delivers any pleadings or takes any steps in the proceedings, such a party is deemed to have waived its right to an arbitration clause by submitting to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court,

    What provokes this comment is that in a recent Nigerian Court of Appeal decision in The Vessel MT. Sea Tiger & Anor v Accord Ship Management (HK) Ltd. (2020) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1745) 418 (“Tiger”), the Court of Appeal held inter alia that where a party is served with a judicial claim, in breach of an international arbitration agreement, but fails to appear before the court, such a party is deemed to have waived its right to an arbitration agreement by submitting to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court. It also held that payment of an out of court settlement amounts to submission.

    This comment holds that the Court of Appeal’s decision was wrongly decided in so far as it held that where proceedings are instituted in breach of an international arbitration clause, failure to appear before judicial proceedings and payment of an out of court settlement amounts to waiver by submitting to the jurisdiction of the court.

    FACTS
    In Tiger (supra), the 2nd plaintiff-appellant and the 1st defendant-respondent – both foreign companies before the Nigerian Court – entered into a ship management agreement on 18th of February 2012 in Hong Kong for the management of the 1st plaintiff-appellant vessel. The parties agreed that any dispute arising from their agreement shall be referred to international arbitration in London.

    When a dispute arose as to the payment of the management fees between the parties, the 1st defendant-respondent instituted proceedings (suit No. FHC/L/CS/1789/2013) at the Federal High Court Nigeria for the arrest of the 1st plaintiff-appellant vessel. In that proceeding, the 1st defendant-respondent (as plaintiff) sued the plaintiff-appellants (the vessel and owners of the vessel) as the defendants in that case. The plaintiff-appellants settled the claim out of court by making payments to the 1st defendant-respondent. Subsequently, on 27th February 2014, the 1st defendant-respondent as plaintiff in suit No. FHC/L/CS/1789/2013 withdrew its suit and the vessel was ordered to be released.

    In consequence of the arrest of the 1st plaintiff-appellant from 31st December 2013 to 27th February 2018, the appellants sued the defendant-respondents in the Federal High Court, Lagos for huge compensation arising from what it claimed to be the wrongful arrest of the 1st plaintiff-appellant in breach of their agreement to settle their dispute by international arbitration in London.

    DECISION
    The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the claim of the plaintiff-appellants by holding that they had waived their right to the international arbitration clause by submitting to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian Court. The decision was reached on two principal grounds. The first ground was failure to appear and challenge the proceedings after being served with court processes. The second ground was the payment of an out of court settlement in order to release the vessel. In order to provide more clarity, the relevant portions of the decisions are quoted.

    First, Garba JCA in his leading judgment held that: “The failure or refusal by it (plaintiff-appellants) to appear in reaction to the originating processes to enable the appellant challenge the jurisdiction of the lower court on the ground of the arbitration clauses in the Ship Management Agreement…left no other reasonable presumption in law and option to the lower court than that the appellants had submitted to the jurisdiction of that court to adjudicate over the suit since the only challenge to the suit by the appellants was entirely and completely predicated and founded on the arbitration clauses in the Ship Management Agreement and not on the lack of jurisdiction on the part of the court, in any event, entertain the suit on any cognizable ground of law. The failure or refusal to enter an appearance and be represented in the suit constituted and amounted to a muted but clear submission to the jurisdiction of the lower court in the case.”

    Second, Garba JCA held that: “…the lower court is right that the appellants submitted to its jurisdiction in the suit no:FHC/L/CS/1789/2013 by the payment and settlement of the 1st respondent’s claim in order to secure the release of the 1st appellant from the arrest and detention it was placed under in the case thereby not only taking a step in the case, but actively and effectively so, in the circumstances of the case.”

    COMMENTS
    The Court of Appeal’s decision in Tiger (supra) is very important from the perspective of private international law and international commercial arbitration. The implication of Tiger (supra) is that where proceedings are instituted in a Nigerian court in breach of a foreign arbitration clause, the party requesting arbitration would be wise to appear before the court and immediately request the court to stay its proceedings in favour of a foreign arbitration clause. If this is not done, an international arbitration clause is ineffective in Nigerian law on the basis that the party requesting arbitration would be deemed to have waived its right by submitting to the jurisdiction of the court. In addition, payment of an out of court settlement would amount to waiver by submitting to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court.

    Prior to Tiger (supra), waiver to an arbitration clause by submission to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court could only be established where the defendant entered an unconditional appearance or defended the case its merits.

    It is submitted that Tiger (supra) is a wrong extension of the principle to the extent that it holds that failure to appear before proceedings which breach an international arbitration clause constitutes waiver by submission to the jurisdiction of a court. A defendant that did not appear before court proceedings cannot be deemed to have waived its right by submitting to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court. In other words, failure to appear to proceedings upon being duly notified is the very antithesis of submission to the jurisdiction of a court. It is illogical to hold that such a defendant has “delivered pleadings” or “taken steps in the proceedings” in the eyes of Section 5 of the ACA. A defendant is entitled to ignore court proceedings by sticking to the arbitration clause. This should also be seen as a pro-arbitration stance that is consistent with Nigeria’s approach of upholding the sanctity of arbitration agreements. Indeed, as stated in the introduction, Nigerian courts generally enforce arbitration agreements strictly.

    The truth is that Tiger’s case reflects the attitude of Nigerian judges to absentee defendants. Nigerian judges regard it as impolite for a defendant not to appear to court proceedings. The preferable approach in Nigerian jurisprudence is to enter a conditional appearance and then challenge the jurisdiction of the court. Indeed, in Muhammed v Ajingi (2013) LPELR-20372 (CA), the Court of Appeal (Abiru JCA) unanimously held that a defendant who has been duly notified of proceedings but fails to appear to promptly challenge the jurisdiction of the court is deemed to have waived its right by submitting to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court. Though, Muhammed v Ajingi was not an arbitration case, it demonstrates the attitude of Nigerian courts to absentee defendants.

    The Court of Appeal was also wrong to have regarded the payment of the settlement sum by the plaintiff-appellants to release the vessel as waiver by submitting to the jurisdiction of the court. Such an approach does not amount to delivering pleadings or taking steps in the proceedings in the eyes of Section 5 of the ACA. Indeed, in the earlier case of Confidence Insurance Ltd v The Trustees of the Ondo State College of Education Staff Pension (1999) 2 NWLR (Pt. 591) 373, 386, the Court of Appeal (Achike JCA as he then was) unanimously held that: “effort made out of court to settle the matter in controversy between the parties” does not amount to submission. Nigerian courts should be seen to encourage out of court settlement. If the law is that efforts made out of court to settle amounts to submission, this might discourage a potential defendant from making out of court settlements, where there is the presence of a foreign arbitration clause.

    Tiger (supra) properly so called was an action in damages for breach of an international arbitration clause. Since it has been argued in this case that the plaintiff-appellants did not submit to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court, damages should have been awarded for breach of the international arbitration clause. If the Court of Appeal had adopted this approach, it would have honoured Nigerian judiciary’s approach to generally and strictly enforce the sanctity of arbitration agreements. It was obvious in this case that the plaintiff-appellants suffered loss from the arrest of its ship in breach of an international arbitration clause. It is unfortunate that the Court of Appeal did not award compensation in this case.

    CONCLUSION
    It remains to be seen whether Tiger (supra) will go on appeal to the Nigerian Supreme Court. If it does go on appeal, it is proposed that the Supreme Court overturns the Court of Appeal’s decision. If it does not go on appeal to the Supreme Court, it is proposed that the Nigerian Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in future holds that the failure to appear to proceedings in breach of an international arbitration clause and the payment of out of court settlement does not constitute waiver by submission to the jurisdiction of the Nigerian court.




R. Brand on Provisional Measures in Aid of Arbitration

The success of the New York Convention has made arbitration a preferred means of dispute resolution for international commercial transactions. Success in arbitration often depends on the extent to which a party may, in advance, ensure that assets or evidence is secured in advance, or that the other party is required to take steps to secure the status quo. This makes the availability of provisional measures granted by either arbitral tribunals or by courts important to the arbitration process. In this chapter, Ron Brand of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law considers the existing legal framework for such provisional measures in aid of arbitration, giving particular attention to the source of the rules that might govern such relief related to international commercial transactions and the arbitration of disputes they may generate. These include the New York Convention, the applicable lex arbitri, institutional arbitration rules, and the arbitration contract. He considers how these sources do or do not provide a comprehensive and coherent framework for effective dispute resolution – including especially the effective satisfaction of any resulting arbitral award – and some of the ways in which the arbitration clause may be drafted to specifically take into account the often unanticipated, but always possible, need for provisional measures.

TThe article is accessible here




Chinese Court Holds Arbitral Award by Foreign Arbitration Institutions in China Enforceable

(This is another version of views for the recent Chinese case on international commercial arbitration provided by Chen Zhi, a PhD candidate in the University of Macau, Macau, PRC)

On 6 August 2020, Guangzhou People’s Intermediate Court (“Guangzhou court”) handed down a ruling on a rare case concerning the enforcement of an award rendered by International Commercial Court of Arbitration (“ICC”) in China,[1] which have given rise to heated debate by the legal community in China. This case was thought to be of great significance by many commentators because it could open the door for enforcement of arbitral awards issued by foreign institution with seat of proceeding in China, and demonstrates the opening-up trend for foreign legal service.
[1]Brentwood Industries Inc. v. Guangdong Faanlong Co, Ltd and Others 2015 Sui Zhong Min Si Fa Chu No.62?

Backgrounds of the facts
The plaintiff, Brentwood Industries, Inc. a USA based company, entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement (“SPA”) along with a Supplementary Agreement with three Chinese companies (collectively, “Respondents”) in April 2010. Article 16 of Sale and Purchase Agreement provided as follow:
Any dispute arising out of or in connection with this contract shall be settled by amicable negotiation between the parties. If such negotiations fail to resolve the dispute, the matter shall be referred to the Arbitration Commission?sic?of International Chamber of Commerce for arbitration at the project site in accordance with international practice. The award thereof shall be final and binding on the Parties. The costs of the arbitration shall be borne by the losing party, unless the Arbitration Commission?sic?decides otherwise. The language of the arbitration shall be bilingual, English and Chinese.

According to Article 3 of Supplementary Agreement, the project site was in Guangzhou.
On 29 May 2011, Brentwood submitted an application to Guangzhou Court, seeking for nullification of the arbitration clause in SPA. The Guangzhou Court handed down a judgement in early 2012 rejecting Brentwood’s application and confirming the validity of the arbitration clause.
Because the ICC does not have an office in Guangzhou, Brentwood subsequently commenced an arbitration proceeding before Arbitration Court of International Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong Office on 31 August of 2012. In the course of proceeding, all three respondents participate in the arbitration presenting their written defenses, and among them, one respondent also raised objection of jurisdiction of the ICC Court to handle the case. The ICC Court decided that the jurisdiction issue shall be addressed by a sole arbitrator after giving all parties equal opportunities to present their arguments. Hence, with the consensus of all parties, the ICC Court appointed a sole arbitrator on 10 January of 2013.

On 3rd April 2013, the case management conference was held in Guangzhou and each party appeared and agreed upon the Term of Reference. After exchange of written submissions and hearing (all attended by all parties), the arbitrator rendered Final Award with the reference No. 18929/CYK (the Final Award) on 17 March 2014.

Enforcement proceeding and judgment
Brentwood sought to enforce the Final Award before the Guangzhou Court, mainly on the basis of non-domestic award as prescribed in Article 1(1) of the “New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958, which China is a signatory party (“New York Convention”). To increase its options in obtaining enforcement, Brentwood also invoked the Arrangement on Reciprocal Enforcement of Arbitral Awards Between SPC and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, in the event the court regards the award as Hong Kong award because conducted by the ICC Hong Kong Office.
The Respondents raised their own objections respectively, which can be summarized to four main points:
(1) non-domestic award under New York Convention was not applicable to the PRC because it had declared reservation on this matter;
(2) the arbitration clause was invalid because the ICC Court was not an arbitration institutions formed in accordance with Article 10 of the PRC Arbitration Law (revised in 2017);
(3) there are substantive errors in the Final Award;
(4) the arbitrator exceeded its power in the Final Award.

The Guangzhou Court ruled that the arbitration clause was valid and its validity had been confirmed in previous case by the same court. As for the nationality and enforceability of the Final Award, the court opined that it shall be regarded as a domestic award which can be enforced in accordance to Article 273 of Civil Procedural Law (revised in 2012), and stipulated that the awards by foreign-related arbitration institutions in China were enforceable before competent intermediated courts. Based on the above reasoning, the court stated that Brentwood had invoked the wrong legal basis, and it refused to amend its claim after the court asked clarification multiple times. Hence, the court concluded that the case shall be closed without enforcing the Final Award, while Brentwood had the right to file a new enforcement proceeding with correct legal basis.

China’s Stance to domestic award by foreign institutions
There is no law directly applicable to awards issued by foreign institution with seat in China. The current legislation divided awards into three categories:
(1) domestic award rendered by Chinese arbitration institutions, which is governed by the Arbitration Law and Civil Procedure Law.
(2) foreign-related award made by Chinese institutions, which is enforceable under Article 273 of Civil Procedure Law.
(3) awards made offshore, which are governed by international conventions (i.e. New York Convention), judicial arrangements and Supreme People Court’s judicial interpretation depending on the place of arbitration.

The problem arises mainly because of the conflict between Chinese law and international conventions. Unlike the common practice in international arbitration across the world, which decides the nationality of award and competent court for remedies thereof based on the seat of arbitration proceeding, Chinese law traditionally relied upon the nationality of arbitration institutions instead. The term “arbitration seat” was not embedded in the legislation framework until the SPC’s Interpretation on Application of Arbitration Law in 2006, and Supreme People’s Court only begins to decide the nationality of award based on the seat since 2009.[2]
Due to the lacuna in law, there is no remedy for such China seated foreign award, and therefore parties may face enormous legal risks: on one hand, such award cannot be enforced by any Chinese court if the losing party refuse to perform it voluntarily, on the other hand, the party who is dissatisfactory with the award or arbitration proceeding has no way to seek for annulment of the award.
In 2008, Ningbo Intermediate Court ruled on a controversial case concerning the enforcement of an ICC award rendered in Beijing,[3] granting enforcement by regarding the disputed award as “non-domestic” award as prescribed in the last sentence of the Article 1(1) of New York Convention, under which the member states may extend the effect of Convention to certain type of award which is made inside its territory while is not considered as domestic for various reasons. It shall be noted that the method used by Ningbo Court is problematic and have given rise to heavy criticisms,[4] because China had filed the reservation set out in Article 1(3) of New York Convection confirming that it will apply the Convention to the “recognition and enforcement of awards made only in the territory of another Contracting State”. In other words, said non-domestic award approach shouldn’t be use by Chinese courts.
With this respect, the approach employed in Brentwood seems less controversial because it does not concern a vague and debatable concept not included in current law. Moreover, by deciding the nationality of award based on the seat of arbitration instead of the base of institution, the Guangzhou Court is actually promoting the reconciliation of Chinese law with New York Convention.

[2]See Article 16 of SPC’s Interpretation on Several Questions in Application of Arbitration Law Fa Shi 2006 No.7, see also SPC’s Notice on Matters of Enforcing Hong Kong Award in Continental China Fa 2009 No. 415. As cited in Gao Xiaoli, The Courts Should Decide the Nationality of Arbitral Award by Seat Instead of Location of Arbitration Institution, People’s Judicature (Volume of Cases), Vol.2017 No. 20, p. 71.
[3] Duferco S.A. v. Ningbo Art & Craft Import & Export Corp. 2008 Yong Zhong Jian No.8.
[4] Author Dong et al, Does Supreme People’s Court’s Decision Open the Door for Foreign Arbitration Institutions to Explore the Chinese Market?, available at http://arbitrationblog.kluwerarbitration.com/2014/07/15/does-supreme-peoples-courts-decision-open-the-door-for-foreign-arbitration-institutions-to-explore-the-chinese-market/

Comments
Brentwood decision does not appear out of thin air, but contrarily, it is in line with the opening-up trend in the judicial practice of commercial arbitration in China started in 2013. At that time, the Supreme People’s Court ruled on the landmark Longlide case by confirming the validity of arbitration agreement which require arbitration proceeding conducted by foreign arbitration in China.[5]This stance has been followed and further developed by the First Intermediate Court of Shanghai in the recent Daesung Industrial Gases case,[6]. In this case, a clause providing “arbitration in Shanghai by Singapore International Arbitration Center” was under dispute by two respondents who alleged that foreign based institutions were prohibited from managing arbitration proceeding in China. However the court viewed this assertion as lacking of legal basis in Chinese law, and was contradictory to the developing trend of international commercial arbitration in the PRC.
In addition, local administrative authorities have shown firm stance and laudable attempt to promote the opening-up policy by attracting foreign institutions to carry out business in China. In late 2019, the justice department of Shanghai adopted new policies permitting foreign arbitration bodies to setup branch and carry out business in Lingang Free Trade Pilot Zone, and to set up detailed rules for registration and supervision in this regard.[7] On 28 August of 2020, the State Council agreed to a new proposal jointly by the Beijing government and the Ministry of Commerce on further opening up service industry, allowing world-renowned offshore arbitration institutions to run business in certain area of Beijing after registration at the Beijing justice department and the PRC Justice Ministry. This goes even further than Shanghai’s policy by stipulating that competent authorities shall support preservations for arbitration proceeding, increasing the reach of foreign institution on local justice system.[8]
Nevertheless, there are still lots of works to be done for the landing of foreign institutions:
First, as the lacuna in the law still exists, the judicial policy will continue to be “uncertain, fraught with difficulty and rapidly evolving” in this regard, as described by the High Court of Singapore. [9] Because Article 273 of Civil Procedural Law does not contain award by foreign institution stricto senso, and Guangzhou Court applied it only on analogous basis, this approach is more likely to be an expedient measure by taking into account surrounding circumstances (i.e. the validity of arbitration clause in dispute had been confirmed by the court itself, and all respondents had actively participated in the arbitration proceeding), instead of corollary of legal terms. Further, albeit the decision in Brentwood case is consistent with SPC’s opening-up and arbitration friendly policy, no evidence shows its legal validity was endorsed by SPC like that in Longlide case. Therefore, it is doubtful whether this approach will be employed by other courts in future.
Second, even though the validity and enforceability issues have been settled, the loophole in law concerning auxiliary measures (i.e. interim relief, decision of jurisdiction, etc.) and annulment proceeding remains unsolved, which will probably be another obstruction for foreign institution to proceed with arbitration proceeding in Continental China. The above mentioned proposal by Beijing government provides a good example in this respect, while this problem can only be fully settled through revision of law.

Third, the strict limitations on the content of arbitration agreement remain unchanged. Arbitration agreements providing ad hoc proceeding is still invalid by virtue of the law. Moreover referring dispute without foreign-related factor to foreign institutions is also unacceptable under current judicial policy, even for exclusively foreign-owned enterprises. These limitations have been heavily criticized by legal practitioners and researchers over the years, however whilst the above issues have been formally lifted, the arbitration agreement shall be well drafted in terms of both arbitration institution and the seat of arbitration.

[5] Longlide Packaging Co. Ltd. v. BP Agnati S.R.L. (SPC Docket Number: 2013-MinTa Zi No.13).
[6] Daesung Industrial Gases Co., Ltd.&Another v. Praxair (China) Investment Co., Ltd 2020 Hu 01 Min Te No.83.
[7] See: Measures for the Establishment of Business Bodies by Offshore Arbitration Institutions in the New Lingang Area of the Pilot Free Trade Zone of China (Shanghai) available at http://sfj.sh.gov.cn/xxgk_gfxwj/20191020/3fbcd61ef43147379c5841e28bdf6007.html
[8] See Article 8 of State Council’s Instruction on the Work Plan for the Construction of a National Demonstration Zone for Expanding and Opening Up Beijing’s Services Industry in a New Round of Comprehensive Pilot Project?available at http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2020-09/07/content_5541291.htm?trs=1
[9] BNA v BNB [2019] SGHC 142 para.116.




UK Supreme Court on law applicable to arbitration agreements

Written by Stephen Armstrong, lawyer practicing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with an interest in international arbitration. [Linkedin]

On Friday, October 9, 2020, the United Kingdom Supreme Court released an interesting decision concerning the applicable law governing arbitration agreements in international contracts and the jurisdiction of the courts of the seat of the arbitration to grant anti-suit injunctions. The case is Enka Insaat Ve Sanayi A.S. v 000 Insurance Company Chubb, [2020] UKSC 38.

The full text of the Supreme Court’s decision is available here.

A digestible summary of the case, including the facts, the breakdown of votes, and the reasons, is available here.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court fundamentally disagreed with the Court of Appeal on the role of the seat of the arbitration for determining the law of the arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court held that an express choice of law in the main contract should be presumptively taken as an implied choice of law governing the arbitration agreement. By contrast, the Court of Appeal had held that the law of the seat was the parties’ presumptive implied choice of law for the arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court did, however, affirm the Court of Appeal’s holding that the courts of the seat are always an appropriate forum to grant an anti-suit injunction, regardless of the applicable law.

Unlike other choice of law issues in the UK, this issue is governed by the common law, rather than the EU’s Rome I regulation. This makes the Supreme Court’s decision a common law authority, rather than an EU law authority. I therefore expect that this decision will find purchase throughout the Commonwealth, including my home jurisdiction of Ontario, Canada.




Virtual Conference on “The Burden of Proof in International Arbitration”

On Monday, October 26, 2020 at 15.00 CET, the European Center for Arbitration and Mediation and The International School of Arbitration and Mediation for Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East organise their Annual International Conference Med-Mid XIV on “The Burden of Proof in International Arbitration/La charge de la preuve dans l’arbitrage international”.

The conference addresses four key issues of any international arbitration, which require a focussed and renewed reflection: 1) Oral Evidence: Fact Witnesses, Expert Witnesses, Parties and Witness Statement (Civil Law and Common Law approaches); 2) The applicable Law on matters such as the effects of the procedural law (Civil Law and Common Law approaches) on the taking of evidence; 3) Disclosure of documents: effects of only voluntary production of documents v. forced discovery; 4) The Arbitrator’s authority as to evidence (Role as Umpire; wider ex officio authority as to evidence) as well as limits and support from State Courts.

Some worldwide renowned speakers will give their views. On panel one: Sir Michael Burton (London, U.K.) and Prof. Fabrizio Marrella (Venice, Italy); on panel two: Elie Kleiman (Jones Day, Paris, France) and Prof. George Bermann (Columbia Law, New York, USA); on panel three: Melanie Willems (Haynes Boone, London, U.K.) and Prof. Ercument Erdem (Istanbul, Turkey); on panel four: Prof. José Carlos Fernandez Rozas (Complutense Madrid, Spain) and John Fellas (Hughes Hubbard & Reed, New York, USA).

Here is the complete program: https://cour-europe-arbitrage.org/med-mid-xiv/

Participation is free, but registration is necessary.




Brentwood Industries v. Guangdong Fa Anlong Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd. –A third way to enforce China-seated arbitral awards made by foreign arbitration institution

Brentwood Industries v. Guangdong Fa Anlong Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd.–A third way to enforce China-seated arbitral awards made by foreign arbitration institution

by Jingru Wang

Wuhan University Institute of International Law

Background

Nationality of an arbitral award marks the source of the legal validity of the award. Most countries generally divide the awards into domestic awards and foreign awards, and provide different requirements for their recognition and enforcement. It is a common practice to determine the nationality of the arbitral award by the seat of arbitration, which is the so-called “territorial theory”. However, Chinese law adopts the “institutional theory”, which raises controversy concerning the nationality of the arbitral award made by foreign arbitration institutions located in mainland. After long-term debate in practice, the Brentwood Case[1] finally confirmed that China-seated arbitral awards made by a foreign arbitration institution shall be regarded as Chinese foreign-related awards.

 

Fact and decision

Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court (hereinafter, “the court”) delivered the judgment on Brentwood Industries v. Guangdong Fa Anlong Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd. on 6 Aug 2020[2]. After DUFERCOS Case[3], it is another landmark case that granted the enforcement of arbitral award made by a foreign arbitration institution in mainland China.

Brentwood Industries (hereinafter, “plaintiff”) concluded a sales contract with three Chinese companies (hereinafter, “defendants”) and agreed that “any dispute arising out of or in relation to the agreement shall be settled by amiable negotiation. If no agreement can be reached, each party shall refer their dispute to the International Commercial Chamber (hereinafter, “ICC”) for arbitration at the site of the project in accordance with international practice.” Due to the defendants’ delay in payment, theplaintiff submitted their disputes to the ICC for arbitration. Since the “project” mentioned in the arbitration clause was the “Guangzhou Liede Sewage Treatment Plant Phase IV Project” listed in Article 3 of the “Supplementary Agreement”, located in Guangzhou, China, the seat of arbitration shall be Guangzhou, China. After defendants refused to perform the award, which was in favor of plaintiff, plaintiff resorted to the court for recognition and enforcement.

Under current Chinese law, there are two possible ways to enforce the arbitral award made by a foreign arbitration institution in mainland China: (1) Classify such an award as a foreign award by the location of the arbitration institution under Art. 283 Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter, “Civil Procedure Law”), which provides that an award made by a foreign arbitration institution must be recognised and enforced by a people’s court pursuant to international treaties or the principle of reciprocity. (2) Classify such award as non-domestic award provided by the last sentence of Art. 1(1) of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (hereinafter, “New York Convention”), which provides that the convention shall also apply to arbitral awards not considered as domestic awards in the State where their recognition and enforcement are sought.

Besides the aforementioned choices, the court provided a third way. It ruled that the arbitral award made by a foreign arbitration institution in mainland China shall be regarded as Chinese foreign-related arbitral award. If a party fails to perform the arbitral award, the other party may refer to Art. 273 of the Civil Procedure Law for recognition and enforcement. Under Art. 273 of the Civil Procedure Law, after an award has been made by an arbitration institution of the People’s Republic of China for foreign-related disputes, no party may file a lawsuit in a people’s court. If a party fails to perform the arbitral award, the other party may apply for enforcement to the intermediate people’s court of the place where the domicile of the person against whom an application is made is located or where the property is located.

 

Comment

Since Long Lide Case[4], Chinese court had affirmed the validity of arbitration agreements providing arbitration proceedings conducted by a foreign arbitration institution in mainland China. But in practice, arbitral awards based on these agreements still face the dilemma in recognition and enforcement. Because in China, different from international practice, the nationality of an arbitral award is determined by the location of the arbitration institution instead of the seat of arbitration, which is referred to as the “institutional theory”. Under Art. 283 Civil Procedure Law, to recognise and enforce an award made by a foreign arbitration institution by a people’s court, the people’s court shall handle the matter pursuant to international treaties concluded or acceded to by the People’s Republic of China or in accordance with the principle of reciprocity. It impliedly refers to the New York Convention. However, concerning the determination of the nationality of the arbitral award, the New York Convention adopts the “territorial theory”, which provides: “this Convention shall apply to the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards made in the territory of a State other than the State where the recognition and enforcement of such awards are sought”. The “territorial theory” adopted by the New York Convention collides with the provision of the Civil Procedure Law. The confusion on application of law has not yet been dispelled.

In response to the conflict between domestic legislation and international convention, judicial practice has shown inclination to convert towards the “territorial theory”. For example, in DMT case[5], the nationality of an arbitral award made by ICC in Singapore was deemed Singapore rather than France. But in line with the “territorial theory”, arbitral awards made in mainland China shall therefore be deemed as Chinese awards. Under the “reciprocity reservation” filed by China, the New York convention shall only be applied to the recognition and enforcement of awards made in the territory of another contracting state. Hence, the New York Convention shall not be applied to China-seated arbitral awards.

As early as DUFERCOS Case, the court defined the arbitral award made by the ICC in Beijing as non-domestic and therefore enforced it under the New York Convention. However, it failed to clarify what exactly constitutes a non-domestic award and how to interpret the reciprocity reservation. Originally, both non-domestic awards and reciprocity reservation were methods to encourage the acceptance and enlarge the application of the New York Convention. Conversely, their coexistence has impaired the effect of the New York Convention.

From this perspective, the Guangzhou Intermediate Court did find another way out by completely avoiding such conflict. The current Chinese law divides arbitral awards into: (1)domestic awards; (2)Chinese foreign-related awards; (3)foreign awards. Compared with domestic awards, Chinese foreign-related awards take into account the particularity of foreign-related factors, and the review standards for recognition and enforcement are less strict, subject to procedural review only. Compared with foreign awards, Chinese foreign-related awards can be set aside by Chinese court, which makes them under more restrictive supervision. That is reason why some argued that China-seated arbitral awards will be subject to stricter supervision by Chinese court because there are more diversified judicial review channels.[6] Indeed, arbitral awards made by Chinese foreign-related arbitration institution are under triple supervision carried out by the seat of arbitration, the place of recognition and enforcement, and China. But it should be noted that when it comes to China-seated arbitral awards made by foreign arbitration institution, China, as the seat of arbitration, has the inherent power to review the arbitral award and set it aside. Moreover, according to Art. 70 and Art. 71 of the Chinese Arbitration Law, reasons for setting Chinese foreign-related arbitral awards aside do not exceed the scope of reasons for refusing recognition and enforcement of these awards. Therefore, they are not imposed with any additional burden by being regarded as Chinese foreign-related arbitral awards. Concerning the recognition and enforcement of Chinese foreign-related award, Art. 274 of the Civil Procedure Law provided a more tolerant standard than the New York Convention. Compared with Art. 5 of the New York Convention, the legal capacity of the parties to the agreement and the final effect of the award are no longer obstacles to recognition and enforcement. Since arbitral awards made by foreign arbitration institutions are regarded as Chinese foreign-related award, they are treated more favorably than foreign awards concerning recognition and enforcement. Left the legal problems behind, it showed China’s effort to support the arbitration within the current legislative framework.

However, Chinese foreign-related arbitral award itself is a distorting product of the conflicts between “institutional theory” and “territorial theory”. Application of Art. 273 of the Civil Procedure Law can only temporarily ease the tension. “Institutional theory” stipulated by Chinese law is an issue left over from history. “Foreign-related arbitration institutions” historically referred to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (hereinafter referred to as CIETAC) and China Maritime Arbitration Commission (hereinafter referred to as CMAC). They were established respectively in 1954[7] and 1958[8]. At that time, only CIETAC and CMAC can accept foreign-related arbitration cases, while domestic arbitration institutions can only accept domestic arbitration cases. Accordingly, arbitral awards made by different arbitration institutions were divided into Chinese foreign-related arbitral awards and domestic arbitral awards. However, nowadays, such restrictions are extinct in practice. In 1996, the State Council of People’s Republic of China issued a document stating that: “The main responsibility of the newly established arbitration institution is to accept domestic arbitration cases; if the parties to a foreign-related arbitration case voluntarily choose the newly established arbitration institution for arbitration, the newly established arbitration commission can accept the case.”[9] In fact, there is no longer division of foreign-related arbitration institution and domestic arbitration institution. Hence, the “institutional theory” can no longer meet the needs of practice. Under the “territorial theory”, the arbitral awards are divided into domestic awards, non-domestic awards and foreign awards. We may wonder whether China would revoke the reciprocity reservation, the obstacle in recognition and enforcement of non-domestic arbitral awards, in the future. Would China-seated arbitral awards made by foreign arbitration institution be defined as non-domestic awards by then? To get out of the dilemma once for all, the responsibility remains on the shoulder of legislative body.

 

[1] https://wenshu.court.gov.cn/website/wenshu/181107ANFZ0BXSK4/index.html?docId=bded4e3c31b94ae8b42fac2500a68cc4

[2]  https://wenshu.court.gov.cn/website/wenshu/181107ANFZ0BXSK4/index.html?docId=bded4e3c31b94ae8b42fac2500a68cc4

[3] https://www.pkulaw.com/specialtopic/61ffaac8076694efc8cef2ae6914b056bdfb.html

[4] https://www.pkulaw.com/chl/233828.html

[5] http://www.pkulaw.cn/fulltext_form.aspx/pay/fulltext_form.aspx?Db=chl&Gid=bd44ff4e02d033d0bdfb

[6]Good News or Bad News? Arbitral Awards Rendered in China by Foreign Arbitral Institutions Being Regarded as Chinese Awards available at: https://www.chinajusticeobserver.com/a/good-news-or-bad-news-arbitral-awards-rendered-in-china-by-foreign-arbitral-institutions-being-regarded-as-chinese-awards?from=timeline

[7] http://www.cietac.org/index.php?m=Page&a=index&id=2

[8] http://www.cmac.org.cn/%E6%B5%B7%E4%BB%B2%E7%AE%80%E4%BB%8B

[9] http://cicc.court.gov.cn/html/1/218/62/83/440.html

 

 

 

 




New Article on Choice of Law in Latin American Arbitration

Gilles Cuniberti (University of Luxembourg) and Manuel Segovia (European Law Institute, formerly University of Monterrey) will soon publish an empirical study of choice of law in Latin American arbitration in the THEMIS-Revista de Derecho (Choice of law in Latin American Arbitration: Some Empirical Evidence and Reflections on the Latin American Market for Contracts).

The abstract reads as follows:

The aim of this Article is to assess the preferences of parties to Latin American international business transactions when they choose the law governing their contracts. For that purpose, we have conducted an empirical analysis of data that we were able to gather from arbitral institutions active in Latin America, with a focus on years 2011 and 2012. We then offer some reflections on the results and assess whether they can be explained by the territorial approach of choice of law in Latin America, the importance of the United States as a trading partner for Latin American countries and the extent to which Anglo-American lawyers are present on Latin American markets.

The Article is a follow-up of similar studies conducted by G. Cuniberti, including one on Choice of Law in Asian Arbitration.




Chinese court refuses enforcement of an IFTA Arbitration award

Shawn He reported recently on a Chinese judgment refusing the declaration of enforceability of an arbitral award issued by the Independent Film & Television Alliance Arbitration Court.

The Tianjin Intermediate People’s Court dismissed the application on two grounds: No standing to be sued of the Chinese company, and notification vices.

One point which should be highlighted is the duration of the proceedings: The application was filed on March 2018, and the judgment (in first instance) was rendered on May 2020…

 




Uber Arbitration Clause Unconscionable

In 2017 drivers working under contract for Uber in Ontario launched a class action.  They alleged that under Ontario law they were employees entitled to various benefits Uber was not providing.  In response, Uber sought to stay the proceedings on the basis of an arbitration clause in the standard-form contract with each driver.  Under its terms a driver is required to resolve any dispute with Uber through mediation and arbitration in the Netherlands.  The mediation and arbitration process requires up-front administrative and filing fees of US$14,500.  In response, the drivers argued that the arbitration clause was unenforceable.

The Supreme Court of Canada has held in Uber Technologies Inc. v. Heller, 2020 SCC 16 that the arbitration clause is unenforceable, paving the way for the class action to proceed in Ontario.  A majority of seven judges held the clause was unconscionable.  One judge held that unconscionability was not the proper framework for analysis but that the clause was contrary to public policy.  One judge, in dissent, upheld the clause.

A threshold dispute was whether the motion to stay the proceedings was under the Arbitration Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 17 or the International Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 2, Sch. 5.  Eight judges held that as the dispute was fundamentally about labour and employment, the ICAA did not apply and the AA was the relevant statute (see paras. 18-28, 104).  While s. 7(1) of the AA directs the court to stay proceedings in the face of an agreement to arbitration, s. 7(2) is an exception that applies, inter alia, if the arbitration agreement is “invalid”.  That was accordingly the framework for the analysis.  In dissent Justice Cote held that the ICAA was the applicable statute as the relationship was international and commercial in nature (paras. 210-18).

The majority (a decision written by Abella and Rowe JJ) offered two reasons for not leaving the issue of the validity of the clause to the arbitrator.  First, although the issue involved a mixed question of law and fact, the question could be resolved by the court on only a “superficial review” of the record (para. 37).  Second, the court was required to consider “whether there is a real prospect, in the circumstances, that the arbitrator may never decide the merits of the jurisdictional challenge” (para. 45).  If so, the court is to decide the issue.  This is rooted in concerns about access to justice (para. 38).  In the majority’s view, the high fees required to commence the arbitration are a “brick wall” on any pathway to resolution of the drivers’ claims.

The majority then engaged in a detailed discussion of the doctrine of unconscionability.  It requires both “an inequality of bargaining power and a resulting improvident bargain” (para. 65).  On the former, the majority noted the standard form, take-it-or-leave-it nature of the contract and the “significant gulf in sophistication” between the parties (para. 93).  On the latter, the majority stressed the high up-front costs and apparent necessity to travel to the Netherlands to raise any dispute (para. 94).  In its view, “No reasonable person who had understood and appreciated the implications of the arbitration clause would have agreed to it” (para. 95).  As a result, the clause is unconscionable and thus invalid.

Justice Brown instead relied on the public policy of favouring access to justice and precluding an ouster of the jurisdiction of the court.  An arbitration clause that has the practical effect of precluding arbitration cannot be accepted (para. 119).  Contractual stipulations that prohibit the resolution of disputes according to law, whether by express prohibition or simply by effect, are unenforceable as a matter of public policy (para. 121).

Justice Brown also set out at length his concerns about the majority’s reliance on unconscionability: “the doctrine of unconscionability is ill-suited here.  Further, their approach is likely to introduce added uncertainty in the enforcement of contracts, where predictability is paramount” (para. 147).  Indeed, he criticized the majority for significantly lowering the hurdle for unconscionability, suggesting that every standard-form contract would, on the majority’s view, meet the first element of an inequality of bargaining power and therefore open up an inquiry into the sufficiency of the bargain (paras. 162-63).  Justice Brown concluded that “my colleagues’ approach drastically expands the scope of unconscionability, provides very little guidance for the doctrine’s application, and does all of this in the context of an appeal whose just disposition requires no such change” (para. 174).

In dissent, Justice Cote was critical of the other judges’ willingness, in the circumstances, to resolve the issue rather than refer it to the arbitrator for decision: “In my view, my colleagues’ efforts to avoid the operation of the rule of systematic referral to arbitration reflects the same historical hostility to arbitration which the legislature and this Court have sought to dispel. The simple fact is that the parties in this case have agreed to settle any disputes through arbitration; this Court should not hesitate to give effect to that arrangement. The ease with which my colleagues dispense with the Arbitration Clause on the basis of the thinnest of factual records causes me to fear that the doctrines of unconscionability and public policy are being converted into a form of ad hoc judicial moralism or “palm tree justice” that will sow uncertainty and invite endless litigation over the enforceability of arbitration agreements” (para. 237).  Justice Cote also shared many of Justice Brown’s concerns about the majority’s use of unconscionability: “I am concerned that their threshold for a finding of inequality of bargaining power has been set so low as to be practically meaningless in the case of standard form contracts” (para. 257).

The decision is lengthy and several additional issues are canvassed, especially in the reasons of Justice Cote and Justice Brown.  The ultimate result, with the drivers not being bound by the arbitration clause, is not that surprising.  Perhaps the most significant questions moving forward will be the effect these reasons have on the doctrine of unconscionability more generally.




Justice Andrew Bell opines on arbitration and choice of court agreements

By Michael Douglas and Mhairi Stewart

Andrew Bell is a leader of private international law in Australia. His scholarly work includes Forum Shopping and Venue in Transnational Litigation (Oxford Private International Law Series, 2003) and several editions of Nygh’s Conflict of Laws in Australia (see LexisNexis, 10th ed, 2019). As a leading silk, he was counsel on many of Australia’s leading private international law cases. In February 2019, his Honour was appointed President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal.

Recently, in Inghams Enterprises Pty Ltd v Hannigan [2020] NSWCA 82, his Honour provided a helpful exposition of the principles applicable to dispute resolution agreements, including arbitration and choice of court agreements. His Honour dissented from the majority of Justices of Appeal Meagher and Gleeson.

Background

Inghams Enterprises, the Australian poultry supplier, entered a contract with Gregory Hannigan by which Hannigan would raise and feed chickens provided by Inghams.

The contract was to continue until 2021 but in 2017 Inghams purported to terminate the contract for alleged breaches by Hannigan. Hannigan successfully sought a declaration that the contract had been wrongfully terminated; see Francis Gregory Hannigan v Inghams Enterprises Pty Limited [2019] NSWSC 321.

In May 2019 Hannigan issued a notice of dispute to Inghams seeking unliquidated damages for losses he incurred between 8 August 2017 and 17 June 2019 while the contract was wrongfully terminated.  Following an unsuccessful mediation in August 2019, Hannigan considered that clause 23.6 of the contract—extracted below—entitled him to refer the dispute to arbitration.

Hannigan’s referral to arbitration was premised by a complex and tiered dispute resolution clause: clause 23. Compliance with clause 23 was a precondition to commencing court proceedings. The clause also contained a requirement to provide notice of a dispute; to use ‘best efforts’ to resolve the dispute in an initial period; and to then go to mediation. If mediation were unsuccessful, then the clause provided that certain disputes must be referred to arbitration. Relevantly, clause 23 included the following:

23.1  A party must not commence court proceedings in respect of a dispute arising out of this agreement (“Dispute”), including without limitation a dispute regarding any breach or purported breach of this agreement, interpretation of any of its provisions, any matters concerning of parties’ performance or observance of its obligations under this agreement, or the termination or the right of a party to terminate this agreement) until it has complied with this clause 23.’

‘23.6  If:

23.6.1  the dispute concerns any monetary amount payable and/or owed by either party to the other under this agreement, including without limitation, matters relating to determination, adjustment or renegotiation of the Fee under Annexure 1 under clauses 9.4, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15.3.3 …   

23.6.2 the parties fail to resolve the dispute in accordance with clause 23.4 within twenty eight (28) days of the appointment of the mediator

then the parties must (unless otherwise agreed) submit the dispute to arbitration using an external arbitrator (who must not be the same person as the mediator) agreed by the parties or, in the absence of agreement, appointed by the Institute Chairman.’ (Emphasis added.)

Inghams sought to restrain the referral to arbitration and failed at first instance; see Inghams Enterprises Pty Ltd v Hannigan [2019] NSWSC 1186.

Inghams sought leave to appeal. In hearing the question of leave together with the appeal, then granting leave, the two key issues for determination by the Court of Appeal were:

  • Whether a claim for unliquidated damages could fall within the scope of the arbitration clause which required claims to be concerning monetary amounts ‘under this agreement’ (the construction issue); and
  • Whether Hannigan had waived his entitlement to arbitrate by bringing the proceedings in 2017 (the waiver issue).

The construction issue

Meagher JA, with whom Gleeson JA agreed, determined Hannigan’s claim for unliquidated damages for breach of contract was not a claim ‘under’ the contract and therefore did not fall within the terms of the arbitration clause in clause 23.

The phrase ‘monetary amount payable and/or owed’ referred to a payment obligation by one party to another. Read with the phrase ‘under this agreement’, the clauses required that the contract must be the source of the payment obligation to invoke the requirement to arbitrate. A claim for unliquidated damages was beyond the scope of the clause.

The majority and Bell P thus disagreed on whether an assessment for unliquidated damages for breach of contract is ‘governed or controlled’ by a contract because the common law quantum of damages considers the benefits which would have been received under the contract. The majority found that liquidated damages are a right of recovery created by the contract itself and occur as a result of a breach; unliquidated damages for a breach are compensation determined by the Court.

Bell P included provided a detailed discussion of the interpretation of dispute resolution clauses and considered the orthodox process of construction is to be applied to the construction of dispute resolution clauses. That discussion is extracted below. Bell P’s liberal approach was not followed by the majority.

The waiver issue

The Court found that Hannigan did not unequivocally abandon his right to utilise the arbitration clause by initiating the breach of contract proceedings against Inghams for the following reasons:

  1. Hannigan did not abandon his right to arbitration by failing to bring a damages claim in the 2017 proceedings.
  2. In 2017 Hannigan enforced his rights under clause 23.11 by seeking declaratory relief.
  3. The contract explicitly required that waiver of rights be waived by written notice.
  4. The bringing of proceedings did not constitute a written agreement not to bring a damages claim to arbitration.

It was noted that if Hannigan had sought damages in 2017 then Ingham’s waiver argument may have had some force.

President Bell’s  dicta on dispute resolution clauses

In his dissenting reasons, Bell P provided the following gift to private international law teachers and anyone trying to understand dispute resolution clauses:

Dispute resolution clauses may be crafted and drafted in an almost infinite variety of ways and styles. The range and diversity of such clauses may be seen in the non-exhaustive digest of dispute resolution clauses considered by Australian courts over the last thirty years, which is appended to these reasons. [The Appendix, below, sets out a table of example clauses drawn from leading cases.]

Dispute resolution clauses may be short form or far more elaborate, as illustrated by the cases referred to in the Appendix. They may be expressed as service of suit clauses… They may provide for arbitration… They may be standard form… They may be bespoke… They may be asymmetric… They may and often will be coupled with choice of law clauses… They may be multi-tiered, providing first for a process of mediation, whether informal or formal, or informal and then formal, before providing for arbitral or judicial dispute resolution…

Dispute resolution clauses are just as capable of generating litigation as any other contractual clause, and the law reports are replete with cases concerned with the construction of such clauses. The cases referred to in the Appendix supply a sample.

Such clauses have also spawned specialist texts and monographs…

The question raised by this appeal is purely one of construction. It is accordingly desirable to begin by identifying the principles applicable to the construction of a dispute resolution clause. …

It has been rightly observed that “the starting point is that the clause should be construed, just as any other contract term should be construed, to seek to discover what the parties actually wanted and intended to agree to”…

In short, the orthodox process of construction is to be followed…

In the context of dispute resolution clauses, whether they be arbitration or exclusive jurisdiction clauses, much authority can be found in support of affording such clauses a broad and liberal construction…

In Australia, unlike other jurisdictions, the process of contractual construction of dispute resolution clauses has not been overlaid by presumptions cf [some other jurisdictions]. Thus, in [Rinehart v Welker (2012) 95 NSWLR 221] at [122], Bathurst CJ, although not eschewing the liberal approach that had been adumbrated in both Francis Travel and Comandate to the construction of arbitration clauses, rejected the adoption of a presumption … the presumption was that the court should, in the construction of arbitration clauses, “start from the assumption that the parties, as rational businessmen, are likely to have intended any dispute arising out of the relationship into which they have entered or purported to enter to be decided by the same tribunal”, and that the clause should be construed in accordance with that presumption, “unless the language makes it clear that certain questions were intended to be excluded from the arbitrator’s jurisdiction…

In [Rinehart v Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd (2019) 93 ALJR 582], the plurality indicated that the appeals could be resolved with the application of orthodox principles of construction, which required consideration of the context and purpose of the Deeds there under consideration… In his separate judgment, Edelman J described as a “usual consideration of context” the fact that “reasonable persons in the position of the parties would wish to minimise the fragmentation across different tribunals of their future disputes by establishing ‘one-stop adjudication’ as far as possible”… This may have been to treat the considerations underpinning [leading] cases… as stating a commercially commonsensical assumption…

The proper contemporary approach was eloquently articulated in the following passage in [Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd v Rinehart (2017) 257 FCR 442] (at [167]) which I would endorse:

 “The existence of a ‘correct general approach to problems of this kind’ does not imply some legal rule outside the orthodox process of construction; nor does it deny the necessity to construe the words of any particular agreement. But part of the assumed legal context is this correct general approach which is to give expression to the rational assumption of reasonable people by giving liberal width and flexibility where possible to elastic and general words of the contractual submission to arbitration, unless the words in their context should be read more narrowly. One aspect of this is not to approach relational prepositions with fine shades of difference in the legal character of issues, or by ingenuity in legal argument… another is not to choose or be constrained by narrow metaphor when giving meaning to words of relationship, such as ‘under’ or ‘arising out of’ or ‘arising from’. None of that, however, is to say that the process is rule-based rather than concerned with the construction of the words in question. Further, there is no particular reason to limit such a sensible assumption to international commerce. There is no reason why parties in domestic arrangements (subject to contextual circumstances) would not be taken to make the very same common-sense assumption. Thus, where one has relational phrases capable of liberal width, it is a mistake to ascribe to such words a narrow meaning, unless some aspect of the constructional process, such as context, requires it.” (Citations omitted.)

Bell P’s appendix

Schedule of Jurisdiction and Arbitration Clauses
Case Name Citation Clause
Tanning Research Laboratories Inc v O’Brien (1990) 169 CLR 332; [1990] HCA 8 “10. Arbitration. Any controversy or claim arising out of, or relating to, this Agreement or the breach thereof, shall be settled by arbitration, in accordance with the rules, then obtaining, of the American Arbitration Association, and judgment upon the award rendered may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof.”
IBM Australia Ltd v National Distribution Services Ltd (1991) 22 NSWLR 466; (1991) 100 ALR 361 “9. Governing Law and Arbitration This Agreement will be construed in accordance with and governed by the laws of New South Wales. Any controversy or claim arising out of or related to this Agreement or the breach thereof will be settled by arbitration. The arbitration will be held in Sydney, New South Wales and will be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Commercial Arbitration Act, 1984 (as amended). The decision of the arbitrator(s) will be final and binding.”
Francis Travel Marketing Pty Ltd v Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd (1996) 39 NSWLR 160; (1996) 131 FLR 422 “ARTICLE 19

Arbitration

Any dispute or difference arising out of this Agreement shall be referred to the arbitration in London of a single Arbitrator to be agreed upon by the parties hereto or in default of such agreement appointed by the President for the time being of the Royal Aeronautical Society. The and the provisions of the Arbitration Act 1950 and any statutory modifications or re-enactments therefore for the time being in force shall apply. (sic)

ARTICLE 20

Applicable Law

This Agreement shall in all respects be interpreted in accordance with the Laws of England.”

Akai Pty Ltd v People’s Insurance Co Ltd (1996) 188 CLR 418; [1996] HCA 39 “Governing Law

This policy shall be governed by the laws of England. Any dispute arising from this policy shall be referred to the Courts of England.”

FAI General Insurance Co Ltd v Ocean Marine Mutual Protection & Indemnity Association (1997) 41 NSWLR 117 “This Reinsurance is subject to English jurisdiction”, with a manuscript addition: “Choice of Law: English”
Hi-Fert Pty Ltd v Kiukiang Maritime Carriers (No 5) (1998) 90 FCR 1; (1998) 159 ALR 142 “Any dispute arising from this charter or any Bill of Lading issued hereunder shall be settled in accordance with the provisions of the Arbitration Act 1950 and any subsequent Acts, in London, each party appointing an Arbitrator, and the two Arbitrators in the event of disagreement appointing an Umpire whose decision shall be final and binding upon both parties hereto.

This Charter Party shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English Law.

The Arbitrators and Umpire shall be commercial men normally engaged in the Shipping Industry.

Any claim must be in writing and claimant’s Arbitrator appointed within six months of the Vessel’s arrival at final port of discharge, otherwise all claims shall be deemed to be waived.”

Recyclers of Australia Pty Ltd v Hettinga Equipment Inc (2000) 100 FCR 420; [2000] FCA 547 Applicable Law, Pricing and Terms of Sale: Any contract between Buyer and Hettinga shall be governed, construed and interpreted under the law of the State of Iowa, and shall be subject to the terms and conditions listed below. Any Purchase Order issued by Buyer as a result of this quotation shall be deemed to incorporate the terms and conditions of this quotation. If there is any conflict between these conditions of sale and those of the buyer, these conditions shall control …

Arbitration: All disputes hereunder, including the validity of this agreement, shall be submitted to arbitration by an arbitrator in Des Moines, Iowa USA under the Rules of the American Arbitration Association, and the decision rendered thereunder shall conclusively bind the parties. Judgment upon the award may be entered in any court having jurisdiction.”

HIH Casualty & General Insurance Ltd (in liq) v RJ Wallace (2006) 68 NSWLR 603; [2006] NSWSC 1150 “ARTICLE XVIII

SERVICE OF SUIT

The Reinsurer hereon agrees that:

i.   In the event of a dispute arising under this Agreement, the Reinsurers at the request of the Company will submit to the jurisdiction of any competent Court in the Commonwealth of Australia. Such dispute shall be determined in accordance with the law and practice applicable in such Court.

ii.   Any summons notices or process to be served upon the Reinsurer may be served upon MESSRS. FREEHILL, HOLLINGDALE & PAGE M.L.C. CENTRE, MARTIN PLACE, SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2000 AUSTRALIA who has authority to accept service and to enter an appearance on the Reinsurer’s behalf, and who is directed, at the request of the Company to give a written undertaking to the Company that he will enter an appearance on the Reinsurer’s behalf.

iii.   If a suit is instituted against any one of the Reinsurers all Reinsurers hereon will abide by the final decision of such Court or any competent Appellate Court.

ARTICLE XIX

ARBITRATION:

Disputes arising out of this Agreement or concerning its validity shall be submitted to the decision of a Court of Arbitration, consisting of three members, which shall meet in Australia.

The members of the Court of Arbitration shall be active or retired executives of Insurance or Reinsurance Companies.

Each party shall nominate one arbitrator. In the event of one party failing to appoint its arbitrator within four weeks after having been required by the other party to do so, the second arbitrator shall be appointed by the President of the Chamber of Commerce in Australia. Before entering upon the reference, the arbitrators shall nominate an umpire. If the arbitrators fail to agree upon an umpire within four weeks of their own appointment, the umpire shall be nominated by the President of the Chamber of Commerce in Australia.

The Arbitrators shall reach their decision primarily in accordance with the usages and customs of Reinsurance practice and shall be relieved of all legal formalities. They shall reach their decision within four months of the appointment of the umpire.

The decision of the Court of Arbitration shall not be subject to appeal.

The costs of Arbitration shall be paid as the Court of Arbitration directs.

Actions for the payment of confirmed balances shall come under the jurisdiction of the ordinary Courts.”

Comandate Marine Corporation v Pan Australia Shipping Pty Ltd (2006) 157 FCR 45; [2006] FCAFC 192 “(b) London

All disputes arising out of this contract shall be arbitrated at London and, unless the parties agree forthwith on a single Arbitrator, be referred to the final arbitrament of two Arbitrators carrying on business in London who shall be members of the Baltic Mercantile & Shipping Exchange and engaged in Shipping one to be appointed by each of the parties, with the power to such Arbitrators to appoint an Umpire. No award shall be questioned or invalidated on the ground that any of the Arbitrators is not qualified as above, unless objection to his action be taken before the award is made. Any dispute arising hereunder shall be governed by English Law.

…”

Armacel Pty Ltd v Smurfit Stone Container Corporation (2008) 248 ALR 573; [2008] FCA 592 “21.3.1 This Agreement must be read and construed according to the laws of the state of New South Wales, Australia and the parties submit to the jurisdiction of that State. If any dispute arises between the Licensor and the Licensee in connection with this Agreement or the Technology, the parties will attempt to mediate the dispute in Sydney, Australia.

21.3.2 In the event that there is a conflict between the laws of the State of New South Wales, Australia and the jurisdiction in which the Equipment is located, then the parties agree that the laws of the State of New South Wales shall prevail.

21.3.3 If the licensee is in breach of this Agreement, the Licensee must pay to the Licensor on demand the amount of any legal costs and expenses incurred by the Licensor for the enforcement of its rights under this Agreement and this provision shall prevail despite any order for costs made by any Court.”

BHPB Freight Pty Ltd v Cosco Oceania Chartering Pty Ltd (2008) 168 FCR 169; [2008] FCA 551 “(b)   Any dispute arising out of this Charter Party or any Bill of Lading issued hereunder shall be referred to arbitration in accordance with the Arbitration Acts 1996 and any statutory modification or re-enactment in force. English law shall apply …

(c)   The arbitrators, umpire and mediator shall be commercial persons engaged in the shipping industry. Any claim must be made in writing and the claimant’s arbitrator nominated within 12 months of the final discharge of the cargo under this Charter Party, failing which any such claim shall be deemed to be waived and absolutely barred.”

Paharpur Cooling Towers Ltd v Paramount (WA) Ltd [2008] WASCA 110 [Background: “Clause 22 of the contract provides that when any dispute arises between the parties any party may give to the other party a notice in writing that a dispute exists. Clause 22 then sets out a process by which the parties are to endeavour to resolve the dispute. If they are unable to do so, Paramount (as Principal) at its sole discretion:”]

“[S]hall determine whether the parties resolve the dispute by litigation within the jurisdiction of the courts of Western Australia or arbitration under the Commercial Arbitration Act. [Paramount] shall notify [Paharpur], by notice in writing, of its decision to refer the dispute to litigation or arbitration within 28 days of either [Paramount] or [Paharpur] electing that the dispute be determined by either litigation or arbitration.”

“’Dispute’ means a dispute or difference between the parties as to the construction of the Contract or as to any matter or thing of whatsoever nature arising, whether antecedent to the Contract and relating to its formation or arising under or in connection with the Contract, including any claim at common law, in tort, under statute or for restitution based on unjust enrichment or for rectification or frustration or a dispute concerning a direction given and/or acts or failing to act by the Engineer or the Engineer’s Representative or interference by the Principal or the Principal’s Representative.”

Electra Air Conditioning BV v Seeley International Pty Ltd ACN 054 687 035 [2008] FCAFC 169 “20. Dispute Resolution

20.1   If at any time there is a dispute, question or difference of opinion (“Dispute”) between the parties concerning or arising out of this Agreement or its construction, meaning, operation or effect or concerning the rights, duties or liabilities of any party, one party may serve a written notice on the other party setting out details of the Dispute.

Thereafter:

(a)   senior management of each party will try to resolve the Dispute through friendly discussions for a period of thirty (30) days after the date of receipt of the notice; and

(b)   if senior management of each party are unable to resolve the Dispute under Section 20.1(a), it shall be referred to arbitration in accordance with the Rules for the Conduct of Commercial Arbitrations of the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia. The number of arbitrators shall be 1. The place of arbitration shall be Melbourne, Australia. The language of arbitration shall be English. The arbitral award shall be final and binding upon both parties.

20.2   Pending the resolution of the Dispute under Section 20.1, the parties shall continue to perform their obligations under this Agreement without prejudice to a final adjustment in accordance with any award.

20.3   Nothing in this Section 20 prevents a party seeking injunctive or declaratory relief in the case of a material breach or threatened breach of this Agreement.”

“25. Governing law and Jurisdiction

This Agreement is governed by the laws of Victoria, Australia. Subject to Section 20, the parties irrevocably submit to the courts of Victoria, and any courts of appeal from such courts, in relation to the subject matter of this Agreement.”

Ace Insurance Ltd v Moose Enterprise Pty Ltd [2009] NSWSC 724 Policy

“Should any dispute arise concerning this policy, the dispute will be determined in accordance with the law of Australia and the States and Territories thereof. In relation to any such dispute the parties agree to submit to the jurisdiction of any competent court in a State or Territory of Australia.”

Expona Endorsement

“Provided that all claims which fall under the terms of this endorsement, it is agreed:

(i)   the limits of liability are inclusive of costs as provided under supplementary payment in this policy.

(ii)   that should any dispute arise between the insured and ACE over the application of this policy, such dispute shall be determined in accordance with the law and practice of the Commonwealth of Australia.”

Global Partners Fund Ltd v Babcock & Brown Ltd (in liq) [2010] NSWCA 196; (2010) 79 ACSR 383 Limited Partnership Agreement

“This Agreement and the rights, obligations and relationships of the parties hereto under this Agreement and in respect of the Private Placement Memorandum shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and all the parties irrevocably agree that the courts of England are to have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any disputes which may arise out of or in connection with this Agreement or the Private Placement Memorandum or the acquisition of Commitments, whether or not governed by the laws of England, and that accordingly any suit, action or proceedings arising out of or in connection with this Agreement or Private Placement Memorandum or the acquisition of Commitments shall be brought in such courts. The parties hereby waive, to the extent not prohibited by applicable law, and agree not to assert by way of motion, as a defence or otherwise, in any such proceeding, any claim that it is not subject personally to the jurisdiction of such courts, that any such proceedings brought in such courts is improper or that this Agreement or the Private Placement Memorandum, or the subject matter hereof or thereof, may not be enforced in or by such court.”

Deed of Adherence

“14. This Deed of Adherence and the rights, obligations and relationships of the parties under this Deed of Adherence and the Partnership Agreement and in respect of the Private Placement Memorandum shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England.

15. The Applicant irrevocably agrees that the courts of England are to have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any disputes which may arise out of or in connection with this Deed of Adherence, the Partnership Agreement, the Private Placement Memorandum, or the acquisition of Commitments whether or not governed by the laws of England, and that accordingly any suit, action or proceedings arising out of or in connection with this Deed of Adherence, the Partnership Agreement, the Private Placement Memorandum, or the acquisition of Commitments shall be brought in such courts. The Applicant hereby waives, to the extent not prohibited by applicable law, and agrees not to assert by way of motion, as a defence or otherwise, in any such proceeding, any claim that the Applicant is not subject personally to the jurisdiction of such courts, that any such proceeding brought in such courts is improper or that this Deed of Adherence, the Partnership Agreement or the Private Placement Memorandum, or the subject matter hereof or thereof, may not be enforced in or by such court.

Faxtech Pty Ltd v ITL Optronics Ltd [2011] FCA 1320 “the agreement shall be interpreted, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of England, and the parties submit to the jurisdiction of the competent courts of England (London).”
Cape Lambert Resources Ltd v MCC Australia Sanjin Mining Pty Ltd [2013] WASCA 66; (2013) 298 ALR 666 Asset Sale Agreement

“16.2 Governing Law and Dispute Resolution

(a)   This agreement is governed by the laws of Western Australia.

(b)   Subject to clause 16.2(d), the procedures prescribed in this clause 16 must be strictly followed to settle a dispute arising under this agreement.

(c)   If any dispute arises out of or in connection with this agreement, including any question regarding the existence, validity or termination of this agreement;

(1)   within ten Business Days of the dispute arising senior representatives from each party must meet in good faith, act reasonably and use their best endeavours to resolve the dispute by joint discussions;

(2)   failing settlement by negotiation, either party may, by notice to the other party, refer the dispute for resolution by mediation:

(A)   at the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) in Singapore;

(B)   under the SMC Mediation Procedures;

(C)   with one mediator;

(D)   with English as the language of the mediation; and

(E)   with each party bearing its own costs of the mediation; and

(3)   failing settlement by mediation, either party may, by notice to the other party, refer the dispute for final and binding resolution by arbitration:

(A)   at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in Singapore;

(B)   under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Arbitration Rules (UNCITRAL) in force on the date of this agreement, which are deemed to be incorporated by reference into this clause;

(C)   to the extent, if any, that the UNCITRAL do not deal with any procedural issues for the arbitration, the procedural rules in the SIAC Arbitration Rules in force on the date of this agreement will apply to the arbitration;

(D)   with the substantive law of the arbitration being Western Australian law;

(E)   with one Arbitrator;

(F)   with English as the language of the arbitration; and

(G)   with each party bearing its own costs of the arbitration.

(d)   Nothing in this clause 16:

(1)   prevents either party seeking urgent injunctive or declaratory relief from the Supreme Court of Western Australia in connection with the dispute without first having to attempt to negotiate and settle the dispute in accordance with this clause 16; or

(2)   requires a party to do anything which may have an adverse effect on, or compromise that party’s position under, any policy of insurance effected by that party.”

Guarantee Agreement

“9.9. Governing law and jurisdiction

(a)   This document is governed by the laws of Western Australia.

(b)   Subject to clause 9.9(c)(iii)(G), the procedures prescribed in this clause 9.9 must be strictly followed to settle a dispute arising under this document.

(c)   If any dispute arises out of or in connection with this document, including any question regarding the existence, validity or termination of this document:

(i)   within 10 Business Days of the dispute arising senior representatives from each party must meet in good faith, act reasonably and use their best endeavours to resolve the dispute by joint discussions;

(ii)   failing settlement by negotiation, any party may, by notice to the other parties, refer the dispute for resolution by mediation; and

(A) at the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) in Singapore;

(B) with one mediator;

(C) with English as the language of the Mediation; and

(D) with each party bearing its own costs of the mediation; and

(iii)   failing settlement by mediation, any party may, by notice to the other parties, refer the dispute for final and binding resolution by arbitration:

 

(A)    at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in Singapore or in Hong Kong;

(B)   under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Arbitration Rules (UNCITRAL) in force on the date of this agreement, which are deemed to be incorporated by reference into this clause;

(C)   to the extent, if any, that UNCITRAL do not deal with any procedural issues for the arbitration, the procedural rules in the SIAC Arbitration Rules in force on the date of this agreement will apply to the arbitration;

(D)   with the substantive law of the arbitration being Western Australian law;

(E)   with one arbitrator;

(F)   with English as the language of the arbitration; and

(G)   with each party bearing its own costs of the arbitration.

(d)    Nothing in this clause 9.9:

(i)   prevents any party seeking urgent injunctive or declaratory relief from the Supreme Court of Western Australia in connection with the dispute without first having to attempt to negotiate and settle the dispute in accordance with this clause 9.9; or

(ii)   requires a party to do anything which may have an adverse effect on, or compromise that party’s position under, any policy of insurance effected by that party.”

AAP Industries Pty Limited v Rehaud Pte Limited [2015] NSWSC 468 Supply Agreement

“The agreed place of jurisdiction, irrespective of the amount in dispute, is Singapore.”

Conditions of Purchase

“This contract shall be construed in accordance with and governed in every respect by the laws of Singapore, and all disputes arising out of or in connection with this agreement shall be brought in the courts of Singapore.”

Rinehart v Rinehart (No 3)

(and Rinehart v Welker, in relation to the Hope Downs Deed;

and Rinehart v Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd, in relation to the Hope Downs Deed and April 2005 Deed of Obligation and Release)

(2016) 257 FCR 310

 

(and (2012) 95 NSWLR 221;

 

 

and [2019] HCA 13; (2019) 366 ALR 635)

April 2005 Deed of Obligation and Release

“This Deed shall be governed by and shall be subject to and interpreted according to the laws of the State of Western Australia, and the parties hereby agree, subject to all disputes hereunder being resolved by confidential mediation and arbitration in Western Australia, to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of Western Australia for all purposes in respect of this Deed.”

Hope Downs Deed

“20. CONFIDENTIAL MEDIATION/ARBITRATION

In the event that there is any dispute under this deed then any party to his [sic] deed who has a dispute with any other party to this deed shall forthwith notify the other party or parties with whom there is the dispute and all other parties to this deed (‘Notification’) and the parties to this deed shall attempt to resolve such difference in the following manner.

20.1 Confidential Mediation

(a)   the disputing parties shall first attempt to resolve their dispute by confidential mediation subject to Western Australian law to be conducted by a mediator agreed to by each of the disputing parties and GHR (or after her death or non-capacity, HPPL);

(b)   each of the disputing parties must attempt to agree upon a suitably qualified and independent person to undertake the mediation;

(c)   the mediation will be conducted with a view to:

(i)   identifying the dispute;

(ii)   developing alternatives for resolving the dispute;

(iii)   exploring these alternatives; and

(iv)   seeking to find a solution that is acceptable to the disputing parties.

(d)   any mediation will not impose an outcome on the disputing parties. Any outcome must be agreed to by the disputing parties;

(e)   any mediation will be abandoned if:

(i)   the disputing parties agree;

(ii)   any of the disputing parties request the abandonment.

20.2 Confidential Arbitration

(a)   Where the disputing parties are unable to agree to an appointment of a mediator for the purposes of this clause within fourteen (14) days of the date of the Notification or in the event any mediation is abandoned then the dispute shall on that date be automatically referred to
arbitration for resolution (‘Referral Date’) and the following provisions of this clause shall apply;

(i)   in the event that no agreement on the arbitrator can be reached within three (3) weeks of the Referral Date, the arbitrator will be Mr Tony Fitzgerald QC (provided he is willing to perform this function and has not reached 74 years of age at that time), or in the event Mr Tony Fitzgerald QC is unwilling or unable to act, the Honourable Justice John Middleton (provided he is no longer a Judge of the Federal or other Australian Court and provided he
has not reached 74 years of age at that time), and irrespective of whether either of these persons have carried out the mediation referred to above, or in the event that neither is willing or able to act,

(ii)   subject to paragraph (iv) below by confidential arbitration with one (1) party to the dispute nominating one (1) arbitrator, and the other party to the dispute nominating another arbitrator and the two (2) arbitrators selecting a third arbitrator within a further three (3) weeks, who shall together resolve the matter pursuant to the Commercial Arbitration Act of Western Australia and whose decision shall be final and binding on the parties;

(iii)   if the arbitrators nominated pursuant to paragraph 2(a)(ii) are unable to agree in the selection of a third arbitrator within the time provided in paragraph 2(a)(iii), the third arbitrator will be designated by the President of the Law Society of Western
Australia and shall be a legal practitioner qualified to practise in the State of Western Australia of not less than twenty (20) years standing.

(iv)   in the event that a disputing party does not nominate an arbitrator pursuant to Clause 2(a)(ii) within twenty-one (21) days from being required to do so it will be deemed to have agreed to the appointment of the arbitrator appointed by the other disputing party.

(b)   The dispute shall be resolved by confidential arbitration by the arbitrator agreed to by each of the disputing parties or appointed pursuant to paragraph 2(a)(i) above (or if more than one is appointed pursuant to paragraph 2(a)(ii) then as decided by not less than a majority of them) who shall resolve the matter pursuant to the Commercial Arbitration Act of Western Australia and whose decision shall be final and binding on the parties.

(c)   The arbitration will take place at a location outside of a Court and chosen to endeavour to maintain confidentiality and mutually agreed to by the disputing parties and failing agreement in Western Australia and the single Arbitrator or the Chairman of the Arbitral Tribunal as the
case may be will fix the time and place outside of a Court for the purposes of the confidential hearing of such evidence and represen­tations as any of the disputing parties may present. If any of the parties request wheelchair access, this will be taken into account in the selection of the premises and parking needs. Except as otherwise provided, the decision of the single arbitrator or, if three arbitrators, the decision of any two of them in writing will be binding on the disputing parties both in respect of procedure and the final determination of the issues.

(d)   The arbitrators will not be obliged to have regard to any particular information or evidence in reaching his/their determination and in his/their discretion procure and consider such information and evidence and in such form as he/they sees fit;

(e)   The award of the arbitrator(s) will be to the extent allowed by law non-appealable, conclusive and binding on the parties and will be specifically enforceable by any Court having jurisdiction. …

[21. the deed] shall be governed by and be subject to and interpreted according to the laws of the State of Western Australia”.”

August 2009 Deed of Further Settlement

“16. The CS Deed and this Deed will be governed by the following dispute resolution clause:

(i)   the parties shall first seek to resolve any dispute or claim arising out of, or in relation to this Deed or the CS Deed by discussions or negotiations in good faith;

(ii)   Any dispute or claim arising out of or in relation to this Deed or the CS Deed which is not resolved within 90 days, will be submitted to confidential arbitration in accordance with the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules then in force. There will be three arbitrators. JLH shall appoint one arbitrator, HPPL shall appoint the other arbitrator and both arbitrators will choose the third Arbitrator. The place of arbitration shall be in Australia and the exact location shall be chosen by HPPL. Each party will be bound by the Arbitrator’s decision.

(iii)   A party may not commence court proceedings in relation to any dispute arising out of or in relation to this Deed or the Original Deed or the CS Deed;

(iv)   The costs of the arbitrators and the arbitration venue will be borne equally as to half by JLH and the other half by the non JLH party. Each party is responsible for its own costs in connection with the dispute resolution process; and

(v)   Despite the existence of a Dispute, the parties must continue to perform their respective obligations under this Deed.”

Mobis Parts Australia Pty Ltd v XL Insurance Company SE [2016] NSWSC 1170 “The place of jurisdiction for any dispute arising out of this Policy shall be Bratislava”, with an anterior clause: “This Policy shall be governed exclusively by Slovakian law. This also applies to Insured Companies with a foreign domicile.”
Parnell Manufacturing Pty Ltd v Lonza Ltd [2017] NSWSC 562 “16.5 Governing Law/Jurisdiction. This Agreement is governed in all respects by the laws of the State of Delaware, without regard to its conflicts of laws principles. The Parties agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the courts of Delaware.”
Royal Bank of Scotland plc v Babcock & Brown DIF III Global Co-Investment Fund LP [2017] VSCA 138 “This Letter Agreement shall be governed by, and construed and interpreted in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York applicable to contracts executed in and to be performed in that State. Each of the parties hereto (a) consents to submit itself to the personal jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York or any court of the State of New York located in such district in the event any dispute arises out of this Letter Agreement or any of the transactions contemplated by this Letter Agreement, (b) agrees that it will not attempt to deny or defeat such personal jurisdiction or venue by motion or other request for leave from any such court and (c) agrees that it will not bring any action relating to this Letter Agreement or any of the transactions contemplated by this Letter Agreement in any court other than such courts sitting in the State of New York. THE PARTIES HEREBY WAIVE TRIAL BY JURY IN ANY ACTION, SUIT, PROCEEDING OR COUNTERCLAIM BROUGHT BY EITHER OF THEM AGAINST THE OTHER IN ANY MATTERS ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH THIS AGREEMENT.”
Australian Health & Nutrition Association Ltd v Hive Marketing Group Pty Ltd (2019) 99 NSWLR 419; [2019] NSWCA 61 Risk Transfer Agreement

“The parties shall strive to settle any dispute arising from the interpretation or performance of this Agreement through friendly consultation within 30 days after one party asks for consultation. In case no settlement can be reached through consultation, each party can submit such matter to the court. The English Courts shall have the exclusive jurisdiction for all disputes arising out of or in connection with this Agreement.”
Promotion Agreement

“This Agreement is governed by the law in force in New South Wales. The parties submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts having jurisdiction in New South Wales and any courts, which may hear appeals from those courts in respect of any proceedings in connection with this Agreement.”

Conclusion

Respectfully, Bell P’s dissenting reasons are to be preferred to those of Meagher JA, with whom Gleeson JA agreed. Bell P’s reasons are more consistent the weight of authority on construction of arbitration and choice of court agreements in Australia and abroad. On the other hand, the majority approach shows that Australian courts often do not feel bound to follow the solutions offered by foreign courts to common private international law problems.

Michael Douglas co-authored this post with Mhairi Stewart. This post is based on their short article first published by Bennett + Co.