Whether the Singapore court has the jurisdiction or power to grant a Mareva injunction in aid of foreign court proceedings was recently considered by the Singapore High Court in PT Gunung Madu Plantations v Muhammad Jimmy Goh Mashun  SGHC 64. Both plaintiff and defendant were Indonesian and the claim related to alleged breaches of duties which the defendant owed to the plaintiff. The plaintiff had obtained leave to serve the writ in Indonesia on the defendant. The defendant thereupon applied, inter alia, to set aside service of the writ and for a declaration that the court has no jurisdiction over him. In response, the plaintiff applied for a Mareva injunction against the defendant in respect of the defendant’s assets in Singapore. The plaintiff had, after the Singapore action was filed, commenced actions in Malaysia and Indonesia covering much the same allegations against the defendant.
Earlier this month, the English High Court rendered an interesting decision on the (un-)availability of anti-suit injunctions in protection of arbitration agreements under the Brussels I Recast Regulation (No 1215/2012). In Nori Holdings v Bank Otkritie  EWHC 1343 (Comm), Males J critically discussed (and openly disagreed with) AG Wathelet’s Opinion on Case C-536/13 Gazprom and confirmed that such injunctions continue to not be available where they would restrain proceedings in another EU Member State.
In common law Canada there is a clear separation between the question of a court having jurisdiction (jurisdiction simpliciter) and the question of a court choosing whether to exercise or stay its jurisdiction. One issue discussed in the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) is the extent of that separation. Does this separation mean that a particular fact cannot be used in both the analysis of jurisdiction and of forum non conveniens? On its face that seems wrong. A fact could play a role in two separate analyses, being relevant to each in different ways.
Another issue in the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) involves the applicable law as a factor in the forum non conveniens analysis. It is clear that one of the factors in determining the most appropriate forum is the applicable law. This is because it is quite easy for the forum to apply its own law and rather more difficult for it to apply the law of another jurisdiction.
The doctrine of forum non conveniens, in looking to identify the most appropriate forum for the litigation, considers many factors. Two of these are (i) a desire to avoid, if possible, a multiplicity of proceedings and (ii) any potential difficulties in enforcing the decision that results from the litigation. However, it is important to keep these factors analytically separate.
One of the points of interest in the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) concerns the appropriateness of the plaintiff’s undertaking to pay the travel and accommodation costs of the defendant’s witnesses, located in Israel, to come to the trial in Ontario. The defendant had raised the issue of the residence of its witnesses as a factor pointing to Israel being the more appropriate forum. The plaintiff, one presumes, made a strategic decision to counter this factor by giving the undertaking.
The decision to stay proceedings under the doctrine of forum non conveniens is discretionary, which in part means that appeal courts should be reluctant to reverse the decisions of motions judges on the issue. It comes as some surprise, therefore, that the Supreme Court of Canada has disagreed with not only the motions judge but also the Court of Appeal for Ontario and overturned two earlier decisions denying a stay. In Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) the court held (in a 6-3 decision) that the plaintiff’s libel proceedings in Ontario should be stayed because Israel is the clearly more appropriate forum.
Open your eyes, we may be next. Or maybe we are already there? Case C- 191/18, KN v Minister for Justice and Equality, is not about PIL. The questions referred to the CJ on March 16, actually relate to the European Arrest warrant (and Brexit). However, PIL decisions are mirroring the same concerns.
When the French Government announced in February this year plans to launch an “English” Commercial court in Paris, eyebrows were raised and, it is fair to say, an element of skepticism expressed in the common law world as to whether such a development would really prove to be a serious competitor to the Commercial Courts on Fetter Lane in London.
Written by Guillaume Croisant, Université Libre de Bruxelles
In October 2017, as already reported in a previous post, the Belgian Government announced its intention to set up a specialised English-speaking court with jurisdiction over international commercial disputes, the Brussels International Business Court (“BIBC”). An update version of the text has finally been submitted to Parliament on 15 May 2018, after the Government’s initial draft faced criticisms from the High Council of Justice (relating to the BIBC’s independence and impartiality, its source of funding and its impact on the ordinary courts) and was subject to the review of the Conseil d’Etat.