High Court of Justice, 4 May 2018, Atlas Power Ltd and Ors v. National Transmission and Despatch Company Ltd, [2018] EWHC 1052

The dispute between the plaintiffs, a Pakistani power generation company, and the national power grid company controlled by the Pakistani government involved several millions of dollars in receivables from several power purchase contracts.

The main issue here is procedural and concerns the seat of the arbitration proceedings introduced under the LCIA. The plaintiff, considering that the seat of the arbitration is in London, England, made an application for an injunction before the judge to prevent the plaintiff from contesting the arbitral award in parallel proceedings in Pakistan or elsewhere. The Respondent submits that the seat of the arbitration is in Lahore, Pakistan or alternatively that the Pakistani judge has concurrent jurisdiction with the England and Wales jurisdiction. A series of procedural acts on both sides before the Pakistani judge followed the expert’s decision to hold the defendant liable while the plaintiff had enforced his right under the contract dispute clause to request that the seat of the arbitration be in London.

As for the concurrent jurisdiction hypothesis, the British judge replied that it is “curial law” which is intended to apply in matters of validity and challenges of the award. Considering that the case-law considers that the choice of the seat in England is an exclusive clause of jurisdiction in the matter, considered to have been the subject of an agreement.

As to the argument that the seat of the arbitration would be in Lahore, Pakistan, the British judge considered that in the absence of elements that are illegal or contrary to public policy under English law, or other legitimate ground, the defendant was bound by the designation of the seat in London by the arbitrators following the request of the other party in accordance with the arbitration agreement.

Finally, the British judge held that the plaintiff is entitled to a final anti-suit injunction in any other jurisdiction including Pakistan, extending the provisional injunction previously granted because the seat of the arbitration is in London.

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