England and Wales High Court of Justice, 20 June 2018, Eastern European Engineering LTD v. Vijay Construction (Proprietary) LTD, [2018] EWHC 1539 (Comm)

Eastern European Engineering Ltd (“EEEL”), incorporated in the Seychelles, is operating in the area of immovable property. Vijay Construction (Proprietary) Ltd (“Vijay”) is also a Seychellois company, specialized in construction. They concluded six construction contracts, which contained an ICC arbitration clause with seat in Paris and Seychellois law as applicable law to the dispute.

The EEEL initiated arbitration proceedings on the basis of the alleged delay in the performance of the works and related defects. In turn, Vijay submitted a counterclaim arguing that the termination of the contracts on the grounds advanced by EEEL was illegal.

The sole arbitrator issued an award in favour of the EEEL and ordered Vijay to pay damages plus interest and costs. That award was recognized and declared enforceable in France. The annulment proceedings initiated by Vijay in France did not succeed. It also started the annulment proceedings in the Seychelles. Numerous provisional and interim attachment measures were requested, granted and then set aside in the Seychelles. In England, EEEL made an application for a worldwide freezing order against Vijay.

The High Court of Justice first rules that it has jurisdiction over such a relief sought in support of a foreign arbitration award. In light of the existing case-law and taking into account the circumstances of the case, it however declines to grant the worldwide freezing order. It recalls first that there is no sufficient link between the injunction requested and the English jurisdiction. Second, the High Court of Justice points out that the Seychellois Court of Appeal has recently discharged a granted interim measure. Without serious reasons, this English jurisdiction has to defer to Seychellois courts as the primary court with jurisdiction over assets in this country. Finally, a possibility of conflicting orders and the absence of the international fraud involving the police are two relevant factors influencing the judge’s refusal.

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