England and Wales High Court of Justice, 8 June 2018, Perkins Engines Company Limited v. Mohammed Samih Huseein Ghaddar and Ghaddar Machinery Co. S.A.L., [2018] EWHC 1500 (Comm)

Perkins Engines Company Limited (“Claimant”) applied for an interim anti-suit injunction before the High Court against Mohammed Samih Huseein Ghaddar and Ghaddar Machinery Co. S.A.L. (“Respondents”) in respect of proceedings commenced by them in front of the Lebanese Courts in breach of an arbitration agreement. The agreement states that any dispute will be submitted to the jurisdiction of English Courts and that, to the extent there is no “reciprocal enforcement procedures” between the UK and Lebanon, the dispute will be settled in arbitration.

Both the meaning and the existence of “reciprocal enforcement procedures” were debated by the parties. Claimant considered that the agreement requires the existence of a bilateral or multilateral treaty between the UK and Lebanon, which contained the rules or procedures subject to which, judgments of one State will be enforced in the other. In the absence of such treaty, the dispute should be referred to English Arbitration with seat in London and the interim anti-suit injunction against the Lebanese Proceedings should be admitted.

The High Court of Justice follows Claimant’s interpretation. Thus, it reaffirms its jurisdiction to grant anti-suit injunctions to restrain a breach of an English Arbitration Agreement in respect of foreign proceedings, if only the existence of an arbitration agreement is proved. The meaning and effect of the Arbitration Agreement is a matter of English law. The Court must consider the language used and ascertain what a reasonable person, would have understood the parties to have meant. In the presence of rival meanings, the High Court of Justice can give weight to the construction which is more consistent with business common sense.

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