Exclusive jurisdiction clause – interpretation
A Hong Kong freight forwarder instituted multiple actions in China under bills of lading containing the following clause:
“23. Law and jurisdiction
This bill of lading and any claim or dispute arising hereunder shall be subject to English law and the jurisdiction of English High Court of Justice in London. If, notwithstanding the foregoing, any proceedings are commenced in another jurisdiction, such proceedings shall be referred to ordinary courts of law. In the case of Chile, arbitrators shall not be competent to deal with any such dispute and proceedings shall be referred to the Chilean ordinary courts.”
The Chilean behemoth carrier whose bills they were obtained an anti-suit injunction and other relief including a warrant of committal for contempt of court against its director and a worldwide freezing order.
While, and despite, being in contempt of English proceedings, the freight forwarder obtained leave to appeal against the primary finding of Cooke J that the clause in question conferred exclusive jurisdiction on English courts.
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