English High Court Grants Anti-Suit and Anti-Anti-Suit Injunctions in RenSec v Chlodwig: Upholding International Arbitration Agreements

Citation: [2023] EWHC 2816 (Comm)
Judgment on

Introduction

In the case of Renaissance Securities (Cyprus) Limited v Chlodwig Enterprises Limited & Ors, the English High Court of Justice, King’s Bench Division, Commercial Court, dealt with a significant application concerning anti-suit injunctions (ASI) and anti-anti-suit injunctions (AASI) in the context of international arbitration agreements. These types of injunctions prevent parties from litigating in foreign jurisdictions in breach of contractual dispute resolution clauses. Mrs Justice Dias presided over the case and delivered a judgment considering these remedies within the parameters of English Law and international legal considerations.

Key Facts

Renaissance Securities (Cyprus) Limited (RenSec), a Cyprus-based investment services company, sought an urgent without notice application for both an ASI and an AASI against multiple defendants associated with Mr. Andrey Guryev who sought to transfer their assets in spite of sanctions and amidst various domiciliation changes. RenSec argued this was in breach of their contractual obligations under the Investment Services Agreements (ISAs) which stipulated arbitration under the London Court of International Arbitration’s rules. The Defendants initiated legal proceedings in Russian courts, neglecting the dispute resolution mechanism within the ISAs – to which RenSec responded by freezing their assets.

The court considered several key legal principles relevant to the grant of ASI and AASI, which are summarized as follows:

  1. Power to Grant Injunctions: Under section 37(1) of the Senior Courts Act, the court may grant an interim injunction whenever it deems it just and convenient. In the granting of ASI, the court follows the well-established principle that parties should abide by their contractual agreements, most notably arbitration clauses.

  2. Enforcement of Arbitration Agreements: The English court stands firm on upholding and enforcing arbitration agreements, as demonstrated in the authoritative case of The Angelic Grace [1995] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 87 and the more recent case of Deutsche Bank AG v Ruschemalliance LLC [2023] EWCA Civ 1144. The court will grant an ASI to compel parties to honor their agreement to arbitrate unless there are strong reasons to refuse such relief.

  3. Exclusive Supervisory Jurisdiction: The English court’s exclusive supervisory jurisdiction over arbitrations seated in London was relevant, as per Ust-Kamenogorsk Hydropower Plant JSC v AES Ust-Kamenogorsk Hydropower LLP [2013] UKSC 35.

  4. Promptness and Advancement of Foreign Proceedings: An ASI must be sought promptly and before foreign proceedings have progressed significantly, which is informed by The Angelic Grace.

  5. Comity: The principle of comity, especially when ASI could potentially contravene the jurisdictional claims of a foreign court (here, the Russian court under Article 248 of the Russian Commercial Procedure Code), requires careful consideration to ensure international legal principles and relations are respected.

  6. Jurisdiction:

    • The arbitration agreements are governed by English law, and accordingly, the English court has the jurisdiction to determine the appropriateness of issuing an ASI even if a foreign court perceives itself to possess jurisdiction.
    • Relating to service and international jurisdiction, the case navigates the conventions of The Hague on the service abroad of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters. Notably, Russia’s reservation to Article 10 of the convention necessitates alternative service given the potential 17-month delay under normal procedures.
  7. Anti-Anti-Suit Injunctions: The court recognized the power to grant an AASI to prevent attempts by the respondents to nullify the enforcement of contractual rights through foreign ASI, further guarding the integrity of the agreed arbitration process.

Outcomes

Mrs Justice Dias granted RenSec’s application for both the ASI and AASI against the Defendants. The court issued the orders to maintain the status quo until the return date, providing interim relief and preventing the Defendants from progressing with their Russian court proceedings in disregard of the arbitration clauses. Additionally, permission was granted for alternative methods of service, dispensing with personal service regarding the penal notice due to concerns of evasion by the defendants, particularly by Mr. Guryev.

Conclusion

The judgment in Renaissance Securities (Cyprus) Limited v Chlodwig Enterprises Limited & Ors reiterates the English court’s commitment to uphold parties’ agreements to arbitrate disputes, reflecting a consistent approach towards contractual obligations and international arbitration. It emphasizes the English court’s readiness to use its discretion to grant ASIs and AASIs to support arbitration agreements, maintaining the efficacy of this dispute resolution mechanism and respecting both legal certainty and the comity of nations.

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