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Golden Endurance Shipping SA v. RMA Watanya SA & Others [2014] EWHC 3917 (Comm

Subject: Shipping; Contracts

Keywords: Allocation of jurisdiction; Anti-suit injunctions; Bills of lading; Breach of contract; Contracts of carriage; Damage to goods; Morocco; Readiness to unload

Summary: The Claimant owners of the mv “Golden Endurance” were subject to cargo claims in the Moroccan Court brought by the First to Third Defendant insurers.  The owners obtained an interim anti-suit injunction from the English Court and were given permission to serve claims for a declaration of non-liability and damages out of the jurisdiction.  On the return date of the anti-suit injunction and the Defendants’ application challenging the jurisdiction of the English Court, the Court dismissed the challenge to the jurisdiction but set aside the injunction in part. The Court held that no separate jurisdictional gateway was required for the claims for an anti-suit injunction and for Lord Cairns’ Act damages. Further, following the approach adopted in The Lucky Lady [2013] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 104 and The Channel Ranger [2014] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 2014, the Court held that England was the natural forum because the Moroccan Courts would apply the Hamburg Rules whereas the English Court would apply English law (as the law governing the contracts of carriage chosen by the parties) which would be more favourable to the owners if it led to the application of the Hague Rules.  With regard to two bills of lading which were governed by English law but contained no choice of forum, the anti-suit injunction was discharged because the Court would not restrain a party from bringing foreign proceedings on the sole ground that the foreign Court would not apply the English proper law of the contract.  With regard to the third bill, which incorporated a London arbitration agreement, the Court granted a final anti-suit injunction.   

Member of Chambers: Michael Collett QC for the Claimant (instructed by Jackson Parton)