James Brocklebank KC and Douglas Grant represented the successful defendant, Partner Reinsurance Europe SE (“Partner Re”), in obtaining a stay of proceedings under s.9 of the Arbitration Act 1996 and resisting the application by the claimant, Tyson International Company Ltd (“TICL”), for an anti-arbitration injunction.
The dispute arose out of TICL’s claim under a reinsurance policy underwritten by Partner Re. The parties had agreed two contractual documents. The first, concluded on 30 June 2021, was based on the Market Reform Contract used in the London market and contained an English law and jurisdiction clause (the “MRC”). The second, concluded on 8 July 2021, was based on the Market Uniform Reinsurance Agreement used in the US market and provided for New York law and arbitration (the “MURA”).
In May 2023, competing proceedings were launched in the English High Court and by way of arbitration in New York. Partner Re issued an application under s.9 of the Arbitration Act 1996 for a stay of the English proceedings on the grounds that they had been brought in breach of the arbitration agreement in the MURA. In November 2023, TICL issued an application for a permanent injunction to restrain Partner Re from pursuing the arbitration in New York.
The stay and injunction applications were heard together on 13 December 2023.
Stephen Houseman KC (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) accepted Partner Re’s submission that the parties had, by concluding the MURA, agreed to replace the English jurisdiction clause in the MRC with the arbitration agreement in the later agreement. He dismissed arguments by TICL that the subsequent agreement was not effective, including an argument that the absence of a General Underwriters Agreement endorsement invalidated the MURA. The Judge therefore ordered that the proceedings brought by TICL in England be stayed.
The Judge held that he would not have granted an anti-arbitration injunction even if the New York arbitration had been commenced in breach of an English exclusive jurisdiction clause. TICL had failed to act promptly in seeking injunctive relief and had failed to provide adequate justification for that delay. The Judge would, therefore, have declined to exercise his discretion to grant injunctive relief.