West Tankers Inc v (1) Allianz SPA (2) Generali Assicurazioni Generali SPA  EWHC 854
Written by Paul Bicknell on 17 April 2012« Return to Reading Room
This was an appeal by the Claimant, WT via section 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996. The issue was this:
"Whether the arbitral tribunal is deprived of jurisdiction to award equitable damages for breach of an obligation to arbitrate by reason of EU law."
The background was that a dispute arose due to a collision on 08 August 2000 between TW's vessel, FRONT COMOR and a pier/jetty in Italy. That pier was owned by Erg Petroli S.p.A ("ERG"). ERG chartered TW's vessel. Pursuant to the charterparty ERG referred the dispute to London arbitration claiming for the loss suffered. TW denied liability and advanced a counterclaim seeking declaratory relief that it had no liability to ERG for loss caused by the collision.
The respondent insurers paid ERG circa 15 million EUROS. The Respondents started court proceedings in Italy. A reference was made to the ECJ asking whether an anti suit injunction preventing that case was consistent with Regulation 44/2001. In the interim, WT pressed on with the arbitration securing orders joining the insurers and declarations that the Italian proceedings should be referred to arbitration as the claim arose from the charterparty.
The ECJ's judgment was handed down which found that the anti suit injunction conflicted with Regulation 44/2001 and so the House of Lords discharged the anti suit injunction.
The tribunal made final partial awards in favour of the insurers. WT appealed.
The ECJ's finding that the Regulation did not apply to arbitral tribunal decisions and so such tribunals might well make findings as to the limits of arbitration agreements/clauses/the merits that were not reached also by the court without falling foul of the Regulation. Therefore a finding by the tribunal that it did not have jurisdiction to make a ruling on damages or an indemnity for breach of an arbitration agreement was not correct.
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