English court decision on anti-arbitration injunctions

The High Court in London has granted an anti-arbitration injunction to prevent the commencement of an arbitration within the context of a series of long-running disputes between the parties.

The case is Sodzawiczny v Smith (Re Arbitration Claim) [2024] EWHC 231 (Comm). The decision contains a useful and detailed review of the case law regarding anti-arbitration injunctions.

The court held that the planned new arbitration amounted to a collateral attack upon pre-existing awards and was an attempt to challenge those awards other than by the agreed mechanism contained in the Arbitration Act 1996. The decision terms such attempts as “Non-Compliant Challenges”.

In granting the injunction the court decided that it would not leave the question of its own jurisdiction to the Tribunal in the new arbitration.

In categorising the different circumstances which can give rise to an anti-arbitration injunction, the emphasis is placed on preventing an unsuccessful party from re-litigating. It will need to be for other decisions to establish the parameters of when the court would stop a successful party from bringing the same claims again.

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