Compania Sud Americana de Vapores SA v Hin-Pro International Logistics Ltd  EWCA Civ 401
In claims relating to alleged release of cargo without presentation of original bills of lading, freight forwarder, Hin-Pro, commenced multiple actions against CSAV in various Chinese Maritime Courts.
Clause 23 of the subject CSAV bills of lading provided:
“This Bill of Lading and any claim or dispute arising hereunder shall be subject to English law and the jurisdiction of the English High Court of Justice in London. If, notwithstanding the foregoing, any proceedings are commenced in another jurisdiction, such proceedings shall be referred to ordinary courts of law. In the case of Chile, arbitrators shall not be competent to deal with any such disputes and proceedings shall be referred to the Chilean Ordinary Courts.”
Following the commencement of proceedings in China, CSAV commenced proceedings in the English High Court. At first instance the court found in CSAV’s favour, granting (i) a declaration that clause 23 obliged Hin-Pro to bring claims under the bills of lading in the English courts; (ii) damages arising from Hin-Pro’s breach of clause 23; and (iii) a permanent injunction in respect of the Chinese Proceedings.
The Court of Appeal Judgment
In upholding the first instance decision the Court of Appeal held that clause 23 provided for the exclusive jurisdiction of the English High Court for the following reasons:
This case illustrates that the absence of the word “exclusive” will not of itself result in a jurisdiction clause operating on a non-exclusive basis. If a party to a contract intends that a particular jurisdiction named in a law and jurisdiction clause should apply on a non-exclusive basis, then they should expressly state that within the clause. By the same token, it is always worth specifying expressly that a particular jurisdiction should be exclusive if that is what the parties intend.
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