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Claim for Damages Against Directors of a Foreign Company: Do Italian Courts Have Jurisdiction?

Corporate disputes often have a transnational dimension, including in connection with directors liability for wrongdoing. Italian courts are frequently called to decide claims against corporate directors with links with other legal systems, such as the company being incorporated under the laws of a foreign State. This poses relevant procedural issues.

The Court of Milan (decision no 4789/2023) provided valuable insights on the application of the criteria to determine jurisdiction and applicable law in case of a claim brought by a shareholder of a company incorporated outside Italy against the sole director (having his domicile in Italy).

The Dispute

The dispute originates from a complaint brought by the minority shareholder of a limited liability company incorporated under the laws of the United Republic of Tanzania, against the other shareholder and sole director of the company (an Italian resident), allegedly responsible for misappropriation of company’s funds. On these grounds the minority shareholder (assuming that Italian substantive law was applicable to the dispute) brought two actions against the sole director:

  • a derivative claim under Article 2393-bis of the Italian Civil Code (ICC), according to which the minority shareholder is entitled to act against directors on behalf and in the interest of the

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Supreme Court Clears the Air on ‘Force Majeure’ Clauses

The UK’s Supreme Court has issued an important judgment clarifying the extent to which parties are required to use reasonable endeavours to avoid force majeure.  Force majeure, or in layman’s terms ‘act of god’, is a specified, and generally unforeseen and disruptive, event which may mean that one or both parties to a contract are relieved from having to fulfil their obligations under it. In the present case, the underlying contract contained a force majeure clause, which included a provision requiring the party which was affected by the force majeure event to exercise reasonable endeavours to overcome it.

The relevant force majeure event took the form of US sanctions which effectively prevented payment by the charterer under an affreightment contract being made to a shipowner using US dollars.  The charterer instead offered to make payments in euros and to cover any losses arising to the shipowner through the conversion of those payments into US dollars. However, in what seems a somewhat counterintuitive decision, the Supreme Court unanimously found against the charterer, on the basis that the requirement on the shipowner to exercise reasonable endeavours to overcome the force majeure event did not mean that it had to accept performance that


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The Elusive ‘Anti-Anti-Arbitration Injunction’

The recent decision of the High Court in Euronav Shipping NV v Black Swan Petroleum DMCC [2024] EWHC 896 (Comm) illustrates when a party may be unable to enforce an arbitration agreement which is otherwise valid and enforceable. In the present case, Euronav succeeded in satisfying all of the elements of the test for an injunction which sought to restrain Black Swan Petroleum (BSP) from pursuing an anti-arbitration application before the Malaysian Courts. Nevertheless, in the exercising its discretion, the Court declined to award an injunction having regard to international comity and because it deemed that it would be vexatious and/or oppressive given the applicant’s earlier submission to Malaysian court jurisdiction. The case is a cautionary reminder of the need to pursue a carefully considered dispute resolution strategy.

 Facts

The applicant, Euronav, a firm involved in ocean transportation and storage of oil, entered into a contract with a Malaysian registered company, Silk Straits SDN BHD (Silk Straits), by which it made available certain tanks on the Motor Tanker Oceania (the Vessell) for storage of oil. A first addendum to the agreement provided for English governing law and exclusive jurisdiction of the English High Court, and recorded Euronav’s consent to prospective assignment


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Commercial Court Orders Disclosure in Wake of Fraud Summary Judgment

In the case of Lowry Trading Limited and anor v Musicalize and ors [2024] EWHC 773 (Comm),[1] the Commercial Court demonstrated its willingness to use the various tools at its disposal to compel disclosure and/or the provision of information, particularly where there is a subtext of fraud.

Background

The Claimants operate investment businesses. They claim that Mr and Mrs Anderson (the Second and Third Defendants), acting through various limited companies (the other Defendants), made various false representations as purported concert promoters in order to obtain investment from them. In pursuing recovery of their investments, the Claimants allege claims in: deceit; unlawful means conspiracy; breach of contract; inducement of breach of contract; and breach of trust, as well as claims pursuant to certain guarantees.

On 21 October 2021, the Court granted freezing injunctions against the First, Fourth and Fifth Defendants preventing them from dealing with or disposing of assets outside of the ordinary and proper course of business (the Injunctions). The Injunctions further required the Defendants to notify the Claimants before dealing with or disposing of assets purportedly inside the ordinary and proper course of business, which notice requirements form the basis of the Claim      ants’ present application.

On


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Collateral Waiver: When Voluntary Disclosure Has Unintended Consequences

In Alexander Gorbachev v Andrey Grigoryevich Guriev [2024] EWHC 622,[1] the Commercial Court held that the claimant’s voluntary disclosure of a privileged chronology originally produced by its barrister gave rise to a collateral waiver of: (i) an updated draft of that chronology; as well as (ii) all documents containing, recording or otherwise evidencing the claimant’s instructions in respect of the chronology.

Background

The underlying proceedings concern a long-running £1 billion dispute between Mr Gorbachev (the Claimant) and Mr Guriev (the Defendant) concerning their interests in a Russia-based fertiliser company, PJSC PhosAgro.

Back in October 2012, the Claimant instructed a barrister (Mr Fitzgerald), who prepared a chronology of events (the Original Chronology) based on information given to him by the Claimant at meetings and over the telephone. Later, on 21 January 2013, the Claimant instructed solicitors, around which time Mr Fitzgerald provided the solicitors with the Original Chronology, which he then subsequently revised on 5 February 2013 (the Revised Chronology). It appears not to have been disputed in the present application that both the Original Chronology and the Revised Chronology attracted legal professional privilege.

Some almost 10 years later, the Claimant voluntarily disclosed the Original Chronology to the


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English High Court Unravels National Iranian Oil Company’s Attempt to Shield £100M London Property from Enforcement of Arbitral Award

The English High Court has ordered the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to transfer a high-value London property to Crescent Gas Corporation Limited (CGC) in satisfaction of a US$2.4 billion arbitral award in favour of CGC against NIOC. The Court found that NIOC’s eleventh-hour transfer of the property to its closely linked Iranian pension fund (the Fund) was a ploy to shield it from enforcement action by CGC.

The judgment, which is the most recent development in the ongoing, long-running dispute between CGC and NIOC, is likely to be of interest to practitioners and clients seeking to enforce arbitral awards in England, as well as those establishing or litigating trusts of land in England and Wales

McDermott acted for CGC in the proceedings, as well as the underlying arbitration and award challenge proceedings described below.

Background

In 2009, CGC, a subsidiary of UAE-based Crescent Petroleum, commenced arbitration seated in London against NIOC for breach of a 2001 long-term gas supply agreement. In September 2021, the tribunal rendered a Partial Award on Remedies in favour of CGC in which it ordered NIOC to pay more than US$2.4 billion in damages plus interest.

Having successfully defended two challenges to the award, brought


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English Courts Assert Jurisdiction to Grant Anti-Suit Relief in Landmark Case

In a ground-breaking ruling, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that English courts have the authority to issue final anti-suit injunctions in support of arbitration agreements governed by English law, even when the seat of the arbitration is outside of England. The landmark judgment in Unicredit Bank GmbH v Ruschemalliance LLC [2024] EWCA Civ 64, which follows three earlier lower court decisions arising on substantially the same fact[1], reinforces the robust protection of arbitration rights under English law and solidifies the position of English courts as a bastion for arbitration.

Background

The dispute revolved around Italian bank UniCredit, which, along with Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, issued performance bonds in favour of RusChemAlliance (RCA), a Russian operator of an LNG facility in the Leningrad Oblast, in relation to construction contracts between RCA and German engineering contractors. These bonds were governed by English law and provided for arbitration in Paris under the ICC rules.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the subsequent imposition of wide-ranging EU sanctions, the German companies halted work under the construction contracts after receiving confirmation from German authorities that they deemed such work to be prohibited under Regulation (EU) 833/2014. RCA terminated the


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Clearview AI Inc Overturns Regulatory Intervention at First Instance

Clearview AI Inc.’s facial recognition technology has been subject to regulatory scrutiny from the privacy sector worldwide, including the UK Information Commissioner who issued the US company with monetary penalty and enforcement notices (the Notices) for alleged violations of GDPR/UK GDPR (the Regulations).

In a judgment dated October 17, 2023 (the Judgment), the UK’s First-tier Tribunal (FTT) (being the first level of regulatory appeals) upheld, on jurisdictional grounds, Clearview’s appeal of the Notices. The Commissioner sought permission to appeal on November 17, 2023. This blog piece is a reduced version of our wider commentary on the case, which is available here.

Background

Clearview is a US company providing facial recognition services to criminal law enforcement and national security agencies (and/or their contractors) outside of the United Kingdom and the European Union. In short, Clearview collects publicly available images of faces from the internet, which are compiled into a database (the Database). Clearview’s software then creates a mathematical ‘vector’ of those faces, such that they can be indexed and searched against. Clearview’s clients are able to upload their own images onto their private Clearview platform and compare those images against the Database. Clearview’s algorithmic software will return images of sufficient


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Provision to Curb “Torpedo Actions” also Applies to Asymmetrical Jurisdiction Agreements

In summer 2021, the German Federal Court of Justice ruled on a dispute between the insolvency administrator of the airline Air Berlin and its main shareholder Etihad Airways over millions in damages that had been going on for several years.

From a procedural point of view, the Federal Court’s findings on so-called “torpedo actions” are of particular importance, further limiting the scope of application of this litigation tactic.

A torpedo action is essentially an action that pre-empts an expected action by the other party in order to block it. A torpedo action is usually filed in a jurisdiction that promises either favorable case law or a particularly long duration of proceedings. This can considerably delay a legal dispute.

This is made possible by the principle of priority that applies to cross-border disputes and the jurisdiction of different courts. According to this principle, an action brought first before a competent court blocks all subsequent actions with identical subject matter before another court. If this torpedo action is brought in a less efficient jurisdiction with notoriously slow-working courts, the opponent’s action can be delayed by several years in some cases.

In order to put a stop to this abuse of rights, the


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Representative Proceedings | A Low Bar to the “Same Interest” Requirement?

In Commission Recovery Ltd v Marks & Clerk LLP & Anor [2024] EWCA Civ 9, the Court of Appeal handed down one of its first decisions concerning representative proceedings following the landmark Supreme Court decision in Lloyd v Google. The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision at first instance and allowed a representative proceeding under CPR 19.8(2) to proceed, but also identified several issues that it noted will require careful case management in the future.

The underlying proceedings concern current and former clients of the two defendant firms, Marks & Clerk LLP (M&C), and its associated firm, Long Acre Renewals (LAC), alleging that those firms received secret commissions for referring clients of M&C to a third party. They allege that M&C and LAC are liable to account for the amount of those commissions. A special purpose vehicle, Commission Recovery Ltd (CRL), was incorporated for the purposes of bringing the proceedings and took an assignment of a claim from one of M&C’s clients, Bambach Europe. CRL is the representative claimant in the action.

Representative Actions under English Law

Under CPR 19.8, a Claimant can bring a claim on behalf of other persons where they have the “same interest” in


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