Donohue v Armco Inc and others: HL 13 Dec 2001

The appellant had sought injunctions against the respondent US companies to restrain their commencing proceedings in the US against him. The parties had negotiated for the purchase of the run-off liabilities of a defunct insurance company. Allegations included conspiracy to defraud. The agreements included exclusive jurisdiction clauses, requiring matters to be tried in England. The defendants asserted that the matters at issue did not arise from the agreements, and so were not subject to the clauses.
Held: The court could decline to follow such a course where the interest of third parties might be adversely affected. The right as to jurisdiction is a substantial, not a technical one. The need in this case to assess the honesty of witnesses, required all matters to come before one court. That was only possible in New York, despite the clause.


Lord Bingham of Cornhill Lord Mackay of Clashfern Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead Lord Hobhouse of Wood-borough Lord Scott of Foscott


[2001] UKHL 64, [2002] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 425, [2002] CLC 440, [2002] 1 All ER 749, [2002] 1 All ER (Comm) 97


House of Lords, Bailii


England and Wales


CitedCiti-March Ltd v Neptune Orient Lines Ltd 1996
Colman J regarded separate trials in England and Singapore as not only inconvenient but also a potential source of injustice and made an order intended to achieve a composite trial in London despite a Singaporean exclusive jurisdiction clause . .
CitedBouygues Offshore SA v Caspian Shipping Company, and others CA 24-Jun-1998
A court need not first decide liability before applying grant of limitation of liability decree under the Act. That different Conventions were applied by UK and South Africa did not stop the establishment of a limitation fund for payment of damages . .
Appeal fromRoger Thomas Donohue v Armco Inc and others CA 29-Mar-2000
The claimant sought an order restraining the defendants from pursuing a claim in America. The parties were party to a contract governed by English law, but the allegation was one of fraud, and the defendants said this was outside the provisions of . .
ApprovedThe Eleftheria 1970
In general, and all other things being equal, it is more satisfactory (from the point of view of ensuring that justice is done) for the law of a foreign country to be decided by the courts of that country.
Brandon J said: ‘I further regard, . .
ApprovedThe El Amria 1981
The court set out the principles to be applied where a party seeks to enforce or act in breach of a choice of jurisdiction contract. If a party seek to sue here in breach of such a clause, the court has a discretion to stay, but a stay should be . .
At First InstanceR T Donohue v Armco Inc ComC 15-Jul-1999
ComC The individual claimant wished to prevent proceedings being brought against him in NY by 5 Defendant companies, who wished to sue him there for damages for conspiracy; fraud; breach of fiduciary duty and for . .

Cited by:

CitedExter Shipping Ltd Stanley Shipping Ltd Wyndham Shipping Ltd Crest Shipping Ltd v Glencore International Ag CA 18-Apr-2002
There had been complex multi-party litigation in England. The appellants sought discharge from an anti-suit injunction restraining them from taking some issues to their home court, Georgia in the USA. They contended that the reasons which surrounded . .
CitedOT Africa Line Ltd v Magic Sportswear Corporation and others CA 13-Jun-2005
The parties to a contract had agreed that the proper law for the contract was England. One party commenced proceedings in Canada, and the courts of Canada had accepted jurisdiction as the most appropriate and convenient forum to resolve the dispute. . .
CitedNML Capital Ltd v Argentina SC 6-Jul-2011
The respondent had issued bonds but in 2001 had declared a moratorium on paying them. The appellant hedge fund later bought the bonds, heavily discounted. Judgment was obtained in New York, which the appellants now sought to enforce against assets . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 05 June 2022; Ref: scu.167017