NML 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 in the UK. They argued that the terms of issue waived state immunity.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The respondent, under section 31 of the 1982 Act had submitted to the jurisdiction and had waived immunity by its actions. The doctrine of state immunity had over many years come to be restricted, and the 1978 Act now contained a complete statement of the law. Immunity remains, but does not attach to a sovereign authority’s commercial activities.
The phrase ‘proceedings relating to a commercial transaction’ was to be given a broad rather than narrow meaning.

Lord Phillips, President Lord Walker Lord Mance Lord Collins Lord Clarke
[2011] UKSC 31, UKSC 2010/0040
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC
Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982, State Immunity Act 1978, Civil Procedure Rules 6.20(9)
England and Wales
Appeal FromRepublic of Argentina v NML Capital Ltd CA 4-Feb-2010
The appellant republic appealed against an order allowing the enforcement against it of a judgment obtained in the US by the claimant. There is no treaty between the US and the UK for the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments, and an . .
At First InstanceNML Capital Ltd v The Republic of Argentina ComC 29-Jan-2009
The defendant state sought to prevent the company enforcing a judgment entered against it in the USA.
Held: Where the judgment was properly obtained, a claim of sovereign immunity would not operate to allow avoidance of an enforcement of the . .
CitedThe Parlement Belge CA 1879
An action in rem indirectly impleaded a sovereign who was the owner of the vessel served because his property was affected by the judgment of the court. An unincorporated treaty cannot change the law of the land and, ‘the immunity of the sovereign . .
CitedMighell v Sultan of Johore CA 1-Dec-1893
In 1885 the Sultan of Johore came to England, and according to the plaintiff, Miss Mighell, took the name Albert Baker and promised to marry her.
Held: The Sultan was entitled to immunity even though up to the time of suit ‘he has perfectly . .
CitedDuff Development Co v Kelantan Government HL 1924
Lord Sumner suggested that in the absence of a clear statement of the position from the Government, the court might be entitled to decide whether a defendat had the benefit of state immunity for itself on the basis of the evidence before it.
A . .
CitedCompania Naviera Vascongado v Steamship ‘Cristina’ HL 1938
A state-owned ship that was used for public purposes could not be made the subject of proceedings in rem. Lord Atkin described the absolute immunity of a sovereign of a foreign state within this jurisdiction: ‘The foundation for the application to . .
CitedKahan v Pakistan Federation 1951
State immunity can only be lost by a submission to the jurisdiction when it was invoked, and not by an earlier act. . .
CitedRahimtoola v Nizam of Hyderabad CA 1957
The court considered the doctrine of state immunity. Lord Denning MR said: ‘If the dispute brings into question, for instance, the legislative or international transactions of a foreign government, or the policy of its executive, the court should . .
CitedTrendtex Trading Corporation v Central Bank of Nigeria CA 1977
The court considered the developing international jurisdiction over commercial activities of state bodies which might enjoy state immunity, and sought to ascertain whether or not the Central Bank of Nigeria was entitled to immunity from suit.
CitedThai-Europe Tapioca Service Ltd v Government of Pakistan, Directorate of Agricultural Supplies 1975
Lord Denning said: ‘a foreign sovereign has no immunity when it enters into a commercial transaction with a trader here and a dispute arises which is properly within the territorial jurisdiction of our courts. If a foreign government incorporates a . .
CitedAIC Limited v The Federal Government of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation of Nigeria QBD 13-Jun-2003
AIC had used the 1920 Act to register a judgment obtained in Nigeria against the Nigerian Government. The underlying matter was a commercial transaction. Nigeria applied to set the registration aside, saying that registration was an adjudicative act . .
CitedSvenska Petroleum Exploration Ab v Lithuania and Another (No 2) ComC 4-Nov-2005
The court was asked whether a claim to enforce an arbitration award constituted ‘proceedings relating to’ the transaction that gave rise to the award for the purposes of section 3(1)(a).
Held: It did not. . .
ApprovedSvenska Petroleum Exploration Ab v Lithuania and Another (No 2) CA 13-Nov-2006
The defendant state could not now claim state immunity to avoid enforcement of an arbitration award, having agreed to the reference to arbitration in writing.
Held: A person against whom an award has been made is not bound to challenge it . .
To be confined to its factsParker v Schuller CA 1901
The plaintiffs had obtained leave to serve a writ out of the jurisdiction under Order 11, r 1(e) of the RSC on the ground that the claim was for breach of a contract within the jurisdiction. The breach alleged was of a CIF contract, and the . .
CitedHolland v Leslie CA 1894
Leave to serve out of the jurisdiction had been granted in relation to a bill of exchange which had been erroneously described in the statement of claim indorsed on the writ.
Held: The Court upheld the order giving leave to amend the writ.
CitedMetall und Rohstoff AG v Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette Inc CA 1990
There was a complicated commercial dispute involving allegations of conspiracy. A claim by the plaintiffs for inducing or procuring a breach of contract would have been statute-barred in New York.
Held: Slade LJ said: ‘The judge’s approach to . .
CitedRe Jogia (A Bankrupt) 1988
Application was made for leave to serve proceedings out of the jurisdiction in a claim for money had and received in connection with payments made to the defendant after a receiving order.
Held: A plaintiff who has been given permission to . .
CitedWhite and others v Vandervell Trustees Ltd. (No. 2), Re Vandervell’s Trusts (No 2) CA 3-Jul-1974
Lord Denning MR described the modern practice concerning pleadings: ‘It is sufficient for the pleader to state the material facts. He need not state the legal result. If, for convenience, he does so, he is not bound by, or limited to, what he has . .
CitedWaterhouse v Reid 1938
The court has no power to make orders against persons outside its territorial jurisdiction unless authorised by statute and that there is no inherent extra-territorial jurisdiction. . .
CitedBeck v Value Capital Ltd (No 2) 1974
The plaintiffs had obtained leave to serve proceedings out of the jurisdiction. They then sought to add a claim and argued that once an additional cause of action was shown to be generically within the scope of Order 11, that was an end of the . .
CitedBastone and Firminger Ltd v Nasima Enterprises (Nigeria) Ltd and Others ComC 20-May-1996
Banking – collecting banker – remitting banker – privity of contract Banking – remitting bank – right to damages – other than indemnity by customer Conflict of laws – RSC Order 11 r.1(1)(f) – ‘damage sustained within the jurisdiction’ – meaning . .
CitedDonohue 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. . .
CitedMasri v Consolidated Contractors International Company Sal and Another (No 3) CA 6-Jun-2008
The court was asked whether the English court has jurisdiction following judgment to grant an anti-suit injunction against foreign judgment debtors (one of whom has a domicile in a Brussels I Regulation State) restraining them from pursuing . .
CitedTwycross v Dreyfus CA 1877
State immunity is not to be got around by suing the employees of the state. Here, the only possible case was against the state itself.
Sir George Jessel MR said: ‘the municipal law of this country does not enable the tribunals of this country . .
CitedUGS Finance Ltd v National Mortgage Bank of Greece CA 1964
Pearson LJ said: ‘As to the question of ‘fundamental breach’, there is a rule of construction that normally an exemption or exclusion clause or similar provision in the contract should be construed as not applying to a situation created by a . .
CitedAK Investment CJSC v Kyrgyz Mobil Tel Ltd and Others PC 10-Mar-2011
Developing Law – Summary Procedures Very Limited
(Isle of Man) (‘Altimo’) The parties were all based in Kyrgyzstan, but the claimant sought a remedy in the Isle of Man which would be unavailable in Kyrgyzstan.
Held: Lord Collins said: ‘The general rule is that it is not normally appropriate . .
CitedCarl Zeiss Stiftung v Rayner and Keeler Ltd (No 2) HL 1966
An agency had to be proved in a search to identify an entity which the law recognised (a) existed and (b) was legally responsible for the acts in issue in the proceedings. The House was asked whether the fact that an issue had already been . .
CitedDonegal International Ltd v Zambia and Another ComC 15-Feb-2007
Claim under settlement agreement. . .
MentionedColt Telecom Group Plc, In the Matter of the Insolvency Act 1986 ChD 20-Dec-2002
. .
MentionedBritish Wagon Co Ltd v Gray 1896
. .
CitedNational Bank of Greece SA v Westminster Bank Executor and Trustee Co (Channel Islands) Ltd 1971
. .
CitedYemshaw v London Borough of Hounslow SC 26-Jan-2011
The appellant sought housing after leaving her home to escape domestic violence. The violence was short of physical violence, and the authority had denied a duty to rehouse her. She said that the term ‘domestic violence’ in the Act was not intended . .
CitedHighberry Limited, Highberry Llc v Colt Telecom Group Plc; in Re Colt Telecom Group plc (No 1) ChD 25-Nov-2002
Application for disclosure of documents, the provision of information, and directions for cross-examination in an unusual petition for an administration order. No-action clauses have been the subject of discussion in the International Court of . .
CitedFitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association Ltd HL 28-Oct-1999
Same Sex Paartner to Inherit as Family Member
The claimant had lived with the original tenant in a stable and long standing homosexual relationship at the deceased’s flat. After the tenant’s death he sought a statutory tenancy as a spouse of the deceased. The Act had been extended to include as . .
CitedMacaulay (Tweeds) Ltd v Independent Harris Tweed Producers Ltd 1961
The court considered an allegation of non-disclosure in the case of an application to serve proceedings abroad: ‘If the judge is satisfied that there was no intention to deceive and the mis-statement is not grossly negligent, he may think it better . .
CitedRoberts v Gill and Co Solicitors and Others SC 19-May-2010
The claimant beneficiary in the estate sought damages against solicitors who had acted for the claimant’s brother, the administrator, saying they had allowed him to take control of the assets in the estate. The will provided that property was to be . .
CitedPlaya Larga (Owners of Cargo Lately Laden on Board) v I Congresso del Partido (Owners) HL 1983
The concept of absolute immunity for a Sovereign adopts a theory of restrictive immunity in so far as it concerns the activities of a State engaging in trade: (Lord Wilberforce) ‘It was argued by the [appellants] that even if the Republic of Cuba . .
CitedKuwait Oil Co (KSC) v Idemitsu Tankers KK, The Hida Maru CA 1981
. .
CitedHelby v Rafferty CA 1979
The court declined to hold that a man who had lived with a woman tenant for five years before her death were part of the same family because they had deliberately opted to retain their formal independence and they had not been recognised as being . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

International, Jurisdiction

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.441502