Regazzoni v Sethia: HL 1957

The House considered a mutual intention of both parties to perform a contract, which was not illegal on its face, but in a manner which was contrary to the law of the place where it was to be performed.
Held: Lord Reid said: ‘To my mind, the question whether this contract is enforceable by English courts is not, properly speaking, a question of international law. The real question is one of public policy in English law: but in considering this question we must have in mind the background of international law and international relationships often referred to as the comity of nations. This is not a case of a contract being made in good faith but one party thereafter finding that he cannot perform his part of the contract without committing a breach of foreign law in the territory of the foreign country. If this contract is held to be unenforceable, it should, in my opinion, be because from the beginning the contract was tainted so that the courts of this country will not assist either party to enforce it.’


Viscount Simonds, Lord Reid


[1958] AC 301, [1957] 3 All ER 286


England and Wales


CitedFoster v Driscoll, Lindsay v Attfield, Lindsay v Driscoll 1929
During the American prohibition, a group in England and Scotland planned to ship 7,500 cases of whisky to North America, and hoped to make extraordinary profits. But they fell out and resorted to litigation between themselves.
Held: Sankey LJ . .
fromRegazzoni v KC Sethia (1994) Ltd CA 1956
The rule against enforcing foreign political laws did not require it to enforce a contract that violated Indian laws against export to South Africa. The court permitted recognition but not enforcement of foreign revenue laws.
Denning LJ said: . .

Cited by:

CitedMahonia Limited v JP Morgan Chase Bankwest Lb Ag QBD 3-Aug-2004
The Claimant claimed on a letter of credit issued by the Defendant on behalf of Enron Ltd, who asserted it was not liable to pay there having been unlawful behaviour by Enron Ltd. Swap agreements had been entered into, and the defendant said the . .
CitedSoleimany v Soleimany CA 4-Mar-1998
The parties were Iranian Jews, father and son. The son arranged to export carpets from Iran in contravention of Iranian law. The father and son fell into dispute about their contracts and arranged for the issues to be resolved by the Beth Din . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.200482