West of England Shipowners Mutual Insurance Association (Luxembourg) v Cristal Ltd: CA 1996

A contract had been set up to provide compensation for oil pollution losses. It was between oil companies who contributed to the fund and its administrators, Cristalwho was to ‘be the sole judge in accordance with these terms of the validity of any claim made hereunder’. The claimant association made a claim which Cristal rejected. It was accepted that the association was to be treated as a party to the contract. The main argument was as to ouster of jurisdiction.
Held: The Court rejected the argument. It was not argued that the fact of Crystal being the sole judge vitiated the agreement.
Neill LJ stated: ‘it does not seem to me that any question arises as to the ouster of the jurisdiction of the court. The court clearly has a role to play. The problem is to define the extent of that role.
I see the force of the submission that it is unusual for one party to a contract to be constituted the sole arbiter of the validity of any claim made against it. There is therefore attraction in the argument that the determination under cl.IX is merely . . a first stage determination . . I have come to the conclusion, however, that this argument must be rejected.’


Neill LJ


[1996] CLC 240


England and Wales


Appeal fromWest of England Shipowners Mutual Insurance Association (Luxembourg) v Cristal Ltd ComC 25-Jan-1995
cw Contract – contractual rights – fulfilment of conditions – freedom to fulfil bargain – court action precluded – ouster clauses – arbitration – term – construction – one party sole arbitrator of construction – . .

Cited by:

CitedCharles Stanley and Co Ltd v Adams QBD 19-Jul-2013
The claimant stock broking firm sought to recover its uninsured losses after having paid out for what was said to have been negligent advice by the respondent, a self-employed broker working for them.
Held: The power to recover such losses . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Arbitration

Updated: 04 May 2022; Ref: scu.570106