The Supreme Court has today given judgment in one of the most significant commercial law cases to come before it in recent years. Following the loss of a vessel called the Alexandros T in 2006, the Greek owners brought a claim against their insurers in the English High Court. That claim was settled for approximately $30 million but in 2011 the owners sued the insurers in Greece, alleging that they had fabricated false evidence and bribed key witnesses in the English proceedings and claiming damages in the sum of approximately €170 million. The insurers subsequently tried to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement before the English High Court but the Greek owners argued that the European rules on jurisdiction prohibited the English Court from hearing the insurers' claim until after the Greek Court had given judgment. If successful that argument would have seriously undermined the effectiveness of settlement agreements governed by English law and English jurisdiction. However, in today's landmark judgment the Supreme Court has found in favour of the insurers. The ruling is a very welcome development for the London insurance market and for commercial parties who wish to settle disputes subject to the jurisdiction of the English Courts.
Mark Howard QC, Michael Swainston QC, and Tony Singla acted for the Companies Market insurers, instructed by Clyde & Co.