您目前的位置: 首页» 咨询资讯» 英国法院附条件作出禁诉令(英国案例)

英国法院附条件作出禁诉令(英国案例)

202055日,在Times Trading Corporation vNational Bank of Fujairah (Dubai Branch) [2020] EWHC 1078 (Comm)一案中,英格兰与威尔士高等法院认为,虽然光船承租人与提单持有人之间不存在直接合同关系,但光船承租人申请禁令救济的案件如果不是合同性案件,也应该像现有的准合同性案例一样被“当作”合同性案例来处理,类比适用Angelic Grace案的标准。另外,法院认为,尽管存在一些不利于作出禁令救济的因素,而且禁令的被申请人NBF的做法并非不合理,但是,在本案中,时效问题不构成拒绝授予禁令的“强有力的理由”。因此,法院附条件向Times授予禁诉令,条件是Times保证在伦敦仲裁中不依赖任何关于时间限制的论点。

一、背景介绍

2018610日至20日,27票货物在未提交正本提单的情况下凭保函放货。Rosalind为涉案船舶所有人。NBF声称其是27票提单的合法持有人。提单并入了一份航次租船合同中的仲裁条款,约定将争议提交伦敦仲裁。另外,提单包含首要条款,规定提交索赔的期限为12个月,即NBF最迟应在2019620日向承运人就无单放货提交索赔申请。

201912日,NBF在新加坡高等法院向船舶签发对物传票(issued an in rem Writ of Summons)。随后,为防止船舶被扣押,三井住友欧洲银行就无单放货索赔向NBF提供总额为465万美元的担保函。

201964日,NBF在伦敦向船舶所有人Rosalind提起仲裁。虽然NBFRosalind已提名一名仲裁员,但仲裁庭尚未组成,伦敦仲裁未取得实质性进展。

由于谁是承运人还存在疑义且担保函未作出实际的修改,2019119日,NBF在新加坡诉讼程序中,再次向船舶送达对物传票。

202039日,Times以光船承租人的身份提交了本案申请,请求签发临时禁诉令,禁止NBF在新加坡高等法院向Rosalind提起诉讼,理由是涉案争议应当提交伦敦仲裁。2020320日,NBF根据《1996年仲裁法》第12条请求延长其在伦敦向Times提起仲裁的期限。

在本案中,法院针对Times所提交的禁诉令申请作出如下认定。法院之后将审理NBF根据《1996年仲裁法》第12条提出的申请。

二、法院认定

关于禁令救济有以下一般原则:

1)根据《1981年高等法院法》第371)条,法院有权“在法院看来是公正和方便的所有情况下”授予临时禁令。根据第372)条,“任何该等命令均可无条件或按法院认为公正的条款和条件作出”。

2)其检验标准在于正义的目的(The touchstone is what the ends of justice require)(参见Emmottv Michael Wilson & Partners Ltd [2018] 1 Lloyd's Rep 299 at [36] per Sir Terence Etherton MR)。

3)根据《1981年高等法院法》第371)条,法院有权在当事人违反(将争议提交仲裁的)约束性协议提起或威胁提起外国诉讼时限制此种外国诉讼(参见Ust-Kamenogorsk Hydropower Plant JSC v AES Kamenogorsk Hydropower Plant LLP [2013] 1 WLR 1889 (SC))。

4)授予禁诉令的管辖权必须谨慎行使(参见Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatialev Lee Kui Jak [1987] UKPC 12, [1987] AC 871, 892E per Lord Goff)。

5)关于“谨慎”的含义,根据The “Angelic Grace” [1995] 1 Lloyd's Rep 87案,“谨慎并不意味着法院不采取所寻求的行动,仅意味着法院只有在满足谨慎的要求时采取行动。”(As to the meaning of "caution" in this context, it has been described thus in The "Angelic Grace" [1995] 1Lloyd's Rep 87 at 92:1 per Leggatt LJ: "The exercise of caution does not involve that the Court refrains from taking the action sought, but merely that it does not do so except with circumspection."

6)因此,申请人必须证明存在这种不被起诉的消极权利。证明的标准是有“高度可能性存在对争议加以约束的仲裁协议”(The standard of proof is a high degree of probability that there is an arbitration agreement which governs the dispute in question)(参见Emmott案)。“高度可能性”的检验标准存在已久,拥有无可挑剔的血统,可追溯到Bankers Trust Co v PT Mayora Indah(unreported) 20 January 1999 案和,American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co v Abbott Laboratories[2003] 1 Lloyd'sRep 267案,并在最近的Ecobank v Tanoh [2016] 1 WLR 2231at 2250案判例中得到确认。

7)法院通常会行使自由裁量权来限制违反仲裁条款而提起的诉讼,除非被申请人有强有力的理由请求法院拒绝予以救济(参见The Angelic Grace [1995] 1 Lloyd'sRep 87案,和The Jay Bola [1997] 2 Lloyd'sRep 279 (CA) at page 286 per Hobhouse LJ案)。

8)被申请人须举证证明存在拒绝救济的强有力的理由(参见Donohue v Armco Inc[2002] 1 All ER 749at [24]-[25] per Lord Bingham)。

争议焦点1:本案是否适用AngelicGrace案的检验标准

本案争议所提出的第一个问题是,是否存在至少满足“高度可能性”标准的相关仲裁条款。这是在“合同性”禁诉令背景下提出的一个问题,除非存在相关仲裁条款,否则法院将不予救济。在非合同案件中也有可能以无意义或恶意起诉(frivolous or vexatious)为由发出禁诉令。恶意起诉的要求比适用于合同案件的要求更为繁重细致。本申请不是在此基础上提出,本案申请提出和争论的基本依据是,本案是或应该被视为合同性案件。(There is also, of course, the possibility of an anti-suit injunction in non-contractual cases on the basis that the litigation is frivolous or vexatious. However, the requirements for vexation or oppression are more onerous and more nuanced than those which apply in a contractual case. This application is not made on this basis. It has been brought and argued essentially on the basis that this is, or should be treated as being, a contractual case.

这支持了NBF的观点,即承运人的身份存疑,在这种情况下法院不能确信这两个当事人之间有仲裁条款。其重点在于,默认立场是仲裁条款应当是双方当事人之间的仲裁条款,而不是广义上的仲裁条款。(This underpins the point taken by NBF, which is that there is an issue as to who is the carrier, and in those circumstances the Court cannot be satisfied that there is an arbitration clause between these two parties. The point being that the default position is that the arbitration clause in question needs to be an arbitration clause between those two parties – not an arbitration clause at large.

这一论点将争论带入关于“准合同性禁诉令”的司法领域。Raphael在《禁诉令》(2019年第二版)中将“准合同性禁诉令”描述为,“作为一个合同法问题,禁令被申请人可能不完全是合同当事方并受合同争议解决条款的约束,但仍被要求遵守条款,达到“仿佛”禁令是合同性禁令的效果。即使未达到证明当事人之间存在仲裁条款的必要标准,也可以授予禁令。”This is an argument which has taken the debate into a juridically fascinating area – what has been dubbed the "quasi-contractual anti-suit injunction", described in Raphael "Anti-Suit Injunctions"(2nd ed. 2019) as "injunctions which are granted where the injunction defendant may not fully be party to and bound by a contractual forum clause as a matter of contract law, but should nevertheless be required to comply with the effect of the clause "as if" the injunction was contractual." In such cases an injunction may be granted even though the requirement of showing an arbitration clause between the parties to the requisite standard could not be met.

法院指出,从广义上说,准合同性禁诉令案件可以分为两类:一类是“准合同/派生权利”,即合同的存在没有争议,但提起(禁令申请所寻求禁止的)法律程序的人不是合同的直接当事人。另一类被Raphael 描述为“不一致的合同主张”,即“禁令申请人否认起诉他所依据的合同的存在,或以其他质疑专属管辖条款的方式否认合同的效力,或否认对禁令被申请人负有任何合同义务或拥有任何合同权利……但禁令被申请人实际上寻求根据合同提出主张,但不寻求尊重构成其中一部分的管辖条款(the injunction Claimant denies the very existence of the contract under which he is sued, or otherwise denies the validity of the contract in a way which would also impeach the exclusive forum clause, or denies that he owes any contractual duties to or has any contractual rights against the injunction Defendant … but the injunction Defendant in effect seeks to make a claim under the contract, while not seeking to respect the forum clause which forms part of it)。”

在分析这两类案件的相关判例后,法院认为,各法院的理解在表述上似乎倾向于“恶意的”而不是“准合同的”分析,但是这种做法背后的原理是基于准合同的“利益和负担”的分析,与处理涉及转让和提单的案件有相似之处。(In the final analysis it appears to me that thus far the thinking appears linguistically to tend to the "vexatious" rather than the "quasi-contractual" analysis, but that the rationale for that approach (where this has been explored) is based firmly in a quasi-contractual "benefit and burden "analysis, redolent of approaches in the cases concerning assignment, and bills of lading.在关于准合同禁令的判例中支撑这两种不同的事实模型,有一个共同和一致的线索,即至少通过类比适用Angelic Grace案的做法。Underpinning these two distinct factual paradigms within the quasi-contractual injunction authorities there is therefore discernible a common and consistent thread, which is to apply the Angelic Grace approach at least by analogy.

如果本案被认为不是合同性的,法院确信它应该像现有的准合同性案例一样被“当作”一个合同性案例来处理,类比适用Angelic Grace案的检验标准So much for the quasi-contractual analysis – if the case is to be regarded as not contractual, I am satisfied that it should, like the existing quasi-contractual cases be treated "as if" it were a contractual case, applying the Angelic Grace test by analogy)。

争议焦点2:是否存在强有力的理由

本案涉及的另一个争议焦点是,假定至少通过类比适用合同性分析(如法院上述结论),哪些情况构成强有力的理由。该争议焦点涉及这一概念是否可以延伸到对被申请人的不可预见的损害,特别是时效问题。(Here the issue relates to whether the concept can extend to prejudice to the Defendant which is not foreseeable – and specifically the question of time bar.NBF主张一个潜在的“强有力的理由”是“禁诉令将对禁令被申请人的法律地位造成重大损害,而这不是双方谈判可以预见的后果”。

法院认为,“强有力的理由”的核心在于时效问题(The heart of the matter as regards strong reasons is in the time-bar issue)。法院在审查相关判例后倾向于认为,现有判例无法支持这一观点,即合理/并非不合理地错过时效就足以表明存在拒绝授予禁诉令的“强有力的理由”Overall therefore I incline to the view that there is insufficient material in the authorities to support the view that in the context of "strong reasons" a time bar being missed reasonably/not unreasonably will necessarily be sufficient)。仅这一点就引起了人们对于本案是否适合应用这类强有力的理由的质疑。

无论是否给予禁令救济,法院之后将审理NBF的第12条申请,NBF可以向法院提出相似的论点,尤其是Times的行为是否使得允许其获得时效利益变得不公平。因此,NBF受时效约束是否公平的问题将在反请求中解决,而且这种争论是本末倒置的。(It is therefore true to say that when one considers prejudice the position at the moment is that, with or without relief, NBF's section 12 application will be heard by this Court and it will be open to NBF to raise similar arguments to those it has made before me, in particular as to whether the conduct of Times makes it unjust to allow it the benefit of the time-bar. It might therefore be argued that whether or not it is unjust for NBF to be subject to the time-bar will therefore be resolved on that Counterclaim and that this argument puts the cart before the horse.)从逻辑上说,只有当NBF的第12条申请(延长提起仲裁的期限)失败时,NBF才需要依赖新加坡诉讼程序,即新加坡的程序只是作为一个后盾。

另外,法院还考虑了其他自由裁量因素,尽管存在一些不利于授予禁令的情况,而且NBF的做法并非不合理,但是,法院认为,在本案中,时效问题不构成拒绝授予禁令的“强有力的理由”。(All of these factors point to the conclusion that despite the background, and the fact that NBF's approach was not unreasonable, this is not a case where it can be said that there is "strong reason" for not granting an anti-suit injunction because of the time bar issue.

综上所述,法院得出结论认为,禁令的授予只有在附以下条件时才公正和方便——条件是Times保证在伦敦仲裁中不依赖任何关于时间限制的论点。(Bearing in mind the nature of those factors, I have concluded that the grant of an injunction would only be just and convenient if it were on conditional terms - that condition being as to Times giving an undertaking not to rely on any time bar argument in the London arbitration.)在权衡与行使自由裁量权有关的各种因素后,法院认为,施加这种条件最能满足本案的公正。(Weighing the various factors relevant to the exercise of the discretion I do conclude that the justice of this case is best met by the imposition of such a condition.)法院将另外审理NBF依据《1996年仲裁法》第12条提出的延长提起仲裁的期限的申请。

三、评论

上文提到三种性质的禁诉令:(1)合同性禁诉令,要求争议当事人之间有“高度可能性”存在仲裁条款,除非存在相关仲裁条款,否则法院将不授予禁诉令。(2)非合同性禁诉令,法院以无意义或恶意起诉为由授予禁诉令,其要求比适用于合同案件的要求更为繁重细致。(3)准合同性禁诉令,即使未达到证明当事人之间存在仲裁条款的必要标准,也可以授予禁令。

在本案中,争议当事人是光船租船人和提单持有人,二者不存在直接的合同关系,法院认为,如果本案被认为不是合同性的,至少应该像现有的准合同性案例一样被“当作”合同性案例来处理,类比适用Angelic Grace案的标准。根据Angelic Grace案,法院通常会行使其自由裁量权来限制违反仲裁条款而提起的诉讼,除非被申请人有强有力的理由请求法院拒绝予以救济。因此,要使法院拒绝授予救济,禁令被申请人须提供“强有力的理由”。

在本案中,涉案提单的首要条款规定向承运人提交索赔的时效为12个月,NBF在期限内向船舶所有人提起伦敦仲裁,并在新加坡高等法院对船舶发出对物传票。但由于Times光船承租人的身份确认太晚,NBF未在12个月期限内向Times提起仲裁。法院在审查相关判例后倾向于认为,现有判例无法支持这一观点,即合理/并非不合理地错过时效就足以表明存在拒绝授予禁诉令的“强有力的理由”。法院认为,尽管存在一些不利于作出禁令救济的因素,而且禁令的被申请人NBF的做法并非不合理,但是,在本案中,时效问题不构成拒绝授予禁令的“强有力的理由”。因此,法院附条件向Times授予禁诉令,条件是Times保证在伦敦仲裁中不依赖任何关于时效的论点。