Maritime injunctions – a weapon against anti-suit injunctions?
On 21st July 2017, the Wuhan Maritime Court issued a maritime injunction ordering a foreign ship owner to apply to withdraw an anti-suit injunction of the Hong Kong High Court against a Chinese insurer. This is the first case to reveal the Chinese court’s attitude towards the anti-suit injunctions of “foreign” courts. The use of the maritime injunction as an anti-anti-suit injunction is a “creation” of the Wuhan Maritime Court, for use in situations where there is no such possible injunction under Chinese law. Other maritime courts may follow this approach in similar cases, or even develop the maritime injunction into an anti-suit injunction to prohibit foreign proceedings. However, we do not expect it will expand into the (non-marine) commercial domain because there is no other similar injunction in civil procedural law. Remedies in other areas will depend upon the development of domestic legislation. The Belt & Road initiative will create closer relationships between foreign and Chinese companies. Competition over jurisdiction will be unavoidable. In such circumstances, we expect that Chinese courts will use maritime injunctions (or more general civil injunctions) to protect a Chinese entity’s procedural rights. Our advice to foreign entities if such a situation arises is to explore their options. Perhaps they have grounds to have a Chinese court overrule either an anti-suit or an anti-anti suit injunction.