Insurance policies insuring various risks regarding the construction of a hydroelectric plant in Brazil provided that, if the parties could not resolve disputes through mediation, arbitration was to take place in London. Brazilian law, however, governed the policies and, furthermore, the policies gave Brazilian courts exclusive jurisdiction over policy disputes. The policies, and arbitration clauses within them, however, were silent regarding what law governed interpretation of the policies’ arbitration agreements.

The insurers (Sulamérica and others) gave notice of arbitration regarding a dispute, to which the insureds responded by obtaining an order from a Brazilian court enjoining arbitration. The insurers applied to the U.K. Commercial Court for an injunction to restrain the Brazilian court proceedings. In opposition, the insureds argued that, under Brazilian law, arbitration could not be commenced without their consent. The Commercial Court sided with the insurers, determining that the arbitration agreement was governed by English law. The appeals court dismissed the appeal and agreed with the Commercial Court that, given the choice of London as arbitral forum, the arbitration agreement had its “closest and most real connection” with English law. Sulamérica CIA Nacional de Seguros S.A. v. Enesa Engenharia S.A., Case No. A3/2012/0249, [2012] EWCA Civ. 638 (Q.B. May 16, 2012).