In Masri v Consolidated Contractors (Oil and Gas) Company SAL – Butterworths Law Direct 6.2.09 a receivership order had been made, paragraph 15 of which stated that 'Nothing in this order shall, in respect of assets located outside England and Wales, require the defendants and/or their directors to disobey the order of any court of competent jurisdiction in relation to such assets'.
The Commercial Court heard an argument as to the interpretation of para 15 of the receivership order.
The Court of Appeal, in dismissing the Claimant's appeal and allowing the Defendant's cross-appeal held that while the court, when making a receivership order, would do its best to anticipate all likely eventualities, and make provision for them in the precise form of the order, it would not infrequently be the case that when the receiver embarked upon his task he would encounter some unexpected obstacle to the discharge of his responsibilities to the court. In those circumstances, the receiver was able to apply to the court for a variation of the order so that it was, to the court's ability, 'tailor made' to overcome the particular, unforeseen, obstacle.
It held that the words in para 15 had to be given their ordinary and natural meaning, in the context of the order as a whole. In all the circumstances, it would inappropriate to construe para 15 as though it was subject to an implied limitation that it related only to assets within the jurisdiction of the foreign court making the order. If the ordinary and natural meaning of para 15 resulted in unintended consequences, the appropriate remedy was not to argue for a strained and artificial meaning of the order, but to apply to the court for a variation of the order.