In this case the court considered competing jurisdiction clauses in a consultancy agreement and related settlement agreement. The parties had entered into a consultancy agreement which contained an ICC arbitration clause. After a dispute arose, the parties subsequently entered into a settlement agreement which provided for the English court to have exclusive jurisdiction. When a dispute arose under that, the claimant issued both court proceedings and arbitration proceedings. The defendant counterclaimed in the arbitration proceedings, but this was dismissed after the tribunal decided it did not have jurisdiction. Popplewell J relied on the dicta of Hoffman J in Fiona Trust & Holding Corporation v Privalov, which found that, where there are different jurisdiction clauses in agreements entered into by the same parties, then there is a presumption that the parties as rational business people must have intended any dispute arising to be decided by the same tribunal. Popplewell J concluded that the jurisdiction clause in the settlement agreement, being later in time, should supersede the arbitration clause in the earlier consultancy agreement, as otherwise the parties could end up spending considerable amounts of time and money dealing with different issues arising out of the same case in different sets of proceedings. The judgment provides a logical solution to the issue, as well as a reminder of the importance of considering the consistency of jurisdiction clauses when drafting related documents.
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