In the recent case of Axa Corporate Solutions Assurance SA v Weir Services Australia Pty Ltd1 the Commercial Court concluded that England was the appropriate forum to construe the key provisions of a global insurance policy which did not contain a jurisdiction clause, but had been issued in England and was governed by English law.
The claimant applied for an anti-suit injunction which sought to prevent the defendant from pursuing an indemnity claim in Australia insofar as the claim related to the global policies. Meanwhile the defendant sought to set aside an order which permitted service of the English proceedings in Australia.
The liability insurance programme which the claimant provided to the defendant consisted of both global and local policies. While the global policies were governed by English law, there was a local Australian policy insuring a subsidiary of the defendant which was governed by Australian law. The intention was for the local policy to take precedence and then one would look to the global policy for additional cover.
The court, in refusing the applications, held that the key provisions of the global policy should be considered by the English courts because it had been entered into in England, was subject to English law and it stood at the apex of a worldwide, integrated liability insurance programme, widely used by the claimant, with the local policies standing beneath. However, there were no grounds for granting an anti-suit injunction against the proceedings in Australia as the defendant had taken a legitimate tactical step which did not amount to unconscionable conduct. The proceedings would therefore continue in both England and Australia, although the proceedings in England would be stayed pending the resolution of the claim in Australia under the Australian policy.