In DHL GBS (UK) Limited v Fallimento Finmatica SPA [2009] EWHC 291 the English High Court declined an application by DHL GBS (UK) Limited (DHL) to stay its own appeal against the registration of an Italian judgment which had been entered against it. Please click here to view our previous post dated February 10, 2009.

Fallimento Finmatica SPA's (Finmatica) receiver brought proceedings in Italy for unpaid invoices under an agreement with DHL. That agreement was subject to English law and contained an English arbitration clause. DHL played no part in the proceedings and in its absence the Italian court held that it had jurisdiction to hear the case, that the receiver was not bound by the arbitration clause and that DHL must pay the amount claimed, 1.3 million Euros.

Finmatica subsequently applied to the English High Court to register the Italian judgment under the Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001 (the Judgments Regulation). The application, which was without notice, was granted by Master Fontaine. DHL then appealed on the grounds that the judgment was outside the scope of the Judgments Regulation because it fell within the the arbitration exclusion contained in Article 1(2)(d) and that the registration of the judgment was contrary to public policy because it was obtained in breach of an arbitration clause which was either binding under the applicable law or under English law.

DHL subsequently sought a stay of its own appeal in relation to the registration proceedings pending its appeal of the original Italian judgment.

Mr Justice Tomlinson declined to grant the stay. Although the substantive issues of DHL's appeal were not strictly before him, Mr Justice Tomlinson noted that following the decision of the ECJ in the West Tankers case it would be difficult for DHL to maintain its argument that the judgment of the Italian court fell within the arbitration exception, or that the English court would be able to review the Italian court's decision as to its own jurisdiction and the applicability of the arbitration clause.

It is unclear whether DHL will pursue its appeal in England in light of the West Tankers decision.