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Anti-Suit Injunctions: A Comparative Analysis Of Jurisdictional Challenges And Judicial Approaches

In India and other countries, the judicial review of anti-suit injunctions entails an analysis of legal concepts and considerations to determine the appropriateness of such injunctions. An anti-suit injunction is a judicial order that prevents a party from starting or continuing legal actions in another country.

Various court rulings in India have affected the approach to anti-suit injunctions. The Indian judiciary understands the necessity of preserving its jurisdiction, avoiding forum shopping, and upholding judicial comity. The Supreme Court of India has ruled that anti-suit injunctions can be granted where necessary to prevent abuse of the Court's process or to achieve justice. However, the courts utilize their discretion with caution, considering the facts and circumstances of each case.

Scope and Object of Anti-Suit Injunction:

Anti-suit injunctions deter foreign courts from interfering with the Court's jurisdiction over the same parties and cause(s). International accords or each state's legal system apply these rules to determine foreign matters and execute foreign court judgments. Justice, equity, and morality justify this acknowledgment, not civility. Foreign law can define justice and public policy. "Considering foreign law is not a derogation of sovereignty" in India.

Comity: follow and expect others to follow. The idea is increasingly employed in anti-suit injunctions in common law nations when the complaint is lodged in a foreign country, not to explain the conflict of laws but to respect other governments' territorial power. Private international law prohibits India from recognizing a foreign court without international authority. Only the Court's competence�territory over the subject matter and defendant�is necessary for jurisdiction. This nation's courts ignore their jurisdiction.

Anti-suit injunction scope: multi-jurisdictional anti-suit injunctions are commercially viable and cost-effective. Enjoined parties are not accountable. Globalized economies ban forum shopping with antisuit injunctions. Antisuit injunctions aid difficult global situations. An antisuit injunction considerably improves the possibility that the issuing Court will be the only Court to hear a cause of action. It minimizes the likelihood that another court will pre-empt its jurisdiction by reaching a final judgment first. It also stops parallel litigation. Antisuit injunctions govern venue, choice of law, and often substantive law.

Principles Governing Anti-Suit Injunction in India:

The Court ruled that any neutral state with jurisdiction over a transaction between two independent states is not subject to the C.P.C.[1] . So, contract parties can agree to have their disputes decided by a foreign "neutral court" or "court of choice," creating exclusive or non-exclusive jurisdiction in that Court.

This supreme court ruling clarifies the applicability of exclusive and non-exclusive jurisdiction clauses in agreements between two contracting countries providing jurisdiction to a court of any other third country or country in a comparable circumstance. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court declared that procedures or lawsuits initiated in the Court of natural jurisdiction, or the Court of choice would not automatically be oppressive or vexatious once the parties have decided to submit to a foreign court's jurisdiction.

The Court's harassment or oppression depends on the case and facts. The courts will likely grant an anti-suit injunction to prevent the breach of a contractual commitment to submit to the exclusive or non-exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of the parties' choice, but this is not the only reason. In this context, Indian courts must apply Section 13[2] to recognize and enforce foreign anti-suit injunctions. A foreign court cannot violate Section 13's decree or judgment regulations. Foreign court judgments are binding unless under Section 13[3] exclusions.

The Court must be satisfied that:
  1. the defendant, against whom the injunction is sought, is amenable to the Court's jurisdiction;
  2. if the injunction is declined, justice will be defeated, and injustice will be perpetuated; and
  3. the principle of comity-respect for the Court in which commencement or continuance of action or proceeding is sought to be restrained
    must be observed.

The Indian Courts will determine the best forum and may grant an antisuit injunction for oppressive, vexing, or inconvenient proceedings. (Forum non conveniens). The applicant must prove that the chosen forum is a forum non-conveniens, repressive, or vexatious.

The Delhi High Court listed many forum dispute injunctions in its newest anti-suit injunction rulings[4]:
  1. Anti-suit injunctions: The foreign Court prevents the main suit.
  2. Anti-anti-suit injunctions: The party cannot apply to the foreign Court to injunct "local" proceedings.
  3. Anti-enforcement injunctions: The Court bans one party from enforcing a foreign court's judgment or decision. They fit two categories. First is injuncting the foreign Court's primary suit/complaint/other procedure, and the second is requesting a foreign anti-suit injunction.
Calcutta H.C. was authorized to issue anti-anti-suit injunctions[5]. "Equitable jurisdiction includes the competence to grant an anti-suit or anti-arbitration injunction or even an anti-anti-suit injunction," the Court ruled. It stated that it "is issued only in the most extreme of instances where the refusal of the injunction may result in palpable and gross unfairness in the meanest sense." Indian anti-anti-suit injunctions began with Interdigital[6].

The Delhi High Court determined that the anti-suit injunction would leave Interdigital powerless against patent infringement�the first anti-enforcement injunction given by Indian Court. In Raaj Unocal[7], Justice C. Hari Shankar, who presided over the Xiaomi case[8], defended mutatis mutandis by finding that because the proceedings in Texas (U.S.A.) were not oppressive or vexatious to the plaintiff's proceedings before an Indian court, the Indian Court would not be justified in restraining the defendant, so the request to vacate the anti-suit injunction was granted. This proves that the anti-suit injunction, a court's inherent power, cannot be disregarded.

Anti Arbitration Injunction:

Anti-arbitration injunctions, unlike anti-suit injunctions, prohibit parties from initiating or continuing foreign and domestic arbitration proceedings (India-seated). Indian courts cannot issue anti-suit injunctions for domestic proceedings, but they can for overseas proceedings[9]. An anti-arbitration injunction should be granted when the parties mutually agree not to arbitrate or have chosen litigation or another alternative dispute resolution method. Delhi H.C. involved substantial anti-arbitration injunctions[10]. This case distinguished between anti-suit and anti-arbitration injunctions.

The inconvenient forum principle, which underpins anti-suit injunction jurisprudence, applies solely to rival courts, not arbitral tribunals. The parties chose arbitration as a judicial alternative, which was not inconvenient. Competence-competence supported this finding. (i.e., since an arbitral tribunal has inherent jurisdiction to determine its own jurisdiction, it should consider the merits of an anti-arbitration injunction at the first instance). McDonald's also held that courts should use their inherent power to injunct arbitration procedures cautiously and only in rare cases by Sections[11],[12]. Calcutta and Delhi High Courts declined to grant anti-arbitration injunctions[13].

The Court is prohibited from granting injunctions when an equal and effective remedy can be obtained through any other proceeding[14], including presenting an anti-arbitration claim to an arbitrator[15].

O.N.G.C. dealt with an arbitral award that was issued because of a dispute between O.N.G.C. and Western Company of North America[16] ("Western" for short). Western sought the U.S. District Court to confirm the arbitral award. The arbitration agreement specified that the act[17] would apply to the proceedings. Under sections[18],[19] O.N.G.C. filed a plea with Court asking for the award to be nullified. An anti-suit injunction application was also filed to prevent Western from pursuing the case in the U.S. District Court. After the H.C. dismissed O.N.G.C.'s case, the company appealed to S.C.

The SC ruled that the arbitral award was not binding until it was made a rule of the Court and judgment and decree were passed by it, based on[20] to which the parties were contractually obliged. Therefore, if the case was allowed to go before the U.S. District Court, an unenforceable award could be upheld even though that would contradict the law governing the contract between the parties.

It was decided that it would be "oppressive to O.N.G.C." for the U.S. District Court to issue an order that would put O.N.G.C. in an impossible position. It was decided that the Indian Court was "neither just nor fair" in refusing to grant O.N.G.C.'s request for an anti-suit injunction. Indeed, the Supreme Court stated, "It would be difficult to conceive of a more appropriate case for granting such relief." This critical judgment defines scenarios where permitting the foreign court proceedings to continue would be "oppressive."

Anti-Suit Injunction for Divorce, Custody, and Maintenance:

Matrimony and custody must follow that place's marriage-focused law. Two reasons foreign divorce rulings are incontestable. First, accepting a foreign forum remedy resolves the decree's legitimacy issue. Consent can fix the forum's jurisdictional deficiency and grant the decree, precluding a challenge on the basis that the relief granted was not accessible to the parties under their country's law.

If acquiescence to relief is essential, there is no need to distinguish between cases where the defect to be repaired is connected to the forum's jurisdiction and those where it derives from the reason on which relief was granted. Husbands must prove foreign decrees were merit-based. Without evidence, a decree was granted. The Mexican court ruling was unjust. If none of the grounds[21] are proven to exist, then the decree of divorce obtained from the foreign Court is binding.

Despite jurisdictional facts in the judgment, a foreign divorce decree may be appealed for fraud or lack of jurisdiction. Marital proceedings include anti-suit injunctions. They prevent cases of a similar nature from being filed in several different jurisdictions. An Indian marital anti-suit injunction petition would prevent an opposing spouse from bringing a foreign matrimonial case.

Indian suits are predicated on lack of jurisdiction over the Hindu marriage corpus and the physical presence of an Indian spouse abroad. Anti-suit injunctions are being utilized both ways. In a case, Gurugram's Family Court heard the husband's divorce petition[22]; in Florida District Court, the wife filed for divorce. The husband sought an anti-suit injunction in Florida against the wife's divorce petition. The Supreme Court of India rejected the anti-suit ruling because the Florida Court's divorce practices were not "oppressive."

Y. Narasimha Rao v. Y. Venkata Lakshmi[23]:
This landmark case by the Supreme Court of India dealt with the issue of jurisdiction in matrimonial disputes. The Court held that if a party files a matrimonial suit in a foreign court without meeting the criteria of domicile or residence, it will violate Indian law. The Court further stated that an anti-suit injunction could be granted to prevent the foreign Court's proceedings.

Anti-Suit Injunction in Patent Law:

Applying the principles postulated in case[24] to a case of intellectual property infringement[25], a lawsuit for patent infringement was brought before an Indian court, and a similar complaint was lodged in a U.S. court. The lawsuit brought forward in India was directed against the alleged infringement of Indian patents. In contrast, the action brought forward in the United States was directed against the alleged infringement of United States patents.

Opposing parties brought up the two cases. This judgment emphasizes that the prejudice caused by the foreign proceedings, or any decision that may be given therein, had to be assessed vis-�-vis the prosecution of the Indian proceedings and not vis-�-vis the Indian anti-suit injunction petitioner in general. This is because the foreign proceedings, or any order that might be issued therein, led the Indian proceedings to be prosecuted in a manner that was not per Indian law.

The Division Bench concluded that the ongoing patent infringement actions that were initiated in the United States did not in any way restrict or even interfere with the ongoing proceedings that are taking place in India and are currently being heard by this Court. As a result, it was decided that the procedures in the foreign country could not be considered "oppressive," which would justify injuncting the prosecution of those processes.

The term "anti-suit injunction" is misleading because it does not stop the overseas suit or foreign courts. The foreign suit party is restrained. However, its apparent violation of international comity has sparked debate and criticism from some who believe an anti-suit injunction undermines the foreign Court's jurisdiction. Provisional remedy in domestic and international litigation often involves jurisdictional cooperation, yet such involvement often produces jurisdictional tension. Anti-suit injunctions, which operate against private parties within the enjoining Court's jurisdiction, do not mitigate the dispute.

Two states struggle with antisuit injunctions. When a court in State A issues an anti-suit injunction, a court in State B presiding over a similar cause of action involving the same parties has three options:
  1. Recognize the injunction and stay the litigation before it, pending the resolution of the cause of action in State A.
  2. Ignore the injunction and allow the litigation to proceed concurrently with the litigation in State A; or
  3. Ignore the injunction and allow the proceedings to proceed.
These choices could be more appealing. Injunctions are equitable remedies; therefore, they might examine elements that directly or indirectly promote comity. Thus, an injunction can be denied if equitable defenses like laches or waiver apply or if the remedy is ineffectual.

Delay in seeking the injunction can affect the foreign Court's proceedings, increasing the direct or indirect interference�the foreign Court's stage matters. Delays affect the opposite party. The foreign court action may have inconvenienced and cost that party while the applicant for the anti-suit injunction waited. The Court will not impose an injunction if it would prejudice the other party.

Anti-suit injunctions can be abused, the Supreme Court of India said[26]. The court advised against regularly granting such injunctions. The court stressed that anti-suit injunctions should only be granted in rare cases to prevent vexatious or oppressive litigation.

The Court granting an antisuit order must be cautious since it interferes with a foreign court's proceedings. An anti-suit injunction is a discretionary, cautious, and flexible ruling. In a case involving a foreign element, Indian courts may apply or discuss some rules of foreign law, but they are not surrendering their jurisdiction or abdicating their powers. Instead, they are applying the appropriate Indian rule of conflict of laws, which in that case, requires the application of foreign law rules.

Despite no law, the general equitable jurisdiction of giving an injunction includes the competence to award an anti-suit. To use court power to provide justice. When no other remedy is under the law, Section 151[27] qualifies for anti-suit injunctions[28].

Such inherent power cannot override legislative limitations or generate Code-unprecedented remedies. Civil courts can use their jurisdiction to achieve justice or avoid process abuse. The reasons for anti-suit injunction as an inherent power of the Court show that it does not violate the code and acts by comity and equity.

  • Modi Entertainment Network & Anr v. W.S.G.Cricket Pte. Ltd, 4 SCC 341 (2003)
  • The code of civil procedure � 13 (1908)
  • The code of civil procedure � 13 (1908)
  • Interdigital Technology Corporation v. Xiaomi Corporation & Ors, SCC 2424 (2021)
  • Devi Resources Ltd v. Ambo Exports Ltd, SCC 7774 (2019)
  • Interdigita Technologies Corp v. Xiaomi Corp, SCC 2424 (Del 2021)
  • Raaj Unocal Lubricants Limited v. Apple Energy Pvt Ltd & Anr, 280 DCT 516 (Del 2021)
  • Interdigita Technologies Corp v. Xiaomi Corp, SCC 2424 (Del 2021)
  • Horlicks Ltd v. Heinz India (P) Ltd, SCC 3342 (Del 2009)
  • McDonald's India Pvt Ltd v. Mr. Vikram Bakshi, SCC 7249 (Del 2014)
  • The arbitration and conciliation act � 8 (1996)
  • The arbitration and conciliation act � 45 (1996)
  • Devi Resources Limited v. Ambo Exports Limited, SCC 7774 (Cal 2019), Himachal Sorang Power Private Limited and Another v. N.C.C. Infrastructure Holdings Limited, SCC 7575 (Del 2019), Dr. Bina Modi v. Lalit Modi, SCC 901 (Del 2020)
  • Specific relief act � 41 (1963)
  • The arbitration and conciliation act � 16 (1996)
  • Oil and Natural Gas Commission v. Western Co. of North America, 1 SCC 496 (Del 1987)
  • The arbitration act (1940)
  • The arbitration act � 30 (1940)
  • The arbitration act � 33 (1940)
  • The arbitration act (1940)
  • The code of civil procedure � 13 (1908)
  • Dinesh Singh Thakur v. Sonal Thakur, 17 S.C.C. 12 (2018)
  • Y. Narasimha Rao and Ors v. Y. Venkata Lakshmi and Ors, MANU 0603 (SC 1991)
  • Modi Entertainment Network & Anr v. W.S.G.Cricket Pte. Ltd, 4 SCC 341 (2003)
  • Magotteaux Industries 2009 (39) PTC 212 (DB)
  • Modi Entertainment Network & Anr v. W.S.G.Cricket Pte. Ltd, 4 SCC 341 (2003)
  • The code of civil procedure (1908).
  • Modi Entertainment Network & Anr v. W.S.G.Cricket Pte. Ltd, 4 SCC 341 (2003).
Written By:
  1. Bhavya Pathania (Op Jindal Global University)
  2. Sparsh Saxena (Op Jindal Global University)

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