The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered judgment on Case C-700/20 (London Steam-Ship Owners’ Mutual Insurance Association Limited v. Kingdom of Spain). This corresponds to a request for a preliminary ruling from the High Court of Justice (England & Wales), Queen’s Bench Division (Commercial Court) (United Kingdom). The case relates to the Prestige sinking, and the CJEU found that arbitration proceedings initiated in the United Kingdom cannot block the recognition of the Spanish judgment ordering the insurer to pay compensation for the damage caused by the oil spill (see previous De Maribus report).
The CJEU held that Regulation No 44/2001 (on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial) must be interpreted as meaning that a judgment entered by a court of a Member State in the terms of an arbitral award cannot prevent, in that Member State, the recognition of a judgment given in another Member State where a judicial decision resulting in an outcome equivalent to the outcome of that award could not have been adopted by a court of the first Member State without infringing the provisions and the fundamental objectives of that regulation, in particular as regards the relative effect of an arbitration clause included in the insurance contract in question and the rules on lis pendens. In doing so, the Court ensures, in essence, that those provisions and fundamental objectives cannot be circumvented by means of arbitration proceedings followed by judicial proceedings seeking to have the terms of the arbitral award entered in a judicial decision.