Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

Conflict of jurisdiction between the UK and China and enforcement of arbitral awards and judgments

Liang Zhao*

Zhen Jing

Parties may agree in contracts of international business to the English court’s jurisdiction or London arbitration. However, Chinese courts may exercise jurisdiction over the same dispute between the same parties on the same subject matter under Chinese law. Parallel proceedings and conflict of jurisdictions may thus occur. Foreign parties may apply for anti-suit injunctions against Chinese parties who start or continue Chinese court proceedings. However, anti-suit injunctions are not recognised by Chinese courts. Accordingly, recognition and enforcement on foreign judgments under parallel proceedings become difficult. This article examines how Chinese courts obtain jurisdiction even though there are agreements on foreign jurisdiction or arbitration. Obstacles to achieving enforcement of arbitral tribunal and foreign judgments under parallel proceedings are analysed and solutions are discussed.


It is a common practice for parties to agree in their contracts on arbitration or jurisdiction. Where English law is the applicable law of the contract, arbitration in London or a jurisdiction of the English High Court is always agreed in contracts. Parties shall be bound by their agreements of arbitration or jurisdiction in their contracts. One party may apply for an anti-suit injunction from an English court if the other party breaches such agreements, eg, by commencing proceedings in a Chinese court. When Chinese courts exercise jurisdiction by applying Chinese law against London arbitration or English court jurisdiction agreements, parties may prefer, for tactical reasons, to apply for anti-suit injunctions in English courts rather than challenge the jurisdiction of a Chinese court seised of proceedings. However, an English anti-suit injunction may not prevent the occurrence of parallel proceedings between the courts of the UK and of China. This is a typical situation of conflict of jurisdiction between English courts and Chinese courts. It is not uncommon in particular in international commercial and maritime disputes. Such conflict of jurisdiction may lead to difficulties in recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards and English judgments in Chinese courts. International Conventions on recognition


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