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In R1 International Pte Ltd v. Lonstroff AG [2014] SGHC 69, the High Court considered whether the courts could issue permanent anti-suit injunctions in aid of domestic and foreign international arbitrations.


This case involved a Singapore claimant (“R1 International“), and a Swiss respondent, (“Lonstroff“). R1 International sold rubber to Lonstroff in five separate orders. Each order was concluded by R1 International sending Lonstroff a signed sales contract. Lonstroff itself never signed the contracts. The five orders provided for arbitration either in London or Singapore.

A dispute arose in relation to the second order, which provided for arbitration in Singapore. Lonstroff claimed that the rubber provided by R1 International emitted a smell, which made it unsuitable for Lonstroff’s purposes. When Lonstroff mentioned this to R1 International, R1 International refused to offset payment against the cost of delivery.

Lonstroff brought proceedings against R1 International in the Swiss courts in March 2013. In July 2013, R1 International responded by trying to commence arbitration against Lonstroff. R1 International argued that the parties were bound by an arbitration agreement found in the sales contract related to the second order.

R1 International therefore asked the Singapore Commodity Exchange (“SICOM“) to set up an arbitral tribunal to hear the dispute. SICOM replied that it would only do so if: 1) the Swiss proceedings were suspended; and 2) both R1 International and Lonstroff agreed to refer the dispute to SICOM arbitration.

R1 International successfully obtained an interim anti-suit injunction preventing Lonstroff from pursuing the Swiss proceedings. As a result, both Lonstroff and R1 International brought applications before the High Court. Lonstroff applied to discharge the interim injunction, whereas R1 International applied to make the injunction permanent.

The High Court’s Decision

The High Court Judge noted that the threshold issue was whether an arbitration agreement even existed between the parties. Counsel for R1 International argued that the arbitration agreement was incorporated into the contract for the second order based on trade custom, or in the alternative, previous dealings between the parties. The Judge rejected both arguments and found that there was no such arbitration agreement. The Judge therefore discharged the interim anti-suit injunction, thereby allowing Lonstroff to proceed with the Swiss proceedings.

Although it was not necessary to do so, the Judge went on to discuss the law relating to interim and permanent anti-suit injunctions. Anti-suit injunctions are orders which a court makes to restrain a party before the court from continuing with foreign court proceedings which that party has commenced.

The Judge noted that Sections 12 and 12A of the International Arbitration Act (“IAA“) do not give courts the power to issue permanent anti-suit injunctions in aid of arbitration. Section 12(1) IAA only enables the courts to issue interim (i.e., non-permanent) anti-suit injunctions. This power could be exercised irrespective of where the arbitration is seated.

The power to issue permanent anti-suit injunctions, however, derives from Section 4(10) of the Civil Law Act (“CLA”). This is a wide-ranging injunctive power which can be exercised to permanently restrain foreign proceedings, in aid of local proceedings. The Judge held the local proceedings included not only court proceedings but also arbitrations. The Judge held that this power was not displaced or replaced by the IAA which only granted the Court the power to issue interim anti-suit injunctions.

But does the Court have the power to issue permanent anti-suit injunctions under the CLA in aid of foreign seated arbitrations (as opposed to domestic arbitrations)? This question did not strictly arise because the specific order in issue provided for arbitration in Singapore. However, some of the sales orders did provide for arbitration in London.

Although the Judge posed the question, she ultimately did not express a concluded opinion on whether courts can issue a permanent anti-suit injunction in aid of foreign seated arbitrations as the issue was not fully argued and it was in any event not necessary to decide the issue. On the one hand, it was logical and consistent for the court to be able to do so based on the more wide-ranging provision in Section 4(10) of the CLA. There could also be good reasons why such a permanent anti-suit injunction may be needed – for example the forum may not provide effective interim measures in support of the foreign seated arbitration. On the other hand, such an extension of power would potentially affect more situations than simply those concerned with arbitration and therefore policy considerations would come into play.


This case is interesting because of the analysis relating to permanent anti-suit injunctions. It was always clear from the IAA that the courts can issue interim anti-suit injunctions in aid of arbitration, irrespective of where the arbitration is seated. However it was unclear whether, and on what basis, the courts could issue a permanent anti-suit injunction in aid of arbitration.

The case acknowledges that courts can issue a permanent anti-suit injunction in aid of arbitrations seated in Singapore. That power is derived from Section 4(10) of the CLA. However, while recognising that there were arguments for and against the extension of such a power to foreign seated arbitrations, the Court preferred not to express a concluded opinion because the point had not been fully argued and any decision either way was potentially far-reaching. The Court’s reluctance may have something to do with the Court of Appeal’s remarks on Section 4(10) of the CLA in Swift-Fortune Ltd v. Magnifica Marine SA [2007] 1 SLR(R) 629. In that decision, the Court of Appeal left open the issue of whether courts had the power under Section 4(10) to grant injunctions in aid of foreign court proceedings or foreign arbitral proceedings. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeal remarked that since Section 4(10) has remained unchanged since 1878, the legislative intent also remain unchanged. The meaning of Section 4(10) cannot change merely because social or political conditions have changed. As such, the Court thought that it was arguable that the legislature in 1878 could not have intended for Section 4(10) to grant courts the power to grant injunctions in aid of foreign court proceedings or foreign arbitral proceedings. The Court of Appeal’s remarks suggest that a party asserting that the courts have the power under Section 4(10) of the CLA to grant anti-suit injunctions in aid of foreign seated arbitrations will need to grapple with the issue of how the legislature in 1878 could have intended to provide for such a power through Section 4(10).

By Leng Sun Chan SC, Andy Leck and Celeste Ang.

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Leng Sun Chan is a Principal at Baker McKenzie Singapore and is Baker McKenzie’s Global Head of International Arbitration. He is qualified in Malaysia, Singapore and England. Leng Sun was appointed Senior Counsel in January 2011. Apart from being counsel, Leng Sun is a Chartered Arbitrator and is also on the panel of leading arbitral institutions. He is the Chairperson of the arbitration panel jointly appointed by the EU and Korea under the protocol on cultural cooperation of the Korea-EU FTA. Leng Sun is the Immediate Past President of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (SIArb). He is a member of the Committee on the Singapore International Commercial Court. Leng Sun is the Deputy Chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). He is the Deputy Chairman of the SGX (Singapore Exchange) Appeals Committee. Leng Sun was a legal officer of the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva and a SIAC-CIAC Observer to the UNCITRAL Working Group on Arbitration. He has published widely in international journals and is the author of the book Singapore Law on Arbitral Awards and Co-Editor of Conflict of Laws in Arbitration. Leng Sun has most recently been recognized among the top lawyers worldwide by "Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018" as a leading individual in International Arbitration, "Who's Who Legal - Litigation 2017" and, "Who's Who Legal - Arbitration 2016". He is described by Chambers Asia-Pacific 2017 as "one of the best arbitrators and practitioners in arbitration. Leng Sun Chan can be reached at and + 65 6434 2703.


Andy Leck is the managing principal of Baker & McKenzie. Wong & Leow. Mr. Leck is recognised by the world’s leading industry and legal publications as a leader in his field. Asian Legal Business notes that he “always gives good, quick advice, [is] client-focused and has strong technical knowledge for his areas of practice”. Alongside his current role as managing principal, Mr. Leck has held several leadership positions in the Firm and externally as a leading IP practitioner. He currently serves on the International Trademark Association's Board of Directors and is a member of the Singapore Copyright Tribunal. Mr. Leck has more than 20 years of experience in contentious and non-contentious intellectual property matters, litigation and arbitration matters. Mr. Leck also advises on the commercial exploitation of IP rights, particularly in the technology, franchise, pharmaceutical and media industries. In the area of corporate compliance, his practice includes defence against government/regulatory investigations and white collar criminal matters. He regularly represents Fortune 500 corporations in the pharmaceutical and life sciences, technology, and energy industries. Andy Leck can be reached at and + 65 6434 2525.


Celeste Ang is a member of the Dispute Resolution team at Baker & McKenzie Singapore. The specialised areas in which she has experience include employment and labour law, intellectual property, and oil and energy related disputes. Ms. Ang is recognised as an up-and-coming lawyer in the area of litigation by Chambers Asia Pacific 2013, where she is described as a “‘down-to-earth, persuasive, strong and confident lawyer.” Celeste Ang can be reached at and + 65 6434 2753.


Jennifer Fong was a member of the Dispute Resolution team at Baker & McKenzie Singapore.