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West African Ventures Limited v. Ranger Offshore, No. 4:17-CV-00548 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 24, 2018) [click for opinion]

Plaintiffs, West African Ventures Limited and Sea Trucks Group FZE, brought a guarantee-enforcement action against two guarantors under various service agreements relating to oil and gas production projects offshore Nigeria. When the underlying contracts were not paid by the contracting parties, Plaintiffs sued the guarantors for payment. One of the defendant guarantors, Ranger Offshore, Inc. (“Ranger”), brought several counterclaims for breach of the underlying contracts.

Plaintiffs moved to dismiss Ranger’s counterclaims for lack of standing or, in the alternative, to stay the case in favor of arbitration. Ranger argued that it possessed standing to assert the counterclaims on behalf of the parties to the underlying contract, and that Plaintiffs had waived arbitration by filing the initial suit.

The district court held that dismissal of the counterclaims without prejudice was warranted because all of the issues raised by the counterclaims were subject to the underlying contracts’ arbitration provisions. The court further found that Plaintiffs did not waive arbitration of those counterclaims by bringing the guarantee-enforcement action, because the subject guarantees did not contain arbitration clauses. As a result, the court concluded that Plaintiffs’ suit did not amount to any overt act that evinces a desire to resolve an arbitrable dispute in litigation since the enforcement action did not raise any arbitrable dispute in the first instance.

Finally, the court found that a stay of the case as to Ranger only was appropriate because Ranger’s arbitrable counterclaims “could potentially reverse or diminish any amount awarded” in the litigation.

A version of this post originally appeared in the March 2018 edition of Baker McKenzie’s International Litigation & Arbitration Newsletter, which is edited by David Zaslowsky and Grant Hanessian.


Alexander Burch is a member of Baker McKenzie's Litigation and Government Enforcement Practice in Houston and the Global Dispute Resolution Group. He has extensive appellate litigation experience before the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and Texas appellate courts. Alexander previously served as a briefing attorney to Justice Phil Johnson of the Supreme Court of Texas and is a former officer of the United States Marine Corps. Alexander Burch can be reached at [email protected].


Grant Hanessian is a member of the Dispute Resolution team at Baker McKenzie New York. Grant Hanessian serves as global co-chair of the Firm’s International Arbitration Group. He chaired the Litigation Department of the Firm’s New York office from 2003 to 2012. Mr. Hanessian is the US alternate member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris, vice chairman of the Arbitration Committee of the US Council for International Business (US national committee of the ICC), and a member of the ICC’s Commission on Arbitration and its Task Forces on Arbitration Involving States or State Entities and on Financial Institutions and International Arbitration (leader of Investment Arbitration and Banking & Finance work stream). He is also a member of the American Arbitration Association—International Centre for Dispute Resolution’s International Advisory Committee and its Advisory Committee on Brazil, the International Arbitration Club of New York, the Arbitration Committee of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, the New York City Bar Association's Committee on International Commercial Disputes and Club Español del Arbitraje, and is a founding board member of the New York International Arbitration Center. Grant Hanessian can be reached at [email protected] and +1 212 891 3986.