On 23 June 2016, the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean handed down a significant judgment, on appeal from the British Virgin Islands, in which it confirmed the Court’s general power to grant injunctions restraining parties from pursuing a second set of arbitral proceedings overseas where the relief sought in those proceedings would undermine the enforcement of an earlier New York Convention award.  The Court’s closely reasoned judgment contains a detailed analysis of its power to grant anti-suit relief in the context of arbitrations, following the enactment of the BVI Arbitration Act in 2013.  The Court allowed Sonera’s appeal and granted an injunction in its favour.

This marks the latest stage in a substantial dispute, which began in 2005, between two of the principal shareholders in Turkcell, Turkey’s largest telecommunications operator.  Sonera, the BVI judgment creditor, is a Dutch subsidiary of leading Scandinavian telecommunications operator, Telia Company (formerly TeliaSonera).  Sonera is seeking to enforce a US$932 million ICC arbitration award, made in its favour in Geneva in 2011.  In February 2016, the BVI Court ordered Cukurova, the award and judgment debtor, to sell its shareholding in Turkcell, held though a BVI holding company structure, in order to meet the judgment debt.  An appeal against that decision is due to be heard later in the year.

Ben Valentin QC, representing Sonera with John Carrington QC of Sabals, was instructed by John Hardiman and Thomas Walsh of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York.

A link to the Court of Appeal’s judgment can be found here.