In a case involving an “anti-suit injunction” sought by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Delhi High Court in BCCI v Essel Sports Private Ltd & Ors barred the Indian Cricket League (ICL) from filing a suit against the BCCI in the UK courts.
In April 2007 the Essel Group of Companies launched a professional cricket league under the banner of ICL which was never given recognition by the BCCI. In November 2009 Essel sent a legal notice threatening to file a suit in the High Court of England & Wales in London, against the BCCI, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council for not recognizing its T20 sporting events and so seeking various reliefs and damages.
Earlier in 2009 a single-member bench of Delhi High Court had restrained Essel from taking any action until the next hearing of the case. Essel challenged this before the division bench which, while declining a stay, directed the single-member bench to decide the issue by the end of January 2010. While issuing an interim injunction against Essel, the single-member bench on 7 December 2009 agreed with the BCCI’s submission that Essel had already filed a case in Delhi High Court in 2007 alleging collusion with the Indian Premier League over the boycott of players and the use of stadia and any new suit on the same issue in the UK would make it more “vexatious and oppressive”.
This judgment is significant as the court dealt with the already well-settled principles for grant of an anti-suit injunction and held that an anti-suit injunction will be issued in only three situations: (a) where there are two or more forums available (one of which is a domestic forum); (b) where a party invades or threaten to invade the legal and equitable right of the other party not to be sued in a foreign court; or (c) where instituting proceedings abroad would be unconscionable.
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