Trace Your Case

MODI ENTERTAINMENT V. WSG CRICKET

Modi Entertainment v. WSG Cricket, (2003) 4 SCC 341

ISSUE:

  • What is an anti-suit injunction and when can it be granted by a court of natural jurisdiction?

RULE:

  • Courts in India and England are courts of both law and equity. It is common ground that a court in India has the power to issue anti-suit injunctions to a party over whom it has personal jurisdiction in an appropriate case as courts of equity exercise jurisdiction in personam.
  • Parties cannot confer jurisdiction where none exists on a court to which the CPC applies. However, in cases where parties agree to submit to the jurisdiction of a foreign court, the foreign court does not permit the invoking of its jurisdiction.

FACTS:

  • The ICC organised an event in Kenya in October 2000.
  • WSG Cricket had the exclusive right to grant commercial rights relating to the event.
  • An agreement was entered into between the second appellant and WSG Cricket granting exclusive license to telecast the event on Doordarshan and sell advertisement slots thereon.
  • The satellite broadcast license for India was granted to ESPN Star Sports.
  • The appellants were to pay a minimum of INR 15 crore to WSG Cricket. Any excess amount was to be divided between the two per the terms of the agreement.
  • Soon after the commencement of the telecast, the respondent registered a complaint that the signal was being received in the Middle East and this was a violation of the contract between the parties as well as the license granted to the Middle Eastern licensee. The appellants were told to rectify the same or risk discontinuation of the feed to Doordarshan.
  • It is claimed by the appellants that advertisers began pulling out on the basis of the respondent’s threats and switching to ESPN, allowing the respondent to benefit from the revenue-sharing agreement they had with ESPN.
  • The appellants then received a notice from the solicitors of the respondent demanding the full minimum guaranteed amount. The appellants filed a suit in the Bombay High Court claiming damages for the loss of advertising revenue due to the threats of the respondent.
  • The respondent further filed an action before the High Court of Justice praying for a money decree for the minimum guaranteed amount and took out a writ of summons and the appellant appeared before the English Court seeking time.
  • The appellants then took out a motion in the Bombay High Court seeking an anti-suit injunction in regard to the action in the English Court on the grounds that the Indian Court was a natural forum for the adjudication of the dispute.
  • A single judge of the Bombay HC granted an ad-hoc interim injunction and ordered notice of motion returnable within six weeks. The respondents appealed to the HC and a division bench disposed of the notice of motion itself, setting aside the order of the single judge and allowing the appeal.

HELD:

  • The Supreme Court held that in order to grant an anti-suit injunction, a court must be satisfied of certain criteria:
  • Firstly, that the defendant against whom an injunction is sought is amenable to the personal jurisdiction of the Indian court.
  • Secondly that if the injunction is declined, the ends of justice will be defeated.
  • Thirdly that the principle of comity-respect for the court which is sought to be restrained must be borne in mind.
  • It was further held that a court must examine the appropriate forum having regard to the convenience of the parties and may grant an anti-suit injunction in cases where proceedings are oppressive, vexatious o in a forum non-conveniens.
  • The court ruled that where the jurisdiction of a court is invoked on the basis of a jurisdiction clause in a contract, the terms of the contract are relevant factors and when a question of jurisdiction arises, the court must decide the same on a true interpretation of the contract.
  • It was held that a court of natural jurisdiction will not grant an anti-suit injunction when parties have agreed to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of any court save in exceptional cases for good and sufficient reasons.
  • Furthermore, in cases where parties have agreed to submit to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of any court, ordinarily no anti-suit injunction will be granted as it shall be presumed that parties have done their due diligence before entering into such agreement.
  • Proceedings in a court of choice where exclusive or non-exclusive jurisdiction is created cannot per se be treated as vexatious or oppressive.
  • The appeal ultimately failed.