December 5, 2023

Gategourmet Korea Co Ltd and others v Asiana Airlines, Inc: SICC grants anti-suit injunction in favour of arbitration


On 1 December 2023, the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) granted anti-suit injunctions restraining the respondent (Asiana) from commencing or continuing with two court proceedings in Korea against the applicants, on the basis that this was prima facie a breach of arbitration agreements in contained in two contracts: (a) a Catering Agreement between the first applicant (GGK) and Asiana; and (b) a Joint Venture Agreement between the second applicant (GGS) and Asiana. The third and fourth applicants, who were current and former directors of GGS, were not parties to either agreement.

The first set of Korean court proceedings involved Asiana and GGK, in which Asiana sought a declaration that the Catering Agreement was void. The SICC was satisfied that these proceedings were a prima facie breach of the Catering Agreement’s arbitration agreement, and rejected Asiana’s argument that the dispute in these proceedings was non-arbitrable, noting that this was not an argument which Asiana had raised in prior arbitration proceedings brought by GGK under the Catering Agreement, which had resulted in an award in favour of GGK and which Asiana had unsuccessfully sought to challenge before the Singapore courts. The SICC also rejected Asiana’s argument that GGK had delayed seeking anti-suit relief from the Singapore courts.

The second set of Korean court proceedings involved Asiana on the one hand and GGS and the directors on the other, in which Asiana sought tortious damages against GGS and the directors in relation to the conclusion of the Joint Venture Agreement. The SICC was satisfied that these proceedings were likewise a prima facie breach of the Joint Venture Agreement’s arbitration agreement, and rejected Asiana’s argument that such tort claims did not fall within the scope of the arbitration agreement.

A copy of the SICC’s judgment in [2023] SGHC(I) 23 can be found here.

Colin Liew acted for the successful applicants, instructed by Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.