In Mobile Telecommunications Co KSC v HRH Prince Hussam bin Abdulaziz au Saud  EWHC 3749 (Comm) a Saudi prince (“the Prince”) was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment by the English Commercial Court for breaching an anti-suit injunction.
Mobile Communications (“MT”) obtained an arbitration award in arbitration proceedings relating to a loan agreement. The Prince also started court proceedings in Saudi Arabia that were initially stayed and then revived by the Prince after he failed to challenge the arbitration award in the English courts.
As a result, an anti-suit injunction was granted to MT restraining the proceedings in Saudi Arabia. Despite the order being served on the Prince, the Prince did not discontinue the Saudi proceedings and a judgement was issued in his favour by the Saudi courts.
MT started committal proceedings in the UK. Although the Prince did not attend the hearing, the judge decided that it would result in undue prejudice if the proceedings were adjourned as the Prince was notified and had decided not to attend.
The court ruled that the Prince committed contempt of court as he had an obligation to discontinue the proceedings in the Saudi courts pursuant to the anti-suit injunction. Instead, contrary to the injunction, the Prince actively participated in the hearing in the Saudi court.
The court’s justification for sentencing the Prince to imprisonment was that the breach of anti-suit injunction was a serious breach of a court order. Moreover, in this case specifically, the breach was deliberate and was aimed at undermining the arbitration conducted earlier. There were no mitigating circumstances or explanation given by the Prince for breaching the order.