Kuvera Resources Pte Ltd. v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

Kuvera Resources Pte Ltd. v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
[2022] SGHC 213 [Singapore]

Case Abstracted by Matthew K Kozakowski for the Institute of International Banking Law & Practice's monthly journal Documentary Credit World 

DCW Descriptor:     

Beneficiary sued Confirmer that returned complying documents citing LC sanctions clause


Autonomy; Advising Bank; Breach of Contract; Confirming Bank; Consideration; Irrevocable Undertaking; Nominated Bank; Risk-Based Approach; Sanctions Clause; Sanctioned Vessel; UCP600 Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 16; Unilateral Offer; Wrongful Dishonour

Type of Lawsuit:      

Beneficiary sued Confirming Bank for wrongful dishonour (alleging breach of contract) after Confirming Bank declined to honour presentation of complying documents citing its standard Sanctions Clause.


Plaintiff/Trader/Beneficiary – Kuvera Resources Pte Ltd. (Counsel: Mahmood Gaznavi s/o Bashir Muhammad & Rezza Gaznavi (Mahmood Gaznavi Chambers LLC))

Defendant/Nominated Bank/Advising Bank/Confirming Bank – JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Counsel: Chia Voon Jiet, Charlene Wong Su-Yi & Grace Lim Rui Si (Drew & Napier LLC))

                                    Seller – Unidentified, based in Indonesia

                                    Buyer/Applicant – Unidentified, based in Dubai, UAE

                                    Issuer – Unidentified, based in Dubai, UAE

                                    Presenting Bank – Unidentified


Financing of purchase and resale of 35,000MT of Indonesian coal (± 10%)


Two UCP600 LCs for combined USD 2.35 million (±10%)


The High Court of Singapore, Vinodh Coomaraswamy, J., ruled in favour of Confirming Bank.


(1) UCP600 Article 16 notice requirements satisfied as Confirming Bank acknowledged complying presentation; (2) under common law, LC confirmation constitutes sui generis irrevocable unilateral offer (autonomous of the issuer’s) that is accepted upon presentation of complying documents; (3) Sanctions Clause valid term as not fundamentally inconsistent with confirmations; (4) Clause enforceable as narrowly worded and did not render confirmed LCs de facto revocable; (5) expert evidence of US sanctions law, regulations and enforcement thereof, accepted and applied to instant action; and (6) on facts of case, Confirming Bank entitled to rely on Sanctions Clause as complete defence to Beneficiary’s lawsuit.

Factual Summary:

As part of an underlying trade between an Indonesia seller of coal (Seller), and a Dubai-based buyer (Buyer), Kuvera Resources Pte Ltd. (Trader), a trader of Indonesian coal based in Singapore, advanced funds to Seller for purchase of 35,000 metric tonnes of coal (± 10%) to resell to Buyer (the Sales Contract). Trader was party to the Sales Contract which required that the coal be delivered in two shipments and payment made by two letters of credit obtained by Buyer from “a major or international bank” and further confirmed by a bank in Singapore. Accordingly, Buyer/Applicant caused the Issuer, based in Dubai, to issue two UCP600 letters of credit of favour of Trader/Beneficiary (hereinafter “Beneficiary”) with terms pursuant to draft LCs attached to the Sales Contract.[1] Issuer also nominated JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Nominated Bank/Advising Bank/Confirming Bank, hereinafter “Confirming Bank”) on the credits, and Confirming Bank advised the terms of both LCs to Beneficiary. Confirming Bank also added its confirmation to both LCs from its Singapore branch. Notably, both the advices and confirmations included Confirming Bank’s standard Sanctions Clause.[2] The Clause was neither in the draft LCs nor in Issuer’s LCs. Moreover, as the LCs were amended several times, Confirming Bank advised Beneficiary of each amendment and included its Sanctions Clause “when necessary.” (para.14).

Late November 2019, Beneficiary, through its Presenting Bank, made its first presentation to Confirming Bank under both LCs. After Confirming Bank found the presentation discrepant, it gave proper notice. Thereafter, Beneficiary made a second presentation and Confirming Bank reviewed the documents, including the drafts valued at a combined USD 2.42 million. As part of its standard practice, however, Confirming Bank “sent the documents for sanctions screening.” (para.19). During its review, Confirming Bank learned that the coal was shipped on a vessel known as “the Omnia”. As Confirming Bank discovered, that name was an exact match for a vessel known as “the Lady Mona”, a vessel “likely to be” beneficially owned by a Syrian entity and subject to US sanctions. Confirming Bank notified Presenting Bank that it could not “accommodate” the presentation “because the transaction did not comply with applicable US sanctions laws or with policies designed to promote compliance with those laws.” Confirming Bank returned the documents after also notifying Beneficiary that it could not “obtain internal approvals” to honour the otherwise complying documents (satisfying UCP600 Article 16 notice requirements). (para.21).

After the LCs expired, Beneficiary, Issuer and Buyer/Applicant negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding whereby Buyer/Applicant paid Beneficiary USD 2.2 million for the trade documents. Thereafter, Beneficiary sued Confirming Bank for wrongful dishonour (alleging breach of contract) seeking the principal sum of the confirmations, USD 2.42 million or, alternatively, USD 220,000 for breach of contract damages. The High Court of Singapore, Vinodh Coomaraswamy, J., ruled in favour of Confirming Bank and awarded costs.[3]

Legal Analysis:

Beneficiary levelled several claims which the Judge organised into three broad arguments: (A) that the Sanctions Clause was not part of Beneficiary’s contract with Confirming Bank; (B) the Sanctions Clause was unenforceable for several reasons; and (C) on the evidence, Confirming Bank should not be entitled to rely on the Clause to refuse payment. Before reaching those claims, the Judge dealt with two critical “anterior” issues: (1) the legal nature of LCs (and confirmations); and (2) contract formation between Beneficiary and Confirming Bank.  

  1. Letters of Credit. The Judge began by reviewing the commercial nature of LCs and their special role in international trade. Buyers and sellers typically operate at arms-length, often in different jurisdictions, and sellers desire assurances of payment while buyers desire good goods. As the Judge noted, “[t]he letter of credit interposes a trustworthy and a creditworthy paymaster between the buyer and the seller in the form of a bank.” (para.32). After reviewing typical LC structures (while also highlighting that the action involved confirmations), the Judge turned to the autonomy (independence) of LCs from their underlying contracts. Citing UCP600 Article 8, the Judge noted that Confirming Bank’s “contract” with Beneficiary was independent of Issuer’s undertaking.[4] The Judge also quoted an excerpt from UCP600: An Analytical Commentary[5] to further stress the independence of confirmations and to note that “a beneficiary under a confirmed letter of credit has a contractual right either to seek payment from the issuing bank under the letter of credit or from the confirming bank under the confirmation.” (para.46).
  2. Contract Formation (Confirmation). The Judge then reviewed the legal nature of confirmations and, absent typical contractual orthodoxies of offer, acceptance and consideration, how the “contract” between a confirmer and beneficiary arises. To resolve this tension, the Judge explored case law and several secondary sources including The Law and Practice of Documentary Letters of Credit[6] for the proposition that the obligation of confirming banks to pay beneficiaries is sui generis as the law of contract defers to “mercantile usage and banking custom”. (para.53). The Judge, however, was not satisfied with this explanation alone as it would essentially allow a bank’s obligation to “operate entirely outside the law of contract”, thus undermining predictability and reliability of beneficiary rights. After quoting a lengthy excerpt from Benjamin’s Sale of Goods[7] regarding the moment at which LCs and amendments become binding on banks, the Judge expressed:

In my view, the most satisfactory and complete contractual explanation for the binding force of a letter of credit and a confirmation (at least in a common law system) is that each of them functions in law as an offer of a unilateral contract subject to one, and only one, sui generis exception. That exception is that an issuing or confirming bank has a contractual obligation to the beneficiary not to revoke its offer, without any need for the beneficiary to receive, accept or supply consideration for the irrevocability of the offer. The offer is contractually irrevocable by reason of an accretion of judicial decision which has given contractual force to well-established principles of mercantile usage and banking custom. [para.61].

This view carried three consequences: (1) issuers and confirmers are free to make offers on their terms (e.g. expiry date and incorporation of terms by reference, i.e. UCP600); (2) the sui generis exception to the unilateral contract obliges the bank not to alter the terms of its offer and the beneficiary “is thus in the same position as the holder of an option” without having extended consideration; and (3) the unilateral contract is formed when the beneficiary makes a complying presentation: “Until that point, there is no contract in existence. All that exists is the irrevocable offer of a unilateral contract.” (para.65). Satisfied with this view, the Judge concluded that Confirming Bank extended its “irrevocable offer[s] of a unilateral contract” when it added its confirmations, both separate and autonomous from Issuer’s.

  1. Sanctions Clause. Subsequently, the Judge reviewed how the Clause became part of Confirming Bank’s undertakings with Beneficiary. Beneficiary claimed that the Sanctions Clause was not within Issuer’s LCs, and thus could not be a term of the confirmed credits, and did not otherwise undergo the traditional steps of contract (offer, acceptance and consideration). As for the first contention, Beneficiary argued that, as a matter of law, a confirming bank is required to make its confirmation “in precisely the same terms as the issuing bank has issued it, without any additions, alterations or omissions.” (para.71). Beneficiary also cited a section of The Law and Practice of Documentary Credits which stated that the “undertakings and duties of a confirming bank mirror the issuer’s”.[8] The Judge, however, was not persuaded. The quoted section merely made a “descriptive” statement that confirmations are “generally in the same terms as the letter of credit”, as opposed to a “normative” statement of law. Moreover, the use of the term “mirror” was made in a passage comparing the nearly identical contents of UCP600 Articles 7 and 8. From a common law perspective, the Judge expressed that:

When a confirming bank adds its confirmation to the letter of credit, it makes a separate offer of a separate unilateral contract to the beneficiary. That separate offer may adopt in their entirety the terms of the issuing bank’s offer. Indeed, it may very often do so. But there is no legal rule that it must do so. [para.80].

Subsequently, with mercantile and banking custom in mind, the Judge quoted with approval excerpts from UCP600: An Analytical Commentary.[9] Those sections discussed how confirmers may qualify their undertaking so long as the modification is not “fundamentally inconsistent” with an LC confirmation. Confirming Bank could have limited the length of its undertaking, the amount available, required additional documents or, if applicable, refused to allow for automatic extension. As the Sanctions Clause was not “fundamentally inconsistent with the commercial purpose of a confirmation”, the Judge rejected Beneficiary’s first argument and turned to the common law argument.[10]

Beneficiary argued that the Sanctions Clause did not undergo typical contract formation; put differently, the confirmations were unaccepted variations of the existing LC contracts with Issuer. Again, the Judge disagreed. Having already reviewed the autonomous nature of confirmations, and the fact that Confirming Bank expressly included the Clause in its advices, confirmations and amendments, the Judge reasoned that the “unilateral contract” view of confirmations “does not put a beneficiary in an invidious or uncommercial position.”

It is therefore open to the beneficiary: (a) to consider the terms of the confirmation; (b) to compare those terms to terms which are customary or available from other banks; and (c) to compare those terms to the terms of the letter of credit. Having made that comparison, it is open to the beneficiary to do any one of the following: (a) to accept the confirming bank’s offer; (b) to bargain with the confirming bank for a fresh offer on improved terms; (c) to reject the confirming bank’s offer and to bargain with the applicant and the issuing bank to permit a different bank to confirm the letter of credit on improved terms; or (c) [sic] to ignore the confirmation and accept the issuing bank’s offer. [para.96].

Thus, the Judge concluded the Sanctions Clause was a valid term of Confirming Bank’s undertakings and turned to Beneficiary’s next arguments regarding enforceability.

  1. Valid and Enforceable. Beneficiary claimed that enforcing the Clause would “detract” from Confirming Bank’s “fundamental obligation to pay against a complying presentation.” (para.99). Beneficiary levelled four theories in support as follows.

(a). Commercial Purpose. Beneficiary argued the Clause was fundamentally inconsistent with the commercial purpose of confirmations and therefore should be unenforceable. Again referring to UCP600: An Analytical Commentary, the Judge disagreed, noting that inclusion of the Sanctions Clause did not undermine Confirming Bank’s role as an “alternate paymaster”. An example of a fundamentally inconsistent term would be one that would entitle a confirmer to resist paying against complying documents until receiving reimbursement from the issuing bank. See Judgment paras.103-105.

(b). Unacceptable Discretion. Beneficiary next claimed that the Sanctions Clause rendered “illusory the irrevocable nature of the confirmation” as it conferred on Confirming Bank high discretion whether or not to honour complying documents (i.e. its internal sanctions policy rendered the confirmations de facto revocable). Beneficiary also claimed that the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), in a relevant Guidance Paper,[11] had “condemned” the inclusion of such clauses in independent undertakings subject to ICC rules. To begin, the Judge noted that banks must always adhere to applicable general law; this includes sanctions laws which may impact a bank’s contractual obligations: “A bank which operates in multiple jurisdictions thereby subjects itself to multiple applicable sanctions laws and regulations which may have cumulative, overlapping or even contradictory effect.” (para.109). The ICC recognised as much in the paper Beneficiary cited; moreover, the Judge disagreed that the ICC condemned the use of sanctions clauses per se. In distinguishing between “narrow” and “wide” sanctions clauses, the Judge noted that the ICC expressed ambivalence on the use of narrow clauses:

[T]hey are in the authors’ view unnecessary in that they do no more than state the obvious, ie that a bank is entitled not to pay against a complying presentation if that would put it in breach of the general law. The authors’ concern is that including a narrow sanctions clause, given that it is unnecessary, may cause confusion or may even expose the bank to legal liability [para.114].

While the ICC expressed “greater concern” regarding wide clauses (clauses affording a bank discretion to rely on its internal policies to dishonour for reasons other than applicable sanctions or regulations, i.e. information not in the public domain), the ICC did not condemn using wide clauses. In concluding that Confirming Bank’s clause was narrow, the Judge noted that the text did not render the confirmations de facto revocable, and even though Confirming Bank relied on its sanctions screening policy to decline payment, it did so to determine whether the presented documents involved a sanctioned vessel.

Put another way, [Confirming Bank] did not rely on its sanctions policy to go beyond the content of US sanctions laws and regulations. Instead, it relied on its sanctions policy merely for the procedure which it used to identify whether the vessel carrying the coal sold to the buyer came within the content of US sanctions laws and regulations. [para.118].  

(c). Non-Documentary Condition. Beneficiary argued that the Sanctions Clause was a non-documentary condition and thus inconsistent with the documentary nature of LCs. The Judge disagreed, nothing that for an LC to fulfil its commercial purpose as a payment mechanism, a beneficiary must know with certainty what it must present to obtain payment, and equally, an issuer, or confirming bank, must know when it is obliged to pay. Citing UCP600 Articles 5 and 16, the Judge noted that banks deal with documents and examine only those presented to determine their compliance:

In this way, the issuing bank ... and the confirming bank ... are insulated legally and commercially from any dispute between applicant and beneficiary under their contract or between one or both of them and a third party such as an insurer or a shipper. The rule against non-documentary conditions exists because these conditions create a high risk of puncturing that insulation and undermining the certainty which all parties require. [para.122].

The Sanctions Clause in no way related to what documents Beneficiary was required to present; rather, the Clause “operates post-presentation to permit the [Confirming Bank] not to pay the [Beneficiary] against a complying presentation if the documents involve a vessel subject to the sanctions laws and regulations of the” US. (para.123).

(d). Unworkable Term. Beneficiary claimed the Sanctions Clause was so broadly worded as to be unworkable, thus defeating the LC as a commercial payment mechanism. The Judge disagreed for two reasons: (1) Beneficiary incorrectly assumed the Clause established the governing law of the confirmations; instead, the Clause merely delineated applicable sanctions laws and regulations (there was no dispute Singapore law governed the confirmations); and (2) the argument neglected use of the term “applicable”, and the commercial purpose of the Clause contemplated “an extra-contractual legal and regulatory compliance risk which the [Confirming Bank] undertakes when confirming a letter of credit.” (para.128). In this case, only the sanctions law of two jurisdictions applied, US (Confirming Bank’s place of incorporation) and Singapore (place of confirmations). (para.129). Accordingly, the Judge ruled that the Sanctions Clauses were valid and enforceable terms of the confirmed LCs.

  1. Confirming Bank Entitled to Refuse Payment. Before proceeding, the Judge noted that the first sentence of the Sanctions Clause was merely a statement that Confirming Bank would follow the general law while the second sentence had “contractual content.” (para.135). Thus, the last major issue to resolve was whether, on the facts of the case, the Clause entitled Confirming Bank to lawfully withhold payment against the complying documents. This determination required resolution of the three following sub-issues.

(a). Distinct Legal Entity. Beneficiary argued, citing UCP600 Article 3 regarding bank branches, that Confirming Bank, based in Singapore, was a separate entity from its US parent and therefore not subject to US sanctions law. The Judge rejected this argument, again referencing UCP600: An Analytical Commentary, noting that Article 3 regarding bank branches is specific to the roles banks undertake for issuing, confirming or when nominated under UCP600 letters of credit: “Article 3 has no application to questions of status or to obligations which arise under the general law.” (para.140). Therefore, the Judge ruled that each branch of Confirming Bank was a single legal entity and just because Confirming Bank was licensed and regulated in Singapore did not “insulate” it from being subject to laws of other jurisdictions.  

(b). Applicable Sanctions Law. Were US sanctions, as promulgated and applied, intended to apply to Confirming Bank’s activities in Singapore? This required resolution of questions of foreign law. As a general matter, proof of foreign law “should be accompanied by” admission of expert evidence, particularly where the issues are of significant complexity. Interestingly, Beneficiary called no expert witnesses while Confirming Bank called a single witness regarding relevant US law. The witness was a US lawyer with considerable experience in the relevant fields, and had worked with the US Treasury Department (the Expert). The Treasury department that administers and enforces US sanctions policy is the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Despite aims to do so through its directed written questions, Beneficiary failed to affect the Expert’s credibility “in the slightest.” (para.149). As such, the Judge accepted almost entirely the testimony and analysis offered by the Expert and the same formed a significant basis of the Judge’s findings of fact. (paras.151-52).

First, the Judge reviewed how the sanctions specific to Syria came to be. The US President issued an executive order which laid out the sanctions in “broad terms”: “The detailed content of US sanctions, regardless of who imposes them [President or Congress], is implemented through comprehensive regulations published by OFAC.” As Confirming Bank was an “entity organised under the laws of the United States”, Confirming Bank constituted a “US person” for purposes of sanctions policy. Accordingly, Confirming Bank was prohibited “wherever located, from supplying services directly or indirectly to Syria.” This undoubtedly included financial services.

(c). Exposure to Penalties. Turning to the text of the Sanctions Clause, the Judge, applying general principles of interpretation, explored the effect of the Clause having ruled that Confirming Bank was subject to US law:

I must also have regard to the commercial purpose of the Sanctions Clause. That purpose is to mitigate or eliminate the regulatory, reputational and financial risk that [the] bank faces if it breaches US sanctions laws and regulations or is found by OFAC to have breached US sanctions laws and regulations. [para.168].

Beneficiary argued that it was left to Confirming Bank to prove that the vessel in question was actually of Syrian beneficial ownership at the time complying documents were presented. Confirming Bank, however, argued it was enough that OFAC would have penalised it had it honoured Beneficiary’s presentation. The Judge accepted Confirming Bank’s reading and effect of the Clause and turned to the process by which OFAC investigates and issues penalties for breaches of sanctions. (paras.171-182). While a breach of sanctions policy may lead to criminal proceedings, the Judge noted that “OFAC deals with most breaches of US sanctions by exercising its power to impose a civil penalty.” (para.174). If OFAC considers a US person in breach of sanctions, it will often issue a “pre-penalty notice” which outlines the suspected breach and the amount of the civil penalty proposed. The receiving party may then respond with exculpatory or mitigating information in an attempt to reduce or have the penalty withdrawn. If OFAC declines to withdraw its proposed penalty, it will issue a “final penalty.” The Expert provided two examples of the steps OFAC took against banks which processed transactions “despite several red flags giving the bank reason to know that the sanctioned entity continued to be involved in the transaction.” Having reviewed OFAC procedures, the Judge turned to Confirming Bank’s risk-based approach for sanctions compliance.

Confirming Bank’s risk tolerance was not an assessed numerical score or percentage of risk but rather an analysis of whether its sanctions screening “documentation and research support[ed] a sufficient risk of a Syrian nexus.” (para.184). As a Confirming Bank representative testified, the bank:

[T]ook a risk-based decision in December 2019, following the [Beneficiary]’s complying presentation, that it would rather be sued by the [Beneficiary] for failing to pay against a complying presentation than to be found by OFAC to have breached US sanctions. [para.185].

Confirming Bank had discovered as early as 2015 that the vessel “Omnia” was of Syrian beneficial ownership. As part of its due diligence for Beneficiary’s transaction, Confirming Bank discovered further red flags: (1) the vessel’s name was changed in early 2019; (2) the registered owner was changed and beneficial owners were listed as “unknown”; (3) the new purported owner was a Barbados company for which there was little public information; (4) there was also little public information regarding the vessel’s technical manager; and (5) the public information that was available suggested “Omnia” continued to have Syrian links. Taken together, the Judge expressed that:

[T]he due diligence which the [Confirming Bank] conducted on Omnia in 2015 and again in August 2019, its decision in August 2019 to continue to treat Omnia as having a Syrian nexus and its refusal to pay the [Beneficiary] in a transaction relating to goods carried on Omnia after applying its risk-based assessment are all entirely consistent with OFAC’s expectations of the steps a US person must take in order to comply with the [applicable regulations]. [para.190].

In fact, OFAC expressed as much in formal guidance to Confirming Bank during the course of the instant litigation. Accordingly, the Judge ruled that Confirming Bank would have been exposed to OFAC penalties had it honoured Beneficiary’s presentation, and was thus entitled to rely on its Sanctions Clause “as a complete defence” to Beneficiary’s lawsuit. (para.194).

  1. Assessment of Costs. The remainder of the Judgment dealt with disagreements between the parties regarding the quantum of Confirming Bank’s claimed disbursements. (paras.197-221). The Judge originally awarded Confirming Bank USD 200,000 in costs pursuant to the standard basis plus disbursements. One notable section involved a disagreement of costs Confirming Bank expended on printing and binding charges for copies of documents sent to internal and external advisers in New York and Singapore. While the ultimate monetary value at stake for Confirming Bank was not substantial, the Judge noted that the action carried significant non-monetary value:

First, it was a test case on the validity and enforceability of the Sanctions Clause. Second, a finding that the [Confirming Bank] was in breach of contract for failing to pay the [Beneficiary] against a complying presentation carried reputational consequences for the [Confirming Bank] in Singapore and internationally in the market for trade financing. [para.208].

Sanctions Clause Text: [Confirming Bank] must comply with all sanctions, embargo and other laws and regulations of the U.S. and of other applicable jurisdictions to the extent they do not conflict with such U.S. laws and regulations (“applicable restrictions”). Should documents be presented involving any country, entity, vessel or individual listed in or otherwise subject to any applicable restriction, we shall not be liable for any delay or failure to pay, process or return such documents or for any related disclosure of information.

Comment: The exploration and application of common law contract principles to LCs and confirmations is, to say the least, a regrettable treatment of these idiosyncratic undertakings. Even so, such exercises of fastening that body of law to LCs occur not only in common law jurisdictions, but even those with statutory codifications. Lawyers would do well to better assist Judges on these matters.

The decision to dishonour and return the complying documents is interesting. For some, standard practice contemplates that a bank would honour pursuant to the UCP, placing the proceeds in a blocked account under the beneficiary’s name, thereby preserving the integrity of irrevocable, independent undertakings while also protecting against a wrongful dishonour or breach of contract suit. This approach also serves instances where an applicable sanction is changed, removed or a license is granted such that the bank cannot rely on its previous decision. It is also crucial to consider the disposition of documents. Should they be retained or handed over to appropriate authorities? Here, did returning the documents “directly or indirectly” serve a sanctioned entity? See James E. Byrne, et al., Trade Based Financial Crime Compliance 295-96 (IIBLP 2d. ed. 2022) (regarding sanctions responses).

Had Confirming Bank not included its Sanctions Clause, would the result here have differed? As significant parts of the Judgment involve whether or not the Clause was a valid term, and whether or not to enforce it, suggests so.

Finally, while IIBLP takes no position on the inclusion of sanctions clauses in independent undertakings, if a clause is desired, the Institute suggests consideration of the following:

We disclaim liability for delay, non-return of documents, non-payment, or other action or inaction compelled by a judicial order or government regulation applicable to us [or our service providers].



[1] The first LC was issued in August 2019 for USD 700,000 (± 10%); the Second was issued in September 2019 for USD 1.65 Million (± 10%). Apart from issuance dates and values, the terms and conditions were identical.

[2] Sanctions Clause text reprinted below.

[3] The Judge noted that Beneficiary had filed an appeal of this Judgment.

[4] Also citing UCP600 Article 2 which defines “Confirmation” as an undertaking made “in addition to that of the issuing bank”. 

[5] Professor James E. Byrne, et al. (IIBLP 2010).

[6] Peter Ellinger and Professor Dora Neo (Hart Publishing 2010).

[7] Michael Bridge (Sweet & Maxwell 11th Ed. 2011).

[8] See Judgment para.72.

[9] See Judgment para.81.

[10] There was a second claim that the Clause should not be enforced as it was not brought to Beneficiary’s attention. The Judge rejected this argument with ease as Beneficiary ultimately acknowledged reading the advices and confirmations; see Judgment paras.83-92.

[11] Consolidated ICC Guidance on the Use of Sanctions Clauses in Trade Finance-Related Instruments Subject to ICC Rules (2022) (Original paper published in 2014; addendum issued in 2020).