Waiver of Immunity - GMSLA Provision

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2010 Global Master Securities Lending Agreement
A Jolly Contrarian owner’s manual

Clause 26 in a Nutshell
Use at your own risk, campers!

26. Waiver of Immunity
Each Party waives all immunity it might otherwise have in any legal action relating to this Agreement and agrees not to claim such an immunity during any such action.
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Clause 26 in full

26. Waiver of Immunity
Each Party hereby waives all immunity (whether on the basis of sovereignty or otherwise) from jurisdiction, attachment (both before and after judgement) and execution to which it might otherwise be entitled in any action or proceeding in the courts of England or of any other country or jurisdiction relating in any way to this Agreement and agrees that it will not raise, claim or cause to be pleaded any such immunity at or in respect of any such action or proceeding.
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Related agreements and comparisons

Related agreements: Click here for the same clause in the 2018 Pledge GMSLA
Comparison: Click to compare the 2010 GMSLA and 2018 Pledge GMSLA versions of this clause.

Resources and navigation

2010 GMSLA: Full wikitext · Nutshell wikitext | GMLSA legal code
Pledge GMSLA: Hard copy (ISLA) · Full wikitext · Nutshell wikitext |
1995 OSLA: Full wikitext · Nutshell wikitext | GMSLA Netting
Let me Google that for you: Guide to equity finance | ISLA’s guide to securities lending for regulators and policy makers
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2018 Pledge GMSLA 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 21 · 22 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 26 · 27 · 28 · Schedule · Agency Annex

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Content and comparisons

Clause 26 of the 2010 GMSLA is identical to the Clause 26 of the 2018 Pledge GMSLA.
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Summary

Sovereign immunity is a particular issue in an agency lending arrangement because:

Interestingly, a pledge GMSLA might fix this problem by never transferring collateral to the sovereign in the first place.

The great question of whether one should specifically exclude sovereign immunity from a commercial contract governed by English law.

Spoiler: No.

Twist: Industry-standard commercial contracts[1] do anyway. This creates more problems than it solves.

General

Waiving sovereign immunity is a faintly stupid thing to do if your commercial contract happens to be governed by English law, since the Sovereign Immunity Act 1978 excludes any immunity of a state to a commercial contract. Now, to be sure, here arises a great opportunity for the chicken lickens in your litigation department to pipe up. “What if,” they will say, “the sovereign ignores the exclusive jurisdiction clause, and takes action against you in its own court? What then, say ye?”

You got me. But hang on a minute: can you really launch an action in your own court and, by the same lights, claim immunity from suit? Is this not having your Brexit cake and eating it too? And even if it isn’t[2] we are talking here about a sovereign who has, with the complicity of its own court system, already ignored one term of your contract (exclusive jurisdiction). Why would it respect the rest any way?

Sovereign immunity and the Cassanova problem

The fact that (unless agreed otherwise) Sovereign Immunity generally doesn’t apply to commercial contracts doesn’t stop industry standard commercial contracts purporting nonetheless waive that immunity which, in a ghastly ironic turn, makes sovereign immunity more likely to apply. For you may be sure agents, when representing sovereigns, will protest they do not have their client’s authority to waive its sovereign privileges. They will find themselves compelled, by the terms of their agency, to insist the waiver is deleted.

Now in the architecture of the ISDA Master Agreement this involves writing in the Schedule, something like “Section 13(d) shall not apply to Party A or Party B”. Is this mere silence on the matter, or is it an explicit agreement to contract out of it?

Had the ISDA Master Agreement only had the sense to shut up about sovereign immunity in the first place, there would have been no problem: what the eye don’t see the chef gets away with.

This will still be the stance you find yourself having to adopt. “I am not agreeing that sovereign immunity applies,” you will find yourself maintaining to the insistent gaze of your credit officer. “I am simply not saying that it doesn’t apply.”

This falls short of what the Sovereign Immunity Act 1978 requires for sovereign immunity to kick in. Hold that confident smile until it hurts.
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See also

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References

  1. E.g.,the ISDA Master Agreement and the 2010 GMSLA.
  2. SIT DOWN AT THE BACK with all your talk about counterclaims and enforcement of judgments.