Merits of claim against anchor defendant matter (probably)

This second post in our “new term catch up series” looks at Sabbagh v Khoury [2017] EWCA Civ 1120, an important case about using an anchor defendant under the Brussels Regulation regime.

The use of anchor defendants in English proceedings is very common. Establishing a claim against an anchor defendant allows co-defendants to be sued in England when jurisdiction could not otherwise be established over them.  In Sabbagh v Khoury, the Court of Appeal considered whether, when the Brussels Regulation (or the Lugano Convention) applied, the claim against the anchor defendant had to be meritorious or whether even a hopeless claim against the anchor defendant would be enough to found jurisdiction.

Interestingly, but unhelpfully for litigants, the Court of Appeal judges disagreed with one another.  Patten and Beatson LJJ held that the claim against the anchor defendant must have a real prospect of success.  Gloster LJ considered that this was unnecessary although did agree that the anchor defendant regime cannot be invoked if the sole object of the claim is to oust the jurisdiction of the courts which would otherwise have jurisdiction over the non-anchor defendants.

There is also considerable scope for the issue to be re-argued because, in fact, the court’s decision on whether the claim against the anchor defendant needed to have a real prospect of success was obiter dictum. Continue reading

Lungowe v Vedanta – a boost for claims against multi-nationals

The opportunity for claimants from developing countries to bring claims in England and Wales against multi-national corporate groups that have caused loss in their home country has been given a significant boost by Coulson J’s recent decision in Lungowe v Vedanta Resources Plc [2016] EWHC 975 (TCC).

1,826 Zambian claimants commenced proceedings in the TCC alleging that Konkola Copper Mines (“KCM”) and its parent company Vedanta Resources PLC (“Vedanta”) were liable for personal injury, damage to property, loss of income, and loss of amenity and enjoyment of land due to pollution/environmental damage caused by the Nchanga copper mine which KCM operated. The Defendants, as invariably happens in claims of this sort, denied that the English Court had or should exercise jurisdiction, arguing the natural forum for the dispute was clearly Zambia.

Coulson J rejected both Vendata’s and KCM’s challenges to the jurisdiction. Continue reading

Israeli will dispute not to be heard in England: Winkler v Shamoon [2016] EWHC 217 (Ch)

The Chancery Division’s lengthy judgment earlier this week in a dispute between the legatees of a billionaire Israeli businessman (Mr Shamoon) makes interesting reading.  The result is that the English court would not take jurisdiction over a dispute about whether certain shares were to be treated as part of Mr Shamoon’s estate.

As well as covering specific points on the scope of the succession exception in Regulation 44/2001 (Brussels I), the judgment contains useful guidance on general points notably, what constitutes submission to the jurisdiction (at common law and under the Regulation). Continue reading

Anchor does not outweigh exclusive jurisdiction clause: Jong v HSBC (Monaco) [2015] EWCA Civ 1057

Yesterday’s Court of Appeal decision under the common law rules is a useful reminder that merely bringing a claim against an English domiciled defendant (who may unquestionably be sued in England) will not always be sufficient to persuade the court that it should exercise its jurisdiction over a foreign domiciled defendant in a related claim. This is particularly so where the foreign defendant and the claimant are party to an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of another court.

The courts were clearly influenced by the fact that the claim against the foreign defendant was “the most important of the claims” while “it is difficult to see what practical advantage Mrs Jong would gain by suing the two English … companies.”  Continue reading