The power of domicile

This post looks at two cases which show the  importance of the Brussels I Regulation’s primary rule of jurisdiction – that defendants should be sued in the jurisdiction of their domicile.  Those cases are Aspen Underwriting v Kairos Shipping [2017] EWHC 1904 (Comm), Bestolov v Povarenkin [2017] EWHC 1968 (Comm).  It is the fifth of our “new term catch up series”.

Aspen Underwriting achieves a potentially unsatisfactory result with some claims being tried in England and others capable of resolution only in the Netherlands (the place of domicile).  On the other hand, in Bestolov v Povarenkin, jurisdiction was established on the basis of domicile under the Brussels Regulation when it would not have been asserted at common law. Continue reading

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

Article 50 and the Brussels Regulation

With Article 50 now triggered, amongst many other negotiations, attention will turn to the Brussels I Regulation. Rather than setting alarm bells ringing, this article by Sara Masters QC and Belinda McRae sets out three steps, based on previous examples of EU negotiations, of how the UK Government should assuage fears of upheaval in the system of commercial dispute resolution following Brexit.

The full article is here.

Asymmetric result?

The Commercial Court finds that asymmetric jurisdiction clauses are valid exclusive jurisdiction clauses for the purposes of the Brussels Recast. Given their prevalence in financial contracts,  a contrary decision could have produced significant instability.

Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft v Pauline Shipping and Liquimar Tankers  [2017] EWHC 161 Continue reading

Domestic anti-suits and the 6BPD gateways: Fujifilm Kyowa Kirin Biologics Co Ltd v Abbvie Biotechnology Ltd

Fujifilm Kyowa Kirin Biologics Company Ltd v (1) Abbvie Biotechnology Ltd and (2) Abbvie Ltd [2016] EWHC 2204 (Pat)

Arnold J gave judgment today in this important case on jurisdiction.  Thomas Raphael QC and I acted for the claimant biotechnology company (“Fujifilm”) and successfully resisted a challenge from a Bermudan domiciled defendant to the English Court’s jurisdiction which had been founded by service out of the jurisdiction.  Alexander Layton QC, also from 20 Essex Street, acted for the defendants.

Whilst the issues in this case arose within the context of an intellectual property dispute, many aspects of Arnold J’s decision will have a broader relevance to commercial disputes that give rise to issues concerning the Court’s jurisdiction to serve out or domestic anti-suit relief. Continue reading

What benefit? Interpretation of a Jurisdiction Clause: Perella Weinberg Partners UK LLP v Codere SA

In its decision on 20 May 2016, the Commercial Court (Walker J) considered a non-standard jurisdiction clause which fell within the regime of the Brussels I Recast Regulation (Regulation 1215/2012).   Perhaps unsurprisingly, he held that a clause, expressed to confer non-exclusive jurisdiction on the English courts, “for the benefit of” the Claimants did not in fact confer exclusive jurisdiction on those courts.

The decision demonstrates that the court will use both a literal and a common sense business reading when construing the jurisdiction clause.  Further, the Court was reluctant to allow the parties to import new elements (such as symmetry of obligations) into Articles 25 and 31 of the Recast Regulation. Continue reading