When will the English Court take jurisdiction over a dispute which has little or no connection with England? When will the English Court accept jurisdiction over a dispute where it is accepted that England is not the natural forum? Historically the answer depended, in substantial part, on the personal presence of the Defendant within the jurisdiction for sufficient time for service to be effected - which led to justifiable criticism that the results could be capricious. With the more recent development of notions of “forum non conveniens”, the answers to these questions might have been thought to be “never” or, perhaps, “next to never”.
But the proliferation in recent years of litigation in the English Courts concerning commercial disputes relating to foreign individuals and entities and, in particular, those hailing from the states of the former Soviet Union might suggest otherwise. On the face of it, these disputes have little or no connection with England. Often, the parties to them will not have provided for English law or jurisdiction in their contracts. So why are they in England? Is the system now as capricious as it ever was? What can we learn from their presence?
In this article, the authors focus upon applications for permission to serve a claim form outside the jurisdiction and, further, on applications to serve on a defendant who is not domiciled within one of the states of the European Union.
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