conflict of laws

Case alert - Gray v Hurley: Battle of jurisdictions

Some recent English decisions illustrate the complexities of determining an appropriate forum.  

Below is a depiction of the two different decisions at the High Court level, one addressing whether the English Court was the most "appropriate forum" (forum conveniens) for Ms Gray's claims, and the other whether an anti-suit injunction should issue to prevent Mr Hurley from pursuing his own claims in New Zealand.  These decisions demonstrate that when the courts in two different jurisdictions are grappling with disputes about the most appropriate forum, parallel proceedings are undesirable but may nevertheless be unavoidable.  Principles of comity recognise that the court in each jurisdiction may need to make its own assessment of the issues.

The jurisdictional battle is far from over.  In Gray v Hurley [2019] EWCA Civ 2222, the English Court of Appeal considered an appeal of the anti-suit decision.  The disputed issue on appeal is about the effect of Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and Council of 12 December 2012 ("the Judgments Regulation").  The question is "whether the true effect of [Article 4] is to give a right to every defendant who is domiciled in a Member State to be sued exclusively in the State of their domicile in all but the slender circumstances where that outcome is specifically excluded or some other outcome is permitted by the Judgments Regulation itself".  The Court of Appeal expressed the view that Article 4 does not have this effect against another party from a non-EU State.  However, the Court of Appeal has referred the matter to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling, and meanwhile the appeal is stayed.