In the Supreme Court’s decision today in Brownlie v Four Seasons (Cairo), a 4:1 majority of the Justices allowed the underlying tort claim to proceed in England & Wales and rejected the defendant’s argument that there was no jurisdiction here.
The decision turns on the rather rarefied point of the meaning of “damage … sustained within the jurisdiction”, one of the necessary elements in securing the court’s permission to serving proceedings outside England & Wales. What the decision means is that 11 years after the death of her husband in the index accident in Egypt and after two separate visits to the Supreme Court, the claimant should now finally be able to progress this significant fatal accident claim.
In a blog last year (here) we commented on the decision in Hutchinson which involved the effect of a territorial limits clause on jurisdiction in a direct action claim against a foreign insurer in the English courts. It transpires that around the time that Andrews J was hearing submissions on this point in that case, the same insurer was running the same argument in a different claim, again involving a tragic accident in a swimming pool in Spain. Although this second case, Alli-Balogun, reached the High Court on a procedural point (set aside of a default judgment) this month, in this blog we address only the issue of jurisdiction.
The recent decision in of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in CNP v Gefion C-913/19 examines questions of jurisdiction under the Brussels 1 (Recast) Regulation following an assignment of the underlying claim, which arose from a motor accident, to a commercial entity. The case also touches on the provisions of the Regulation dealing with a defendant company having a branch in another Member State.
Despite Brexit, the approach adopted in this case will remain binding in relation to cross border cases connected to the UK in which proceedings were issued before the end of the transition period, i.e. by 31 December 2020.