International Commercial Litigation

International Commercial Litigation

(A)   One of the difficulties facing the English superior courts is the legal fact that the United Kingdom (UK) operates two separate yet overlapping systems for determining the jurisdiction of its commercial courts.  In the context of confirming or staying their jurisdiction, the UK courts have no clear procedural rules to guide them on when they can and when they cannot stay their own proceedings.  Please examine and discuss this proposition stating, inter alia, whether or not you agree with all or part of the proposition, and why.

(B)    Travers, Holmes, and Warmsley Inc. (THWI – a company incorporated in British Colombia, Canada) conducts business in various parts of the world, but principally in Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), and France.  Its business is predominantly that of designing and manufacturing kitchen and bedroom units and other furniture; but it also owns its own forests in Canada from which it sources the wood for its products.  Partly finished products are shipped to Europe where they are assembled in two warehouses, one in Dover, England and the other in Calais, France.  The final products are sold to wholesalers who, in turn, sell them to retailers on the high street and in retail parks in the UK and France.

In February 2014, a large consignment of kitchen and bedroom units and furniture was shipped to the Netherlands from where part of the consignment was sent by road to the Calais warehouse and the other part was transhipped to the Dover warehouse.  Following assembly and distribution to retailers, three sets of proceedings were started against THWI for seriously defective products, one set in the courts of British Colombia, one in Paris, and the third in the Commercial Court London, England.  In each court, the Claimants were the same (‘Home from Home Plc’ and ‘Chambres et Freres SA.’), and the complaint in each case was the same, namely, that the wood was not properly seasoned and the assembly was defective.

The proceedings in the Courts of British Colombia were started on 22 September 2014 at 3.15pm British Colombia time.  The proceedings in London were commenced at 11:35am British Summer Time (BST) on 24 September 2014.  The proceedings in Paris were started at 10:05am BST on 24 September 2014.  In all three cases, the Defendant was served in accordance with the respective Civil Procedure laws.

The Defendant in each set of proceedings is THWI.  The lawyers for THWI want THWI to be sued exclusively in the Courts of British Colombia, but take the view that the courts in British Colombia are unlikely to issue an anti-suit injunction, at least not until the French and English Courts have had an opportunity to stay their proceedings.  In the alternative, THWI’s Canadian lawyers want THWI to be sued in France.  As THWI’s lawyer in England, you are asked to advise whether or not the English court will stay its proceedings in favour of the Canadian courts or in favour of the French courts.  Please advise.

(C) Please analyse, compare and contrast the relationship between the issues raised in Part A
and the issues raised in Part B: identifying the similarities and discrepancies between the
issues in Part A and the issues in Part B, and commenting on why you think that there are
those similarities and discrepancies between Part A and Part B.  For example, does the Part A
question raise exactly the same issues as the Part B question, or is Part A broader or narrower
than Part B – if so in what way or ways?