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Not Every International Dispute Can Be Heard in England

In a case which helped to define the limits of the Commercial Court’s power to rule upon international disputes, a company has comprehensively failed in its attempt to have its multi-million-euro breach of contract claim heard by an English judge.

The English company claimed to have entered into contracts with an Iranian client to ship wood products to the Middle East to be used in the production of paper. On the basis that the contracts had been wrongfully repudiated, it claimed more than Euros 3.3 million and had been granted permission to serve the proceedings in Iran.

In overturning that permission, the Court found that the company had failed to prove that it was even a party to the contracts. It had also failed to establish that the contracts were ‘made’ in England, that they were subject to English law or that England would be a more appropriate forum than Iran.

The contracts were more closely connected to Iran than to England and the mere fact that the company was English registered was of little, if any, significance. Serious deficiencies in the information provided by the company to the Court was by itself reason enough to decline jurisdiction.