Munib Masri v Consolidated Contractors International (UK) Ltd & Ors (2005)
The underlying purpose of Council Regulation 44/2001 Art.6 was to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments in separate proceedings. Where a defendant in one set of proceedings was domiciled in England and other defendants in separate English proceedings were domiciled outside England, Art.6.1 applied as the claims in both proceedings were so closely connected it was expedient to hear the claims together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments.
The defendant companies appealed against an order dismissing their applications for a declaration that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the claimant's case against them. The claimant (M) had issued proceedings against the first defendant company (U), which was incorporated in England, claiming damages for breach of a written agreement. M had also issued separate proceedings seeking the same relief against another defendant (K) and the defendant companies (C, H and O). K had an interest in all the companies including U. K and C were domiciled in Greece and H and O were incorporated in Lebanon. M argued that Council Regulation 44/2001 Art.6.1 enabled him to proceed in England against all the defendants. The judge held that M was entitled to sue K, C, H and O in England, as U was domiciled in England, and that the claims were so closely connected that it was expedient to hear them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments. The defendants' application was refused and the two actions were consolidated. The defendants argued that Art.6.1 only applied where the "relevant defendant" was a defendant in the same "set of proceedings" as the defendant domiciled in England. In the instant case there were two actions afoot and the reference to "one of a number of defendants" in Art.6.1 was to be construed as meaning that the defendant was one of a number of defendants in one action. M contended that there was no support in either the language of Art.6.1 or the policy or purpose behind it for such a construction.
The judge had been correct to prefer M's construction of Art.6.1 when having regard to its underlying purpose, which was identified in Kalfelis v Schroder (1988) ECR 5565 as being the prevention of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings. The defendants were defendants in a place where one of them was domiciled and all of them were defendants in English proceedings. The fact that those proceedings were not the same proceedings was irrelevant. It was clear that the issues and the actions were closely related. Article 6.1 clearly applied and the court was right to hold that it had jurisdiction to entertain the claims.
View all cases
24 Oct 2005
Court of Appeal
Sir Anthony Clarke MR, Rix LJ, Richards LJ
LTL 25/10/2005: Times, October 27, 2005