The High Court Record No. 2012/1443 S – Supreme Court Appeal No. 038/2013
Supreme Court Judgment
The Supreme Court has dismissed an Appeal of Websense International Technology Limited (“Websense”) to the decision of Judge Govern in the High Court case of Websense International Technology Limited –v- ITway SpA, the Supreme Court (Appeal No. 038/2013) the High Court Record No. 20/12/ 1443S by determining that the High Court Judge had not erred in law in finding that two sets of proceedings in two different Member States (Italy and Ireland) were related proceedings for the purposes of Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/ 2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (“the Regulation”) (Article 28 thereof) and inter alia that he had not erred in law by staying the Irish proceedings to allow the Italian Court (being the Court first seised (pursuant to the Regulation) to determine jurisdiction.
The interpretation of “related proceedings” under the Regulation
The Supreme Court held, inter alia, in determining whether proceedings in two different Member States are related for the purposes of Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (“the Regulation”) (Article 28 thereof) they should be a “broad commonsense approach” adopted to the question of whether the actions in question are related.
In determining, whether the actions are so related, Judge MacMenamin, in delivering the Judgment asked the following questions:
1: Is there a connection between the two sets of proceedings?
2: Is there a significant overlap between the witnesses in the two sets of proceedings?
3: Would a determination in one case have a significant bearing on the ultimate outcome of the two cases having regard to claims and potential counter claims?
If the answer is in the affirmative to these questions, this would lead to the conclusion that it is expedient that the action should be heard and determined together by the same Court.
The Supreme Court further held that, as a general rule, a stay should be granted by the second Court to allow the Court first seised (in accordance with Article 28 of the Regulation) to determine whether it has jurisdiction to deal with the matter. For this not to be the case, the facts would have “to very clearly point to a refusal of a stay”.
This case involved the existence of an exclusive jurisdiction clause in an agreement between the parties which provided that the agreement be governed in accordance with Irish law. The Supreme Court held that although there was a choice of jurisdiction clause, it is necessary for the Court first seised to establish whether its jurisdiction can be properly exercised, as a preliminary issue
The judgment offers Irish Courts some clarity in the interpretation of related proceedings and the existence of an exclusive jurisdiction clause in an agreement between parties, where a dispute arises in different member states.
See attached link to the judgment below:-
Supreme Court Judgment
Solicitors for the Respondent, Itway