Disputing Jurisdiction: Don’t Miss the Boat

Disputing Jurisdiction: Don’t Miss the Boat

Master Fontaine’s recent decision in Ibrahim v AXA Belgium [2024] EWHC 856 (KB) underlines the short time limit for disputing the Court’s jurisdiction and the possible consequences of acting late.

CPR 11 requires a party who intends to dispute jurisdiction to file an acknowledgement of service indicating that intention and then make an application within 14 days of that acknowledgement.

The Defendant in this case made its application 30 days after it had filed its acknowledgement of service (the breach). It sought an extension of time, applying (rightly) the same considerations as those that would apply to an application for relief from sanction (essentially the well versed ‘test’ set out by the Court of Appeal in Denton v T. H. White Limited [2014] EWCA Civ 906).

Notwithstanding the relatively short period between the Defendant’s breach and its application to extend time the Master refused to grant it. The Master held:

“… even if the breach was not significant in that it has not caused any significant prejudice to the Claimant’s progression of the litigation, I consider that because of the lack of any good reason for the breach and the circumstances in which the breach came about, relief from sanction should not be granted...”

At first blush one might think this was a relatively harsh outcome. But the Defendant’s wider conduct suggests otherwise. The Defendant had been dealing with the Claimant or his English lawyers since March 2019. It instructed its own English lawyers in August 2023. It had then waited until January 2024 to institute proceedings in Belgium. Even then it did not inform its own English lawyers that it had done so.

A reminder then – jurisdictional challenges are rarely straightforward, and the rules can be applied very strictly even for a ‘short-lived’ breach.

In need of legal advice? 

Should you find yourself in need of legal advice regarding a maritime-related issue, speak to the Shearwater Law team today. 

Our expertise spans multiple sectors, from shipping and marine insurance, to international trade and commercial vessels. 

Contact Shearwater Law today to discuss your requirements

Mike Farrell
You are currently offline. Some pages or content may fail to load.