Jurisdiction: An Overview

Issues of jurisdiction arise when litigants’ face a foreign element. The main question is whether or not a court has the jurisdictional competence to resolve the dispute?

States have jurisdiction over issues arising within their own territory involving their own nationals. Only in exceptional circumstances will the courts exercise jurisdiction outside their own territory.

The rules determining whether English courts have jurisdiction in civil or commercial disputes are set out in:

1. The traditional or common law rules

The traditional rules determine the jurisdiction over defendants living outside the European Union. Permission must be obtained and unlike the European Regime, the court has discretion when deciding whether or not to grant permission to serve proceedings on a defendant outside the jurisdiction. Â

2. The European Regime

The European Regime covers the European Union. The European Regime is mandatory in nature the basic principle is that the defendant should be sued in the country he is domiciled. The courts have little room to exercise discretion.

Part 2 will focus largley on the European Regime.


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