Has serving English court proceedings out of the jurisdiction got easier?

Has serving English court proceedings out of the jurisdiction got easier?

Landmark High Court decision on the conduct of clinical trials

To sue a foreign party in English (and Welsh) courts, you need to be able to serve court proceedings on it. You may be able to serve individuals while they are in the jurisdiction, as Berevosky was finally able to do on Abramovich in 2007 when he spotted him in a Hermes boutique in Sloane Street, after having carried around the court papers for six months. However it is more likely that you will need to serve outside the jurisdiction, which usually requires the court’s permission.

There are some exceptions where the court’s permission is not required, the most significant one being where there is an English jurisdiction clause. If you do need to get the court’s permission, however, you need to show how the claim comes within one of the jurisdictional gateways in Practice Direction 6B of the Civil Procedure Rules. With effect from October 2022, the jurisdictional gateways have been tidied up and expanded – see below.

It does not mean that English courts will hear more claims as a result, however. To get the court’s permission to serve out of the jurisdiction you will also need to persuade the court that England is the proper place to bring the claim to hear the claim, and even if permission to serve out is granted, the defendant may be able to get that permission set aside.

Information orders against non-parties

This is the most significant new gateway. Information orders, such as Norwich Pharmacal or Bankers Trust orders, allow potential claimants to find out where their money has gone. These are increasingly used to find out where stolen cryptoassets have gone. If the cryptocurrency exchange or bank is outside the jurisdiction then under the existing gateways, claimants have to bring a proprietary claim against "persons unknown" first in order to be able to serve the information order. This new gateway means they will no longer need to do that, saving some time and costs.  

Unlawful interference with contracts or relationships

New gateways now meant that if English courts would have jurisdiction over a contract, or a relationship of trust, confidence or right to privacy, then there are gateways for claims for unlawful interference with them too.

Injunctions to restrain unlawful conduct in the future

Current gateways only allow for injunctions for tort and breach of privacy claims where English law has jurisdiction. They will be extended to allow them for all claims where English law has jurisdiction.

Negative declarations

A negative declaration is where the court says that liability does not exist. Currently there is only a gateway for a declaration that a contract does not exist where if it had then English courts would have had jurisdiction. On the basis that if English courts would have jurisdiction if liability did exist, it should also have jurisdiction to say that liability did not exist, there will now be gateways for negative declarations for all claims that relate to liability

Other changes

Further amendments mean that now any claim governed by the law of England and Wales will fall within a gateway, not just claims for contracts, restitution and trusts. There is also a new gateway for trusts administered here, and a gateway for contempt claims (where a party has deliberately disobeyed a court order or breached an undertaking given in the course of English litigation).

Contact our experts for further advice

Search our site