Case Alert - [2016] EWHC 1794 (QB)  

Whether English court could order insurance claim to be heard in Scottish court, on the basis that it was the more appropriate forum

Pierre Thomas for claimants, Plexus Law for defendant

Where a Member State has jurisdiction under Regulation 1215/2012, that court cannot stay the action on the basis that another Member State court is the more appropriate forum (forum conveniens). However, it was recently confirmed in Cook v Virgin Media (see Weekly Update 46/15) that a forum conveniens argument can still be run in a domestic case (ie involving the different legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom). The issue in this case was whether a stay should be ordered.

The case involved a claim from French nationals for an accident caused by a French driver whilst driving in Scotland and insured by an English insurer. The claimants had a direct right of action against the insurer under the Fourth Motor Insurance Directive, and there was no dispute that the claim was governed by French law. Under the Regulation, the claimants could choose to sue the insurer in either France or the UK, and they chose the UK. The insurer sought to argue that Scotland was the most appropriate forum because the accident and damage occurred there. The judge held that that was a factor of little weight, given that liability was not in issue. He noted that where English jurisdiction is founded on right, it is for the defendant to show that another forum is clearly more appropriate. The insurer had not done that here and so the action was not stayed.