Judge decides when limitation period runs in a breach of a jurisdiction clause case
The contract between the parties contained a clause which provided that the defendants "irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts" in relation to disputes. The defendants commenced a claim in Germany in May 2008, in breach of this clause (trial having taken place in 2014 and an appeal having been brought thereafter). The issue in this case was when a cause of action for the breach of an exclusive jurisdiction clause becomes time-barred: Is the cause of action complete when proceedings in another country are first commenced (in breach of the clause) or is there a continuing cause of action, which arises from day to day, for so long as the wrongful proceedings continue?
The judge held that the exclusive jurisdiction clause in this case obliged the defendants "not only not to begin any relevant proceedings elsewhere, but also not to continue any such proceedings, and instead to bring them to an end". That was because the English courts could not be said to have exclusive jurisdiction (ie sole jurisdiction to the exclusion of all others) for as long as proceedings are taking place in some other forum.
Accordingly, the claim was not time-barred and the claimant was entitled to claim for the whole of the period beginning six years prior to the commencement of the English proceedings.