Stay of proceedings where related cause of action only introduced later on

Proceedings were commenced in Italy and the defendant in those proceedings then commenced these (unrelated) proceedings in England. The Italian proceedings were then amended to introduce a cause of action which was said to relate to the same cause of action in the English proceedings. A stay of the English proceedings was sought. Article 27 of the Judgments Regulation provides that where two or more Member State proceedings involve the same cause of action and the same parties, any court other than the one first seised must stay its proceedings. The issue was whether the actions have to be related when the Italian court was first seised in order to obtain a stay.

A similar issue was considered by the Court of Appeal in Stribog v FKI, although that case concerned the operation of Article 28 of the Judgments Regulation (which provides that where related actions are pending before the courts of different Member States, any court other than the one first seised may stay its proceedings). In that case, the Court of Appeal held that all that was required was that the proceedings be related at the time the application for the stay was made (ie it made no difference that they had not been related when the first court was seised).

However, in this case, the Court of Appeal held that the position was different for Article 27, because it deals with related causes of action and not proceedings. Thus the proceedings did not involve the same cause of action until the amendment was filed in the Italian court. Accordingly, the Italian court had not been first seised of this cause of action and no stay was required.