Subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts: exclusive?

This week’s golden oldie on choice of jurisdiction is a companion piece to a recent one on choice of law. Search for other articles on this blog which deal with other aspects of these subjects, including use of arbitration.

IP Draughts

inclusiveA small, but important, contract-drafting point: imagine a contract clause that says that disputes will be subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts. Should we interpret this to mean that the English courts will have exclusive jurisdiction, or might it mean that the English courts have only non-exclusive jurisdiction?

A well-drafted contract will state explicitly which law and jurisdiction governs the contract, and whether the jurisdiction is exclusive or non-exclusive.

If the contract states that English jurisdiction is exclusive, the parties must go to the English courts. If a party starts an action in another court (let’s say in China), the English court may order that party to stop proceeding in the Chinese courts. If the order is not complied with, the English court may commit the non-complying party to prison for contempt of court.

If the contract states that English jurisdiction is non-exclusive, a party can ask an…

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts: exclusive?

  1. The only situation I can recall in which the place of execution is stated is in contracts drafted by a lawyer in a civil jurisdiction, where it tends to refer to where a party signs, rather than where the contract becomes fully executed. I have no idea why this is important (particularly if there is a law and jurisdiction clause).

  2. mariagmason

    Hello Mark, can you provide any guidance on what is deemed “the place of execution of the contract” depending on whether or not the agreement is executed by hard copy originals (circulated by post) or by PDF copy (circulated by email). I have a vague recollection (from a former life) that (shipping – charter party) contracts used to state their place of execution. Thank you!

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