In Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Limited v. Quinn Investments Sweden AB & Others 1 the High Court had to consider applications under Articles 23 and 28 of Regulation 44/20001 (the "Brussels Regulation"). Ultimately, whilst it dealt with the application under Article 23, the High Court felt that, on the Article 28 application, further clarification was required and referred the matter to the Court of Justice, adjourning the proceedings pending that determination.
A dispute arose between the parties in relation to the provision of finance to the Quinn Group by the plaintiff, which sought declarations as to the ownership of share pledges. A Swedish company (the first named defendant) had been set up by the Quinn family through which property was owned. That company had various subsidiaries, including Cypriot companies, which held shareholdings in other companies which directly held the properties. The plaintiff had prima facie security over the property portfolio and the companies that held the property. However, the plaintiff alleged a conspiracy to alter the way in which the property portfolio was held, with the object of depriving the plaintiff of its security over the property portfolio. The Quinns applied to stay or dismiss the proceedings under Article 23 on the basis that a related action was pending in Cyprus. They also sought declarations that the courts of Sweden and Cyprus had jurisdiction to settle disputes about the share pledges under Article 28.
At the outset, Clarke J. noted that, notwithstanding the merits of the claim, he was only concerned with the question of jurisdiction. He outlined that, in the EU context, the Brussels Convention and, latterly, the Brussels Regulation, had been adopted to specify the particular jurisdiction or jurisdictions which are appropriate to decide particular disputes. Moreover, as sell as setting out rules which determine the jurisdiction(s) most appropriate to decide on a particular dispute, the Brussels Regulation also identifies which countries' courts are to make a decision as to where the proceedings will be tried. Although those rules are relatively detailed, he noted that the interpretation of those rules can be difficult and the application of the rules to individual cases can be controversial. Inasmuch as possible, it is important that there are clear rules as to which countries' courts are to make the decision as to where the trial is to be...