Matthew Hardwick QC success in BVI Court of Appeal jurisdiction dispute

In an important win for Hong Kong based Anjie Investments Limited (“AIL”), Matthew Hardwick QC (instructed by Richard Evans, Murray Laing and Norman Hau of Conyers, Dill & Pearman LLP) successfully appealed the decision of the first instance judge refusing a stay of the claim on forum non conveniens grounds.

On 24 November 2016, and in a rare example of an appellate court interfering with the decision of the first instance judge in a forum non conveniens stay application, the Eastern Caribbean Court Appeal (“the ECCA”) allowed AIL’s appeal and granted a stay of the claim on the grounds that Hong Kong was the most appropriate forum for trial.

The judgment of the ECCA provides an important and up to date summary of the principles which apply on a forum non conveniens stay application in the context of an alleged tort committed in another jurisdiction (here Hong Kong). The particular importance of the judgment for BVI practitioners is to clarify that in a claim where no domestic BVI issues touching upon the organisation, administration or internal management of the BVI company arise, the view expressed by the first instance judge that “…persons who incorporate companies in BVI must contemplate that they may be required, in the event of disputes over or involving such companies, to have to travel to BVI to attend court proceedings…” (echoing a similar sentiment expressed by Bannister J. at first instance and Bennett J.A. in the Court of Appeal in Royal Westminster Investments S.A. v Nilon Limited BVIHC) was wrong.