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Spiliada Maritime Corp v Cansulex Ltd 1987 Conflict of Law

Spiliada Maritime Corp v Cansulex Ltd [1987]

Spiliada Maritime Corp v Cansulex Ltd [1987] AC 460 is a leading case in English law on the issue of forum non conveniens. The term "forum non conveniens" refers to the discretion of a court to refuse to hear a case if it is not the most appropriate or convenient forum to do so.

Spiliada Maritime Corp, a Greek shipping company, had a dispute with Cansulex Ltd, a Canadian shipping company, over a contract for the sale of a ship. Spiliada commenced proceedings in England, and Cansulex argued that the English court was not the appropriate forum to hear the case, and that it should be heard in Canada instead.

The court considered various factors, including the jurisdiction where the contract was made, where the ship was located, where the witnesses were located, and where the majority of the evidence was located. The court ultimately concluded that Canada was the more appropriate forum to hear the case, and therefore stayed the English proceedings.

The decision in Spiliada Maritime Corp v Cansulex Ltd established a two-stage test for determining whether a court should decline jurisdiction on the basis of forum non conveniens. The first stage involves identifying whether there is another forum that is clearly more appropriate to hear the case. If there is, then the second stage involves considering whether there are any strong reasons why the case should be heard in the current forum instead.

It is worth noting that the significance of this case extends beyond the UK, as it has been adopted in various jurisdictions, including Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. However, it has been rejected in Australia, where the local court can decline jurisdiction only if it is established to be a clearly inappropriate forum, a stance that has sparked subsequent debate.

The case illustrates the importance of considering all relevant factors when determining the most appropriate forum for a legal dispute, and the discretion of a court to decline jurisdiction on the basis of forum non conveniens.

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