Can a foreign state become subject to the enforcement jurisdiction of the English court without ever having been validly served a document required to be served for instituting proceedings? The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is no. Perhaps more surprisingly, that is only the case due to a 3–2 split decision of the Supreme Court handed down on 25 June 2021 in General Dynamics United Kingdom Ltd v Libya (“General Dynamics”). Indeed, the Court of Appeal had unanimously held otherwise. The Supreme Court’s decision reverses that of the Court of Appeal, which had reversed the first instance decision of Males LJ, which itself had set aside those parts of Teare J’s order made on a without notice application granting the claimant permission to dispense with service.
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