Michael McParland QC has successfully represented the defendant in Jovicic & Others v The Serbian Orthodox Church- Serbian Patriarchy and Kesar & Co  EWHC 2229 (QB) (13 August 2020). Having secured the dismissal of six separate actions brought against them by residents of Bosnia-Herzegovina or Serbia, he has now obtained a wasted costs order that requires the Claimants’ English solicitors to pay the Defendant’s costs of the action on the indemnity basis.
All six actions were for damages for personal injuries alleged to have occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia between 1998 and 2014. None of the parties, the perpetrators, the events in question, or their alleged consequences had any connection with to England & Wales. But the Claimants’ solicitors had commenced proceedings in England, asserting in pre-action correspondence that the English courts were entitled to exercise jurisdiction at common law as, inter alia, “the UK Court is the Claimant’s forum of necessity” and in “the interests of justice”, and purporting to make defective service of proceedings on a parish church in London that was wholly unconnected with any aspect of the claims.
In declaring the English courts had no jurisdiction in respect of these claims, the High Court confirmed that the principle of “forum of necessity” does not exist in English law, and there is no provision in the English law for the exercise of “universal civil jurisdiction” by English courts: both aspects of English private international law that were highlighted in the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in Naït-Liman v Switzerland (51357/07) ECHR (Second Section) (21 June 2016), and ECHR (Grand Chamber) (15 March 2018),  3 WLUK 861.
The court accepted counsel’s submission that the solicitors had issued and purported to serve six actions in England & Wales, in respect of which the court had no jurisdiction over the Defendant or indeed any defendant who could arguably be responsible for the matters complained of, and found this was one of the factors that caused a wasted costs order to be made.
Michael McParland QC was instructed by Paul Donnelly and Samantha Chambers of DWF Law LLP, Birmingham.
To read the judgment click here.