I beg to move amendment No. 13, in page 20, leave out lines 3 and 4 and insert
'Subject to the following provisions of this section, a judgment given by a court of an overseas country in any proceedings shall not be recognised or enforced in the United Kingdom—'.
With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 14, 15 and 16.
Amendments Nos. 13, 15 and 16 are of a purely drafting nature, but amendment No. 14 makes substantive changes by inserting two new subsections.Subsection (1A) makes further provision as to when proceedings in a foreign court will be regarded as being contrary to an agreement for the purposes of a subsection (1)(a). Clearly proceedings taken abroad will not be contrary to an arbitration or jurisdiction agreement if the agreement in question was void. However, the subsection covers certain other cases where the agreement, though valid, was unenforceable or incapable of being performed. An example would be where disputes under a contract were to be referred to a named arbitrator who in the event declined to act so that effect could not be given to the decision to go to arbitration. If there was no mechanism for appointing someone else to act in his place, it would be reasonable for the plaintiff to resort to the ordinary courts. A similar idea is contained in section 1 of the Arbitration Act 1975 which provides for our courts to stay their proceedings in the face of an arbitration agreement but makes exception for agreements which are void, inoperative or incapable of being performed. Subsection (1B) will ensure that our courts will assess the validity of an arbitration or jurisdiction agreement in accordance with their assessment of the law to be applied and will not be bound by any decision of the foreign court as to whether the agreement was valid. The likelihood is, of course, that the foreign court will be bound by its own law to treat the agreement as invalid.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 14, in page 20, line 13, at end insert—
'(1A) Subsection (1) does not apply where the agreement referred to in paragraph (a) of that subsection was illegal, void or unenforceable or was incapable of being performed for reasons attributable to the fault of the party bringing the proceedings in which the judgment was given.
(1B) In determining whether a judgment given by a court of an overseas country should be recognised or enforced in the United Kingdom, a court in the United Kingdom shall not be bound by any decision of the overseas court relating to any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1) or (1A)'.
No. 15, in page 20, line 14, leave out subsection (2).
No. 16, in page 20, line 17, leave out 'this section' and insert 'subsection (1)'.— [The Solicitor-General for Scotland.]
I beg to move amendment No. 17, in page 20, line 23, leave out from 'of' to 'section' in line 25.It would perhaps be convenient to take at the same time amendments Nos. 18 and 20, as all three are purely drafting amendments.
I understand that it is for the convenience of the House to take at the same time those Government amendments.
This is a purely pedantic intervention on my part. Amendment No. 17 seeks to delete certain words following the word "of', but the word "of' occurs twice in line 23. The amendment is therefore ambiguous. I think that there is little doubt that the intention is to refer to the first "of ". I can imagine, however, that at some subsequent time officials may be in difficulty about what is to go on to the statute book.
I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for drawing attention to that. Even if there is a choice, no doubt the intention of the amendment is obvious and effect will be given to the meaning that makes sense. I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that I shall do my best to ensure that that happens.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 18, in page 20, line 29, leave out 'and' and insert 'or'.
No. 19, in page 20, line 31, leave out subsection (5).— [The Solicitor-General for Scotland.]