Transnational Tort Litigation: Jurisdictional Principles

Transnational Tort Litigation: Jurisdictional Principles

Transnational Tort Litigation: Jurisdictional Principles

Transnational Tort Litigation: Jurisdictional Principles


The scope and application of the rules of civil jurisdiction is of immense practical importance in the conduct of transnational tort cases. Frequently such rules can dictate whether the plaintiff has an effective remedy or not and the shape of the ensuing litigation. The incidence of transborder harms is on the increase. Transboundary pollution (for example, fall-out from Chernobyl, the determination of proper forum for litigation of the Bhopal dispute); the rise in complex international fraud (Guiness, Ferranti, BCCI); the increase in scope for product liability and intellectual property litigation in international commerce; and transnational personal injury cases arising from the increased flow of persons across national borders. These practical problems give rise to difficult legal issues, which existing domestic rules of jurisdiction may be ill-equipped to resolve, and in this timely collection of original articles a leading team of contributors assess existing legal provisions and examine the prospects for reform.


This volume of essays represents the work of the Committee on International Civil and Commercial Litigation of the International Law Association during the period from 1992 to 1994.

The Committee was set up out of a Workshop on 'Catching the Foreign Defendant' held at the 64th Conference of the International Law Association in Queensland, Australia. the Workshop, at which Mr Lawrence Collins, Mr Peter Trooboff and Justice Andrew Rogers were the principal speakers, was largely devoted to the pursuit of elusive and fraudulent defendants. Following the interest shown in the topic at the Conference, the Executive Council of the Association accepted in November 1991 the proposal for creating a Committee which would explore the question of problems experienced in asserting jurisdiction over absent defendants and whether there is any similarity and consensus across different legal systems.

The Committee met for the first time in informal session at the 65th Conference in Cairo in April 1992 under the chairmanship of Dr Peter Nygh with Dr Campbell McLachlan as Rapporteur and M. Philippe Blaquier-Cirelli as Assistant Rapporteur. It has been fortunate in attracting a very distinguished membership in a short time and was able to commence work on its programme without delay.

The first stage of the Committee's work, as resolved in Cairo, involved the investigation of jurisdictional bases in originating proceedings. To give the project the necessary focus, it was decided to concentrate on problems in jurisdiction in tort. To avoid a sterile summary of national rules, each contributor undertook to study one area of tort liability across several national systems. in achieving this we had the assistance of members of the Committee who were not able to contribute full papers at this stage. in particular we must express our gratitude to Mr Parekh for his summary on Indian law and to Professor Takakuwa for his report on Japanese law.

The Committee met formally for the first time in London and Oxford in January 1993. Draft papers were presented, discussed and subsequently revised in the light of suggestions and criticisms. the second meeting, to consider further drafts, was held in Paris in October 1993 and it was decided at this stage to seek to publish the papers. in June 1994 the Committee met again at the Hague to consider the Report of the Rapporteur to be delivered at the 66th Conference of the Association in Buenos Aires which summarizes the work of the Committee and presents its tentative conclusions to the Association. They were the subject of a lively and interesting debate in Buenos Aires.

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