HC Deb 02 July 1965 vol 715 cc1064-6
Mr. Ronald Bell

I beg to move, in page 3, line 10, after "on" to insert: , provided, however, that such rules of court shall not authorise the requiring of security for costs of the proceedings from a High Contracting Party either in respect of the claim or in respect of a counter claim made by the High Contracting Party against the plaintiff in the same proceedings. I dare say that my hon. Friend or the Parliamentary Secretary already has a sheet of paper or a brief referring to the Carriage by Air Act and is ready to tell me that there is a Clause in the Bill like this, but I do not mind if there is. I have had a little experience since then of orders for security for costs in cases when it has been possible to think that the order was not rightly made.

This point may not arise very often, but, if we are conferring a certain jurisdiction by this Clause—a somewhat remarkable Clause, not part of the Convention but part of a Private Member's Bill—whereby a High Contracting Party is deemed to have consented to the jurisdiction, it should be laid down, although the Clause provides that execution may not issue against the High Contracting Party, that there is no jurisdiction in the court to order security for costs against a High Contracting Party in respect of a counterclaim which may be made.

I doubt that a court would order security for costs against a defendant who wished only to defend, though I think that there is jurisdiction to do so. But it might easily make an order in the case of a counterclaim, and I think that the Clause as it stands would enable the court so to do. I should regard that as wrong, and this is why I have moved the Amendment.

Mr. McLaren

I can set my hon. Friend's mind at rest. The Clause has the sidenote, "Actions against High Contracting Parties", so that, normally, the High Contracting Party will be the defendant, in which case there will be no question of his being ordered to find security for costs.

As my hon. Friend said, the only case where that could conceivably arise would be where a defendant brought a counterclaim. I ask my hon. Friend to refer to page 18 of the Bill where Article 31, paragraph 5, of the Convention is set out: Security for costs shall not be required in proceedings arising out of carriage under this Convention from nationals of contracting countries or having their place of business in one of those countries". Clause 6 provides that rules of court may be made as to the manner in which any such action is to be commenced and carried on, and it is certainly my understanding that those rules of court would contain a provision that there be no security for costs whether the parties concerned were private parties or High Contracting Parties, that is, sovereign States. I hope that my hon. Friend is satisfied with that explanation and will not press the Amendment.

Mr. Bell

My hon. Friend will realise that his answer does not entirely cover the ground, because Article 31(5) of the Convention applies only to the nationals of High Contracting Parties and not to the High Contracting Parties themselves. But I see the force of what he says that, inasmuch as the Convention provides that security for costs shall not be ordered against nationals of the High Contracting Parties, it is a little unlikely that the Rules Committee of the Supreme Court will allow security to be ordered against a High Contracting Party making a counterclaim. I think that that is a reasonable inference, and, in the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.