HL Deb 29 June 1982 vol 432 cc169-71

[References are to Bill 81 as first printed for the Commons]

1 Clause 16, leave out Clause 16 and insert the following new clause:

"Allocation within U.K. of jurisdiction in certain civil proceedings.

.—(1) The provisions set out in Schedule 4 (which contains a modified version of Title II of the 1968 Convention) shall have effect for determining, for each part of the United Kingdom, whether the courts of law of that part, or any particular court of law in that part, have or has jurisdiction in proceedings where—

  1. (a) the subject-matter of the proceedings is within the scope of the 1968 Convention as determined by Article I (whether or not the Convention has effect in relation to the proceedings); and
  2. (b) the defendant or defender is domiciled in the United Kingdom or the proceedings are of a kind mentioned in Article 16 (exclusive jurisdiction regardless of domicile).

(2) In Schedule 4 modifications of Title II of the 1968 Convention are indicated as follows:—

  1. (a) modifications by way of omission are indicated by dots; and
  2. (b) within each Article words resulting from modifications by way of addition or substitution are printed heavy type.

(3) In determining any question as to the meaning or effect of any provision contained in Schedule 4—

  1. (a) regard shall be had to any relevant principles laid by the European Court in connection with Title II of the 1968 Convention and to any relevant decision of that court as to the meaning or effect of any provision of that Title: and
  2. (b) without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (a), the reports mentioned in section 3(3) may be considered and shall, so far as relevant, be given such weight as is appropriate in the circumstances.

(4) The provisions of this section and Schedule 4 shall have effect subject to the 1968 Convention and to the provisions of section (Exclusion of certain proceedings front Schedule 4).

(5) In section 15(1)(a) of the Maintenance Orders Act 1950 (domestic proceedings in which initial process may be served in another part of the United Kingdom), after sub-paragraph (v) there shall be added— (vi) Article 5(2) of Schedule 4 to the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982; or".".

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, in each case of these Commons amendments either I or my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate, as appropriate, will be moving that the House do agree with the Commons in their said amendment. The House will be aware that this is a complicated Bill; indeed your Lordships will recollect our proceedings in Committee and at the other stages of the Bill. I shall be speaking to amendments marshalled in relation to subject—that is to say, speaking to several separate amendments together—but of course the Question will have to be put individually on each amendment. Where I have already spoken to the amendment in question I shall say that it is consequential.

The first group of amendments to which I am now speaking is comprised of Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 30, 54 and 55, and I now rise to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1. The amendments in the group to which I speak concern Clause 16 and Schedule 4 which allocate civil jurisdiction between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The provisions are similar to those of the 1968 Convention which allocate jurisdiction between the United Kingdom and other Community countries. As originally introduced, Clause 16 excluded certain classes of dispute which it was thought better to leave to the existing law. However, it has become apparent that certain further exceptions are necessary, and there should be power by Order in Council to add other exceptions if they are needed. This set of amendments substitutes revised provisions for these purposes.

In this and in the other cases where I shall be speaking to groups of amendments they were fairly fully expounded in another place, and unless the House demands a fuller explanation I hope it will be satisfied with the fairly brief account of the matter which I have now given. With that, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendment.— (The Lord Chancellor.)

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I am sure that the intention of the noble and learned Lord that this discussion should be brief on such technical matters will commend itself to the House, and if I say that your Lordships will understand that it is not my intention to elongate the proceedings at all. Only because there were two short matters of principle in regard to the amendment which the noble and learned Lord was so clearly expounding do I venture to make two comments. First, in the Committee proceedings in another place—and I am referring to col. 9 of the proceedings of Standing Committee B on 19th April 1982—the right honourable and learned gentleman the Solicitor-General said this: Ideally, we should have liked to have set out in a Schedule to the Bill all the relevant statutory jurisdictions. Unfortunately, there is no complete list of the statutes concerned, and there is a real risk that if we adopted that course some of the provisions would escape the net. Moreover, it seems very likely that on close analysis it will be unnecessary to preserve all these special jurisdictions. Some of them are of very long standing and have not been reviewed in recent years. Our intention, therefore, is to consult with those who are immediately concerned with the operation of these statutes and so construct a suitable list of exclusions which can be put into an Order in Council. In the course of this exercise we should be able to discover all the provisions concerned, but if any should emerge later the order could be amended". The noble and learned Lord would agree with me that it is right that this House should know that this is the intention indeed, and that the order will make a composite list eventually of the questions of jurisdiction which are involved in this amendment.

My second observation is a brief one, and it is this. I also think it is interesting for this House to know that in the Standing Committee when this amendment was first brought before them the negative procedure in regard to the Order in Council was in the amendment, and it was as a result of a plea from my right honourable and learned friend Mr. Archer that the affirmative procedure should be used that the amendment now appears before this House in the form it does.

It is, I think, salutary that we should always remember that if we are dealing with important matters that are capable of debate the affirmative procedure should be the appropriate one. It is a plea that I have made, sometimes (most often, indeed) without any success, from this Bench, and it is interesting to note that in another place a plea made by a more eloquent colleague of mine was successful.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for both of his comments. I can of course confirm them both. I am afraid that, not perhaps being so gluttonous for work as the noble Lord, I am less enthusiastic than he is for the affirmative procedure; but we are always eager to comply with the reasonable requests both of the Opposition and of the Back-Benches, and we were glad to do so on this occasion.

On Question, Motion agreed to.