Dr Ardavan Arzandeh (Ardavan Arzandeh, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol Law School) discussed his recently published book, Forum (Non) Conveniens in England: Past, Present, and Future (Hart Publishing, 2019) during a research seminar of the same name. Here are the conference notes for this discussion of the history. application, and direction of the doctrine of forum (non) conveniens in private international law.
The appellant, Shanghai Turbo Enterprises Ltd (“Shanghai Turbo”), is a Singapore-listed company that owns Hong Kong-incorporated Best Success (Hong Kong) Ltd, which in turn owns China-incorporated Changzhou 3D Technological Complete Set Equipment Ltd (“CZ3D”). The respondent, Liu Ming (“Liu”), owned approximately 30% of the shares in Shanghai Turbo. He was also a director of all three companies, and held other management positions there. In April 2017, Shanghai Turbo fired Liu from all his positions in the companies, allegedly because of declining levels of profit under his management. Subsequently, Shanghai Turbo filed a suit against Liu for breaching his service agreement (“the Agreement”) with Shanghai Turbo in several ways, including disclosing confidential information to a competitor, and diverting business away from CZ3D. The complication for Shanghai Turbo was that Liu was a Chinese citizen who resided in Changzhou, China. Generally, the court can only adjudicate on disputes between parties if it has jurisdiction (or authority to hear and determine the matter) over them. However, Singapore courts generally do not have jurisdiction over parties, unless those parties voluntarily submit to the court’s jurisdiction or have been served with the necessary originating processes. Furthermore, where a defending party resides outside of Singapore, the initiating party has to go through the added step of obtaining the court’s permission to serve the originating processes overseas.