When contracts have an international element and a dispute arises, it is often necessary to ascertain at a very early stage which country's courts have jurisdiction to deal with the dispute. In the case of a dispute over a contract, the place of performance of the contract is often crucial.
A recent dispute gave the Court of Appeal the opportunity to set out the principles that should be applied when determining the place of performance of a contract for the purpose of ascertaining jurisdiction. These are:
- The place of performance will, as a general rule, be the place of the main provision of the services;
- That place must be deduced, so far as possible, from the provisions of the contract;
- If the contract does not provide a place for the performance of the services, or is indefinite, the court should normally have regard to the actual place where services have mainly been carried out;
- If the place of performance is still unclear, the place of performance will be assumed to be the place of domicile of the service provider; and
- If a claimant makes a case that the place of performance is elsewhere, they must have a 'good arguable case' for that contention.