The test for jurisdiction over foreign defendants

By Ranjan Agarwal, Bennett Jones LLP

This April, in the case of Club Resorts Ltd v Van Breda, the Supreme Court of Canada released a landmark decision on the legal test for when a Canadian court should assume jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. For Indian companies doing business in Canada, Van Breda is an important decision as it defines the circumstances in which they may be subject to litigation in Canada.

Background facts

Morgan Van Breda and Claude Charron were injured, in two separate accidents, while on vacation in Cuba. In different proceedings, they both sued several parties in Ontario for negligence, including Club Resorts, the manager of the Cuban hotels where the accidents occurred. Club Resorts is incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

Ranjan Agarwal Partner Bennett Jones LLP
Ranjan Agarwal
Bennett Jones LLP

Club Resorts sought to block the proceedings on the basis that the Canadian courts lacked jurisdiction to hear claims against it or, alternatively, a Cuban court would be a more appropriate forum based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The motion judge and the Court of Appeal for Ontario both found that the Ontario courts had jurisdiction and, further, the Ontario courts were the more appropriate forum. Club Resorts appealed the decisions.

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Ranjan Agarwal is a partner who practises commercial and administrative litigation at Bennett Jones, a law firm with offices in Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and a representative office in Beijing. Bennett Jones was counsel to the appellants in Breeden v Black, which deals with similar issues in the context of multistate and multiparty defamation claims.


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