This one is overdue for review on the blog. In Van Heck v Giambrone & Partners Studio Legale Associato  EWHC 1098 (QB) the High Court confirmed in appeal the refusal of a stay on Article 29 Brussels Ia lis pendens grounds in a case concerning a barrister’s claim for professional fees. The defendant in the English proceedings had initiated an Italian claim, prior to the English claim, in which it denied liability for the fees: a classic mirror claim. The court of first instance in Palermo had denied it had jurisdiction. That judgment went to appeal, where it is pending however the first instance, sole judge in England held that the jurisdictional issue had been conclusively dealt with and was not in appeal. Hence that no ‘lis’ was still pending for Article 29 to apply.
Soole J  held that the critical question for determination was whether the proceedings in the court first seised, i.e. the Palermo Claim, had been ‘finally determined in relation to its jurisdiction’. Whether or not that is the case, in the absence of a European harmonised approach to whether the national courts are still seized of the jurisdictional issue, is a matter of national procedural law ] which the E&W judge is to assess as a matter of foreign law hence fact, to be proven by the parties. That finding is a factual issue which the judge held upon with the help of relevant expert and is not within the appeal.
Stay therefore dismissed.