Court of Appeal dismisses French Blocking Statute appeals

22 Oct 2013

The Court of Appeal has today given judgment in the two ‘French Blocking Statute’ appeals, Servier v Secretary of State for Health and Alstom & Areva v National Grid Electricity Transmission plc.

The Court of Appeal held that the English Courts have full jurisdiction to apply their procedural rules to parties in proceedings before them, and it is well established that this includes a discretion to make directions that would entail the parties potentially breaching a foreign law.  The High Court therefore has jurisdiction to order responses to Part 18 requests (as in the Servier case), and to order disclosure (as in the National Grid case), in circumstances where complying with such orders would breach the so-called ‘French Blocking Statute’ (Law No. 68-678 of 26 July 1968).

In the leading judgment, Lord Justice Rimer dismissed the argument that it was mandatory for the Court in these circumstances to make a request to the French Court under Regulation 1206/2001 on the taking of evidence in civil and commercial matters.  He also held that the judgments of Mr Justice Henderson (in the Servier case) and Mr Justice Roth (in the National Grid case) exercising their discretion to make orders against the defendants/appellants were “unimpeachable“.

Paul Lasok QC appeared for the Secretary of State for Health, and Jon Turner QC and Laura Elizabeth John appeared for National Grid Electricity Transmission plc.  Both were successful respondents in the proceedings.

Click here to read the full SoS for Health v Servier Laboratories Ltd judgment.