An exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of the Massachusetts court was held by the Court of Appeal to be overridden by Articles 20-23 of the Brussels Regulation, giving the English employee the right to sue in England and to obtain an anti-suit injunction against a Massachusetts company: James Petter v EMC Europe Limited and EMC Corp  EWCA Civ 828.
The employee had been employed by the UK subsidiary of the Massachusetts company. Whilst in English law he would be deemed to be an employee of only the UK subsidiary, the Brussels Regulation is expressed to cover “matters relating to individual contracts of employment”, and in this case the dispute concerned an agreement with the parent company which provided a share incentive scheme. After the employee left the subsidiary, a dispute ensued concerning the rights to stock, which were governed by an agreement that contained an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of Massachusetts. However, the Regulation provides that the employee’s home court is to have exclusive jurisdiction, and accordingly the court accepted jurisdiction and granted the anti-suit injunction against the Massachusetts company who had already issued proceedings in that state. The anti-suit injunction also extended to specific applications that were pending before the Massachusetts court for an anti-suit injunction against the employee.
Paul Howcroft, Partner, Fladgate LLP (firstname.lastname@example.org)