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Coherency in international litigation and upholding exclusive jurisdiction clauses, for the most part,1 work hand in hand. Courts generally take jurisdiction on very wide and exorbitant grounds.2 There is therefore the ever-present risk of irreconcilable judgments stemming from multiple courts hearing disputes arising from the same transaction or state of affairs. One way in which such a risk is averted is by giving effect to exclusive jurisdiction clauses where parties have included such clauses into their contracts.3 Thus, when faced with an action brought in breach of an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of another forum, the starting position is that the court will stay its proceedings unless the plaintiff is able to show “strong cause” or “strong reasons” why he should be allowed to breach his promise to sue exclusively in another forum.4 Another means by which the courts strive to uphold exclusive jurisdiction clauses is by taking a liberal construction of them.
There are two aspects to taking a liberal construction of an exclusive jurisdiction clause: first, in terms of the “subject matter scope” and, secondly, in terms of the “party scope” of the clause.5 On the first, the foremost decision is Fiona Trust v. Privalov,6 where the House of Lords made it clear that semantics had no role to play and, in the absence of