CPC Case Brief – Horlicks v. Heinz

Spread the love

You can grab notes on other topics of CPC here.

Facts- Prior to appearing before the Delhi High Court, the parties had filed a series of suits against each other in three different courts, which were on-going and the suits filed in the Delhi High Court was the fourth and the fifth suit filed.

In the fourth and the fifth suits filed, GSK and Horlicks filed two suits against Heinz India Ltd., alleging disparaging advertisements made by the latter. Heinz contended that the suits should not be heard on the principle of “forum non convenience” and the parties had already been heard extensively on the matter. GSK contended that the principle of “forum non convenience” had no application and the Court was bound to hear this case since it was within the Court’s jurisdiction.

Holding-

  • The Court held that Section 151 of the Code gave it the power to pass any orders or decisions that it may see fit in the interests of justice. This power is only limited if there is an explicit prohibition against a certain order that the court wishes to pass.
  • The Court was of the view that “forum non convenience” did not confer a jurisdiction on a court contrary to the provisions of section 20, but it came into effect where a court for valid and sound reasons, does not wish to entertain a suit that it otherwise has jurisdiction over.
  • The court observed that it is accepted that Section 20 of the Code does not bar or prohibit parties from entering into a contract or mutual understanding that courts only at a particular location will have exclusive jurisdiction to decide the disputes and oust jurisdiction of courts located at other locations. This interpretation was used by the court to hold that the principle of forum non-convenience was not barred by, or alien to section 20 of the code.
  • The court also held that while High Courts could not transfer cases to other high courts under section 24, and that power was reserved only with the Supreme court under section 25; the plaints of the suit could, however, be returned on the grounds of forum non convenience.
  • The court further held that the doctrine of forum non-convenience is invoked by the court to not entertain a matter presented before it in view of the fact that there exists a more appropriate court of competent jurisdiction, which would be in a better position to decide the issue between the parties. In this way, it was distinguished from an anti-suit injunction, where one Court restrains the parties from approaching another court. “Forum non convenience” however, allows a court to refuse to exercise its own jurisdiction and directs parties to approach what it feels is the better, more appropriate forum.
  • The court held that the principle of forum non convenience should not be exercised unless the court comes to a conclusion that the case can be tried most suitably in the alternative forum and it is in the interest of all parties, in the ends of justice and there are grounds not to entertain a party. There should be a clear, real and a distinct dis-advantage, to negate right of the plaintiff to decide the forum or the court where he wants to institute a suit.
  •  It is appropriate to repeat that principle of ‘forum non-convenience’ can be applied rarely when there are overwhelming facts and interest of justice requires that a Court that has jurisdiction should not adjudicate the suit/legal proceedings. It should only be applied when failure to do so, could result in abuse of process of Court and cause grave injustice.

You can grab notes on other topics of CPC here.

 


Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *