The common law doctrine of forum non conveniens (inconvenient forum) allows a court to stay or strike out civil proceedings in England where there is a more appropriate foreign jurisdiction in which the proceedings should be heard and it would not be unjust that the claimant is deprived of their right to trial in England.

Where it is necessary to serve proceedings out of the jurisdiction, permission to do so will only be granted if the court is satisfied that England and Wales is the most appropriate forum in which the claim should be issued. The court will require the claimant to demonstrate that England is the most appropriate forum for the trial of the claim.

The appropriate forum is the one in which the proceedings would be tried most suitably for the interests of all the parties and the ends of justice. However, it is not simply a question of convenience.

Once proceedings have been issued, the defendant can apply for a stay of the proceedings on the ground of forum non conveniens. The burden of proof is on the defendant to persuade the court to exercise its discretion to grant a stay on the basis that there is an alternative forum which is clearly more appropriate.

The jurisdiction to grant a stay on the ground of forum non conveniens is highly discretionary and subject to the provisions of the Lugano Convention and Brussels Regulation, which define and limit the jurisdiction of courts in Member and Convention States.