Negative Declarations
Negative Declarations

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Negative Declarations
  • What is a negative declaration?
  • Power of the court to grant a negative declaration
  • Advantages and disadvantages of seeking a negative declaration
  • Making an application for a negative declaration
  • Examples of applications for a negative declaration
  • Enforcement of a negative declaration

Brexit: The UK's departure from the EU on exit day ie Friday 31 January 2020 has implications for practitioners considering which courts have jurisdiction to determine a dispute, including where such considerations may led to an application for a negative declaration. For guidance, see: Cross border considerations—checklist—Jurisdiction—Brexit specific.

What is a negative declaration?

A declaration is essentially a statement made by the court at the request of a party. This might be in relation to the rights of a party to a dispute or to the existence of certain facts or as to a principle of law, in each case where those rights, facts or principles have been established to the satisfaction of the court. See Financial Services Authority v Rourke.

A negative declaration is simply a declaration framed in the negative. A negative declaration can take various forms, for example that:

  1. the courts of a particular jurisdiction do not have jurisdiction to hear a dispute

  2. there has been no breach of patent

  3. an insurer is not liable to pay out under an insurance policy

  4. a particular course of action would not breach a contract, or

  5. a contractor has no claim for loss

Negative declarations are particularly common in insurance, construction and patent cases. They are usually brought alongside other claims for relief such as injunctions or other declarations.