Sumukan Limited v Commonwealth Secretariat

Sumukan Limited V Commonwealth Secretariat

Sumukan Limited v Commonwealth Secretariat

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The Sumukan Limited v Commonwealth Secretariat case was first heard in February 2005 before the internal, administrative tribunal of the Commonwealth Secretariat and on 20 February 2006 an appeal was heard in the Commercial Court of England and Wales before Justice Colman.


In this lawsuit, the Commonwealth Secretariat is being sued in the UK courts by a British dot com company that claims that the Secretariat has expropriated the company’s auction and online tender software.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has in the past relied on its diplomatic immunity to avoid the UK courts see Mohsin v Commonwealth Secretariat, but since April 2005, a new act, the International Organisations Bill has been passed granting it full immunity in the UK. However the Sumukan case commenced before April 2005.


Sumukan Limited , a London based dot-com start up, sued the commonwealth for expropriating the ownership of its e-commerce software. The British company said it was asked to demonstrate its software to an African government as part of a Commonwealth aid program. The company said it was told that if the government liked the product they would subsequently license it in a three year deal. It signed a very short consulting agreement for the demonstration for fifteen thousand pounds. The parties fell out because the Secretariat changed internal staff and the new programme office, questioned his predecessor’s actions and refused to pay travel expenses and fees for the...
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