McDonald's stores across Sri Lanka shut Sunday after the US fast-food giant launched a legal battle with its local franchise holder over allegations of poor hygiene, court officials said.

The Commercial High Court of Colombo ordered the closures until April 4, after the parent company accused the local franchise holder of failing to meet international hygiene standards.

"The closure was ordered pending an investigation," a court official said.

He said lawyers for McDonald's told the court that they had terminated a franchise agreement with local company Abans last week. The hearing is to resume in early April.

There was no immediate comment either from McDonald's or Abans, who has held the franchise with 12 outlets since the US firm's entry into Sri Lanka in 1998.

Notices were seen outside McDonald's outlets on Sunday saying they were "closed" and there was no indication if or when they may reopen.

When a technology hitch disrupted ordering at stores across much of east Asia last week, Sri Lanka's McDonald's stores were unaffected.