Droit international général

Australian Information Commission v Facebook Inc: Substituting the Hague Service Convention during the Pandemic?

Conflictoflaws - il y a 7 heures 21 min

by Jie (Jeanne) Huang, Associate Professor of the University of Sydney Law School, Jeanne.huang@sydney.edu.au

Recently, in Australian Information Commission v Facebook Inc ([2020] FCA 531), the Federal Court of Australia (‘FCA’) addresses substituted service and the Hague Service Convention in the contexts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This case is important on whether defendants located outside of Australia in a Hague Convention state can be served by substituted service instead of following the Convention.

  1. Facts:

Facebook Inc is a company incorporated in the US (‘Facebook US’), while Facebook Ireland is in Ireland. Due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook was fined in the US and the UK. The office of the Australian Information Commission has also investigated Facebook over the scandal since April 2018 and hauled Facebook into the FCA on 9 March 2020.[1] The Commission alleged that Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland breached s 13 G of the Privacy Act (Cth) from 12 March 2014 to 1 May 2015.

Both defendants appointed King & Wood Mallesons (‘KWM’) to respond to the Commission’s inquiries before the FCA proceeding was initiated. On 6 March 2020, the Australian Government Solicitor (‘AGS’) asked KWM whether it had instructions to accept the service of originating process. KWM replied that it acted for the respondents but was not instructed to accept the service on their behalf. They also indicated that it had instructions to discuss the substantive issues raised in the proceeding.

Consequently, the Commission sought orders under Federal Court Rules (‘FCR’) 2011 rr 10.42 and 10.43(2) for leave to serve Facebook US and Facebook Ireland (1) through the central authorities according to Article 5 of the Hague Convention and (2) by substituted service under r 10.24. With respect to the latter, the proposed substituted service was to serve the respondents by emailing the judicial documents to the named persons at KWM and the Head of Data Protection and Privacy and Associate General Counsel at Facebook Ireland.

  1. Ruling

On 22 April 2020, the FCA rendered a judgment favourable to the Commission granting both leave to serve outside Australia and the order for substituted service.

Leave to serve outside Australia was granted pursuant to FCR 2011 rr 10.42, 10.43(2) and (4). The rationale for this was manifold. First, the court held that, vested by the Parliament under of the Privacy Act (Cth), it had original jurisdiction in the proceeding. Second, as the proceeding was related to the construction, effect or enforcement of the Privacy Act, it fell into pigeonhole 14 of r 10.42. Third, the Commission established a prima facie case for the reliefs claimed in the proceeding. Moreover, the proposed method of service via the central authorities in the US and Ireland complied with Article 5 of the Hague Convention. Therefore, the court granted leave for service outside Australia.

Regarding substituted service, the court invoked FCR 2011 r 10.24 in agreeance with the Commission and granted the order for substituted service for two reasons.

First, in circumstances where the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation and is directly affecting the US, it is not presently practicable to effect service on Facebook US pursuant to Article 5 of the Hague Convention. ABC Legal is the contractor for the US Department of Justice, Civil Division, and the Office of International Judicial Assistance. It is in charge of serving foreign processes on private individuals and companies in the US under the Hague Convention. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ABC Legal has ‘suspended service of process nationwide’ across the US according to its website. Consequently, the FCA considered that it was substantially difficult for the Commission to effect service on Facebook US pursuant to Article 5 of the Hague Convention. On the other hand, despite the pandemic also affecting Ireland, the court acknowledged that Ireland’s High Court and postal services remained operative.[2] Nevertheless, the court held that ‘it is impracticable to do so in the rapidly changing and evolving environment caused by the current pandemic; the present situation may have changed by the time service in the relevant way would be sought to be effected’.[3]

Second, the proposed method of substituted service by email was likely to bring the proceeding to the attention of the respondents. This was because the respondents are aware of this proceeding. Moreover, in representing the respondents, the named individuals at KWM in Sydney and the Facebook Head of Data Protection and Privacy and the Associate General Counsel in Ireland replied to the Commissioner’s inquiries which led to this proceeding. Therefore, substituted service was ordered and the Commission was allowed to email judicial documents to these individuals.

  1. Comments:

Regarding substituted service, the Facebook judgment provides that[4]

‘[t]his Court has held, in circumstances analogous to the present, that an order for substituted service may be made under either r 10.24 or r 10.49 : Commissioner of Taxation v Zeitouni (2013) 306 ALR 603 at [60] (Katzmann J); see also: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Kokos International Pty Ltd [2007] FCA 2035 at [18] (French J); Commissioner of Taxation v Oswal [2012] FCA 1507 at [32] (Gilmour J). Even if that position is incorrect, I would have ordered substituted service under r 10.49, with a dispensation from the implicit requirement to attempt service under r 1.34, for equivalent reasons to those for which I will order substituted service under r 10.24, explained next.’

Here, the court’s reasoning is dubious in three respects.

First, all the three cases cited above are not factually analogous to Facebook. Whilst the service of process in Facebook was subject to the Hague Convention, the cases of Zeitouni, Kokos, and Oswal were not. Specifically, this was because Zeitouni[5] and Kokos[6] were instances where the defendants’ addresses were unknown; in Oswal, the court noted that it was unaware of who might be present at the address to accept service on behalf of the defendant.[7] Article 1 of the Hague Convention explicitly indicates that these are circumstances where the Convention is not applicable.[8] Therefore, these three cases can be distinguished from Facebook. This differentiation is insurmountable due to the crucial application of the Hague Convention’s ‘non-mandatory but exclusive’ nature that informs service.[9] That is, service in Convention states must be conducted in a method permitted by the Convention. When the Convention is applicable, as in Facebook, the attempt requirement of r 10.49 should not be lightly dispensed with unless the rare instance under r 1.34 is satisfied.

Second, in Facebook, it is unclear what warrants the court to invoke the rare instance of r 1.34 in disregarding the usual attempt requirement contemplated in r 10.49 – namely, that service according to the Hague Convention should be attempted first and when it had not been successful, substituted service may be applied. There is a long-standing legal doctrine holding that substituted service should not be used to extend the court’s jurisdiction in the absence of any other power to do so. In Laurie v Carroll, the High Court of Australia held that substituted service should not be used to replace personal service if the defendant was out of the jurisdiction when a writ was issued. In Facebook, there is no real urgency for service because the claim centered on the defendants’ conducts in 2014 and 2015. Cambridge Analytica is bankrupt. The Commission did not produce any evidence substantiating that Facebook US and Facebook Ireland are currently continuing their violation of the Privacy Act (Cth) in Australia. There is also no evidence showing that the two defendants may move their assets outside of Australia or that any third party should be joined swiftly. Although COVID-19 may lead to uncertain proceeding delays, this reason alone is unlikely to justify the substitution of the Hague Convention. This is because Australia has a treaty obligation to serve foreign defendants in a Convention state according to the ‘non-mandatory but exclusive’ nature of the Convention. This obligation cannot be dispensed with in a proceeding that is not time-sensitive. Moreover, a delay of proceeding is distinct from the urgency of proceeding contemplated in r 1.34, as per Swan Brewery Co Ltd v Atlee. In this case, the defendant was in the Philippines, where service through diplomatic channels could take six months or considerably more. Evidence also demonstrated that ‘the authorities in the Philippines [would] not assist with service via the diplomatic channel’. In contrast, private service could be affected within 48 hours. The plaintiff applied for an order to serve a sequestration order by post, which was rejected by the court; while the utilisation of the diplomatic channel was impractical, it was not established on the evidence that personal service was not impractical. Similarly, in Facebook, although the ABC Legal Service in the US was not functioning, there was no evidence showing that the US postal service was not operational. The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect in delaying the proceedings cannot justify the dispense of the attempt requirement in r 10.49 alone.

Third, more evidence is necessary to demonstrate that rr 10.24 and 10.45 are satisfied in Facebook. Where Ireland’s High Court and postal services remain operative even during COVID-19 pandemic, it is still possible to serve Facebook Ireland in accordance with Hague Convention. The Facebook judgment does not specify what evidence should be provided by the plaintiff in order to prove that it is not sensible or realistic to effect service according to the Convention in Ireland. The court described how the environment is ‘rapidly changing and evolving’ due to the pandemic.[10] Yet, it seems that the court deemed that the environment would be worse off and even further aggravate service, as the court considered that the current service provided by the High Court and the post in Ireland might be changed. However, the court’s view may be inaccurate with regards to the trend of the pandemic in Ireland where the curve of confirmed COVID-19 cases has flattened, thereby indicating a realistic possibility that the environment may recover, not worsen. Further, whether the court considered the ‘rapidly changing and evolving’ environment of the pandemic is doubtful. This is a significant line of inquiry as the question of ‘being not practical’ should be determined by ‘whether at the date on which the application regarding service is made, the applicant, using reasonable effort, [was] unable to serve the respondent personally (emphasis added)’[11] Last but not least, the mere fact that Facebook was aware of the proceeding cannot suffice to satisfy the requirement of ‘not practicable’ in r 10.24.[12] Therefore, the court’s reasoning that it is not practical to serve Facebook Ireland by forecasting the future change does not seem persuasive.

In conclusion, substituted service in Facebook is granted too lightly.

 

[1] The dispute centered on the ‘This is your digital life’ App (hereinafter ‘APP’). It was a personality quiz designed by Dr Aleksandr Kogan who later established the Global Science Research Limited (GSR). The Graph API V1 developed by the respondents allowed the App to request information from the Facebook accounts of 305,000 Facebook Users globally who installed the APP, of which approximately 53 were Australian. The Graph API also allowed the App to request the personal information of approximately 86,3000,000 Facebook Users globally (approximately 311,074 of whom were Australian Facebook Users) who were friends of the installers (that is, they did not install the App themselves). Dr. Kogan and/or the GSR further disclosed the personal information it obtained from the Respondents to third parties, including the Cambridge Analytica Ltd, and/or its parent company, for profit.

[2] The Hague Service Convention website page relating to Ireland describes the prescribed methods as ‘[p]ersonal or by post.’ Ireland permits service of the court documents on individuals and entities in Ireland (e.g. Facebook Ireland) by post under the Hague Convention.

[3] Facebook [71].

[4] Facebook, [66].

[5] Zeitouni, [65]. There was no dispute that the Commissioner did not know the address(es) of the defendants. Though presumably in a position to provide information on the whereabouts of the defendants, their lawyers refrained from doing so. The Australian Federal Police had been looking for one brother who was in Indonesia for six months without success. For the other brother, the Commissioner only knew he was not in Australia but did not know where he went.

[6] Australian Competition & Consumer Commission v Kokos International Pty Ltd [2007] FCA 2035, [18]. Although ACCC knew that the defendant was likely in Japan, it had been unable to obtain an address at which he could be served. Neither the defendant nor his solicitors would provide an address for service. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia Embassy in Japan were unable to make inquiries on the ACCC’s behalf. Therefore, the plaintiff could not make an attempt to serve the defendant in Japan. The court held that service was not practical, and a substitute service was granted under ord 7 r 9 of FCR 1979.

[7] Oswal, [35]–[36]. Mrs. Oswal was not in Australia. Her last known address was in the UAE, but she is also an Indian national and has business interests in Singapore. Consequently, it is not possible to know with certainty her whereabouts to effect personal service.

[8] Hague Service Convention art 1.

[9] Hague Conference on Private International Law, Practical Handbook on the Operation of the Service Convention, ed Christophe Bernasconia and Laurence Thébault (Wilson & Lafleur, 2006) [24]-[41].

[10] Facebook [66].

[11] Foxe v Brown [1984] HCA 69, [547] as applied in O’Neil v Acott (1988) 59 NTR 1, 2.

[12] Morris v McConaghy Australia (No 4), [2018] FCA 1516, [16]. The second defendant MC2 was in the Cayman Islands. There was no dispute that MC2 was aware of the originating process and had notice of the relevant court documents. However, the court required that the service must be conducted under the Hague Convention because the mere fact that the document has been brought to the attention of the party being served cannot suffice to satisfy r 48(a) (i.e. the requirement of ‘not practical’).

CJEU Rules on Jurisdiction in Volkswagen Gas Emissions Case

EAPIL blog - ven, 07/10/2020 - 17:28

The Court has delivered its ruling in Verein für Konsumenteninformation v Volkswagen AG (Case C-343/19) yesterday.

The court rules that a motor vehicle manufacturer whose unlawfully manipulated vehicles are resold in other Member States may be sued in the courts of those States, and that the damage suffered by the purchaser occurs in the Member State in which he purchases the vehicle for a price higher than its actual value.

See the Press Release of the Court here.

 

The CJEU’s locus damni determination in Volkswagen dismisses a US style minimum contacts rule. Like the passat, it risks picking up suits and landing them almost anywhere.

GAVC - ven, 07/10/2020 - 08:08

I earlier reviewed Sánchez-Bordona AG’ opinion in C‑343/19 Verein für Konsumenteninformation v Volkswagen. I noted then that despite attempts at seeing system in the Opinion, the ever unclearer distinction between direct and indirect aka ‘ricochet’ damage under Article 7(2) Brussels Ia is a Valhalla for reverse engineering.

The AG did not suggest a wild west of connecting factors for indirect damage (please refer to my full post for overview), instead suggesting a Universal Music style requirement of extra factors (over and above the location of damage) to establish jurisdiction. In particular he put forward a minimum contacts rule such as in US conflict of laws: at 75: ‘the defendant’s intention to sell its vehicles in the Member State whose jurisdiction is in issue (and, as far as possible, in certain districts within that State).’

The CJEU’s judgment yesterday was received as giving ‘consumers’ the right to sue Volkswagen in their state of domicile. This however is not quite correct. Firstly, the parties at issue are not ‘consumers’ at least within the meaning of European conflicts law: the suit is one in tort, not contract, let alone one that concerns a consumer contract. Further, the AG was clear and the CJEU arguably held along the same lines, that it is only if the car was purchased by a downstream (third party) buyer and the Volkswagen Dieselgate story broke after that purchase, that the damage may be considered to only then have come into existence, thus creating jurisdiction. See the CJEU at 29 ff:

29. That said, in the main proceedings, it is apparent from the documents before the Court, subject to the assessment of the facts which it is for the referring court to make, that the damage alleged by the VKI takes the form of a loss in value of the vehicles in question stemming from the difference between the price paid by the purchaser for such a vehicle and its actual value owing to the installation of software that manipulates data relating to exhaust gas emissions.

30      Consequently, while those vehicles became defective as soon as that software had been installed, the view must be taken that the damage asserted occurred only when those vehicles were purchased, as they were acquired for a price higher than their actual value.

31      Such damage, which did not exist before the purchase of the vehicle by the final purchaser who considers himself adversely affected, constitutes initial damage within the meaning of the case-law recalled in paragraph 26 of the present judgment, and not an indirect consequence of the harm initially suffered by other persons within the meaning of the case-law cited in paragraph 27 of the present judgment. 

That ‘case-law cited’ is the classic lines of cases on locus damni per A7(2) BIa, with Trans Tibor as its latest expression.

The CJEU does not qualify the damage as purely financial: at 33, citing the EC’s court opinion: ‘the fact that the claim for damages is expressed in euros does not mean that the damage is purely financial.’: the car, a tangible asset, actually suffers a defect, over and above the impact on its value as an asset. Predictability, which is firmly part of the Brussels Ia Regulation’s DNA, the Court holds, is secured seeing as a car manufacturer which ‘engages in unlawful tampering with vehicles sold in other Member States may reasonably expect to be sued in the courts of those States (at 36).

Finally, the Court throws consistency with Rome II in the mix, by holding at 39

Lastly, that interpretation satisfies the requirement of consistency laid down in recital 7 of the Rome II Regulation, in so far as, in accordance with Article 6(1) thereof, the place where the damage occurs in a case involving an act of unfair competition is the place where ‘competitive relations or the collective interests of consumers are, or are likely to be, affected’. An act, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which, by being likely to affect the collective interests of consumers as a group, constitutes an act of unfair competition (judgment of 28 July 2016, Verein für Konsumenteninformation, C‑191/15, EU:C:2016:612, paragraph 42), may affect those interests in any Member State within the territory of which the defective product is purchased by consumers. Thus, under the Rome II Regulation, the place where the damage occurs is the place in which such a product is purchased (see, by analogy, judgment of 29 July 2019, Tibor-Trans, C‑451/18, EU:C:2019:635, paragraph 35).

The extent to which A6 Rome II applies to acts of unfair competition being litigated by ‘consumers’ (in the non-technical sense of the word), is however not quite clear and in my view certainly not settled by this para in the Court’s judgment.

Finally, on locus delicti commissi as I noted at the time, the AG had not in my view given a complete analysis. The CJEU is silent on it.

Not many will feel much sympathy for Volkswagen facing cluster litigation across the EU given its intention to cheat. However the rejection of a minimum contacts approach under A7(2) will have implications reaching small corporations, too. The Volkswagen ruling will need distinguishing, with intention to defraud the consumer a relevant criterion for distinction given the Court’s finding in para 36. It is to be feared that many national judges will fail to see the need for distinguishing, adding to the ever expanding ripple effect of locus damni following the Court’s epic Bier judgment.

Geert.

Ps reference to the Passat in the title is of course to the VW Passat, named after the Germanic name for one of the Trade winds.

(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.11.2.7

 

CJEU on Article 7.2 Brussels I bis (Dieselgate)

European Civil Justice - ven, 07/10/2020 - 00:59

The Court of Justice delivered today its much expected judgment in case C‑343/19 (Verein für Konsumenteninformation v Volkswagen AG), which is about Article 7.2 Brussels I bis:

“Point 2 of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 […] must be interpreted as meaning that, where a manufacturer in a Member State has unlawfully equipped its vehicles with software that manipulates data relating to exhaust gas emissions before those vehicles are purchased from a third party in another Member State, the place where the damage occurs is in that latter Member State”.

Source: here

CJEU on the Late Payment Directive

European Civil Justice - ven, 07/10/2020 - 00:56

The Court of Justice delivered today its judgment in case C‑199/19 (RL sp. z o.o. v J. M.), which is about the Late Payment Directive. The judgment is currently available in all EU official languages (save Irish), albeit not in English. Here is the French version:

« 1) L’article 2, point 1, de la directive 2011/7/UE […] doit être interprété en ce sens qu’un contrat dont la prestation principale consiste en la remise, à titre onéreux, d’un bien immobilier pour un usage temporaire, tel qu’un contrat de location d’un local professionnel, constitue une transaction commerciale conduisant à une prestation de services, au sens de cette disposition, pourvu que cette transaction soit effectuée entre des entreprises ou entre des entreprises et les pouvoirs publics.

2) Dès lors qu’un contrat à durée déterminée ou indéterminée, stipulant un paiement périodique à des intervalles définis par avance, tel que le loyer mensuel afférent à un contrat de location d’un local professionnel, relève du champ d’application matériel de la directive 2011/7, en tant que transaction commerciale conduisant à une prestation de services contre rémunération, au sens de l’article 2, point 1, de cette directive, l’article 5 de celle-ci doit être interprété en ce sens que, pour qu’un tel contrat puisse faire naître, en cas de paiement non réglé à l’échéance, les droits aux intérêts et à l’indemnisation prévus à l’article 3 et à l’article 6 de ladite directive, il ne doit pas nécessairement être considéré comme constituant un accord sur un échéancier fixant les montants à payer par tranches, au sens de cet article 5 ».

Source : here

Call for Papers: Third German-Speaking Conference for Young Scholars in PIL

Conflictoflaws - jeu, 07/09/2020 - 13:56

Following successful events in Bonn and Würzburg, the third iteration of the conference for young German-speaking scholars in private international law will take place – hopefully as one of the first events post-Corona – on 18 and 19 March 2021 at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg. The conference will focus on the theme of PIL for a better world: Vision – Reality – Aberration?; it will include a keynote by Angelika Nußberger, former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, and a panel discussion between Roxana Banu, Hans van Loon, and Ralf Michaels.

The organisers are inviting contributions that explore any aspect of the conference theme, which can be submitted until 20 September 2020. The call for papers and further information can be found on the conference website.

From World Actor to Local Community: Territoriality and the Scope of Application of EU Law

EAPIL blog - jeu, 07/09/2020 - 08:00

Toni Marzal (University of Glasgow) has posted From World Actor to Local Community: Territoriality and the Scope of Application of EU Law on SSRN.

The abstract reads:

This chapter offers a reconstruction of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union in relation to the territorial scope of application of EU law. Thus, it will focus on the manner in which the Court approaches the question of whether EU law should apply to cases that are at least partly connected to non-EU jurisdictions. This is a topic that has attracted significant interest in recent years from EU lawyers as well as experts in public and private international law, given in particular how EU law has been said to take the role of a ‘world actor’ in tackling problems that lack a clear geographical basis, such as the protection of personal data, environmental degradation or competition law. Under the most common understanding, the question of the territorial applicability of EU law is essentially a functional one: the scope of application of EU law will be that which is required by the effective pursuit of whatever goal is at stake, which may mean that in many instances it will apply ‘extraterritorially’. It will however be argued that this leaves aside an important dimension of the territorial applicability of EU law – its contribution to the construction of the EU legal system as a ‘local community’. Indeed, the EU legal system should not only be seen as an institutional tool in the promotion of certain objectives, but should also be understood as a space of inclusion and exclusion. It will not only be argued that this is a necessary dimension to EU law’s scope of application, but also that this dimension is already present in the case law. This will be seen through a study of three different lines of cases, where the Court deduces the applicability of EU law from the location of a legal relationship, the imperativeness of the particular EU legal regime, and the integrity of the EU legal system as a whole.

The paper is forthcoming in L. Azoulai (ed), European Union Law and Forms of Life. Madness or Malaise? (Hart Publishing, 2020).

The Data Protection Conflict: The EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016 and India’s Personal Data Protection Bill 2019

Conflictoflaws - mer, 07/08/2020 - 11:51

By Anubhav Das (National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi) and Aditi Jaiswal (Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow)

The internet brought significant changes in society, leading to a massive collection of data which necessitated legislation to regulate such data collection. The European Union enacted the General Data Protection Regulation, 2016(Hereafter GDPR), replacing the Data Protection Directive, 1995. Meanwhile, India, which currently lacks a separate data protection legislation, is in the process of enacting the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (Hereafter PDP). The PDP has been introduced in the Indian parliament and is currently under the scrutiny of a parliamentary committee. The primary purpose of these legislations is the protection of informational privacy.

Even though GDPR and PDP follow the same set of data protection principles, but, there exists an inevitable conflict between the two. This conflict determines the applicability of the legislation on the data subject. The territorial scope of GDPR and the PDP makes it clear that both overlap each other and this overlap can be used by companies involved in data processing or collection, to circumvent the civil liability arising under the laws. This post analyses the conflict between both the laws and in conclusion, it will suggest a way to overcome such an issue.

Territorial Scope: GDPR and PDP   

Article 3 of the GDPR provides for the territorial applicability of the law. The Regulation applies to the processing of personal data by a controller or a processer. According to Article 3(1), any controller or processer that is established in the member state (European Union) shall fall under the scope of the GDPR. In other words, any company which has an office in the European Union shall come within the purview of the GDPR. Article 3(2) states that even if any processer or controller is not established in the European Union, but if they are offering goods or services irrespective of payment or monitoring behaviour in the European Union, then they will also fall under the scope of GDPR.

On the other hand, the PDP provides for the territorial applicability under Section 2. It applies to the processing of personal data by data fiduciary (similar to the controller under GDPR) and data processer (similar to processer under GDPR). Section 2(A) (a) states that if personal data is collected, disclosed, shared or otherwise processed within the territory of India, then it shall fall under the PDP. Section 2(A) (b), makes it applicable to the State, any Indian company, any citizen of India or any person or body of persons incorporated or created under Indian law. Section 2 (A) (c) makes it applicable to data fiduciary or data processor which are not in India but are processing in connection with any business carried on in India, or any systematic activity of offering goods or services to data principals within the territory of India or any activity concerning the profiling of data principle.

The Overlap of Jurisdiction

The internet has provided a way for companies to operate anywhere without the existence of an entity in a particular country. This also includes those companies which deal with data. In the context of Europe and India, a company doesn’t need to have an entity in Europe or India to operate and do business. Thus, an Indian company can easily do business related to data in Europe without any real existence in Europe and vice versa. Consequently, the problem that arises concerning data protection laws is complicated. An Indian company will fall under the purview of the PDP as per Section 2(A) (b) but at the same time if this Indian company also deals with ‘personal data for offering goods or services in the European Union, then it will also be regulated by the provisions of the GDPR.

Similarly, a European company ‘collecting data in India’ will fall under the scope of both PDP and GDPR. It is a matter of fact that judicial courts do not have jurisdiction over foreign land. Hence, no monetary damages can be imposed on companies which operate from Europe by using PDP or companies operating from India by using GDPR.

A European company or an Indian company can also claim that there is proper compliance with GDPR or PDP, respectively. In the context of Europe and India, a company only needs to follow the data protection law of the land from where it operates even though such an act violates data protection law of the other jurisdiction. This is possible as GDPR and PDP differ from each other on every key and essential aspect such as the very meaning of personal data.

The Difference and its Implications

The primary purpose of GDPR and PDP is the protection of personal data. But, the definition of personal data differs when GDPR is compared with PDP. The reason why such a description is essential is that a substantial part of both laws is based on the processing of personal data. This includes fair consent, purpose limitation, storage limitation, rights of data principle etc. Such aspects, when read with the territorial scope of both the laws, outlines the applicability of its provisions. The table below shows the difference in the definition of personal data.

 

 

GDPR PDP   Personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’).

An identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person; Personal data is data about or relating to a natural person who is directly or indirectly identifiable, having regard to any characteristic, trait, attribute or any other feature of the identity of such natural person, whether online or offline, or any combination of such features with any additional information, and shall include any inference drawn from such data for profiling.

 

Note – Underlined are the parts which show that it is not present in the other law.

Both GDPR and PDP refer to personal data as information/data relating to identified/identifiable natural person. At the same time, the nuances of what constitutes an identifiable natural person differ significantly as both use different terminology which creates a diversion in the meaning of the personal data.

Deviation 1 – PDP provides for words such as ‘any other feature of identity, a combination of such feature with other information, any inference drawn for profiling’, in the meaning of an identifiable natural person. These terms can be interpreted more liberally and will probably be explained by courts in India and shall have an evolving meaning. GDPR, on the other hand, provides for specific terms like ‘physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural, social identity’. Hence, European Courts will have to interpret personal data by mandatorily considering such terms, making it’s scope narrower when compared to PDP in this context.

Deviation 2 – Terms such as ‘identification number’ and ‘location data’ is mentioned explicitly in GDPR and not in PDP, making PDP narrower in scope here.

This above discussion can be easily understood with the help of the following figure –

Deviation 1 – The green circle represents inference in PDP. The blue circle represents inference in GDPR. The green stripe represents personal data which is covered in PDP and not covered in GDPR.

Deviation 2 – The yellow circle represents personal data in GDPR. The red circle represents personal data in PDP. The yellow stripe represents personal data which is covered in GDPR and not covered in PDP.

In the figure above, in Deviation 1, the green strip represents that personal data, which when processed by a company shall not fall under the scope of GDPR even though it shall be under the scope of the PDP. Such a difference implies that companies falling under the territorial ambit of both the laws, can follow one and circumvent the other.

A European company can process personal data represented in the green strip from India, and for that, it doesn’t need to comply with GDPR as that data is not personal data under GDPR. Now even though, there is a violation of the provisions under PDP the company can escape liability as Indian courts do not have jurisdiction in Europe, and European Courts cannot adjudge the matter as it falls outside the material scope of GDPR. The vice versa will happen if the case of deviation two is considered.

The consequence of such inconsistencies will be faced by data subjects who won’t be able to claim damages provided under their respective data protection law. One of the ways to ensure that damages can be claimed is by harmonising the data protection laws which can only be done by international cooperation.

The Need For International Cooperation in Data Protection

The existence of such issues in the framework of GDPR and PDP is not because of the extraterritorial application. Advocating against the extraterritorial application to resolve the problem of overlap in the jurisdiction of data protection laws would only give rise to more infringement of informational privacy of data subjects by foreign companies. This, in turn, will be detrimental for the very purpose for which data protection legislation is enacted.

The requirement at present is to harmonise the key definitions such as personal data in the data protection legislation. This will ensure that a right of action lies in both GDPR and PDP. Even if a foreign company cannot be dragged to the national court, harmonisation will at least ensure that a data subject has a right to seek damages in the international court.

The aspect discussed in this article is regarding two jurisdictions. However, consider, for instance,  the complications that could arise when more than two jurisdictions are involved. To illustrate, an Indian Company having an office in Canada and that office is doing business in data from the European Union. In such cases, the best way to ensure data protection rights is by harmonisation, and this can only be achieved with the help of international cooperation. Thus, data protection in the age of internet needs multilateral international agreements.

Conclusion

The international regime of data protection is complicated in today’s world. There is no proper international agreement which governs the data protection legislation across the globe, which resulted in a difference in the critical terms of data protection when GDPR and PDP are compared. This, in – turn can be used by corporates to get away with liability. So, the aim must be not to let anyone violate the data protection principles by using this inconsistency and get away with it. To deal with this and safeguard the privacy of data subject, international cooperation in data protection is essential.

 

 

 

Villiers v Villiers. ‘Divorce tourism’ at the UKSC. An undisputed rejection of forum non; and a contentious discussion of ‘related action’.

GAVC - mer, 07/08/2020 - 08:08

Mr Villiers reacted to Villiers v Villiers [2020] UKSC 30 with a letter in the FT yesterday, set against the general background of ‘divorce tourism’ said to have been encouraged by the Supreme Court ruling last week. Ms Villiers now lives in England however the majority of the marriage was spent in Scotland which is also where divorce proceedings were issued.

Sales J for the majority summarises the legislative background at 8:

The national legislation governing jurisdiction in cross-border cases is primarily contained in the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 (“the CJJA 1982”). That Act gave effect in domestic law to the [1968] Brussels Convention… [which] was amended on the association of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom in 1978. It was replaced as the principal instrument governing jurisdiction in cross-border cases between member states of the European Union by [Brussels I] which in large part replicated the provisions of the Brussels Convention. The CJJA 1982 was amended to refer to and give effect in domestic law to the Brussels Regulation. The Brussels Regulation has been replaced by [Brussels Ia].

The Brussels Convention did not apply to issues of the status of natural persons, including marriage, nor to rights in property arising out of a matrimonial relationship (article 1(1)), but it did apply in respect of claims for maintenance. This was later carved out and titled into a separate Regulation, the Maintenance Regulation 4/2009. The UK until Brexit day chose to apply the Regulation intra-State, too, i.e. between the constituent parts of the Kingdom. 

Lord Sales posits that all in all, the application of the jurisdictional rules is ‘straightforward’ (at 25) however his needing 32 paras to set out the test somewhat belies that statement, as does Lord Wilson’s and Lady Hale’s lengthy dissent at 93 ff. (and Lady Black’s at

There is no forum non conveniens rule in the Maintenance Regulation. The CJEU held so in C-468/18 R v P and Lord Sales refers to that judgment.

The only viable route to a stay of the jurisdiction in principle of the English courts, the place of habitual residence of Mrs Villiers, the maintenance creditor, is via the ‘related actions’ gateway of A13 of the Regulation. Are the husband’s divorce proceeding in Scotland a “related action” for the purposes of A13? And, pursuant to that provision, should the English court decline jurisdiction in respect of the wife’s maintenance claim? At 45 Sales LJ holds that to be related actions, they must refer

‘primarily to maintenance claims of the kind to which the special regime in the Regulation applies. If the position were otherwise, and the word “actions” meant legal proceedings of any kind whatever, that would undermine the fundamental object of the Maintenance Regulation that a maintenance creditor has the right to choose in which jurisdiction to claim maintenance. On such a reading, there would be a substantial risk that this object of the Maintenance Regulation would be undermined by the commencement of proceedings by the maintenance debtor according to the jurisdictional provisions of instruments other than the Maintenance Regulation, laid down in pursuance of entirely different jurisdictional policies than that reflected in the Maintenance Regulation.’

At 48 he adds obiter (for the husband’s suit in Scotland here concerned the divorce and the divorce only) that contra to the likely position in Moore v Moore [2007] EWCA Civ 361, even a maintenance debtor’s claim for distribution of family property with an impact on maintenance, cannot be a related action for the purposes of A13: for it would hand the debtor a torpedo against the creditor’s Regulation-protected choice.

It is on the issue of related actions that Lord Wilson and Lady Hale disagree at 147 ff., with Lord Wilson adding an arguably stinging postscript at 172 ff. At 162 Lord Wilson refers to A13(2) as ‘the dog. The reference to “irreconcilable judgments” is no more than the tail.’ A wide interpretation therefore of A13 (Lady Black, consenting with Sales, at 85 puts more emphasis in the irreconcilability of the judgments).

A most interesting to and fro of arguments and one which post Brexit will be recommended reading for the continuing application of the Maintenance Regulation in the EU.

Geert.

 

Maintenance regulation Brussels II, applied intra-State (UK) by incorporation by that Member State.
Application of lis alibi pendens. Non-existence of forum non conveniens. Distinction with matrimonial Regulation. https://t.co/AllsUqm05Q

— Geert Van Calster (@GAVClaw) July 1, 2020

 

The Fluctuating Law of Diplomatic Immunity in France

EAPIL blog - mer, 07/08/2020 - 08:00

In the last decade, the French law of diplomatic immunity has changed numerous times. This is not great for legal certainty, but it can get much worse if the different rules are applied in the same case. This should not be possible in a democratic State, but this is what happened in Commisimpex v. Republic of Congo.

Background

Commisimpex is a Congolese company which conducted serious construction work in Congo in the mid 1980s. It was headed by Lebanese businessman Mohsen Hojeij who was presented by the general press as a personal friend of the President of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, although Hojeij himself denies it. Commisimpex claimed that Congo did not pay some of the work and initiated arbitral proceedings which eventually led to two arbitral awards ordering Congo to pay various sums which total today over a billion euros. Since then, Commisimpex has been trying to enforce the awards over any assets of Congo that it may find.

To resist enforcement, Congo developed two strategies. The first was to generate a contradictory judgment which might bar the enforcement of the awards. The second was to challenge the enforceability of the waiver of its sovereign immunities.

A Timely Congolese Judgment

A few months after Commisimpex initiated enforcement proceedings of the arbitral awards in France (see below), the Congolese social security institution claimed that Commisimpex had failed to pay its contributions for decades and requested that insolvency proceedings be opened against the company. Two insolvency officials were appointed. French courts would later find that the first had represented the State of Congo, and the second was employed by the Presidency of the State of Congo.

In 2014, Congolese tax authorities also started to review the tax situation of Commisimpex, to eventually fid that Commisinpex owed over a billion euros of taxes to the Congolese State. Remarkably, the amount corresponded pretty much to the amounts of the arbitral awards.

At the end of 2014, the Congolese judge in charge of the liquidation issued an order whereby he ruled that a set off occurred between the claims resulting from the awards and the tax claims, and that the latter being higher than the former, a tax claim still remained. French courts would later find that Comminsimpex was neither informed about this particular aspect of the proceedings, and even less heard.

Congo then attempted to have the 2014 Congolese order declared enforceable in France. Its enforcement was denied by the Paris first instance court in 2015, and then by the Paris Court of appeal, on the ground of lack of impartiality of the insolvency officials and violation of the right to be heard.

The Evolving Law of Diplomatic Immunity in France

In a letter of 1993, the Republic of Congo had waived all jurisdiction and enforcement immunities in this case. A critical issue became whether the waiver covered assets protected by diplomatic immunity.

A New Rule of Customary International

In two cases of 2011 and 2013, the French Supreme Court for Criminal and Civil Matters (Cour de cassation) invented a rule of customary international law, allegedly grounded in the 2004 UN Convention on the Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property, providing that diplomatic immunity could not be waived by a general waiver of all sovereign immunities, whether of jurisdiction or enforcement, but that it could only be waived by a declaration which was both express and “special”, i.e. specifically mentioning diplomatic immunity.

Meanwhile, in the same year 2011, Commisimpex attached the bank accounts of the diplomatic mission of Congo and its delegation to UNESCO in Paris. French lower courts applied the new 2011 precedent of the Cour de cassation and set aside the attachements, as Congo has not expressly and specifically waived its diplomatic immunity.

A New Precedent

Commisimpex appealed to the Cour de cassation which, remarkably, overruled itself in a judgment of 13 May 2015 and held that customary international law only required an express waiver of diplomatic immunity. Indeed, that is all that the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations ever required. The waiver of Congo did not mention diplomatic immunity and was thus not specific, but it was express. The Court allowed the appeal.

The case was thus sent back to the Paris Court of Appeal. In June 2016, the Paris Court of Appeal applied the new doctrine of the Cour de cassation and ruled that Commisimpex could attach the bank accounts of the Diplomatic Mission and UNESCO Delegation in Paris. Congo appealed to the Cour de cassation.

A New Law

However, the French Parliament got concerned that creditors of States could enforce too easily their awards (or judgments) in France and thus intervened in December 2016 to reinstate a requirement that diplomatic (and consular) immunities may only be waived by express and specific waivers (see today Article L. 111-1-2 and L. 111-1-3 of the French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures). Of course, the new law could only apply to enforcement proceedings initated after its entry into force.

Two years later, the case came back before the Cour de cassation, which it seems, took very seriously the message sent by the Parliament that France should be more understanding with foreign states. In a judgment of 10 January 2018, the Cour de cassation ruled that, although the Cour of Appeal of Paris had perfectly applied the 2015 ruling, the law had changed, and a waiver of diplomatic immunity could only be enforced if express and specific. Of course, the Cour de cassation noted, the new law was not applicable to enforcement proceedings initiated 7 years earlier, but it still decided to apply the new requirements in the present case, because

it was absolutly necessary, in a field touching on the sovereignty of states and the preservation of their diplomatic representation, to treat like cases alike. Thus. the objective of legal consistency and certainly requires to come back to the previous case law [the 2011-2013 precedents] conforted by the new law.

And as if it was not enough, the Cour de cassation decided to close the case and thus, instead of sending it back to a lower court, to finally rule that the diplomatic monies attached in 2011 were protected by a diplomatic immunity which had not been waived.

Is this Constitutional? A New Rule of Customary International Law

The most remarkable part of the 2018 judgment was that the Cour de cassation decided to apply retroactively new rules in a case where it had taken an entirely different position a few years earlier. At first sight, that looks contrary to the most basic principles of the rule of law.

Commisimpex lawyers decided to create a situation to allow them to bring the matter before the French constitutional council. They attached again diplomatic funds. Lower courts ruled that they could not, as per the 2018 judgment of the Court de cassation. Commisimpex appealed to the Cour de cassation, and requested that the issue of the constitutionality of the retroactive application of the new rules (whether judge made or statutory) be put to the Contitutional Council.

In a judgment of 2 October 2019, the Cour de cassation ruled that there was no issue, and thus no need to petition the Constitutional Council, on the ground that the 2018 judgments had not applied the new law, but only Articles 22 and 25 of the 1961 Vienna Convention and customary international law.

The French reconstruction of customary international law continues.

Meanwhile, Commisimpex has attached Falcon 7X business jet belonging to the presidency of Congo. Is it covered by diplomatic immunity? Stay tuned.

Now reviewed: new book (in Spanish) on surrogacy

Conflictoflaws - mer, 07/08/2020 - 06:52

written by Michael Wells-Greco

(Note: publication of this book was announced earlier.)

 

La gestación por sustitución en el derecho internacional privado y comparado

Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas UNAM – Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)

México, 2020

 

This highly informative and timely book edited by María Mercedes Albornoz addresses the pressing challenges presented by surrogacy arrangements. With contributions from Nuria González Martín, Verónica Esparza, Ximena Medellín Urquiaga, Isabel Fulda, Rebeca Ramos, Regina Tamés, Mónica Velarde, Federico Notrica, Cristina González Beilfuss, Rosa Elvira Vargas, María Virginia Aguilar, Francisco López González, María Mercedes Albornoz and Nieve Rubaja, and a thought provoking preface by Eleonora Lamm,  this collection contains a remarkable wealth of comparative Ibero-America legal materials on surrogacy. While comparisons are made with the diverse national surrogacy approaches in other parts of the world, much of the comparative discussion centres on the experience of surrogacy in the Americas (in Mexico and Argentina, in particular). The careful analysis demonstrates the challenges for many states arising from surrogacy arrangements.

The book contains a number of contributions that provide international perspectives on surrogacy. These include, for example, a careful consideration of the impact and relevance of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (the discussion begs the question whether the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will be seised to consider surrogacy in ways similar to its European cousin) and two reflective discussions on the work and aims of international surrogacy projects. The current situation in the Americas highlights ever more starkly the need for the international community to come together to consider whether a multilateral framework might be agreed upon which enable states to work together to uphold the human rights of all concerned. Only a holistic analysis by the global community can begin to determine whether international frameworks can achieve these aims.

Yet there are limitations with possible international approaches. There are also limits to what is considered to be morally acceptable. It is rightly posited that it is for each state to consider its national approach to surrogacy (which may include prohibition) but public policy is not an empty vessel and it cannot be deployed as a blanket defence when legal parent-child relationships are established abroad. There is an acceptance that surrogacy is not going to go away, so consideration ought to be given to the more complex and important human rights considerations it raises, which means focusing on the interests of children, as well as those of the surrogate (who in the volume is intentionally not referred to as the surrogate mother) herself.

The book returns, as it were, to Mexico and concludes with a proposed model of regulation in Mexico of cross-border surrogacy arrangements through a private international law lens.

The book is a fascinating read – it would interest anyone from lay readers with an interest in surrogacy to academics, lawyers and other professionals.

Dr. Michael Wells-Greco

Hague Academy Centre for Studies and Research: Online Session on Epidemics and International Law

Conflictoflaws - mer, 07/08/2020 - 00:21

In lieu of its originally scheduled programme, the Hague Academy of International Law recently announced its first online programme, the invitation to which reads as follows:

The Hague Academy of International Law is pleased to announce the launch of its very first online programme: an entirely online session of its Centre for Studies and Research. This session will take place between September 1st, 2020, and June 1st, 2021, on the theme of Epidemics and International Law.  The working language will be English.

The Directors of Research, Professor Shinya Murase (Sophia University, Tokyo) & Ms. Suzanne Zhou (McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, Melbourne) invite applications from researchers including students in the final phase of their doctoral studies, holders of advanced degrees in law, political science, or other related disciplines, early-stage professors and legal practitioners.

Selected participants will each write an article on a sub-topic related to the overall theme of Epidemics and International Law. The research work will start in September 2020 and, following a very strict planning, the articles should be finalized in April/May 2021. Interested applicants must therefore be available to conduct their research and write their contribution in the coming months. The best articles will be included in a book to be published in August 2021 approximately.

Applications can be sent in between July 1st and September 1st, 2020. As the Academy expects to receive a large number of applications, the application deadline might already close on August 1st, 2020. Interested candidates are therefore encouraged to apply as soon as possible using the appropriate online form.

For more information on this programme, please consult the poster, as well as the web pages related to the Centre for Study and Research – Online.

A Dangerous Chimera: Anti-Suit Injunctions Based on a “Right to be Sued” at the Place of Domicile under the Brussels Ia Regulation?

Conflictoflaws - lun, 07/06/2020 - 23:28

This post introduces my case note titled ‘A Dangerous Chimera: Anti-Suit Injunctions Based on a “Right to be Sued” at the Place of Domicile under the Brussels Ia Regulation?’ which appeared in the July 2020 issue of the Law Quarterly Review at page 379. An open access version of the case note is available here.

In Gray v Hurley [2019] EWCA Civ 2222, the Court of Appeal (Patten LJ, Hickinbottom LJ and Peter Jackson LJ), handed down the judgment on the claimant’s appeal in Gray v Hurley [2019] EWHC 1972 (QB). The appellant appealed against the refusal of an anti-suit injunction.

The appellant (Ms Gray) and respondent (Mr Hurley) had been in a relationship. They acquired property in various jurisdictions using the appellant’s money, but held it in either the respondent’s name or in corporate names. The relationship ended and a dispute commenced over ownership of some of the assets and properties. The appellant was domiciled in England; the respondent lived in New Zealand after the relationship ended and was no longer domiciled in England. He initiated proceedings there for a division of the property acquired by the couple during the relationship. The appellant issued proceedings in England seeking a declaration that she was entitled absolutely to the assets. She also applied for an anti-suit injunction to restrain the defendant from continuing with proceedings in the courts of New Zealand. Lavender J held that England was the appropriate forum for the trial of the appellant’s claims but that the respondent’s New Zealand claim could not be determined in England. He rejected her argument that Article 4(1) of the Brussels Ia Regulation obliged him to grant an anti-suit injunction to prevent the respondent from litigating against her in a non-EU state.

The appellant argued that Samengo-Turner v J&H Marsh & McLennan (Services) Ltd [2007] EWCA Civ 723, [2007] 2 All E.R. (Comm) 813 and Petter v EMC Europe Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 828, [2015] C.P. Rep. 47 were binding authority that Article 4(1) provided her with a right not to be sued outside England, where she was domiciled, obliging the court to give effect to that right by granting an anti-suit injunction.

The Court of Appeal considered that the issue was not acte claire and sent a preliminary reference to the CJEU (pursuant to Article 267 TFEU) asking whether Article 4(1) of the Brussels Ia Regulation provided someone domiciled in England with a right not to be sued outside England so as to oblige the courts to give effect to that right by granting an anti-suit injunction.

The case note examines the Court of Appeal’s decision in Gray v Hurley [2019] EWCA Civ 2222. It offers a pervasive critique of the argument that the general rule of jurisdiction under the Brussels Ia Regulation gives rise to a substantive right to be sued only in England and that this right is capable of enforcement by an anti-suit injunction. It is argued that the previous decisions of the Court of Appeal in Samengo-Turner v J&H Marsh & McLennan (Services) Ltd [2007] EWCA Civ 723 and Petter v EMC Europe Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 828 were themselves wrongly decided. In light of this, it will be even more difficult to justify the broader application of a similar result in the present case.

Indeed, the law would take a wrong turn if the present case is allowed to build on the aberrational foundations of the developing law on anti-suit injunctions based on rights derived from the Brussels Ia Regulation. Essentially, a chimerical remedy based on a fictitious right would not only infringe comity but would also deny the respondent access to justice in the only available forum. The note also anticipates the CJEU’s potential findings in this case.

An open access version of the case note is available here.

European Parliament to Vote on Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers

EAPIL blog - lun, 07/06/2020 - 20:00

On 7 July 2020, the Members of the Committee on Legal Affairs will vote on the provisional agreement resulting from the interinstitutional negotiations on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers. The text is available here.

Here are some points of interest (and a few on-the-spot comments).

1. The resulting document will be a directive not intended to replace the enforcement mechanisms contained in previous legal acts listed in Annex I, among which the GDPR.

2. The Directive will cover both domestic and crossborder infringements, in particular when consumers affected by an infringement live in one or several Member States other than the Member State where the infringing trader is established.

3. As announced in the Commission’s proposal (referred to here), the Directive should not affect the application of nor establish rules on private international law regarding jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of judgments or applicable law (NoA: how long have academics and the CJEU, AGs included, been warning about the PIL rules being utterly inadequate for collective redress? Apparently not enough).

4. Qualified entities should be allowed to bring representatives actions in the Member State where they have been designated as well as in another Member State.

5. When a qualified entity brings a representative action in another Member State than the one of its designation, that action should be considered a cross-border action.

6. When a qualified entity brings a representative action in the Member State where it is designated, the action is considered a domestic representative action even if that action is brought against a trader domiciled in another Member State or even if consumers from several Member States are represented within that action. (NoA: if I am understanding this correctly, the action against a trader domiciled in another Member State is domestic for the purposes of the Directive, although from a PIL perspective it is definitely not domestic).

7. Principle of origin: for the purpose of cross-border representative actions, qualified entities should comply with the same criteria across the Union. It should be for the designating Member State to ensure that the qualified entity designated for the purpose of cross-border representative actions fulfils the criteria, to assess whether it continues to comply with them and, if necessary, to revoke the designation of the qualified entity.

8. Legal standing: Member States should ensure that cross-border representative actions can be brought in their courts (or administrative authorities) by qualified entities designated for the purpose of such representative actions in another Member State.

9. Qualified entities from different Member States should be able to join forces within a single representative action in front of a single forum, subject to relevant rules on competent jurisdiction (NoA: usually who the claimant is has no impact on jurisdiction, so the caveat has to refer to something different. In any event, is this a lost opportunity to reflect on extended rules for related claims?).

10. The mutual recognition of the legal standing of qualified entities designated for the purpose of cross-border representative actions should be ensured

11. When bringing a representative action, the qualified entity should provide sufficient information on the consumers concerned by the action to the court or the administrative authority. The information should allow the court (or the administrative authority) to establish its jurisdiction and the applicable law.

12. Cooperation and exchange of information between qualified entities from different Member States have proven to be useful in addressing in particular cross-border infringements (NoA: has it?). There is a need for continuing and expanding the capacity-building and cooperation measures to a larger number of qualified entities across the Union in order to increase the us representative actions with cross-border implications.

13. The Commission should draw up a report, accompanied if appropriate by a relevant proposal, assessing whether cross-border representative actions could be best addressed at Union level by establishing an European Ombudsman for collective redress (NoA: not sure what his/her role would be).

Fabricom: the High Court on Waste to energy – W2E and refuse derived fuel – RDF. On the nature of environment efficient power generation.

GAVC - lun, 07/06/2020 - 10:10

In [2020] EWHC 1626 (TCC) Engie Fabricom, O’Farrell J essentially had to hold whether the primary activity at an energy from waste plant is power generation or waste treatment. The classification of waste to energy – W2E as either waste recovery (see Waste Framework Directive Recovery Annex, R1 ‘used principally as a fuel or other means to generate energy’) or waste disposal is a classic in EU waste law, with specific implications for shipments permits. It also of course has an impact on a Member State’s waste targets and renewable energy targets. Aside from the Waste Framework Directive, the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75 is also involved – although oddly no CJEU authority is mentioned in the judgment.

In the case at issue an interesting extra element is that the plant at issue received funding via the European Regional Development Fund ERDF (at 145) however ERDF funding was for the generation of electricity from the biodegradable part of waste based on advanced fluidised bed gasification technology, which at the time of the application was expected to be 84.65% of the fuel. However, subsequently the plant changed to use refuse derived fuel or RDF without any waste wood which reduced the biodegradable percentage of the waste to 50%.

At 149 Justice O’Farrell concludes that the primary activity at the Energy Works Hull facility is power generation, for the reasons listed there. Of particular relevance is her comment that ‘the plant was not developed or intended to be operated in furtherance of any particular waste or energy policy, although it was consistent with both policy initiatives.’

There is an interesting expert evidence issue to the case, as Gordon Exall discusses here. I am suspecting one or two of the issues involved could be chewed over upon appeal, with reference to CJEU case-law.

Geert.

Handbook of EU Waste law, OUP, second ed, 2015.

Refuse-derived fuel – RDF.
Whether the primary activity at an energy from waste plant is power generation or waste treatment.
Held: in casu: power generation.
Considers ia EU waste framework Directive and ERDF funding.
Impacts ia VAT and adjudication process. https://t.co/2FskpGblDj

— Geert Van Calster (@GAVClaw) June 25, 2020

The Many Lives of Transnational Law

EAPIL blog - lun, 07/06/2020 - 08:00

Peer Zumbansen edited The Many Lives of Transnational Law – Critical Engagements with Jessup’s Bold Proposal, published by Cambridge University Press.

The blurb reads:

In 1956, ICJ judge Philip Jessup highlighted the gaps between private and public international law and the need to adapt the law to border-crossing problems. Today, sixty years later, we still ask what role transnational law can play in a deeply divided, post-colonial world, where multinationals hold more power and more assets than many nation states. In searching for suitable answers to pressing legal problems such as climate change law, security, poverty and inequality, questions of representation, enforcement, accountability and legitimacy become newly entangled. As public and private, domestic and international actors compete for regulatory authority, spaces for political legitimacy have become fragmented and the state’s exclusivist claim to be law’s harbinger and place of origin under attack. Against this background, transnational law emerges as a conceptual framework and method laboratory for a critical reflection on the forms, fora and processes of law making and law contestation today.

The individual contributions are authored by Stephen Minas, Christopher A. Whytock, Thomas Schultz, Niccolò Ridi, Karsten Nowrot, Gregory Shaffer, Carlos Coye, Francis Snyder, Zhouke Hu, Lili Ni, Florian Grisel, Bryan Horrigan, Shahla Ali, Paul Schiff Berman, Antoine Duval, Ivana Isailovic, A. Claire Cutler, Jothie Rajah, Natasha Affolder, Larry Catá Backer, Prabhakar Singh, Ralf Michaels and Vik Kanwar.

The book’s table of contents can be found here. For further information see here.

New book (in Spanish) on Surrogacy

Conflictoflaws - sam, 07/04/2020 - 15:37


A new book (in Spanish) on surrogacy in private international law and comparative law, edited by the indefatigable Mercedes Albornoz, and freely available online.

 

Draft opinion of the European Parliament on an EU Mechanism on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights

European Civil Justice - sam, 07/04/2020 - 00:09

The European Parliament (JURI Committee) has released a draft opinion with recommendations to the Commission on the Establishment of an EU Mechanism on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (PE652.513v01-00). You can read it here

AG Bobek on the Aarhus Convention and access to justice

European Civil Justice - ven, 07/03/2020 - 00:30

AG Bobek delivered today his opinion in case C‑826/18 (LB, Stichting Varkens in Nood, Stichting Dierenrecht, Stichting Leefbaar Buitengebied v College van burgemeester en wethouders van de gemeente Echt-Susteren, joined parties: Sebava BV), which is about the Aarhus Convention and access to justice:

“(1) Article 6 of the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, signed in Aarhus on 25 June 1998 […], Article 6 of Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment […] and Article 24 of Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) confer full participation rights only to ‘the public concerned’ within the meaning of those instruments, but not to ‘the public’ at large.

(2) Neither Article 9(2) of the Aarhus Convention, nor Article 11 of Directive 2011/92, nor Article 25 of Directive 2010/75, nor Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, are opposed to the exclusion of ‘the public’ who do not fall within ‘the public concerned’ within the meaning of those instruments, from access to court.

(3) Article 9(2) of the Aarhus Convention, Article 11 of Directive 2011/92 and Article 25 of Directive 2010/75 preclude a condition in national law which makes the right of access to justice for ‘the public concerned’ within the meaning of those instruments dependent on prior participation in the procedures subject to Article 6 of the Aarhus Convention, Article 6 of Directive 2011/92, and Article 24 of Directive 2010/75”

Source: here

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