Droit international général

Brace yourself: the oral arguments of the case Monasky v. Taglieri on the HCCH Child Abduction Convention are scheduled for this week before the US Supreme Court

Conflictoflaws - lun, 12/09/2019 - 19:35

The case Monasky v. Taglieri will be argued on Wednesday 11 December 2019 at 10:00 a.m. before the US Supreme Court. As you may remember, this case deals with the determination of habitual residence under the HCCH Child Abduction Convention and may be pivotal in resolving the split in the US circuit courts. Our previous posts on this case are available here and here.

You will be able to read the transcript of the oral arguments this Wednesday and listen to the audio recording of the oral arguments soon thereafter.

As indicated on the US Supreme Court website, “The transcripts of oral arguments are posted on this website on the same day an argument is heard by the Court. Same-day transcripts are considered official but subject to final review. The audio recordings of all oral arguments heard by the Supreme Court of the United States are available to the public at the end of each argument week.”

Rahmatullah and Ali v MOD and FCO. The High Court on the law applicable in (allegedly) irregular rendition cases.

GAVC - lun, 12/09/2019 - 08:08

In [2019] EWHC 3172 (QB) Rahmatullah and Ali v Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office claimants argue on the basis of the torts of negligence and misfeasance in public office. They are Pakistani nationals both of whom allege that they were captured by British forces in Iraq in February 2004. They contend that they were subsequently handed over to United States’ control and, thereafter, taken to Afghanistan where they were subjected to prolonged detention, torture and mistreatment.

At issue in this civil case is whether the English PIL rule of locus damni (for personal injury cases) needs to be displaced in favour of English law, by virtue of the exceptions to this rule including, all else failing, ordre public. (For the relevant text, see the judgment).

Rome I does not apply given the case clearly is one of acta iure imperii. Note that this does not, in England and Wales, displace the residual rules of the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995.

Turner J keeps the discussion very to the point, holding that there is no reason to displace the general rule: the law of Iraq applies to the claims prior to the claimants’ rendition from Iraq to Afghanistan and that of Afghanistan thereafter. His clear application of the precedents is much enjoyable.

One particularly interesting point is raised at 34:

The claimants make the further point that transferring a detainee from one country to another in breach of Article 49 [of the Fourth Geneva Convention, GAVC] would legitimise forum shopping by illegal rendition. The defendants accepted during the course of oral submissions that circumstances could arise in which this was a legitimate concern where, for example, a detainee had been relocated in a rogue state selected for its lack of adequate legal protection for those within its geographical and jurisdictional boundaries. However, in this case there is no evidence to suggest that any consideration of the putative advantages of the application of Afghan jurisprudence lay behind the rendition decision or indeed to the effect that Afghan law would provide, as a matter of fact, a particularly suitable environment within which to achieve any such darker purpose.

Of note is also, at 29, claimants’

‘point that those in senior positions who are to be held accountable for the alleged failures under the return claim were based in England and were acting (or failing to act) in the exercise of state authority.’

An argument which, Turner J finds, has been found to be relevant in the authorities, however not striking with sufficient force in casu to meet the very high burden of proof for displacing the standard rule.


Investment Arbitration in Central and Eastern Europe

Conflictoflaws - dim, 12/08/2019 - 09:00

A collection of essays titled Investment Arbitration in Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Csongor istván Nagy (University of Szeged, Hungary), has recently been published by Edward Elgar. See here for more information on the book, its contents and contributors.

As noted in the publisher’s blurb, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) appears to be the testing ground for investment arbitration in Europe: the majority of the cases against EU Member States are proceedings launched against countries from the region. Despite their relevance, CEE experiences have not been analysed in a comprehensive manner. The book aims to fill this gap.

The introductory chapter, written by the editor, is titled Intra-EU BITs after Achmea: A Cross-Cutting Issue and can me downloaded via SSRN.

Reminder: EAPIL 2020 Conference on Private International Law in Aarhus (Denmark)

Conflictoflaws - dim, 12/08/2019 - 07:00

As noted earlier on this blog, we will celebrate the forthcoming establishment of the European Association of Private International Law (EAPIL) at a conference to  be held at Aarhus University, Denmark, from 14 to 16 May 2020.

The conference will bring together academics and practitioners from all over Europe and provide a unique opportunity to talk and think about European Private International Law in a pan-European fashion. Topics to be discussed will include the effects and the challenges of digitalization, the problems of fragmentation as well as other challenges the discipline is currently facing.

Early bird registration is still possible via the conference website. For questions, please get in touch with the local organizer, Morten M. Fogt (mmf@law.au.dk).

Stay tuned for more Information about the European Association of Private International Law (EAPIL) including information about how to join!


Canadian recognition of Syncreon Group English Scheme of Arrangement underscores new markets for restructuring tourism.

GAVC - sam, 12/07/2019 - 09:09

An essentially Dutch group employs English restructuring law and has the resulting restructuring recognised in Canada. Need one say more to show that regulatory competition is alive and well and that the UK, England in particular need not fear a halt to restructuring forum shopping post Brexit.

Blakes first alerted me to the case, the Initial recognition order 2019 ONSC 5774 is here (I have not yet managed to locate the final order). Insolvency trustee PWC have a most informative document portal here. See also the Jones Day summary of the arrangements here. The main issue of contention was the so-called third party release in favour of Syncreon Canada which could have bumped into ordre public hurdles in Ontario as these clearly have an impact on the security of underlying debt. The way in which the proceeding are conducted (fair, transparent, with due consideration of minority holders etc.) clearly have an impact on this exercise.


(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd edition 2016, Chapter 2, Chapter 5.



New signatory States to the HCCH Child Support Convention and the HCCH Service Convention

Conflictoflaws - ven, 12/06/2019 - 11:01

In November 2019, there were a couple of new signatory States to the HCCH Conventions. New Zealand signed the HCCH Child Support Convention and Austria did the same with respect to the HCCH Service Convention.

These HCCH Conventions are not yet in force for New Zealand and Austria as both States would need to ratify them pursuant to the relevant articles under each Convention. Nevertheless, by signing the Conventions both States have acquired the “obligation not to defeat the object and purpose of a treaty prior to its entry into force” in accordance with Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

With regard to Austria, and given the external competence of the European Union in these matters, it is important to note that the signature was made pursuant to the Council Decision (EU) 2016/414 of 10 March 2016 authorising the Republic of Austria to sign and ratify, and Malta to accede to, the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, in the interest of the European Union. Interestingly, this decision requires that the ratification to the Service Convention be made by 31 December 2017 at the latest. I am unaware of any updates with respect to this decision.

The HCCH news items are available here (New Zealand) and here (Austria).

Vestel v HEVC Advance (Delaware) and Philips (NL). High Court denies stand-alone competition law damage both on the basis of Article 7(2) BRU Ia and residual CPR rules.

GAVC - jeu, 12/05/2019 - 01:01

In [2019] EWHC 2766 (Ch) Vestel Elektronik v HEVC Advance and Koninklijke Philips NV, Hacon J found no jurisdiction in a stand-alone competition law damages case (no finding of infringement yet; claim is one of abuse of dominant position). He rejected the existence of jurisdiction against Philips NV (of The Netherlands) on the basis that no damage existing or potential could be shown grounding Article 7(2) Brussels Ia tortious Jurisdiction. Against the Delaware defendant, the relevant CPR rules applied per Four Seasons v Brownlie did not lead to jurisdiction either.


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


ERA Seminar on ‘Recent ECtHR Case Law in Family Matters’ – Strasbourg 13-14 February 2020

Conflictoflaws - mer, 12/04/2019 - 10:30

On 13-14 February 2020, ERA (Academy of European Law) will host a Seminar in Strasbourg to present the major judgments related to family matters issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2019. The focus of the presentations will be mainly on:

  • Children in European migration law
  • Parental rights, pre-adoption foster care and adoption
  • Parental child abduction
  • Reproductive rights and surrogacy
  • LGBTQI rights and gender identity

The Seminar, organised by Dr Angelika Fuchs, will provide participants with a detailed understanding of this recent jurisprudence. The focus will be placed, in particular, on Article 8 ECHR (respect for private and family life) and the analysis of the case law of the ECtHR will tackle the legal implications but it will also extend to social, emotional and biological factors.

The opening speech will be given by Ksenija Turkovi?, Judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

More information on the event and on registration is available here.

This event is organised with the support of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union

The High Court on the lawfulness of the proposed ivory ban.

GAVC - mar, 12/03/2019 - 01:01

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post on e-collars, a short note on yet another trade and animal welfare /biodiversity case. In [2019] EWHC 2951 (Admin) Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures v Secretary of State for the environment, food and rural affairs, Justice Jay (‘Jay J’ even though correct might sound a bit too intimate) upheld the UK’s planned ban on ivory trade, stricter than anything in place elsewhere. As a general rule, the Act interdicts the sale of antique worked ivory, that is to say pre-1947 artefacts, unless one of limited exemptions is applicable.

The discussion engages CITES, pre-emption /exhaustion by harmonised EU law, the environmental guarantee of Article 193 TFEU (albeit not, oddly, the issue of notification to the EC), Article 34 TFEU, and A1P1 ECHR.

On uncertainty, Justice Jay refers to the precautionary principle: at 155: ‘we are in the realm of scientific and evidentiary uncertainty, and the need for a high level of protection. §3.1 of the Commission’s 2017 Guidance makes that explicit. Although the evidence bearing on the issues of indirect causation and demand in Far Eastern markets may be uncertain, statistically questionable, impressionistic and often anecdotal, I consider that these factors do not preclude the taking of bold and robust action in the light of the precautionary principle.’

Rosalind English has analysis here and refers even to Edmund de Waal’s novel The Hare with the Amber Eyes which has been on my reading list after my wife recommended it – this is a good reminder.


EU environmental law (with Leonie Reins), Edward Elgar, 2018, p.28 ff., and Chapter 17 (p.308 ff).

The UK ban on e-collars. High Court finds decision does not breach property rights (ECHR) or internal market (TFEU).

GAVC - lun, 12/02/2019 - 08:08

I tweeted the judgment the day it was issued, apologies for late succinct review. I wrote a few years back on the legality of use restrictions on goods lawfully marketed in other Member States, and see also my brief review of Amsterdam’s booze bikes here. In [2019] EWHC 2813 (Admin) The Electronic Collar Manufacturers Association v Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Morris J upheld the UK Government’s ban on e-collars (a hand-held remote-controlled (not automated: a distinction that matters as Rosalind English points out) e-collar device for cats and dogs, used particularly in dogs for training purposes).

His analysis engages all the right issues in discussing the lawfulness of a ban at 204 ff under Article 34 TFEU (including consultation and commissioned research issues and of course proportionality), less focused than I would have expected perhaps on the fact that these items are lawfully marketed elsewhere in the EU, and indeed A1P1 (Article 1, first Protocol) ECHR. The remainder of the judgment discusses internal UK judicial review. An excellent primer on trade and animal welfare under EU and ECHR law.




Conclusions & Recommendations of the International Seminar on the Protection of Children on the Move and Kafala are available

Conflictoflaws - dim, 12/01/2019 - 12:37

The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) has posted the Conclusions & Recommendations of the “International Seminar on the Protection of Children Across Borders: The 1996 HCCH Convention on the Protection of Children” that took place in Rabat, Morocco, in mid-November 2019.

The seminar focused on discussing ways to improve the protection of children across borders in West Africa, in North Africa and in Europe. Two topics of particular interest were discussed: kafala and unaccompanied minors.

With regard to the institution of kafala, the participants “welcomed the opportunity to share information and experiences concerning crossborder kafala cases; in particular, the participants noted that, in States where it is unknown under domestic law, kafala may be recognised or, at the very least and depending on the circumstances, its effects would correspond to the delegation of parental responsibility, guardianship or curatorship, in order to ensure its legal effectiveness across borders. Participants also recognised that kafala and adoption are two very different concepts” (C&R No 9).

The HCCH Child Protection Convention makes explicit reference to the institution of Kafala in Articles 3(e) and 33. Paragraph 3.27 of the Practical Handbook on the Operation of the 1996 Child Protection Convention explains what is understood by Kafala: “The institution of kafala is widely used in some States as a form of care for children when they cannot be cared for by their parents. Under kafala, children are cared for by new families or relatives but the legal link with their birth parents is generally not severed. Kafala can take place across borders but since it is an arrangement which does not constitute an adoption it is not within the scope of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. However, where used, the institution of kafala clearly constitutes a measure of protection in respect of a child and is therefore expressly within the scope of the 1996 Convention.”

With regard to the protection of unaccompanied and separated children, the participants “recognised the need to implement the “Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children” resulting from Resolution 64/142 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly” (C&R No 11).

The Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference is also working on this topic. In fact, in 2018 the governance body of the Hague Conference mandated to prioritise work on the finalisation of the revisions to a preliminary document relating to the application of the 1996 HCCH Child Protection Convention to unaccompanied and separated children (referred to as Preliminary Document No 7 of the Seventh Meeting of the Special Commission of 2017 on the 1980 and 1996 Conventions). To the best of my knowledge, this document has not yet been released.

Currently only two African States are States parties to the HCCH Child Protection Convention: Lesotho and Morocco. Only Morocco was present at the seminar probably due to its geographic scope.

The HCCH news items is available here.

ED&F Man Capital Markets v Come Harvest Holding et al. Court of Appeal confirms Tolenado DJ’s forum analysis of Vedanta. Leaves Rome II issue undiscussed.

GAVC - sam, 11/30/2019 - 08:08

In [2019] EWCA Civ 2073 the Court of Appeal on Tuesday confirmed the High Court’s analysis of Vedanta. I discuss the High Court’s finding at length here. Best simply to refer to that post – readers of the CA judgment shall read Faux LJ confirming the implications of Vedanta. Note also the discussion on the limited impact of the Singaporean pre-action (particularly disclosure) proceedings: precisely because they were pre-action and not intended to at that stage launch a multiplicity of proceedings.

The Rome II argument was left untouched for appellant conceded that failure on the Vedanta point would sink the appeal.


(Handbook of) European private international law, second ed. 2016, Chapter 8, Headings, 8.3.2; Chapter 4, Heading 4.4.


Is the innovation principle compatible with a European Green Deal?

GAVC - ven, 11/29/2019 - 11:19

Rather than blogging my own piece on this week’s CEPS study, I am happy to reblog the analysis of one of the co-authors of my earlier paper on same. Excellent analysis with which I agree entirely.


K J Garnett

On the day before Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s new team was voted in by the European Parliament, an independent, Brussels-based, think-thank CEPS published their third report on the Innovation Principle : ‘Study supporting the interim evaluation of the innovation principle’. With von der Leyen promising to tackle climate change and promote a European Green Deal now would be a good time to examine whether the innovation principle fits in with this vision for greater sustainability or whether its true intention is to curb Europe’s strict environmental laws?  

As lawyers we are familiar with general principles and those practicing European law are familiar with the fact that the EU applies a number of general principles : proportionality, subsidiarity, substantive & fundamental human rights, precaution,… Authority for the EU’s legal principles stems from primary law, typically the Treaties themselves or, more rarely, when the CJEU…

View original post 636 more words

Central Santa Lucia L.C. v. Meliá Hotels International S.A.: Spanish court obiter applying Article 24 Brussels Ia reflexively ex-EU (Cuba).

GAVC - jeu, 11/28/2019 - 01:01

Thank you Antonio Pastor for signalling Central Santa Lucia L.C. v. Meliá Hotels International S.A., litigation on which also more background here. The Spanish courts at MAllorca (appeal expected)  have declined jurisdiction  concerning confiscated property in Cuba after the end of suspension of Title III of the Libertad Act (the “Helms-Burton Act”, well known to trade and international lawyers alike) on the basis of sovereign immunity, as Antonio explains.

However as I understand Antonio’s summary (I fear I do not have Spanish to consult the judgment myself), the Court obiter also applied Article 24(1) Brussels Ia reflexively: if Brussels Ia grants exclusive jurisdiction to the courts of the Member State in which the property is situated in proceedings which have as their object rights in rem in immovable property or tenancies of immovable property, then EU Courts should decline jurisdiction if that real estate happens to be located ex-EU. Readers will remember the discussions on this issue in one or two earlier postings on this blog.

Interesting, to say the least.


(Handbook of) EU private international law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.6.


The UN Conventions on the rights of the child: an Italian book to celebrate its 30th anniversary

Conflictoflaws - mer, 11/27/2019 - 14:00

The Italian Independent Authority for Children and Adolescents (Autorità garante per l’infanzia e l’adolescenza) has just published a book to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC).

The book, in Italian, is titled La Convenzione delle Nazioni Unite sui diritti dell’infanzia e dell’adolescenza: conquiste e prospettive a 30 anni dall’adozione (“The 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Achievements and Perspectives”). It consists of chapters dealing with a range of issues surrounding the Convention.

Some of the chapters discuss the relevance of the Convention to the rules of private international law regarding children.

Christophe Bernasconi and Philippe Lortie, respectively Secretary General and First Secretary of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, analysed the impact of the CRC on the work of the Hague Conference in the field of child protection.

Olivia Lopes Pegna, of the University of Florence, wrote a chapter on the techniques used by private international law rules to realise the best interests of the child.

Ester di Napoli discussed the synergies between migration law and private international law, in particular as regards the protection of unaccompanied minors.

The book can be downloaded here for free. The English abstracts of each chapter, kindly provided by Ester di Napoli, are available here.

First Edition of the Milan Investment Arbitration Pre-Moot, February 14-15, 2020

Conflictoflaws - mer, 11/27/2019 - 09:37

The First Edition of the Milan Investment Arbitration Pre-Moot  will take place in Milan on February 14-15, 2020, within the frame of the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court (FIAC).

For more information, click here.

Private International Law in Africa: Comparative Lessons

Conflictoflaws - mar, 11/26/2019 - 10:23

Written by Chukwuma Okoli, TMC Asser Institute, The Hague

About a decade ago, Oppong lamented a “stagnation” in the development of private international law in Africa. That position is no longer as true as it was then – there is progress. Though the African private international law community is small, the scholarship can no longer be described as minimal (see the bibliograhy at the end of this post). There is a growing interest in the study of private international law in Africa. Why is recent interest on the study of private international law [in Africa] important to Africa? What lessons can be learn’t from other non-African jurisdictions on the study of private international law?

With increased international business transactions and trade with Africa, private international law is a subject that deserves a special place in the continent. Where disputes arise between international business persons connected with Africa, issues such as what court should have jurisdiction, what law should apply, and whether a foreign judgment can be recognized and enforced are keys aspects of private international law. Thus, private international law is indispensable in regulating international commercial transactions.

Currently, there is no such thing as an “African private international law” or “African Union private international law” that is akin to, for example, “EU private international law”. It could, however, be argued that there is such a thing as “private international law in Africa”. The current private international law in Africa is complicated as a consequence of a history of foreign rule, and the fact that Africa has diverse legal traditions (common law, Roman-Dutch law, civil law, customary law and religious law). Many countries in Africa still hang on to what they inherited during the period of colonialism. As colonialism breeds dependence, there has not been sufficient conscious intellectual effort to generate a private international law system that responds to the socio-economic, cultural, and political interests of countries in Africa.

Drawing from comparative experiences, it is opined that a systematic academic study of private international law might create the required strong political will and institutional support (which is absent at the moment) that is necessary to give private international law its true place in Africa.

There has always been private international law in Africa from time immemorial. Africans, like any other persons, migrated from one territory to another (especially within Africa), where the clash of socio-cultural, political, and economic interests among persons in Africa gave rise to private international law problems as we know them today. Some of these disputes between private parties of different nation states may have likely been resolved through war or diplomacy.

The systematic study of private international law as we know it today has largely been academically developed by the Member States of the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (“USA”). The period of industrialization in the 19th century, and the rise of capitalism gave birth to a variety of solutions that could respond to globalization. Indeed, the firm entrenchment of the principle of party autonomy in international dispute settlement in the 20th century was a way of securing the interest of the international merchant who does their business in many jurisdictions. The privatization of international law dispute settlement is what gave birth to the name private international law.

In the international scene, the study of private international law is currently dominated by two major powers: the EU and the US, but the EU wields more influence internationally. The EU operates an integrated private international law system with its judicial capital in Luxembourg. The EU can be described as a super-power of private international law in the world, with The Hague as its intellectual capital. Many of the ideas in the Hague instruments (a very important international instrument on private international law) were originally inspired by the thinking of European continental scholars. As a result of colonization, many countries around the world currently apply the private international law methodology of some Member States of the EU. The common law methodology is applied by many Commonwealth countries that were formerly colonized by the United Kingdom; the civil law methodology is applied by many countries (especially in French-speaking parts of Africa) that were formerly colonized by France and Belgium; and the Roman-Dutch law methodology is applied by many countries that were formerly colonized by Netherlands.

Asia appears to have learnt from the EU and USA experience. Since 2015 till date, private international academics from Asia and other regions around the world have held many conferences and meetings with the purpose of drawing up the principles of private international law on civil and commercial matters, known as “Asian Principles of Private International Law”). The purpose of the principles is to serve as a non-binding model that legislators and judges (or decision makers) in the Asian region can use in supplementing or reforming their private international law rules.

It is important to stress that it is the systematic study of private international law by scholars over the years in the US and Member States in the EU and Asia that created the required political will and institutional support to give private international law it’s proper place in these countries. In Africa, such systematic study becomes especially important in an environment of growing international transactions both personal and commercial. This is what propels the study of private international. It is seldom an abstract academic endeavor given the nature and objectives of the subject

Professor Oppong – a leading authority on the subject of private international law in Africa – has rightly submitted in some of his works that private international law can play a significant role in Africa in addressing issues such as: “regional economic integration, the promotion of international trade and investment, immigration, globalization and legal pluralism.” A systematic study of private international law in Africa will address these some of these challenges that are significant to Africa. Indeed, a solid private international law system in African States can create competition among countries on how to attract litigation and arbitration. This in turn can lead to economic development and the strengthening of the legal systems of such African countries

What should private international law in Africa look like in the future?  Is it possible to have a future “African Union private international law” comparable to that of the European Union? Should it operate in an intra-African way to the exclusion of international goals such as conflicts between non-African countries, and the joint membership or ratification of international instruments such as The Hague Conventions? Should it take into account internal conflicts in individual African states, where different applicable customary or religious laws may clash with an enabling statute or the constitution, or different applicable religious or customary laws may clash in cross-border transactions? In the alternative, should it focus primarily on diverse solutions among countries in Africa, and promote international commercial goals, with less attention placed on African integration?

These questions are not easy to answer. It is opined that private international law in Africa deserves to be systematically studied, and solutions advanced on how the current framework of private international law in Africa can be improved. If such study is devoted to this topic, the required political will and institutional support can be created to give [private international law] proper significance in Africa.

For recent monographs on the subject see generally
CSA Okoli and RF Oppong, Private International Law in Nigeria (Hart, 2020- forthcoming)
P Okoli, Promoting Foreign Judgments; Lessons in Legal Convergence from South Africa and Nigeria (Wolters Kluwer, Alphen aan den Rijn, 2019)
AJ Moran and AJ Kennedy, Commercial Litigation in Anglophone Africa: The law relating to civil jurisdiction, enforcement of foreign judgments, and interim remedies (Juta, Cape Town, 2018)
RF Oppong, Private International Law in Ghana (Wolters Kluwer Online, Alphen aan den Rijn, 2017)
M Rossouw, The Harmonisation of Rules on the Recognition and Enforcment of Foreign Judgments in Southern African Customs Union (Pretoria University Law Press, Pretoria, 2016)
E Schoeman et. al., Private International Law in South Africa (Wolters Kluwer Online, Alphen aan den Rijn, 2014)
RF Oppong, Private International Law in Commonwealth Africa (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2013)
C Forsyth, Private International Law – the Modern Roman Dutch Law including the Jurisdiction of the High Courts (5th edition, Juta, Landsowne, 2012).

The Work of the HCCH and Australia: The HCCH Judgments Convention in Australian Law

Conflictoflaws - mar, 11/26/2019 - 07:00

Written by Michael Douglas, Mary Keyes, Sarah McKibbin and Reid Mortensen

Michael Douglas, Mary Keyes, Sarah McKibbin and Reid Mortensen published an article on how the implementation of the HCCH Judgments Convention would impact Australian private international law: ‘The HCCH Judgments Convention in Australian Law’ (2019) 47(3) Federal Law Review 420. This post briefly considers Australia’s engagement with the HCCH, and the value of the Judgments Convention for Australia.

Australia’s engagement with the HCCH

Australia has had a longstanding engagement with the work of the Hague Conference since it joined in 1973. In 1975, Dr Peter Nygh, a Dutch-Australian judge and academic, led Australia’s first delegation. His legacy with the HCCH continues through the Nygh Internship, which contributes to the regular flow of Aussie interns at the Permanent Bureau, some of whom have gone on to work in the PB. Since Nygh’s time, many Australian delegations and experts have contributed to the work of the HCCH. For example, in recent years, Professor Richard Garnett contributed to various expert groups which informed the development of the Judgments Project. Today, Andrew Walter is Chair of the Council on General Affairs and Policy.

Australia has acceded to 11 HCCH instruments, especially in family law where its implementation of HCCH conventions leads the Conference. However, with respect to recent significant instruments, it has lagged behind. For example, in 2016, Australia’s Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (‘AGD’) recommended accession to the 2005 HCCH Choice of Court Convention through an ‘International Civil Law Act’; it also recommended that the proposed legislation should give effect to the HCCH’s Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts. In November 2016, the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties supported both recommendations. Despite those recommendations, we are yet to see the introduction of a Bill into Parliament. We remain hopeful that 2020 will see progress.

Australia actively participated in the negotiation of the HCCH Judgments Convention and agreed to the final act. However, it is not a signatory. The mood within the Australian private international law community is that Australia will accede—the question is when. When it does, what would that mean? That is the focus of the article by Douglas, Keyes, McKibbin and Mortensen, who argue that accession ought to be welcomed.

The value of the HCCH Judgments Convention for Australia

Accession to the Judgments Convention would be a positive development for Australia. The Convention expands the grounds for recognising foreign judgments in Australia, especially in the recognition of foreign courts to exercise special jurisdictions giving rise to an enforceable judgment, and the enforcement of non-money judgments.  The proposed grounds for refusal of recognition and enforcement broadly align to the current treatment of the defences to recognition and enforcement, and the bases for setting aside registration of foreign judgments, under Australian law. By harmonising Australia’s private international law with that of other Contracting States, the Judgments Convention should provide greater certainty to Australian enterprises engaging in international business transactions with entities from other Contracting States. As an island nation, ensuring certainty for cross-border business is essential to the Australian economy.

For Australia, the primary advantage of the Judgments Convention is the capacity to enforce Australian judgments overseas. A party to cross-border litigation who obtains the benefit of an Australian judgment will have a clearer pathway to obtaining meaningful relief.  The ability to enforce an Australian civil or commercial judgment internationally is extremely limited, with the exception of New Zealand. The Judgments Convention, if implemented in Australia, would both expand and reposition the ability to project Australian judicial power beyond New Zealand. Certainly, the Convention would enhance the ability to enforce judgments of the courts of the other Contracting States to the Convention in Australia. Equally, as a multilateral Convention, the Judgments Convention would enable Australian judgments to circulate among the other Contracting States to the Convention. That would be a most attractive outcome for the Australian judicial system. Non-money judgments, which currently have almost no extraterritorial reach, would become enforceable through the Convention. The recognition of judgments that emerge when Australian courts exercise special jurisdictions dealing with contractual, non-contractual and trust obligations is also a long overdue reform and would see the law relating to the international enforcement of judgments align more closely with the nature of modern commercial litigation. If adopted widely, the Judgments Convention will provide better access to the assets of judgment debtors and to defendants themselves. This will reduce the risks associated with cross-border litigation, and so with it, the risks to cross-border business.

A secondary effect of the implementation of the Judgments Convention is the pressure it may apply to the Australian rules of adjudicative jurisdiction that allow Australian courts to deal with international litigation. There remains a very substantial disparity between the extremely broad adjudicative jurisdictions claimed by Australian courts and the narrow jurisdictions that are allowed to foreign courts by Australian courts considering whether to recognise foreign judgments. The Judgments Convention does not address this disparity, although the recognition of foreign judgments made when courts of origin exercise special jurisdictions somewhat narrows it. Unless the Australian rules of adjudicative jurisdiction are reformed, the enforceability of an Australian judgment in cross-border litigation will require a litigant’s consideration of both the Australian rules of adjudicative jurisdiction and the different Judgments Convention rules of indirect jurisdiction. Ultimately, though, to get an internationally enforceable judgment, it would only be compliance with the Judgments Convention that counted.

In short, this article strongly recommends that Australia should accede to the Judgments Convention in order to modernise and improve Australian law, and to provide better outcomes for Australian judgment creditors. It would be timely for Australia also to refocus and continue its efforts on accession to the Choice of Court Convention.


Sabbagh v Khoury. The jurisdictional gift that keeps on giving. In today’s instalment: the possibility for qualified acknowledgment of service (prorogation) following claimant’s alleged concessions, and amended claim.

GAVC - mar, 11/26/2019 - 01:01

Sabbagh v Khoury [2019] EWHC 3004 (Comm) evidently builds upon the High Court and Court of Appeal previous judgments. Pro memoria: claimant established jurisdiction against all the defendants she wished to sue in relation to each element of her claim. Following judgment by the Court of Appeal and the refusal of permission to appeal further by the Supreme Court, the defendants had to decide whether to acknowledge service and accept the jurisdiction of the English Courts or to refuse to acknowledge service.

That jurisdiction should be debated at all was the result of claimant wanting to amend her claim, and having earlier been partially granted such permission. At 13: each defendant decided to acknowledge service and accept the jurisdiction of the English Courts but in each case they purported to qualify the terms on which they acknowledged service, hinging particularly on CPR Part 14: Admissions, and suggesting that a “concession” made on claimant’s behalf that certain Share Sale Agreements relied on by the defendants were “existent, valid and effective“, should have an impact on jurisdiction.

It is interesting to see the qualifications verbatim: at 13: ‘Thus in its letter of 26 March 2018, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP on behalf of the Sabbagh defendants qualified their Acknowledgement of Service as being “… confined to the existing claims set out in the Claim Form, to the limited extent that the Court of Appeal accepted the English court’s jurisdiction over such claims, but subject to the numerous concessions your client has made including but not limited to her explicit abandonment of any claim to be presently entitled to or for delivery up of shares …”. Jones Day, the solicitors then acting for the first defendant similarly qualified his Acknowledgement of Service – see their letter of 26 March 2018. Baker McKenzie qualified the other Khoury defendants’ Acknowledgement of Service as being “… only in respect of the two claims as set out in the Claimant’s Claim Form … and is subject to the numerous concessions the Claimant has made to date …” and added that: “We understand that the Claimant intends to seek to amend her Particulars of Claim and our clients’ position as to whether any such amendment(s), if allowed, impact on the jurisdiction of the court over our clients as regards any claims other than those to which this Acknowledgement of Service is filed is fully reserved, including as to jurisdiction and/or the arbitrability of any such amended claims”. In the circumstances, it is probable that the amendment Baker McKenzie had in mind was one substantially in terms of the draft re-amended Particulars of Claim that had been placed before the Court of Appeal.’

At 21 ff Pelling J discusses the relationship between the amended claim, the earlier findings on jurisdiction, and the ‘concession’, leading at length eventually to hold that there was no impact of the concession on the extent of jurisdiction,

As Pelling J notes at 1 in fine: ‘Even allowing for the value at risk in this litigation all this is obviously disproportionate.’ One assumes the role of various counsel in the alleged concessions made earlier, must have had an impact on the energy with which the issue was advocated.

The case will now proceed to trial, lest there be any other jurisdictional challenges.


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

Clearlake Shipping: anti-suit to support choice of court alive and well outside Brussels Ia.

GAVC - lun, 11/25/2019 - 08:08

In Clearlake Shipping Pte Ltd v Xiang Da Marine Pte Ltd [2019] EWHC 2284 (Comm) Andrew Burrows QC essentially halted an attempt by Xiang Da Marine to construct third party proceedings in Singapore so as to avoid choice of court pro England following a series of contracts relating to the chartering of a vessel.

The proceedings, which the interim anti-suit injunctions are restraining, are third party proceedings brought in Singapore by Xiang Da against Clearlake and Gunvor. Those third party proceedings have arisen in relation to an action in Singapore against Xiang Da brought by China-Base Ningbo Group Co Ltd (hereinafter ‘China-Base’). In so far as Xiang Da is liable to pay damages or otherwise suffers loss by reason of the claim brought against it by China-Base, it seeks an indemnity or contribution from Clearlake and Gunvor as third parties. (The claim by China-Base against Xiang Da in Singapore in the meantime has been discontinued. But the third party proceedings remain extant; and those third party proceedings could still be used by Xiang Da to seek to recover loss suffered by reason of the claim brought against it by China-Base.)

The judgment is best consulted for further context; RPC have analysis here, 22 Essex Street here. The judgment is a good reminder of the law on anti-suit injunctions. One can also appreciate that given privity of contract, anti-suit granted viz-a-vis third party proceedings must be treated with caution. Yet restrained application of same is a good way to discipline overly creative proceedings designed simply to circumvent choice of court (and which with respect to the third party involved are vexatious or oppressive).


(Handbook of) EU private international law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.1.


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