Droit international général

Le droit à l’épreuve des siècles et des frontières. Mélanges Bertrand Ancel

Conflictoflaws - dim, 06/17/2018 - 23:32

It is my pleasure to announce the release of the Mélanges en l’honneur du Professeur Bertrand Ancel – Le droit à l’épreuve des siècles et des frontières.

Bertrand Ancel has devoted his academic career to private international law and civil law, enriched with comparative law and history. Professor emeritus of the University Paris II Panthéon-Assas, editor-in-chief of the Revue critique de droit international privé from 2014 to 2017, author of the Éléments d’histoire du droit international privé, he is also a co-author, with Yves Lequette, of the Grands arrêts de la jurisprudence française de droit international privé. Combining in-depth historical knowledge of conflict of laws and international litigation with accurate analysis of the most recent case law, Bertrand Ancel belongs to the scholars who preserve private international law from dogmatism.

The many articles in French, Spanish and Italian, forming the Mélanges, have been gathered to honor his erudition, intellectual accuracy and generosity.

The list of all contributors is available here, and the book can be ordered here.

Nori Holdings: England & Wales High Court confirms ‘continuing validity of the decision in West Tankers’ under Brussels I Recast

Conflictoflaws - sam, 06/16/2018 - 21:25

Earlier this month, the English High Court rendered an interesting decision on the (un-)availability of anti-suit injunctions in protection of arbitration agreements under the Brussels I Recast Regulation (No 1215/2012). In Nori Holdings v Bank Otkritie [2018] EWHC 1343 (Comm), Males J critically discussed (and openly disagreed with) AG Wathelet’s Opinion on Case C-536/13 Gazprom and confirmed that such injunctions continue to not be available where they would restrain proceedings in another EU Member State.

The application for an anti-suit injunction was made by three companies that had all entered into a number of transactions with the defendant bank involving shares of companies incorporated in Cyprus. These arrangements were restructured in August 2017. In October 2017, the defendant alleged that the agreements entered into in the course of this restructuring were fraudulent and started proceedings in Russia – based, inter alia, on Russian bankruptcy law – to set them aside. In January 2018, the claimants reacted by commencing LCIA arbitrations against the bank – based on an arbitration clause in the original agreements, to which the restructuring agreements referred – seeking a declaration that the restructuring agreements are valid and an arbitral anti-suit injunction against the Russian proceedings. Meanwhile, each of the parties also commenced proceedings in Cyprus.

The defendant bank advanced several reasons for why the High Court should not grant the injunction, including the availability of injunctive relief from the arbitrators and the non-arbitrability of the insolvency claim. While none of these defences succeeded with regard to the proceedings in Russia, the largest individual part of the decision ([69]–[102]) is dedicated to the question whether the High Court had the power to also grant an anti-suit injunction with regard to the proceedings in Cyprus, an EU member state.

The European Court of Justice famously held in West Tankers (Case C-185/07) that ‘even though proceedings do not come within the scope of Regulation No 44/2001, they may nevertheless have consequences which undermine its effectiveness’ (at [24]) and that

[30] […] in obstructing the court of another Member State in the exercise of the powers conferred on it by [the Regulation], namely to decide, on the basis of the rules defining the material scope of that regulation, including Article 1(2)(d) thereof, whether that regulation is applicable, such an anti-suit injunction also runs counter to the trust which the Member States accord to one another’s legal systems and judicial institutions and on which the system of jurisdiction under [the Regulation] is based […].

Accordingly, it would be ‘incompatible with [the Regulation] for a court of a Member State to make an order to restrain a person from commencing or continuing proceedings before the courts of another Member State on the ground that such proceedings would be contrary to an arbitration agreement’ (at [34]).

Shortly thereafter, the European legislator tried to clarify the relationship between the Brussels-I framework and arbitration in Recital (12) of the recast Regulation. This Recital included, among other things, a clarification that a decision on the validity of an arbitration agreement is not subject to the Regulation’s rules on recognition and enforcement. Rather surprisingly, this was understood by Advocate General Wathelet, in his Opinion on Case C-536/13 Gazprom, as an attempt to ‘correct the boundary which the Court had traced between the application of the Brussels I Regulation and arbitration’ (at [132]); consequently, he argued that ‘if the case which gave rise to the judgment in [West Tankers] had been brought under the regime of the Brussels I Regulation (recast) […] the anti-suit injunction forming the subject-matter of [this judgment] would not have been held to be incompatible with the Brussels I Regulation’ (at [133]). AG Wathelet went even further when he opined that Recital (12) constituted a ‘retroactive interpretative law’, which explained how the exclusion of arbitration from the Regulation ‘must be and always should have been interpreted’ (at [91]), very much implying that West Tankers had been wrongly decided.

The Court of Justice, of course, did not follow the Advocate General and, instead, reaffirmed its decision in West Tankers in Case C-536/13 Gazprom. As Males J rightly points out (at [91]), the Court did not only ignore the Advocate General’s Opinion, it also very clearly regarded West Tankers a correct statement of the law under the old Regulation. While Males J considered this observation alone to be ‘sufficient to demonstrate that the opinion of the Advocate General on this issue on [sic] was fundamentally flawed’ (at [91]), he went on to point out six (!) further problems with the Advocate General’s argument. In particular, he argued (at [93]) that if the Advocate General were right, any proceedings in which the validity of an arbitration were contested would be excluded from the Regulation, which, indeed, would go much further than what the Recital seems to try to achieve.

Consequently, Males J concluded that

[99] […] there is nothing in the Recast Regulation to cast doubt on the continuing validity of the decision [in West Tankers] which remains an authoritative statement of EU law. […] Accordingly there can be no injunction to restrain the further pursuit of the Bank’s proceedings in Cyprus.

Of course, this does not mean that claimants will receive no redress from the English courts in a case where an arbitration agreement has been breached through proceedings brought in the courts of another EU member state. As Males J explained (at [101]), the claimants may be entitled to an indemnity ‘against (1) any costs incurred by them in connection with the Cypriot proceedings and (2) any liability they are held to owe in those proceedings.’ While one might consider such an award to be ‘an antisuit injunction in all but name’ (Hartley (2014) 63 ICLQ 843, 863), the continued availability of this remedy in the English courts despite West Tankers has been confirmed in The Alexandros T [2014] EWCA Civ 1010. In the present case, Males J nonetheless deferred a decision on this point as the Cypriot court could still stay the proceedings and because the claimants might still be able to obtain an anti-suit injunction from the arbitral tribunal.

Third-party effects of assignments: BIICL event on 3 July 2018

Conflictoflaws - ven, 06/15/2018 - 09:19

The British Institute of International and Comparative Law is organising an event to be held on 3 July on the recent developments pertaining to third-party effects of assignment.

Time: 16:30 – 19.00 (Registration open from 16:00)

Venue: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5JP

The panel of distinguished speakers will discuss the recent proposal for an EU Regulation on the law applicable to third-party effects of assignment. The Rome I Regulation regulates contractual aspects of assignment but for a prolonged period of time the third-party aspects of assignment were surrounded by haze. Third-party effects of assignment are notoriously important in certain industries, such as securitisation and factors. Speakers involved in the preparatory work leading up to the proposal reflect on the operation of the proposal in practice. Further details can be found here.

Job Vacancy: Ph.D. Position/Teaching Fellow at Leuphana Law School, Lüneburg (Germany)

Conflictoflaws - ven, 06/15/2018 - 06:27

Leuphana Law School is looking for a highly skilled and motivated Ph.D. candidate and fellow (wissenschaftliche/r Mitarbeiter/in) on a part-time basis (50%) as of 1 September 2018.

The successful candidate holds a first law degree (ideally the First State Exam (Germany) or LL.M. (UK)/J.D. (USA)/similar degree) and is interested in private international law, international economic law, and intellectual property law-all from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. A very good command of German and English is expected.

The fellow will be given the opportunity to conduct his/her own Ph.D. project (under the faculty’s regulations). The position is paid according to the salary scale E-13 TV-L, 50%. The initial contract period is three years, with an option to be extended. The research fellow will conduct research as part of the unit led by Professor Dr. Tim W. Dornis (Chair in Private Law, International Private and Economic Law, and Comparative Law) and will have an independent teaching obligation (2 hours/week).

If you are interested in this position, please send your application (cover letter, CV, and relevant documents) by 31 July 2018 to

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Personalservice, Corinna Schmidt
Kennwort: WiMi Rechtswissenschaften
Universitätsallee 1
21335 Lüneburg

Leuphana University is an equal opportunity employer.

The job advert in full detail is accessible here.

Looking over the fence in re B.C.I Fins. Pty Ltd. (In Liquidation). The rollercoaster world of conflict of laws.

GAVC - mer, 06/13/2018 - 12:12

In re B.C.I Fins. Pty Ltd. (In Liquidation) (thank you Daniel Lowenthal for flagging) illustrates to and fro exercise, hopping between laws, and the use of choice of law rules to establish (or not) jurisdiction. This method is often called the ‘conflicts method’ or ‘looking over the fence’: to establish whether one has jurisdiction a judge has to qualify his /her district as a place of performance of an obligation, or the situs of a property, requires the identification of a lex causae for the underlying obligation, application of which will in turn determine the situs of the obligation, property etc.

As Daniel points out, Bankruptcy Code section 109(a), says that “only a person that resides or has a domicile, a place of business, or property in the United States, or a municipality may be a debtor under this title.” Lane J considers the issue in Heading B and concludes that the Debtors’ Fiduciary Duty Claims against Andrew and Michael Binetter constitute property in the United States to satisfy Section 109(a).

There is no federal conflicts rule that pre-empts.  New York conflict of law rules therefore apply. New York’s “greatest interest test” pointed to Australian substantive law to determine the situs of the fiduciary duties claims: “[t]he Liquidators were appointed by an Australian court, and are governed by Australian law, and Andrew Binetter is an Australian citizen.  Perhaps even more importantly, the Fiduciary Duty Claims arose from acts committed in Australia and exist under Australian law, and any recovery will be distributed to foreign creditors through the Australian proceeding.’

Lane J then applies Australian substantive law eventually to hold on the situs of the fiduciary duty: considering the (competing) Australian law experts, he is most swayed by the point of view that under Australian law ‘not only debts, but also other choses in action, are for legal purposes localised and are situated where they are properly recoverable and are properly recoverable where the debtor resides.’ The Binetters reside in New York.

In summary: New York conflict of law rules look over the fence to locate the situs of a fiduciary debt to be in New York, consequently giving New york courts jurisdiction. A neat illustration of the conflicts method.


(Handbook of) EU private international law, Chapter 3, Heading


Espírito Santo (in liquidation): CJEU on vis attractive concursus in the event of pending lawsuits (lex fori processus).

GAVC - mar, 06/12/2018 - 19:07

The title of this piece almost reads like an encyclical. C-250/17 Esprito Santo (in full: Virgílio Tarragó da Silveira Massa v Insolvente da Espírito Santo Financial GroupSA – readers will appreciate my suggestion of shortening), held last week, concerns the scope of Article 15 juncto 4(2)(f) of the EU’s Insolvency Regulation 1346/2000 (materially unchanged in Regulation 2015/848).

In many jurisdictions lawsuits pending are subject to vis attractiva concursus: all suits pending or not, relevant to the estate of the insolvent company are centralised within one and the same court. In the context of cross-border insolvency however this would deprive the courts and the law of the Member State other than the State of opening of proceedings, of hearing cq applying to, pending suits.

The Court has now held along the lines what is suggested in the Virgos-Schmit report: only enforcement actions are subject to Article 15. Lawsuits pending which merely aim to establish the merits of a claim without actually exercising it (in the judgment: ‘Substantive proceedings for the recognition of the existence of a debt’), remain subject to the ongoing proceedings in the other Member State.

The judgment evidently has more detail but this is the gist of it. Of note is that yet again, linguistic analysis assists the court in its reasoning.


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


Videos of the global Conference “HCCH 125 – Ways Forward: Challenges and Opportunities in an Increasingly Connected World” are available

Conflictoflaws - mar, 06/12/2018 - 18:43

The videos of the opening speeches, the keynote speech and the sessions of the global Conference “HCCH 125 – Ways Forward: Challenges and Opportunities in an Increasingly Connected World” (which took place in Hong Kong on 18-20 April) have been uploaded onto the HCCH YouTube channel.

Erasmus+ Jean Monnet conference: “Consumer Protection and Fundamental Rights” – Riga, 18-19 June

Conflictoflaws - lun, 06/11/2018 - 21:48

Riga Graduate School of Law (RGSL) will be hosting the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet conference titled “Consumer Protection and Fundamental Rights” on 18-19 June.

The idea of the RGSL Jean Monnet Project is to conduct a multidisciplinary exploration of Fundamental Rights including their philosophical, geographic, technological, political, cultural, societal and economic dimensions. The project is designed for researchers, public administrators, professional groups and civil society representatives. There are four conferences envisaged with the first conference focusing on consumer protection.

The conference programme is available here.

For more info on the project click here.

Double Counting the Place of the Tort?

Conflictoflaws - lun, 06/11/2018 - 12:53

In common law Canada there is a clear separation between the question of a court having jurisdiction (jurisdiction simpliciter) and the question of a court choosing whether to exercise or stay its jurisdiction.  One issue discussed in the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) is the extent of that separation.  Does this separation mean that a particular fact cannot be used in both the analysis of jurisdiction and of forum non conveniens?  On its face that seems wrong.  A fact could play a role in two separate analyses, being relevant to each in different ways.

Justice Cote, with whom Justices Brown and Rowe agreed, held that “applicable law, as determined by the lex loci delicti principle, should be accorded little weight in the forum non conveniens analysis in cases where jurisdiction is established on the basis of the situs of the tort” (para 90).  She indicated that this conclusion was mandated by the separation of jurisdiction and staying proceedings, which extends to each being “based on different factors”.  So if the place of the tort has been used as the basis for assuming jurisdiction, the same factor (the place of the tort) should not play a role in analyzing the most appropriate forum when considering a stay.  And since the applicable law is one of the factors considered in that analysis, if the applicable law is to be identified based on the connecting factor of the place of the tort, which is the rule in common law Canada, then the applicable law as a factor “should be accorded little weight”.

In separate concurring reasons, Justice Karakatsanis agreed that the applicable law “holds little weight here, where jurisdiction and applicable law are both established on the basis of where the tort was committed” (para 100).  In contrast, the three dissenting judges rejected this reason for reducing the weight of the applicable law (para 208).  The two other judges did not address this issue, so the tally was 4-3 for Justice Cote’s view.

As Vaughan Black has pointed out in discussions about the decision, the majority approach, taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that if jurisdiction is based on the defendant’s residence in the forum then the defendant’s residence is not a relevant factor in assessing which forum is more appropriate.  That contradicts a great many decisions on forum non conveniens.  Indeed, the court did not offer any supporting authorities in which the “double counting” of a fact was said to be inappropriate.

The majority approach has taken analytical separation too far.  There is no good reason for excluding or under-weighing a fact relevant to the forum non conveniens analysis simply because that same fact was relevant at the jurisdiction stage.  Admittedly the court in Club Resorts narrowed the range of facts that are relevant to jurisdiction in part to reduce overlap between the two questions.  But that narrowing was of jurisdiction.  Forum non conveniens remains a broad doctrine that should be based on a wide, open-end range of factors.  The applicable law, however identified, has to be one of them.

Waiting for Brexit: Open issues in the Internal Market and in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

Conflictoflaws - lun, 06/11/2018 - 08:12

The University of Milan-Bicocca – School of Law has issued a call for papers for the Academic Conference “Waiting for Brexit: open issues in the internal market and in the area of freedom, security and justice”. The Conference represents the closing event of the Jean Monnet course “The EU Court of Justice: techniques and instruments” and will be held at the University of Milan-Bicocca on Friday 19 October 2018.

Prof. Antonio Tizzano (Vice-President of the Court of Justice of the European Union) will chair the morning session and Prof. Fausto Pocar (Emeritus of International Law at the University of Milan) will chair the afternoon session.

Concept and main topics of the Conference

The result of the 2016 Brexit referendum was not only a political shock, but also and foremost a symbolic turning point in the history of the EU. The United Kingdom’s foreseen withdrawal from the Union has given rise to many political, legal, economic and social debates.

The main aim of the Conference is to contribute to analyse the impact and effects of Brexit on both EU Law and Italian law in practice. The “Waiting for Brexit” Conference – after a short overview of the main institutional aspects – will offer the audience with an insight into the changes that the withdrawal from the EU of a Member State will have on specific socio-economic areas. In particular, national and international experts (scholars, public officials, legal practitioners, industry representatives) will analyse and discuss topics such as banking and investment law, the transfer of personal data outside the EU, competition law, as well as certain aspects of judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters.

In this context, the present Call aims to provide young researchers (i.e., PhD students and fellow researchers) of all disciplines with the opportunity to present their views on specific topics such as company law, IP law, consumer law, insolvency law, family law, labour law, tax law and customs union, air and maritime transport, relocation of EU agencies, etc. Nevertheless, the Organising Committee welcomes innovative and original contributions that cover topics already analysed by the expert speakers.

Abstract submission guidelines

Interested applicants should submit a short CV and a paper abstract in Italian or English of no more than 700 words (in .doc, .docx or .pdf format) to the attention of the Organising Committee (via e-mail at convegnobrexit.unimib@gmail.com).

The deadline for submission is 15 July 2018. Applications will be selected on the basis of the submitted abstracts and successful applicants will be informed by 6 August 2018.

Afterwards, successful applicants should send the draft papers to the Organising Committee by 15 September 2018. The final versions of the papers should be no longer than 40,000 characters (footnotes and spaces included). The Organising Committee will provide opportunity for publication of the best papers in a top-tier peer-reviewed European law journal.

Organising Committee

The Organising Committee is composed of Costanza Honorati (Full Professor of EU Law and Private International Law, University of Milan-Bicocca), Serena Crespi (Aggregate Professor of EU Law, University of Milan-Bicocca) and Paolo Iannuccelli (Référandaire at the Court of Justice of the European Union).

All questions and inquiries should be addressed to convegnobrexit.unimib@gmail.com. The Organising Committee is committed to answer at its earliest convenience.

Timeline for answers
  • 15 July 2018 – Deadline for the submission of abstracts
  • 6 August 2018 – Notifications sent to the successful applicants
  • 15 September 2018 – Deadline for the submission of the draft papers
  • 19 October 2018 – “Waiting for Brexit” Conference

Jurisdiction for libel over the internet. Haaretz v Goldhar at the Canadian SC.

GAVC - lun, 06/11/2018 - 05:05

When I reported the first salvos in Goldhar v Haaretz I flagged that the follow-up to the case would provide for good comparative conflicts materials. I have summarised the facts in that original article. The Ontario Court of Appeal in majority dismissed Haaretz’ appeal in 2016, 2016 ONCA 515. In Haaretz.com v. Goldhar, 2018 SCC 28, the Canadian Supreme Court has now held in majority for a stay on forum non conveniens grounds. Both the lead opinion, the supporting opinions and the dissents include interesting arguments on forum non conveniens. Many of these, as Stephen Pitel notes, include analysis of the relevance of obstacles in enforcement proceedings.

If ever I were to get round to compiling that published reader on comparative conflicts, this case would certainly feature.

Have a good start to the working-week (lest is started yesterday in which case: bonne continuation).


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

Extraterritoriality: Outstanding Aspects (Contribution to a Collective Book)

Conflictoflaws - dim, 06/10/2018 - 13:13

Prof. Zamora Cabot has just made available on SSRN his contribution to the collective book Implementing the UN Principles on Business and Human Rights. Private International Law Perspectives (F. Zamora, L. Heckendorn, S. de Dycker, eds.), Shulthess Verlag, Zurich, 2017. The abstract reads as follows:

“For some time, the changing concept of extraterritoriality has been associated in a variety of ways with the international protection of Human Rights. It is, for example, linked to efforts to make the reparation mechanisms of the UN’s Guiding Principles accessible. Similarly, the notion is relevant to the States’ formal Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOS), which pressure States to fulfil the framework established in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In both cases, the volume and quality of the technical contributions that have been produced are remarkable and worth taking into consideration.

In the context of this contribution and its focus on private international law, I will however limit my remarks to this particular field. In Section I, I will address questions that are arising in the United States following the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Kiobel case. Following that, in Section II, I will introduce a cross section of extraterritorial laws that particularly impact the fields under consideration here – corporations and human rights – before summing up with some concluding remarks.”

 (You can access to the ToC of the book itself here)

The Most Appropriate Forum: Assessing the Applicable Law

Conflictoflaws - dim, 06/10/2018 - 12:23

Another issue in the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) involves the applicable law as a factor in the forum non conveniens analysis.  It is clear that one of the factors in determining the most appropriate forum is the applicable law.  This is because it is quite easy for the forum to apply its own law and rather more difficult for it to apply the law of another jurisdiction.

So if the defendant can show that the forum would apply not its own law but rather the law of another jurisdiction, that points to a stay of proceedings in favour of that other jurisdiction.  In contrast, if the plaintiff can show that the forum would apply its own law, that points against a stay of proceedings.  In Haaretz.com the plaintiff was able to show that the Ontario court would apply Ontario law, not Israeli law.  So the applicable law factor favoured Ontario.

Not so, argued the defendant, because an Israeli court would apply Israeli law (see para 88).  So as between the two jurisdictions neither was any more convenient than the other!

In the Supreme Court of Canada, four of the judges rejected the defendant’s rejoinder.  The dissenting judges held that “[i]t is entirely appropriate, in our view, for courts to only look at the chosen forum in determining the applicable law.  Requiring courts to assess the choice of law rules of a foreign jurisdiction may require extensive evidence, needlessly complicating the pre-trial motion stage of the proceedings” (para 207).  In separate concurring reasons, Justice Karakatsanis agreed with the dissent on this point (para 100).  So because Ontario would apply Ontario law, this factor favours proceedings in Ontario rather than proceedings in Israel.

In contrast, Justice Cote, with whom Justices Brown and Rowe agreed, stated that “I am concerned that disregarding the applicable law in the alternative forum is inconsistent with the comparative nature of the forum non conveniens analysis” (para 89).  She cited in support an article by Brandon Kain, Elder C. Marques and Byron Shaw (2012).  The other two judges did not comment on this issue, so the court split 4-3 against looking at the applicable law in the alternative forum.

There is force to the practical concern raised by the dissent, and even with the assistance of the parties in many cases the court will be unable to form a sufficiently strong view as to what law the foreign forum would apply.  But conceptually it does seem that if it is established that the foreign forum will apply its own law, that should go to negate the benefits of the plaintiff’s chosen forum applying its own law.  Neither is any more convenient where compared against the other.

Perhaps because of the novelty of the approach, Justice Cote’s application of it may have missed the mark.  She held that “[a]s each forum would apply its own law, the applicable law factor cannot aid Haaretz in showing that it would be fairer and more efficient to proceed in the alternative forum” (para 88).  But the true point flowing from establishing that Israel would apply Israeli law, it would seem, should be that the applicable law factor cannot aid Goldhar (the plaintiff) in showing that it would be fairer and more efficient to proceed in Ontario.  If it cannot aid Haaretz.com that Israel would apply its own law, then how is the factor relevant and why is the court indicating a willingness to consider it?  It surely could not aid Haaretz.com that Israel would apply some other law.

On a motion for a stay, if the court did know what law would be applied in both the chosen forum and the alternative forum, we would have four possible situations.  On Justice Cote’s approach, if both forums would apply their own law, this is a neutral factor.  Similarly, if both forums would apply law other than forum law, this is also a neutral factor.  In the other two situations, the applicable law factor favours the forum that would be applying its own law.  With the court splitting 4-3 against looking at the applicable law in the alternative forum, this is not the approach – but should it be?

The Role of Foreign Enforcement Proceedings in Forum Non Conveniens

Conflictoflaws - sam, 06/09/2018 - 13:00

The doctrine of forum non conveniens, in looking to identify the most appropriate forum for the litigation, considers many factors.  Two of these are (i) a desire to avoid, if possible, a multiplicity of proceedings and (ii) any potential difficulties in enforcing the decision that results from the litigation.  However, it is important to keep these factors analytically separate.

In the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) Justice Abella noted that “enforcement concerns would favour a trial in Israel, in large part because Haaretz’s lack of assets in Ontario would mean that any order made against it would have to be enforced by Israeli courts, thereby raising concerns about a multiplicity of proceedings” (para 142).  Similarly, Justice Cote concluded (paras 82-83) that the fact that an Ontario order would have to be enforced in Israel was a factor that “slightly” favoured trial in Israel.

Justice Abella has arguably conflated the two factors rather than keeping them separate.  The concerns raised by a multiplicity of proceedings tend to focus on substantive proceedings rather than on subsequent procedural steps to enforce a judgment.  Courts rightly try to avoid substantive proceedings in more than one jurisdiction that arise from the same factual matrix, with one of the core concerns being the potential for inconsistent findings of fact.  Of course, enforcement proceedings do involve an additional step that is avoided if the judgment can simply be enforced locally.  But that, in itself, should not be grouped with the kinds of concerns raised by multiple substantive proceedings.  It will be unfortunate if subsequent courts routinely consider contemplated foreign enforcement proceedings as raising a multiplicity of proceedings concern.

Justice Cote (with whom Justices Brown and Rowe agreed) did not conflate enforcement proceedings and the concern about multiplicity.  However, it should be noted that Club Resorts, which she referenced on this point, stated (para 110 that “problems related to the recognition and enforcement of judgments” is a relevant factor for forum non conveniens.  The stress there should be on “problems”.  If it can be anticipated that there may be problems enforcing the judgment where the assets are, that is an important consideration.  But if no such problems are anticipated, the mere fact that enforcement elsewhere is contemplated should not point even “slightly” against the forum as the place for the litigation.  In Haaretz.com the judges who consider the enforcement factor did not identify any reason to believe that enforcement proceedings in Israel would be other than routine.

The dissenting judges (Chief Justice McLachlin and Justices Moldaver and Gascon) properly separated these two factors in their analysis (paras 234-237).  They did not treat enforcement proceedings as part of the analysis of a multiplicity of proceedings.  On enforcement, their view was that in defamation proceedings it is often sufficient just to obtain the judgment, in vindication of the plaintiff’s reputation, and that enforcement can thus be unnecessary or “irrelevant” (para 236).  Justice Cote strongly disagreed (para 83).  Leaving that dispute to one side, the dissent could have also made the point that this was not a case where any “problems” had been raised about enforcement in Israel.

Staying Proceedings, Undertakings and “Buying” a Forum

Conflictoflaws - ven, 06/08/2018 - 16:43

One of the points of interest in the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) concerns the appropriateness of the plaintiff’s undertaking to pay the travel and accommodation costs of the defendant’s witnesses, located in Israel, to come to the trial in Ontario.  The defendant had raised the issue of the residence of its witnesses as a factor pointing to Israel being the more appropriate forum.  The plaintiff, one presumes, made a strategic decision to counter this factor by giving the undertaking.

The motions judge and the Court of Appeal for Ontario both considered the undertaking as effective in reducing the difficulties for the defendant in having the litigation in Ontario.  However, the undertaking was viewed quite differently by at least some of the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada.  Justice Cote, joined by Justices Brown and Rowe, stated that “consideration of such an undertaking would allow a wealthy plaintiff to sway the forum non conveniens analysis, which would be inimical to the foundational principles of fairness and efficiency underlying this doctrine” (para 66).  Justice Abella, in separate reasons, stated “I think it would be tantamount to permitting parties with greater resources to tip the scales in their favour by ‘buying’ a forum. … it is their actual circumstances, and not artificially created ones, that should be weighed” (para 140).  The other five judges (two concurring in the result reached by these four; three dissenting) did not comment on the undertaking.

Undertakings by one party in response to concerns raised by the other party on motions to stay are reasonably common.  Many of these do involve some financial commitment.  For example, in response to the concern that various documents will have to be translated into the language of the court, a party could undertake to cover the translation costs.  Similarly, a party might undertake to cover the costs of the other party flowing from more extensive pre-trial discovery procedures in the forum.  Travel and accommodation expenses are perhaps the most common subject for a financial undertaking.  Is the Supreme Court of Canada now holding that these sorts of undertakings are improper?

The more general statement from Justice Abella rejecting artificially created circumstances could have an even broader scope, addressing more than just financial issues.  Is it a criticism of even non-financial undertakings, such as an undertaking by the defendant not to raise a limitation period – otherwise available as a defence – in the foreign forum if the stay is granted?  Is that an artificially-created circumstance?

Vaughan Black has written the leading analysis of conditional stays of proceedings in Canadian law: “Conditional Forum Non Conveniens in Canadian Courts” (2013) 39 Queen’s Law Journal 41.  Undertakings are closely related to conditions.  The latter are imposed by the court as a condition of its order, while the former are offered in order to influence the decision on the motion.  But both deal with very similar content, and undertakings are sometimes incorporated into the order as conditions.  Black observes that in some cases courts have imposed financial conditions such as paying transportation costs and even living costs during litigation (pages 69-70).  Are these conditions now inappropriate, if undertakings about those expenses are?  Or it is different if imposed by the court?

My view is that the four judges who made these comments in Haaretz.com have put the point too strongly.  Forum non conveniens is about balancing the interests of the parties.  If one party points to a particular financial hardship imposed by proceeding in a forum, it should be generally open for the other party to ameliorate this hardship by means of a financial undertaking.  Only in the most extreme cases should a court consider the undertaking inappropriate.  And perhaps, though the judges do not say so expressly, Haaretz.com is such a case, in that there were potentially 22 witness who would need to travel from Israel to Ontario for a trial.


Andrew Burness v Saipem SpA. Cyprus SC considers jurisdiction in the EEZ, and forum non conveniens.

GAVC - jeu, 06/07/2018 - 19:07

Thank you  Elias Neocleous & Co  for reporting Andrew Burness v Saipem SpA, in which the Cypriot Supreme Court confirmed jurisdiction over claims related to Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (under UNCLOS), and rejected application of forum non conveniens. The claims followed an accident on board the vessel Saipem 1000 in the Cyprus EEZ.

The first issue is one under public international law, which I will leave to others. The second is an interesting application of forum non conveniens. Its application had been suggested for none of the parties are Cypriot nationals, neither were the witnesses, or any of the insurance and other companies involved. One assumes the card played was one of convenience, and costs. However the Supreme Court particularly emphasised that the accident had occurred in the process of prospection or exploitation of Cyprus’s natural resources: that makes the Cypriot courts particularly suited to hearing the case, despite the many foreign elements.


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

Supreme Court of Canada: Israel, not Ontario, is Forum Conveniens for Libel Proceedings

Conflictoflaws - jeu, 06/07/2018 - 17:54

The decision to stay proceedings under the doctrine of forum non conveniens is discretionary, which in part means that appeal courts should be reluctant to reverse the decisions of motions judges on the issue.  It comes as some surprise, therefore, that the Supreme Court of Canada has disagreed with not only the motions judge but also the Court of Appeal for Ontario and overturned two earlier decisions denying a stay.  In Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) the court held (in a 6-3 decision) that the plaintiff’s libel proceedings in Ontario should be stayed because Israel is the clearly more appropriate forum.

The decision is complex, in part because the appeal also considered the issue of jurisdiction and in part because the nine judges ended up writing five sets of reasons, four concurring in the result and a fifth in dissent.  That is very unusual for Canada’s highest court.

The case concerned defamation over the internet.  The plaintiff, a resident of Ontario, alleged that an Israeli newspaper defamed him.  Most readers of the story were in Israel but there were over 200 readers in Ontario.

On assumed jurisdiction, the court was asked by the defendant to reconsider its approach as set out in Club Resorts (available here), at least as concerned cases of internet defamation.  Eight of the nine judges refused to do so.  They confirmed that a tort committed in Ontario was a presumptive connecting factor to Ontario, such that it had jurisdiction unless that presumption was rebutted (and they held it was not).  They also confirmed the orthodoxy that the tort of defamation is committed where the statement is read by a third party, and that in internet cases this is the place where the third party downloads and reads the statement (paras 36-38 and 166-167).  Only one judge, Justice Abella, mused that the test for jurisdiction should not focus on that place but instead on “where the plaintiff suffered the most substantial harm to his or her reputation” (para 129).  This borrows heavily (see para 120) from an approach to choice of law (rather than jurisdiction) that uses not the place of the tort (lex loci delicti) but rather the place of most substantial harm to reputation to identify the applicable law.

On the stay of proceedings, six judges concluded that Israel was the most appropriate forum.  Justice Cote wrote reasons with which Justices Brown and Rowe concurred.  Justice Karakatsanis disagreed with two key points made by Justice Cote but agreed with the result.  Justices Abella and Wagner also agreed with the result but, unlike the other seven judges (see paras 91 and 198), they adopted a new choice of law rule for internet defamation.  This was a live issue on the stay motion because the applicable law is a relevant factor in determining the most appropriate forum.  They rejected the lex loci delicti rule from Tolofson (available here) and instead used as the connecting factor the place of the most substantial harm to reputation (paras 109 and 144).  Justice Wagner wrote separately because he rejected (paras 147-148) Justice Abella’s further suggestion (explained above) that the law of jurisdiction should also be changed along similar lines.

The core disagreement between Justice Cote (for the majority) and the dissent (written jointly by Chief Justice McLachlin and Justices Moldaver and Gascon) was that Justice Cote concluded that the motions judge made six errors of law (para 50) in applying the test for forum non conveniens, so that no deference was required and the court could substitute its own view.  In contrast, the dissent held that four of these errors were “merely points where our colleague would have weighed the evidence differently had she been the motions judge” (para 179) which is inappropriate for an appellate court and that the other two errors were quite minor and had no impact on the overall result (para 178).  The dissent held strongly to the orthodox idea that decisions on motions to stay are entitled to “considerable deference” (para 177) lest preliminary motions and appeals over where litigation should occur undermine stability and increase costs (para 180).

Another fundamental disagreement between Justice Cote and the dissent was their respective view of the scope of the plaintiff’s claim.  During the motion and appeals, the plaintiff made it clear that he was only seeking a remedy in respect of damage to his reputation in Ontario (as opposed to anywhere else) and that he was not going to sue elsewhere.  The dissent accepted that this undertaking to the court limited the scope of the claim (paras 162-163) and ultimately it pointed to Ontario as the most appropriate forum.  In contrast, Justice Cote held that the plaintiff’s undertaking “should not be allowed to narrow the scope of his pleadings” (para 23).  It is very hard to accept that this is correct, and indeed on this point Justice Karakatsanis broke with Justice Cote (para 101) and agreed with the dissent.  Why should the court not accept such an undertaking as akin to an amendment of the pleadings?  Justice Cote claimed that “[n]either Goldhar nor my colleagues … may now redefine Goldhar’s action so that it better responds to Haaretz’s motion to stay” (para 24).  But why should the plaintiff not be able to alter the scope of his claim in the face of objections to that scope from the defendant?

There are many other points of clash in the reasons, too many to engage with fully here.  How important, at a preliminary stage, is examination of what particular witnesses who have to travel might say?  What role does the applicable law play in the weighing of the more appropriate forum when it appears that each forum might apply its own law?  Does a subsequent proceeding to enforce a foreign judgment count toward a multiplicity of proceedings (which is to be avoided) or do only substantive proceedings (on the merits) count?  Is it acceptable for a court to rely on an undertaking from the plaintiff to pay the travel and accommodation costs for the defendant’s witnesses or is this allowing a plaintiff to “buy” a forum?

It might be tempting to treat the decision as very much a product of its specific facts, so that it does not offer much for future cases.  There could, however, be cause for concern.  As a theme, the majority lauded “a robust and careful” assessment of forum non conveniens motions (para 3).  If this robust and careful assessment is to be performed by appellate courts, is this consistent with deference to motions judges in their discretionary, fact-specific analysis?  The dissent did not think so (para 177).

Handing over. ‘Joint control’ in Fansites.

GAVC - jeu, 06/07/2018 - 09:09

Choices, choices. I will continue to follow the GDPR for jurisdictional purposes, including territorial scope. (And I have a paper coming up on conflict of laws issues in the private enforcement of same). But for much of the GDPR enforcement debate, I am handing over to others. Johannes Marosi, for instance, who reviews the CJEU judgment this week in Fansites, over at Verfassungsblog. I reviewed the AG’s Opinion here.

Judgment in Grand Chamber but with small room for cheering.

As Johannes’ post explains, there are many loose ends in the judgment, and little reference to the GDPR (technically correct but from a compliance point of view wanting). (As an aside: have a look at Merlin Gömann’s paper, in CMLREv, on the territorial scope of the GDPR).


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



Spring v MOD and Evangelisches Krankenhaus Bielefeld. Joinder (based on Article 8(1) Bru I Recast) ultimately fails given limitation period in the lex causae.

GAVC - mer, 06/06/2018 - 10:10

[2017] EWHC 3012 (QB) Spring v MDO and Evengelisches Krankenhaus Bielefeld is unreported as far as I can tell (and I have checked repeatedly). Thank you Max Archer for flagging the case and for sending me copy of judgment a few months back. (I am still chipping away at that queue).

In 1997, Claimant was stationed in Germany with the British Army. The Claimant very seriously fractured his right leg and ankle whilst off duty in Germany (the off duty element evidently having an impact – on duty injuries arguably might not have been ‘civil and commercial’). He was then treated at the Second Defendant’s hospital under an established arrangement for the treatment of UK service personnel between the First (the Ministry of Defence) and Second Defendants (the German hospital). Various complications later led to amputation.

The Brussels I Recast Regulation applies for claimant did not introduce the claim against the second defendant until after its entry into force: 18 years in fact after the surgery. This was the result of medical reports not suggesting until after July 2015 that the German hospital’s treatment has been substandard. Rome II ratione temporis does not apply given the timing of the events (alleged wrongful treatment leading to damage).

Yoxall M held that Article 8(1)’s conditions for anchoring /joinder were fulfilled, because of the risk of irreconcilable judgments (at 35). Even if the claim against the First Defendant is a claim based on employer’s liability whereas the claim against the Hospital is based on clinical negligence. Should the proceedings be separate there is a risk of the English and German courts reaching irreconcilable judgments on causation of loss. At 35: ‘It would be expedient for the claims to be heard together – so that all the factual evidence and expert evidence is heard by one court. In this way the real risk of irreconcilable judgments can be avoided.’

With reference to precedent, Master Yoxall emphasised that ‘in considering Article 8(1) and irreconcilable judgments a broad common sense approach is justified rather than an over-sophisticated analysis’ (at 36).

Yoxal M is entirely correct when he states at 37 that Article 8(1) does not include a requirement that the action brought against the different defendants have identical legal bases. For decisions to be regarded as contradictory the divergence must arise in the context of the same situation of law and fact (reference is made to C-98/06 Freeport).

Next however the court considers as a preliminary issue, the limitation period applying between claimant and the German defendant and holds that the Hospital have an arguable case that the claim is statute barred in German law (German expert evidence on the issue being divided). The latter is the lex causae for the material dispute (on  the basis of English residual private international law), extending to limitation periods per Section 1(3) of the Foreign Limitations Period Act 1984 (nota bene partially as a result of the 1980 input by the Law Commission, and not entirely in line with traditional (or indeed US) interpretations of same). This ultmately sinks the joinder.

As a way forward for plaintiff, the Court suggests [2005] EWCA Civ 1436 Masri. In this case the Court of Appeal essentially held that joinder on the basis of Article 8(1) may proceed even if litigation against the England-based defendants are not the same proceedings, but rather take place in separate action. Masri has not been backed up as far as I know, by European precedent: Clarke MR held it on the basis of the spirit of C-189/87 Kalfelis, not its letter. Moreover, how the German limitation periods would then apply is not an obvious issue, either.

An interesting case and I am pleased Max signalled it.


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


Workshop on ‘Perspectives of Unification of Private International Law in the European Union’, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, 15 June

Conflictoflaws - mar, 06/05/2018 - 21:09

On Friday, 15 June, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, will host a workshop on ‘Perspectives of Unification of Private International Law in the European Union’. The programme will be as follows.

12:00 Welcome speech
by Prof. Miklós Király (ELTE)

12:10 The Interface Between the Harmonisation of Contract Law and Private International Law
by Prof. Miklós Király (ELTE)
Comments by Dr. Zoltán Nemessányi (Corvinus University)

12:40 Uniform or Diverging Application of EU Instruments in the Field of Private International Law by National Jurisdictions – Preliminary References in the Area of Judicial Cooperation in Civil Matters
by Dr. Réka Somssich (ELTE)
Comments by Dr. Orsolya Szeibert (ELTE)

13:10 Discussion

13:30 Coffee break

13:45 Companies in EU Private International Law – An EU Law Perspective
by Dr. Tamás Szabados (ELTE)
Comments by Dr. Péter Metzinger (Corvinus University)

14:15 Illusion or Reality: the Interrelation of the Conflict of Laws Rules and the Practices of State Courts and Arbitral Tribunals
by Dr. István Erd?s (ELTE)
Comments by Dr. Kinga Tímár (ELTE)

14:45 Discussion

Further information can be found on the conference flyer.


Sites de l’Union Européenne



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