Droit international général

The Court of Justice on Jurisdiction in Maintenance Claims Brought by Public Bodies

EAPIL blog - il y a 9 heures 51 min

On 17 September 2020 the Court of Justice of the EU issued a judgement in the case of WV v Landkreis Harburg (C-540/19) concerning the interpretation of the jurisdictional rules of the EU Maintenance Regulation, in particular its Article 3(b). An opinion in this case was prepared by AG Sánchez-Bardona.

Factual Background

WV’s mother lived in a residential care home for the elderly in Germany. In accordance with § 1601 of the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, WV, the son, was required to provide maintenance to his mother. However, he failed to do so. As the mother did not have adequate means to cover expenses, she received, under the German Sozialgesetzbuch, social assistance from a public body – the Landkreis Harburg. Pursuant to § 94(1) Sozialgesetzbuch, maintenance claims are by way of statutory subrogation transferred to the public body providing social assistance. Relying on this provision, the Landkreis Harburg lodged an application with the Amtsgericht Köln (Germany) claiming from WV the payment of maintenance arrears and regular maintenance for the future.

WV submitted that German courts lack jurisdiction. The lower instance court shared this view, noting that, according to Article 3(b) of the Maintenance Regulation, jurisdiction lies with the court for the place where the creditor is habitually resident. At the same time the concept of “creditor” is defined in Article 2(1)(10) of this Regulation as meaning “any individual to whom maintenance is owed or is alleged to be owed”. Hence, only the creditor personally can make use of the ground listed in Article 3(b). The dispute reached the Bundesgerichtshof, which referred a preliminary question to the CJEU.

Previous Jurisprudence of the CJEU

As reminded in the opinion and in the judgement, the Brussels Convention and Brussels I Regulation included jurisdictional rules for maintenance claims (until Maintenance Regulation has started to be applied on 18 June 2011). Pursuant to these rules, jurisdiction lies with the courts of the defendant’s domicile (based on general rule – Article 2 Convention; Article 4 Regulation) and with the courts for the place where the maintenance creditor is domiciled or habitually resident (Article (5)(2) of both acts).

The CJEU ruled on the interpretation of Article (5)(2) of the Convention in Blijdenstein (C- 433/01), a case similar, as to its factual background, to the one considered in Landkreis Harburg. The Court stated in Blijdenstein that Article 5(2)

cannot be relied on by a public body which seeks, in an action for recovery, reimbursement of sums paid under public law by way of an education grant to a maintenance creditor, to whose rights it is subrogated against the maintenance debtor.

The CJEU explained on that occasion that the general principle is that the courts of the State in which the defendant is domiciled are to have jurisdiction “and that rules of jurisdiction which derogate from this general principle cannot give rise to an interpretation going beyond the cases expressly envisaged.” (24)

The “derogation provided for in Article 5(2) of the Convention is intended to offer the maintenance applicant, who is regarded as the weaker party in such proceedings, an alternative basis of jurisdiction (…) that specific objective had to prevail over the objective of the rule contained in the first paragraph of Article 2 of the Convention, which is to protect the defendant as the party who, being the person sued, is generally in a weaker position.” (29).

Then, it submitted that “a public body which brings an action for recovery against a maintenance debtor is not in an inferior position with regard to the latter. Moreover, the maintenance creditor, whose maintenance has been covered by the payments of the public body, is no longer in a precarious financial position.” (30) Additionally, “the courts of the defendant are better placed to determine the latter’s resources.” (31)

AG’s Opinion Arguing the Need to Depart from Blijdenstein

The AG’s Opinion submitted numerous reasons for which the CJEU should depart from Blijdenstein. The AG underlined the differences between Brussels Convention and Maintenance Regulation, analyzed the CJUE’s “new” jurisprudence relating to the latter (namely: Sanders and Huber, C-400/13; V, C-499/15; R, C-468/18), in particular as regards the regulation’s overarching principles, like protection of maintenance creditors or the effective recovery of maintenance claims in cross-border situations. Additionally, with reference to the Hague Protocol on the law applicable to maintenance obligations, the advantages of the coincidence between ius and forum were sketched.

Departure from Blijdenstein and its Justification

The CJEU shared the views of the AG and departed from Blijdenstein jurisprudence. In practical terms, it means that public bodies like Landkreis Harburg might file claims against maintenance debtors at the place of maintenance creditor’s habitual residence, which in most instances would coincide with their own.

The CJEU underlined that Article 3 of the Maintenance Regulation:

contains neither a general principle, such as jurisdiction of the court for the defendant’s domicile, nor derogating rules which would have to be interpreted strictly (…) but rather a number of criteria which are equal and alternative (…). (29)

and

does not specify that the claim must be brought by the maintenance creditor himself or herself before the courts identified in paragraphs (a) and (b) [and therefore does not] preclude a claim relating to a maintenance obligation from being brought by a public body, to which the claims of that creditor have been transferred by way of statutory subrogation, before one or the other of those courts. (31)

Consistent with the opinion, the CJEU also pointed to the fact that the Maintenance Regulation, as opposed to Brussels Convention and the Brussels I Regulation, does apply no matter domicile or habitual residence of the defendant. Hence:

refusing to allow a public body subrogated to the claims of a creditor to bring an action before the courts where that creditor is habitually resident in circumstances where the maintenance debtor is domiciled in a third State is most likely tantamount to requiring that public body to bring its action outside the European Union. (35)

This would result in legal and practical difficulties, which go against the objective of the effective recovery of maintenance claims.

The CJEU convincingly added that:

The transfer of the maintenance creditor’s claims to such a public body impairs neither the interests of the maintenance debtor nor the predictability of the applicable rules of jurisdiction; that debtor must, in any event, expect to be sued either before the court for the place where he or she is habitually resident or before the courts for the place where that creditor is habitually resident. (38)

The CJEU also referred to Hague Protocol, underling that its Article 10 provides that the right of a public body to seek reimbursement of a benefit provided to the creditor in place of maintenance is governed by the law to which that body is subject. This:

ensures, in the vast majority of cases – which are those in which the seat of the public body and the habitual residence of the creditor are in the same Member State – a parallel between the rules on jurisdiction and those concerning the applicable substantive law. (43)

International Adoption and the Domestic Allocation of Competences: Children at the Heart of the Political Controversy

EAPIL blog - jeu, 03/04/2021 - 08:00

According to a press release of the Spanish Constitutional Court, on 23 February 2021 the Plenary has partially ruled in favor of the Government of Catalonia (the Generalidad de Cataluña/Generalitat de Catalunya) and, consequently, declared unconstitutional part of the provisions of the Spanish Regulation on International Adoption approved by Royal Decree 165/2019 of 22 March 2019, implementing Law 54/2007 of 28 December 2007 on International Adoption.

Before the Constitutional Court, the Generalidad claimed that the Regulation infringed its statutory powers in the field of social services and the protection of minors. The Court has ruled that the State has indeed encroached on the powers of the Autonomous Communities in that field, in its international dimension. The reason is that the Regulation goes too much into the detail of the legal status of ‘accredited bodies’ and has entirely centralised, without recourse to cooperation mechanisms, a number of executive tasks such as the recognition, suspension and revocation of the accreditation of intermediary bodies, as well as the monitoring and control of the activity and some tasks related to the national registering of accredited bodies.

On the other hand, according to the Court, the State, in so far as it has jurisdiction over international relations, may conclude bilateral agreements to promote reciprocal relations with other States; establish the list of countries excluded from the regime of international adoption due to war, disaster and other serious reasons; and suspend as a precautionary measure adoptions in progress for these reasons.

Similarly, the State may entrust executive tasks corresponding to the regional institutions to a Sector  Conference such as the Delegate Committee on Social Services, composed of representatives of all the autonomous communities and cities. The Committee decides by consensus and, failing that, by majority, on the maximum number of international adoption files to be dealt with each year in relation to each country, and on their distribution between the Autonomous Communities and the accredited bodies. It also decides on the approval of the basic model contract for international adoptions.

In order to protect the best interests of minors, and having in mind as well the rights of the adopters, the effect of the judgement has been put off for one year from its publication. In this way, an immediate legislative vacuum adversely affecting minors -in particular those involved in international adoption proceedings initiated prior to the decision- is prevented. Additionally, the declarations of unconstitutionality and nullity contained in the decision ‘shall not affect consolidated legal situations such as those established by final administrative measures, or those which have been decided by a judgment having the force of res judicata’.

The ruling is accompanied by a dissenting vote from two Justices. In their view, the application should have been dismissed in its entirety since the Generalidad does not have the competence it claims – hence there is no possible trespassing on the side of the State. According to the magistrates, the Generalidad has no power to intervene in the extra-judicial phase of an international adoption taking place abroad. By contrast, it has competence for the protection of children who are in distress or at risk ; however, neither minors in other Autonomous Communities nor those in another State fall under its scope, even if they may be adopted by Catalans. The principle of territoriality makes it impossible to acknowledge Catalonia’s competence to protect minors residing abroad. Furthermore, adoptable minors abroad are not in a situation of risk or distress, since they reside in institutions who look after them.

All in all, a complicated political setting. Difficult to assess whether, in practice, it works in favor or against the main stakeholders : the children, the adopters, the families.

Today Israel signed the HCCH 2005 Choice of Court Convention and the HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention

Conflictoflaws - mer, 03/03/2021 - 18:32

Today (3 March 2021) Israel signed the HCCH Convention of 30 June 2005 on Choice of Court Agreements (2005 Choice of Court Convention) and the HCCH Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (2019 Judgments Convention). The HCCH news item is available here.

It should be noted that in order to consent to be bound by the treaties, Israel would need to deposit an instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval under each instrument. In the meantime, a signatory State has the obligation not to defeat the object and purpose of a treaty prior to its entry into force (article 18 of the UN Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties).

The 2005 Choice of Court Convention has currently 32 Contracting Parties. The act of signing does not make Israel a “Contracting Party” (yet) but it is definitely a good step forward and an excellent sign of the relevance of the Convention today.

The 2019 Judgments Convention is not yet in force. In accordance with its article 28: “This Convention shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of the period during which a notification may be made in accordance with Article 29(2) with respect to the second State that has deposited its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession referred to in Article 24.”

There are currently three signatory States: Israel, Uruguay and Ukraine. The act of signing a treaty does not count towards the timeline specified in article 28 of the 2019 Judgments Convention as it is not an instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

 

 

Online Webinar on Effective Recognition of Non-Judicial Divorce

EAPIL blog - mer, 03/03/2021 - 15:30

Charlemagne Dagbedji (University of Corsica) organises a webinar (in French) titled “Effective Recognition of Non-Judicial Divorce” (L’efficacité internationale du divorce sans juge).

The webinar aims at assessing the international legal acquis on non-judicial divorce, with a special focus on the means to ensure its cross-border recognition. It requires to analyse private international law rules but also to adopt a comparative law approach and a practical perspective.

It will take place on 25 March 2021, 2 to 4 PM (CET).

The speakers are André Giudicelli (University of Corsica), Alex Tani (University of Corsica), Alain Devers (University of Lyon 3 & Lawyer at the Lyon Bar), Charlemagne Dagbedji (University of Corsica) and Sonia Ben Hadj Yahia (University of Corsica).

Program and registration here.

Markt24: CJEU emphasises predictability of place of habitual employment.

GAVC - mer, 03/03/2021 - 10:11

There is a benefit to the pace of work becoming so hectic that I cannot post on CJEU case-law swiftly: others have analysis to which I can refer. In the case of CJEU C-804/19 BU v Markt24 GmbH, Anna Wysocka-Bar has posted analysis this morning (Opinion Saugmandsgaard Øe here).

BU whose place of residence is at Salzburg (Austria) signed an employment contract for carrying out cleaning work in Munich (Germany) for Markt24 GmbH, whose registered office is also located in Munich. The contract was signed in a bakery in Salzburg, where Markt24 also had an office. BU was never allocated any work, the employment contract was terminated and BU claims outstanding wage at the Landesgericht Salzburg.

The CJEU refers to Holterman to define employment [25] and holds [26] that the presence of a contract of employment is relevant for triggering the protective regime: not its actual exercise a least of the lack of performance of the contract is not attributable to the employer [28].

This issue was not sub judice however reasoning mutatis mutandis I would suggest the attributability or not to the employer be subject to the putative lex loci laboris per A8 Rome I.

Having established that A21 BIa applies, the question is how a ‘‘place where or from where the employee habitually carries out his work’ may be determined if no work has been carried out. At 41:

in the case where the contract of employment has not been performed, the intention expressed by the parties to the contract as to the place of that performance is, in principle, the only element which makes it possible to establish a habitual place of work (…) That interpretation best allows a high degree of predictability of rules of jurisdiction to be ensured, since the place of work envisaged by the parties in the contract of employment is, in principle, easy to identify

In casu, that place is Munich albeit [46] Salzburg might also still be an option given as A20 BIa makes A7(5)’s branch jurisdiction applicable (“as regards a dispute arising out of the operations of a branch, agency or other establishment, in the courts for the place where the branch, agency or other establishment is situated”). Whether the conditions for that Article apply, is for the court at Salzburg to determine.

The CJEU’s emphasis on predictability in my view also means that if a place is agreed yet the employee, without agreement from the employer, de facto carries out the work elsewhere, the agreed place must take precedent.

The CJEU also holds [34] that the employment title of BIA exhaustively harmonises jurisdiction: more favourable national CPR rules (in casu granting jurisdiction to the employee’s residence and /or place of payment of the remuneration) become inoperable.

An important judgment.

Geert.

EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, para 2.278 ff.

OAS Virtual Forum on the Inter-American Juridical Committee’s Report on International Law and State Cyber Operations (on 8 March at 11 am DC time, 5 pm CET)

Conflictoflaws - mer, 03/03/2021 - 09:51

The Organization of American States (OAS) is organizing a virtual forum as noted in the poster above. For more information, click here.

This virtual forum will address the report: Improving transparency: international law and State cyber operations – fifth report drawn up by Professor Duncan B. Hollis. This report is available here and has been translated into the four official languages of the OAS: Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

While this report touches upon international law in general, it may still be of interest to some of our readers.

 

Court of Justice of the EU on the Concept of Habitual Place of Work

EAPIL blog - mer, 03/03/2021 - 08:00

On 24 February 2021 the Court of Justice of the EU issued a judgement in the case BU v Markt24 GmbH (C-804/19) following a request for a preliminary ruling from the Landesgericht Salzburg (Austria). The case concerns jurisdictional rules for employment contracts in Brussels I bis Regulation, in particular its Article 21. The opinion in this case was prepared by AG Øe.

Background

BU whose place of residence is in Salzburg (Austria) signed the employment contract for carrying out cleaning work in Munich (Germany) for Markt24 GmbH, whose registered office is also located in Munich. BU signed the contract with an employee acting as intermediary of Markt24. The contract was signed in a bakery in Salzburg, even though Markt24 had an office in this city at that time. It was agreed that BU would start working on 6 September 2017, but she was never allocated any work, even though she could be contacted by telephone and was prepared to work. BU has not received remuneration, but she was registered with the Austrian social security institution as an employee. On 15 December 2017, the defendant terminated the employment contract. On 27 April 2018, BU filed a claim to the Landesgericht Salzburg (Austria) asking for outstanding wage and other payments for the period of her employment.

Since the documents initiating the action could not be served on the defendant, a procedural representative in absentia was appointed. The representative contested jurisdiction of the Austrian court. It seems that, in accordance with domestic law in place in Austria, namely § 4(1)(a) Arbeits- und Sozialgerichtsgesetz (“ASGG” – Law on the labour and social courts), Landesgericht Salzburg would have jurisdiction, based on the place of residence of the employee and also the place where the remuneration was to be paid. At the same time there were doubts whether jurisdiction exists under Brussels I bis Regulation, in particular its Article 21(1)(b)(i), which grants jurisdiction to courts for “the place where or from where the employee habitually carries out his work”. Landesgericht Salzburg decided to refer a preliminary ruling to the CJEU asking few alternative questions.

Is Section 5 of Chapter II Brussels I bis Applicable at All, If No Work Was Actually Performed?

The Court reminded that the concept of an “individual contract of employment” referred to in Brussels I bis Regulation must be given an autonomous interpretation (point 24). As flows from its previous jurisprudence, this concept “presupposes a relationship of subordination of the employee to the employer; the essential feature of an employment relationship is that for a certain period of time one person performs services for and under the direction of another in return for which he or she receives remuneration” (point 25). If the above conditions are met, parties are bound by a “contract of employment” within the meaning of the Regulation, “irrespective of whether the work which is the subject of that contract has been performed or not” (point 26).

Hence, the CJEU stated that Section 5 of Chapter II Brussels I bis (namely, its special jurisdictional rules for employment contracts) “must be interpreted as applying to a legal action brought by an employee domiciled in a Member State against an employer domiciled in another Member State in the case where the contract of employment was negotiated and entered into in the Member State in which the employee is domiciled and provided that the place of performance of the work was located in the Member State of the employer, even though that work was not performed for a reason attributable to that employer.”

Does Brussels I bis Allow for the Application of Domestic Rules on Jurisdiction If More Beneficial to the Employee?

As rightly underlined in the opinion, the fact that the rules of the ASGG are more favorable to the employee is irrelevant, as section 5 of Chapter II Brussels I bis does not provide for certain minimum standards of the protection of employees, which might be further developed by the national legislation (points 43-44 of the opinion). Instead, this Regulation provides for a unified system of jurisdictional rules. If a dispute falls within the scope of application of Brussels I bis, its rules of jurisdiction must take precedence over national ones (points 30-32 of the judgement). Hence, the CJEU ruled that the provisions set out in Section 5 of Chapter II Brussels I bis preclude the application of national rules of jurisdiction, irrespective of whether those rules are more beneficial to the employee.

How to Understand Article 21(1)(b)(i) Brussels I bis, If the Work Was Never Actually Performed?

As underlined in the opinion, the Court has never before had a chance to explain how to understand the concept of the “place where the employee habitually carries out his work”, in case no work was actually performed (point 23 of the opinion). The Court noted that this concept refers to “the place where, or from which, the employee in fact performs the essential part of his or her duties vis-à-vis his or her employer” (point 40). The Court shared also the view presented in the opinion that:

in the case where the contract of employment has not been performed, the intention expressed by the parties to the contract as to the place of that performance is, in principle, the only element which makes it possible to establish a habitual place of work (…) That interpretation best allows a high degree of predictability of rules of jurisdiction to be ensured, since the place of work envisaged by the parties in the contract of employment is, in principle, easy to identify (point 41).

The Court had no doubt that in the case at hand that place is Munich (Germany).

At the same time, the Court underlined that in accordance with Article 20 Brussels I bis Regulation, section 5 of its Chapter II applies without prejudice to, inter alia, Article 6 point 5, which provides that a person domiciled in a Member State may be sued in another Member State, “as regards a dispute arising out of the operations of a branch, agency or other establishment, in the courts for the place where the branch, agency or other establishment is situated”. The Court noted that Landesgericht Salzburg should determine whether that provision may also be applicable in the case given that Markt24 had an office in Salzburg at the beginning of the employment relationship.

CJEU stated that Article 21(1)(b)(i) of Brussels I bis must be interpreted as meaning that an action may be brought before the court of the place where or from where the employee was required, pursuant to the contract of employment, to discharge the essential part of his or her obligations towards the employer. This is however without prejudice to Article 7(5) of the Regulation.

Is Article 7(1) Brussels I bis Applicable to an Employment Relationship, If No Work Was Actually Performed?

One of the questions was not answered either in the opinion or in the judgement, as there was no doubt that Section 5 of the Chapter II Brussels I bis does apply to the case at hand. By this question Landesgericht Salzburg wanted to clarify whether Article 7(1) Brussels I bis might apply to the employment relationship, in such specific circumstances, when no work was actually performed and whether § 4(1)(a) or (d) of the ASGG could be applied. It is not clear whether the ASGG was supposed to be applied instead of Article 7 Brussels I bis or somehow indirectly by the intermediation of it.

A quick note on mutual trust and judicial co-operation: Rantos AG on Brussels IIa in SS v MCP.

GAVC - mar, 03/02/2021 - 15:03

Last week’s Opinion of Advocate General Rantos (successor to Sharpston AG) in C-603/20 PPU SS v MCP is of note for its emphasis on the principle of mutual trust that lies at the foundation of European Private International Law. Brussels IIa is not staple diet for the blog and I shall leave more intense analysis to others. In short, the AG opined that a Member State retains jurisdiction under the Regulation, without limit of time, if a child habitually resident in that Member State was wrongfully removed to, or retained in, a non-Member State where it in due course became habitually resident.

The third country at issue is India, a non-Hague Convention State, as opposed to the UK, now also a third country but a Hague State. Note that in future A97(2) Brussels IIa Recast give clear priority to A13 Hague Convention’s lis alibi pendens rule, in cases where the conditions for that article are fulfilled: see Cusworth DJ today in AA & BB [2021] EWFC 17 at 27).

Of note to the blog is the AG’s emphasis on mutual trust, at 62 ff:

all Member States comply, in principle, with EU law justifies recognising, subject to certain conditions, the jurisdiction of the courts of the Member State to which a child was abducted and where he or she has acquired a habitual residence. By contrast, if a child has been abducted to a non-Member State, the cooperation and mutual trust provided for in EU law cannot apply. Therefore, having regard to the context of Article 10 of Regulation No 2201/2003, there is no justification for accepting the jurisdiction of the courts of that non-Member State, including in the case where the abducted child has acquired his or her habitual residence in the latter State.

and at 84

Regulation No 2201/2003 is based on cooperation and mutual trust between the courts of the Member States, which allows, subject to certain conditions, jurisdiction to be transferred between those courts. Since provision is not made for cooperation and mutual trust in the case of courts of a non-Member State, it appears to me entirely justified and consistent with that regulation for the courts of the Member State in which a child was habitually resident before his or her abduction to a non-Member State to continue to have jurisdiction for an unlimited period of time, with a view to ensuring that the best interests of that child are protected.

With this he dismissed the view of the referring court,  that A10 BIIA should be interpreted as having a territorial scope confined to the Member States because otherwise the jurisdiction retained by the Member State of origin would continue to exist indefinitely. In that court’s view, that Member State would thus be in a stronger position jurisdictionally vis-à-vis a non-Member State than a Member State.

Geert.

EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, various places (see Index: ‘Mutual Trust’).

Opinion Rantos AG C-603/20 PPU Brussels IIa.
MS retains jurisdiction, without limit of time, if a child habitually resident in that MS was wrongfully removed to (or retained in) a non-MS where she, following such removal (or retention), in due course became habitually resident. https://t.co/8E9KUJxcSK

— Geert Van Calster (@GAVClaw) February 23, 2021

UNIDROIT Makes Progress on Best Practices for Effective Enforcement

EAPIL blog - mar, 03/02/2021 - 08:00

Since 2018, UNIDROIT has been studying the prospect of working on the enforcement of claims.

In September 2020, it eventually established a Working Group on the Best Practices for Effective Enforcement. The Working group held its first meeting between 30 November and 2 December 2020, based on an Issues Paper.

The purpose of the project will be to adopt a soft instrument proposing solutions that States would be free to adopt (best practices followed by comments, on the model of the ELI-UNIDROIT Rules of civil procedure). It would focus on the enforcement process, and would not cover the process of obtaining a judgment against a defaulting party or the process of declaring enforceable foreign judgments in the forum. It would include the enforcement of provisonal and protective measures.

During the first meeting, the participants discussed a variety of issues, including the concept of enforcement, the types of claims that should be covered and the impact of technology. The Report of the meeting is available here.

The next meeting will be held in April 2021. Three sub-groups were established: Subgroup 1 on  “post-adjudication” enforcement; Subgroup 2 on enforcement of secured claims (collateral); Subgroup 3 on the impact of technology on enforcement.

EAPIL Seminar on Service and Evidence: Last Chance to Register!

EAPIL blog - lun, 03/01/2021 - 20:30

As noted earlier on this blog, on 5 March 2021, from 5 to 6.30 p.m. (CET), the European Association of Private International Law will host its third (Virtual) Seminar, devoted to the digitalization aspects of the revised Service of process and Taking of evidence Regulations.

Those wishing to attend have time until 3 March 2021 at noon to register. The registration form is available here.

Registered participants will receive the details to join the Seminar by e-mail the day before the Seminar (please note the e-mails with these details occasionally end up in the spam folder).

For more information, please write an e-mail to Apostolos Anthimos at apostolos.anthimos@gmail.com.

Horatia Muir Watt on “Capitalism’s Boundary Struggles: a PIL Approach”

Conflictoflaws - lun, 03/01/2021 - 19:41

March 2021 edition of the virtual workshop series “Current Research in Private International Law” will host Professor Horatia Muir Watt from the University Sciences-Po Paris. She will be speaking on “Capitalism’s Boundary Struggles: a Private International Law Approach”.

The guest speaker’s abstract states:

Our current awareness of crisis (whether sanitary, ecological, financial, economic, social etc) has led to various reflections and initiatives within law designed for the most part to improve regulation. The focus of this paper is very different and builds upon research currently conducted within the Globinar “Law Crisis and Capitalism” (with H. Alviar and G. Frankenberg). It starts from the idea that the “boundary struggles” that produce crises are endemic to capitalism’s modus operandi (as in the “critical conversation” between N. Fraser and R. Jaeggi). This metaphor suggests that private international law is a good place to think about the role of law in the generation, evolution, exacerbation or pacification of such conflicts that arise at the frontiers of different spheres. In this presentation, I shall suggest a few areas in which an analysis in terms of private international law’s political economy may be instructive.

The virtual workshop will take place on Tuesday, 2 March 2021 at 11:00 hours (CET) via Zoom. Access is free of charge, but registration is required by 1 March 2021 using the registration link.

HCCH Monthly Update: February 2021

Conflictoflaws - lun, 03/01/2021 - 17:37
Conventions & Instruments

On 1 February 2021, the HCCH 1965 Service Convention entered into force for the Marshall Islands. It currently has 78 Contracting Parties. More information is available here.

On 1 February 2021, the HCCH 2007 Child Support Convention entered into force for Serbia. At present, 41 States and the European Union are bound by the Convention. More information is available here.

On 1 February 2021, the HCCH 1993 Adoption Convention entered into force for Saint Kitts and Nevis. It currently has 103 Contracting Parties. More information is available here.

Meetings & Events

From 1 to 5 February 2021, the Experts’ Group on Jurisdiction met for the fifth time, via videoconference. The discussion focused on questions of policy, including in relation to rules of direct jurisdiction, parallel proceedings, related claims, and mechanisms for judicial coordination and cooperation. More information is available here.

From 8 to 11 February 2021, the Experts’ Group on International Transfer of Maintenance Funds met via videoconference. The Group continued its work discussing good practices and identifying possible future improvements in relation to the cross-border transfer of child support payments, with a view to facilitating the most cost-effective, transparent, prompt, efficient and accessible cross-border transfer of funds. More information is available here.

From 15 to 17 February 2021, the Experts’ Group on Parentage/Surrogacy met for the eighth time, via videoconference. The Group discussed what the focus of its work should be at its next meeting(s) in order to prepare its final report on the feasibility of a possible future general private international law instrument on legal parentage and the feasibility of a separate possible future protocol with private international law rules on legal parentage established as a result of an international surrogacy arrangement. More information is available here.

These monthly updates are published by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), providing an overview of the latest developments. More information and materials are available on the HCCH website.

Rivista di diritto internazionale privato e processuale (RDIPP) No 4/2020: Abstracts

Conflictoflaws - lun, 03/01/2021 - 16:21

The fourth issue of 2020 of the Rivista di diritto internazionale privato e processuale (RDIPP, published by CEDAM) has been released. It features:

Cristina Campiglio, Professor at the University of Pavia, Il matrimonio in età precoce nel diritto internazionale privato (Child Marriage in Private International Law; in Italian)

  • In recent years, international instruments to combat early and forced marriages have been flanked by national legislative interventions aimed at denying, or at least limiting, the recognition of marriages concluded abroad by minors. The private international law techniques used in Europe are different but fundamentally referable to special public policy clauses, in some cases inspired by the German doctrine of Inlandsbeziehung. Failure to recognize marital status – with the inevitable repercussions on immigration policies, specifically in the context of family reunification – can harm the fundamental rights of those concerned. Due to its abstract nature, the legislative approach is not able to carry out the evaluation of the minor’s concrete interest that only a case-by-case approach can ensure.

Costanza Honorati, Professor at the University Milan-Bicocca, Il ritorno del minore sottratto e il rischio grave di pregiudizio ai sensi dell’art. 13 par. 1 lett. b della convenzione dell’Aja del 1980 (Return of the Abducted Child and the Article 13(1)(b) ‘Grave Risk of Harm’ Defence in the 1980 Hague Convention; in Italian)

  • The “grave risk of physical or psychological harm, or of an intolerable situation” defense pursuant to Article 13(1)(b) of the 1980 Hague Convention constitutes the central hub of the conventional system. In fact, it expresses the difficult balance between, on the one hand, the general imperative to return the abducted child and, on the other, the need to refuse his return in the individual specific case, when this is likely to cause the minor a grave risk of harm. This article examines the application that the exception receives both in the recent Guide to Good Practice prepared by the HCCH Conference and published in March 2020, and in the Italian courts. Through the analysis of many unpublished cases, the peculiarities of the Italian practice on a central provision for effective protection of the abducted child are thus highlighted.

The following comments are also featured:

Loris Marotti, Research Associate at the University of Milan, Aspetti problematici dell’accordo sull’estinzione dei trattati bilaterali di investimento tra Stati membri dell’Unione europea (Problematic Aspects of the Agreement for the Termination of Bilateral Investment Treaties between EU Member States; in Italian).

  • On 5 May 2020, 23 Member States signed the Agreement for the termination of Bilateral Investment Treaties between the Member States of the European Union, providing for the termination of all Intra-EU BITs concluded between the parties. The Termination Agreement, which entered into force on 29 August 2020, represents the last step taken by Member States to comply with the European Court of Justice ruling in the Achmea judgment, where the Court found investor-State arbitration based on BITs incompatible with EU treaties. This paper discusses a number of issues arising out of the Termination Agreement. After illustrating its scope and content, the paper focuses on its most controversial aspects, namely the termination of BITs together with the sunset clauses therein contained, and the impact of the Agreement on pending arbitration proceedings. It is argued that while the Agreement seems to be in line with the general international law on treaty termination, its impact on pending proceedings is likely to be problematic according to the general principles regulating the judicial function in international law. Moreover, the paper analyses the controversial implications stemming from the Agreement in terms of the relations between Member States parties to the Agreement and third parties to the ICSID Convention, as well as its impact on investors’ position under international and domestic law.

Marco Pedrazzi, Professor at the University of Milan, Dal disdegno per il diritto internazionale («notwithstanding»…) alla prevalenza del «rule of law»: il controverso percorso che ha portato alla promulgazione della legge del Regno Unito sul mercato interno (From the Contempt for International Law (‘Notwithstanding’…) to the Prevalence of the ‘Rule of Law’: The Controversial Path that Led to the Promulgation of the UK Internal Market Act 2020; in Italian).

In addition to the foregoing, this issue features the following book review by Francesca C. Villata, Professor at the University of Milan: Christopher Kuner, Lee A. Bygrave, Christopher Docksey (eds.), The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A Commentary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2020, pp. XXXV-1393.

March 2021 at the CJEU (and a Preview on April)

EAPIL blog - lun, 03/01/2021 - 08:00

To the best of my knowledge, March 2021 will be another quiet month at the Court (for private international law issues). In fact, there is only one event to be reported, namely the judgment in case C-307/19, Obala i lučice, by the 1st Chamber (Bonichot, Bay Larsen, Safjan, Jääskinen, and Toader as reporting judge), which will be published on Thursday 25th.

Readers of this blog may remember that the main proceedings concern a dispute to recover the principal amount of HRK 84 (some 11 Euros) owed as payment for a daily parking ticket for a car parked on the public highway in Zadar (Croatia) on 30 June 2012. The national court – the Visoki trgovački sud Republike Hrvatske (Commercial Court of Appeal, Croatia)- referred nine questions to the Court in Luxembourg, on the interpretation of a number of provisions of several regulations. AG Bobek’s opinion was delivered on 26 November 2020.

A similar trend is announced for April. Therefore, while waiting for the opinions and decisions of the many pending cases directly related to private international law, I would suggest to have a look at nearby fields. A proposal: case C-919/19, Generálna prokuratura Slovenskej republiky, on the mutual recognition of judgments in criminal matters. The CJEU has been asked to interpret Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union, as amended. The questions are:

Is Article 4(1)(a) of the Framework Decision to be interpreted to the effect that the criteria set out therein are satisfied only when the sentenced person has, in the Member State of his nationality, such family, social, professional or other links that it is possible to reasonably assume from those links that enforcement in that State of the sentence may facilitate his social rehabilitation, and as therefore precluding national legislation such as Paragraph 4(1)(a) of Zákon č. 549/2011 Z.z. [Law No 549/2011] (in the version in force until 31 December 2019) which, in such cases, enables a judgment to be recognised and enforced in the event of merely formally recorded habitual residence in the executing State, regardless of whether the sentenced person has concrete links in that State which could enhance his social rehabilitation?

If that question is answered in the affirmative, is Article 4(2) of the Framework Decision to be interpreted to the effect that the competent authority of the issuing State is required also in the situation provided for in Article 4(1)(a) of the Framework Decision to satisfy itself, even before forwarding the judgment and certificate, that enforcement of the sentence by the executing State would serve the purpose of facilitating the social rehabilitation of the sentenced person and is, furthermore, required to provide the information gathered for that purpose in section (d), point 4, of the certificate specifically, where the sentenced person claims in the statement of his opinion provided for in Article 6(3) of the Framework Decision that he has concrete family, social or professional links in the issuing State?

If question 1 is answered in the affirmative, must Article 9(1)(b) of the Framework Decision be interpreted to the effect that where, in the situation set out in Article 4(1)(a) of the Framework Decision, despite the consultation under Article 4(1)(3) of that Decision and any provision of other necessary information, it is not proven that there are such family, social or professional links from which it could reasonably be assumed that the enforcement in the executing State of the sentence may facilitate the social rehabilitation of the sentenced person, there is still a ground for refusing to recognise and enforce the judgment?

An opinion, again by AG Bobek, is expected mid-April.

CJEU on Section 5 Brussels I bis and Article 21

European Civil Justice - sam, 02/27/2021 - 00:59

The Court of Justice delivered on 25 February 2021 its decision in case C‑804/19 (BU v Markt24 GmbH), which is about Section 5 Brussels I bis and Article 21:

“1. The provisions set out in Section 5 of Chapter II of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 […], under the heading ‘Jurisdiction over individual contracts of employment’, must be interpreted as applying to a legal action brought by an employee domiciled in a Member State against an employer domiciled in another Member State in the case where the contract of employment was negotiated and entered into in the Member State in which the employee is domiciled and provided that the place of performance of the work was located in the Member State of the employer, even though that work was not performed for a reason attributable to that employer.

2. The provisions set out in Section 5 of Chapter II of Regulation No 1215/2012 must be interpreted as precluding the application of national rules of jurisdiction in respect of an action such as that referred to in point 1 of the operative part of the present judgment, irrespective of whether those rules are more beneficial to the employee.

3. Article 21(1)(b)(i) of Regulation No 1215/2012 must be interpreted as meaning that an action such as that referred to in point 1 of the operative part of the present judgment may be brought before the court of the place where or from where the employee was required, pursuant to the contract of employment, to discharge the essential part of his or her obligations towards his or her employer, without prejudice to point 5 of Article 7 of that regulation”.

Source: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=238167&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=1675407

AG Rantos on Article 10 Brussels II bis

European Civil Justice - sam, 02/27/2021 - 00:58

AG Rantos delivered on 23 February 2021 his opinion in case C‑603/20 PPU (SS v MCP), which is about Article 10 Brussels II bis:

“Article 10 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 […] must be interpreted as meaning that the courts of the Member State in which a child was habitually resident immediately before his or her wrongful removal or retention retain their jurisdiction to rule on parental responsibility in respect of that child, for an unlimited period of time, in the case where that child is abducted to a non-Member State, including where the child acquires his or her habitual residence in that non-Member State”.

Source: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf;jsessionid=4F3789D7FC162870CBB1FA7EC0C4CCF2?text=&docid=238087&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=1675407

AG Bobek on Article 7(2) Brussels I bis

European Civil Justice - sam, 02/27/2021 - 00:56

AG Bobek delivered on 23 February 2021 his opinion in case C‑800/19 (Mittelbayerischer Verlag KG v SM), which is about Article 7(2) Brussels I bis:

“Article 7(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 […] must be interpreted as meaning that the establishment of the jurisdiction based on the centre of interests does not require that the allegedly harmful online content names a particular person.

However, in order to establish jurisdiction pursuant to Article 7(2) of that regulation, a national court must verify that there is a close connection between that court and the action at issue, thus ensuring the sound administration of justice. In the particular context of online publications, the national court must ensure that, in view of the nature, content, and the scope of the specific online material, assessed and interpreted in its proper context, there is a reasonable degree of foreseeability of the potential forum in terms of the place where the damage resulting from such material may occur”.

Source: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf;jsessionid=4F3789D7FC162870CBB1FA7EC0C4CCF2?text=&docid=238085&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=1675407

Motacus Constructions v Castelli. Choice of court, English lois de police and interim measures under the Hague process, post Brexit.

GAVC - ven, 02/26/2021 - 11:11

Motacus Constructions Ltd v Paolo Castelli SpA [2021] EWHC 356 (TCC)  to my knowledge is the first case post-Brexit that shows how a jurisdictional discussion that might have been settled swiftly under Brussels Ia, leads to a lot more chewing over under 2005 Hague Convention (on choice of court) principles. It may not be ‘important‘ in terms of its impact on authority (this is a first instance judgment; and it may be overly enthusiastic in engaging with the issues) yet it nevertheless is a good illustration of what was left behind.

The Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Act 2020 has given the 2005 Convention force of law in the UK.

The ‘Governing Law & Dispute Resolution’ clause (clause 19) of a contract between contractor and subcontractor re a London hotel provided ‘This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Italy’ and for all disputes to ‘submitted to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of Paris, France’. A payment issue ensued and the contractor started classic English construction sector adjudication proceedings despite the aforementioned clause: the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 is overriding mandatory law /loi de police /loi d’application immédiate in England and Wales [3]. To address cash flow problems in the construction industry, and the shortcomings of the traditional litigation process in serving the needs of the construction industry, Parliament decided there should be a short-form process of adjudication producing binding, and readily enforceable, decisions [25].

The UK has not made a reservation under Hague 2005 viz contracts in the construction sector  [18] (compare the EU’s reservation viz insurance contracts).

Sub-contractor actively took part, yet declined to make the necessary payment which the adjudicator’s decision had instructed. Adjudication enforcement proceedings were started on 12 January 2021. Sub-contractor challenged the enforcement proceedings, arguing the proceedings could only be commenced in Paris under the choice of court.

Claimant’s case is that the High Court should accept jurisdiction and enforce the adjudicator’s decision, notwithstanding the exclusive jurisdiction clause, in light of the provisions in either A6(c) or A7 Hague 2005. It submits that it would be manifestly contrary to the public policy enshrined in the 1996 Act, or alternatively it would be manifestly unjust, to refuse to enforce an otherwise enforceable adjudicator’s decision in reliance on clause 19 of the contract. In any event, it is argued, the enforcement of an adjudicator’s decision is the enforcement of an interim measure of protection. It falls outside the scope of Hague 2005 and so the defendant cannot rely on its provisions.

A6(c) Hague 2005 provides that a court of a contracting state (in this case the UK) other than that of the chosen court (in this case Paris, France), “… shall suspend or dismiss proceedings to which an exclusive choice of court agreement applies unless – (c) giving effect to the agreement would lead to a manifest injustice or would be manifestly contrary to the public policy of the State of the court seised. 

A7 provides that: “Interim measures of protection are not governed by [the Hague] Convention. [That] Convention neither requires nor precludes the grant, refusal or termination of interim measures of protection by a court of a Contracting State and does not affect whether or not a party may request or a court should grant, refuse or terminate such measures.”

Spiliada, Fiona Trust, The Eleftharia etc. are all discussed in what looks like a bonfire of the CJEU authorities. The impact of Italian law as lex contractus, for the construction of the choice of court clause (under BIa this would have to be French law) is also signalled, but not entertained for this is an application for summary judgment in which, in the absence of proof of Italian law, its contents are presumed to be the same as English law [51].

Hodge J at 54 declines the suggestion of A6(c) ordre public. ‘Manifest’ requires a high burden of proof, no reservation has been made and there is no good reason why the parties should not be held to the bargain that they freely made when they incorporated clause 19 into their construction contract.

At 56 ff however claimant’s arguments on interim measures having been carved out, does lead to success: it is held that an application for summary judgment to enforce an adjudicator’s decision is an interim measure of protection within A7 Hague 2005. ‘The concept extends to any decision that is not a final and conclusive decision on the substantive merits of the case…The function of the adjudicator’s decision is to protect the position of the successful party on an interim basis pending the final resolution of the parties’ dispute through the normal court processes (or by arbitration).’ [57] The summary judgment application before the High Court has that same DNA: ‘What is before this court is not the underlying dispute between these parties but whether an interim procedure and remedy have been followed and granted.’

Interesting. Geert.

And so it has started
Whether choice of EN Court ousted by Paris exclusive jurisdiction clause – Housing Grants, Construction, Regeneration Act 1996
Held: A7 2005 Hague Convention @HCCH_TheHague engaged, interim measures exception
BIa assessment would have been much more succinct https://t.co/FctAia7bqF

— Geert Van Calster (@GAVClaw) February 22, 2021

Zeitschrift für Europarecht, Internationales Privatrecht und Rechtsvergleichung: Issue 6 of 2020

EAPIL blog - ven, 02/26/2021 - 08:00

The Journal for European, Private International and Comparative Law (Zeitschrift für Europarecht, Internationales Privatrecht und Rechtsvergleichung – ZfRV) just released its latest issue. It includes two interesting articles.

The first, published in English and authored by Leszek Bosek and Grzegorz Żmij, is titled “On the CETA’s compatibility with European Union law in light of Opinion No 1/17 of the Court of Justice of 30 April 2019” (ZfRV 2020, p. 248). The summary reads:

The CJEU’s opinion No 1/17 regarding the CETA’s compatibility with European Union law is an important document demonstrating the evolution of the Court’s position when faced with the challenges of the world’s economic globalisation and the effect of various factors related to it on its case law. In our view, the Court of Justice has not sufficiently explained why it has departed from the principal determinations laid down in its Opinions Nos 2/13 and 1/09 and the Court’s judgement in the Achmea case, which were demonstrably in accordance with the line of the Court’s case law consistently defined by its subsequent judgements to date, demarcating in a clear way the fundamental constitutional principles of EU legal and judicial order. In particular, it is hard to accept as satisfactory its contention that the CETA tribunals will not apply or interpret the EU’s or Member States’ law, requiring a uniform interpretation in accordance with the rules laid down in Article 267 of the TFEU, which does not agree with observations from the international investment arbitration practice. The solutions adopted in the CETA seem to be pragmatic, but may raise doubts from the point of view of Article 19 of the TEU and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the corresponding guarantees in the constitutions of Member States. Those issues have not been sufficiently tackled by the Court of Justice.

The second article, published in German by Caroline Kohlhaupt, deals with the change of the Consumer Rights Directive’s substantive scope of application through the Omnibus Directive (“Die Änderung des sachlichen Anwendungsbereichs der Verbraucherrechte-RL 2011/83/EU durch die Omnibus-RL (EU) 2019/2161”, ZfRV 2020, p. 276). The summary reads:

The Directive (EU) 2019/2161 brings various amendments to the Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU. When it comes to the material scope of Directive 2011/83/EU, especially the following clarification is substantial: The Directive shall – in principle – also apply where the trader supplies or undertakes to supply digital content which is not supplied on a tangible medium or a digital service to the consumer and the consumer provides or undertakes to provide personal data to the trader.

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