Droit international général

IAFL European Chapter Young Lawyers Award 2019

Conflictoflaws - mer, 12/12/2018 - 11:26

Approximately eight years ago, the European Chapter of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (“IAFL”) established a writing award for young family lawyers to be awarded on an annual basis. The award aims to promote research and excellence among young family lawyers and to increase awareness among other legal professionals of the work and objectives of the IAFL. The Young Lawyers Award carries a prize of €1,000, awarded to the author of the winning contribution, and two €500 prizes for the best runners up. For more information, please click here.

The renaissance of the Blocking Statute

Conflictoflaws - mer, 12/12/2018 - 07:00

Written by Markus Lieberknecht, Institute for Comparative Law, Conflict of Laws and International Business Law (Heidelberg)

Quite a literal “conflict of laws” has recently arisen when the EU reactivated its Blocking Statute in an attempt to deflect the effects of U.S. embargo provisions against Iran. As a result, European parties doing business with Iran are now confronted with a dilemma where compliance with either regime necessitates a breach of the other. This post explores some implications of the Blocking Statute from a private international law perspective.

Past and present of the Blocking Statute

The European Blocking Statute (Regulation (EC) 2271/96)was originally enacted in 1996 as a counter-measure to the American “Helms-Burton Act” which, at the time, compromised European trade relations with Cuba. Along with WTO and NAFTA proceedings, the Blocking Statute provided sufficient leverage to strike a compromise with the Clinton administration. The controversial parts of the “Helms-Burton Act” were shelved and the few remaining pieces of legislation otherwise covered by the Blocking Statute ceased to be relevant over time. The Blocking Statute formally stayed in force but, for want of any legislation to block, remained in a legislative limbo until 8 May 2015.

On this day, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA) and to fully restore the U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. In particular, this entailed reinstating the so-called secondary sanctions which apply to European entities without ties to the U.S. This decision, albeit hardly unexpected, was met with sharp dissent in Europe. Not only was the JCPOA viewed by many as a remarkable diplomatic achievement, but secondary sanctions were seen as an illicit attempt to regulate European-Iranian trade relations without a genuine link to the U.S. The EU, claiming that this practice violated international law, immediately declared its intention to protect European businesses from the extraterritorial reach of the U.S. sanctions. In order to make good on this promise, an all but forgotten instrument of European private international law was swiftly dusted off and updated: The Blocking Statute.

Protection by prohibition

 The centerpiece of the Blocking Statute is its Art. 5 which prohibits affected Parties from complying with the relevant U.S. legislation. Depending on the Member State, a breach of this provision can be sanctioned with potentially unlimited criminal or administrative fines.

The disapproval enshrined in Art. 5 Blocking Statute – or, arguably, in the Blocking Statute as a whole – amounts to a specification of the European ordre public. Regarding the ever-present issue of overriding mandatory provisions, it rules out the possibility to give legal effect to the U.S. sanctions in question. This is either because the Blocking Statute, as lex specialis,supersedes Art. 9 Rome I Regulation altogether or because it has binding effect on the courts’ discretion under Art. 9 (3) Rome I Regulation. However, given the narrow scope of Art. 9 (3) Rome I Regulation, this means ruling out a possibility which was hardly measurable in the first place. After all, Iran-related contracts with a place of performance located in the U.S. as required by Art. 9 (3) Rome I Regulation are, if at all realistically conceivable, extremely rare. What is more, German courts have refrained from applying U.S. sanctions under Art. 9 (3) Rome I Regulation based on the notion that they are superseded by the EU’s own framework of restrictions on trade with Iran. Thus, there were plenty of reasons to deny legal effect before the recent update of the Blocking Statute.

Under the ECJ’s Nikiforidisdoctrine, the relevant sanctions are precluded from being applied as legal rules, but not from being considered as facts under substantive law. In this context, Art. 5 of the Blocking Statute will provide clear, albeit very one-sided, guidance for a number of issues. For instance, parties will not be able to contractually limit the scope of performance to what is permissible under relevant U.S. provisions, nor can they successfully claim a right to withhold performance or terminate contracts based on the justified fear of penalties imposed by U.S. authorities.

The “catch-22” situation

It does not require much number-crunching to see that to many globally operating companies, succumbing to U.S. pressure will seem like the the most, or even only, reasonable choice. The portfolio of U.S. penalties includes a denial of further access to the U.S. market and criminal liability of the natural persons involved. U.S. authorities are not shy on using these measures either, as recently evidenced by the spectacular arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada on charges of breaching sanctions against Iran. Thus, opting for a breach of the Blocking Statute and accepting the resulting fine under the Member State’s domestic law may strike many companies as a pragmatic choice.

Nonetheless, this decision would entail an intentional breach of European law. Executives, who may also face personal liability for unlawful decisions, are thus faced with a tough compliance dilemma; whichever choice they make can be sanctioned by either U.S. or European authorities. Given this delicate situation, they may happily accept any economic pretext to quietly wind down operations in Iran without express reference to the U.S. sanctions.

Both the Blocking Statute and the U.S. regulation allow for hardship exemptions. U.S. courts may also consider foreign government pressure as grounds for exculpation under the so-called foreign sovereign compulsion doctrine. While it may, therefore, be possible to navigate between both regimes, it appears unlikely that either side will be particularly generous in granting exemptions in order not to undermine the effectiveness of their regulation. After all, the Blocking Statute is in essence designed around the idea to create counter-pressure at the expense of European companies and the U.S. will hardly be inclined to play their part in making this mechanism work.

The clawback claim

Art. 6 of the Blocking Statute contains a so-called “clawback claim”. This provision enables parties to recover all damages resulting from the application of the U.S. sanctions in question from the person who caused them. What looks like a promising way to subvert the effect of the U.S. sanctions at first glance, quickly loses much of its appeal when looking more closely. In particular, the “claw back” provides no grounds to recover the most prevalent item of damages in this context, namely penalties imposed by U.S. authorities for breach of sanctions. Although the substantive requirements of Art. 6 Blocking Statute would evidently be met, any claim brought against the U.S. or its entities to remedy what is clearly an act of state would not be actionable in courts due to the doctrine of state immunity.

Thus, the claim is limited to disputes between private parties. The most realistic scenario here is that parties may hold each other liable for complying with U.S. sanctions and, in turn, violating the Blocking Statute. This means that, for instance, companies backing out of delivery chains or financing arrangements may be held liable for the resulting damages of every other party involved in the transaction. Due to the tort-like nature of the claim, this liability would even extend beyond the direct contractual relationships. Functionally, the “clawback” constitutes a private enforcement mechanism of the prohibition enshrined in Art. 5 Blocking Statute. It is, however, much less convincing as an instrument to protect all aggrieved parties from the repercussions of U.S. sanctions.

Conclusion

The renaissance of the Blocking Statute proves the difficulty of blocking the effects of foreign laws in a globalized world. The affected parties were promised protection but received an additional prohibition, arguably multiplying their compliance concerns rather than resolving them. Denying legal effects within the European legal framework is a relatively easy task and, given the narrow scope of Art. 9 Rome I Regulation, not far from the default situation. In contrast, legal instruments which can undermine the factual influence of foreign laws without unintended side effects are yet to be invented.  The true purpose of the Blocking Statutes is a political one, namely serving as a bargaining chip vis-à-vis the U.S. and an attempt to assure Iran that the European Union is not jumping ship on the JCPOA. However, this largely symbolic value will hardly console the affected parties whose legal and economic difficulties remain very much real.

 

This blog post is a condensed version of the author’s article in IPRax 2018, 573 et seqq. which explores the Blocking Statute’s private law implications in more detail and contains comprehensive references to the relevant literature.

No fake news: the Netherlands Commercial Court proposal approved!

Conflictoflaws - mar, 12/11/2018 - 23:58

By Georgia Antonopoulou, Erlis Themeli, and Xandra Kramer, Erasmus University Rotterdam (PhD candidate, postdoc researcher, and PI ERC consolidator project Building EU Civil Justice)

Today, the Dutch Senate (Eerste Kamer) finally voted in favour of the legislative proposal for the establishment of the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC) (see here). As of 11 December 2018, the Netherlands is added to the countries  that have created an English language court or chamber specialized in international commercial disputes, including Singapore and France.

The proposal was already approved by the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on 8 March 2018 (see our previous blogpost). Shortly after, we optimistically reported that the bill was scheduled for rubber-stamping by the Senate on 27 March 2018, making it realistic that the NCC would open its doors on 1 July 2018. However, not all senators were convinced by the need for and the modalities of the NCC proposal and it led to heated debates.

The discussions geared primarily around the cost-effective court fees and the fear for a two-tiered justice system (see Report of the meeting of 4 December 2018). The court fees are much higher than in other cases: 15.000 Euros in first instance and 20.000 Euros for appeal proceedings at the NCCA. It was argued that the cost-covering nature of the NCC fees is at odds with the current Dutch court fee system and that it may create and obstacle for small and medium-sized businesses to access the NCC. In response to these objections, the Dutch Minister of Justice and Security emphasized the importance of the NCC for the Netherlands as a trade country, the high quality of the Dutch civil justice system that was nevertheless unattractive due to the Dutch language, and pointed to the  establishment of similar courts in other countries. He underlined that the NCC is only available in cross-border cases, that it offers an additional forum that parties can choose while the ordinary courts are still available, and that the court fees are relatively low compared to arbitration or to the fees for commercial courts in several other countries, including the London Commercial Court.

Information on the NCC, a presentation of the court – a chamber of the Amsterdam District Court – and the Rules of Procedure are available on the website of the Dutch judiciary.

The Minister of Justice and Security will issue a decree soon announcing the date of entry into force of the NCC legislation, but in any case the NCC will open its doors early 2019.

Call for Papers: Judges in Utopia – Civil Courts as European Courts

Conflictoflaws - mar, 12/11/2018 - 07:00

We would like to invite young scholars to submit a paper for the upcoming conference entitled ‘Judges in Utopia: Civil Courts as European Courts’, which will take place in Amsterdam on 7 and 8 November 2019.

The conference’s aim is to reflect with legal scholars and practitioners on the reconceptualization of the role of civil courts in today’s European private legal order. Specifically, the conference’s focus lies on the courts’ potential to open up space in the deliberative process on concepts of justice in European private law. Proposals addressing the following issues and themes are particularly welcome, as are inter-disciplinary, theoretical and case-study based approaches:

  • the impact of fundamental rights on European private law and civil procedure;
  • the way(s) in which judges may deal with different conceptions of justice at EU and national level;
  • the legitimacy of judicial law-making in European private law;
  • the contribution of private law adjudication to polity-building in Europe.

The call for papers is open for young scholars, who are currently PhD researchers or who are post-doctoral researchers and have defended their PhD after 1 January 2016.

Proposals in form of an extended abstract (max. 500 words) should be submitted for review by 15 February 2019 to Betül Kas: b.kas@uva.nl. Submissions will be selected based on quality, originality, and their capacity to incite fruitful debates. Decisions on accepted submissions will be made by 1 April 2019. Authors whose contributions are accepted will be invited to present their paper at the conference and will be expected to submit their paper beforehand. Final papers will be circulated among the participants in advance of the conference. The organisers aim to publish some or all conference proceedings in an edited volume with a reputable publisher or a special issue of a European law journal.

Travelling and accommodation costs for presenters will be covered.

More information on the conference and the ‘Judges in Utopia’ project can be found at https://judgesinutopia.eu

The project team:

Prof. Dr. Chantal Mak

Dr. Betül Kas, LL.M.

Anna van Duin, LL.M., MJur (Oxon)

Laura Burgers, LL.M., BA

Fien de Ruiter, BA

Service of documents in the European Judicial Space: on the Commission’s proposal for amending Regulation 1393/2007

Conflictoflaws - dim, 12/09/2018 - 23:20

Guest post by Dr. Stefano Dominelli of the University of Milan

In recent times, the European Commission has investigated the possibility of amending Regulation 1393/2007 on the service of judicial and extra-judicial documents between Member States. Such instrument has already settled some issues practitioners encountered under the application of the previous legal framework, in particular related to the administrative cooperation regime, the linguistic exception to service, and direct service by registered mail – or equivalent measure.

The need for a proper functioning of the cross-border service of documents mechanisms is properly highlighted in the Commission’s proposal, and new rules are suggested to further implement the system.

A recent volume, Current and future perspectives on cross-border service of documents, by Stefano Dominelli (Univ. of Milan, Dep. of International, Legal, Historical and Political Studies), explores and addresses the Commission’s proposals.

The functioning of Regulation 1393/2007 is in the first place reconstructed by the author in particular by taking into consideration the case law of a number of Member States. It is against this background that the proposed amendments are commented.

Amongst the numerous points, the book dwells upon proposed new art. 3a, and its possible impact. Acknowledging technical evolutions, communication and exchange of documents between transmitting and receiving agencies in the diverse Member States should in the future strongly rely on e-transmission. According to proposed new art. 3a, only if electronic transmission is not possible due to an unforeseen and exceptional disruption of the decentralised IT system, transmission shall be carried out by the swiftest possible alternative means. The author advises caution in the matter, as the Commission itself argues in the explanatory memorandum of the proposal that modern channels of communication are in practice not used due to old habits, legal obstacles, and lack of interoperability of the national IT systems. In this sense, the work proposes that, at least for time being, a transition to e-transmission between agencies should be encouraged as an alternative method of transmission, rather as being the only available option.

A number of proposals are made as regards the right of the addressee to refuse service on linguistic grounds. In the first place, with a solution supported in the volume, a new Annex to the Regulation should clearly set out the means and methods of the addressee to refuse service, a matter that is currently not expressly dealt with by the regulation.

The time frame for the addressee to refuse service based on linguistic grounds should become two weeks, rather than one, a solution that is strongly endorsed by the author of the volume as it is deemed to be a more satisfying point of balance between the opposing interests of the prospective plaintiff and the defendant.

Nonetheless, the work highlights that some issues that have emerged in the case law still are not addressed in the Commission’s proposal. In the first place, conflict of laws and international civil procedure issues are not referenced in the text, even though questions as the competent court before which violations of the rules on service can be invoked or which court has to investigate on the legitimate refusal to service based on linguistic grounds, have consistently been addressed by judges.

Additionally, the Commission’s proposal gives to this day no clear indication on the refusal to service based on linguistic grounds when the addressee is a corporation, a matter that, according to the author, should deserve at least some guidance in the recitals of the instrument.

The volume can be freely downloaded at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3259980

 

Brussels IIa Recast: general agreement in the Council

Conflictoflaws - dim, 12/09/2018 - 11:36

Thanks to Emmanuel Guinchard for the tip through his blog on European Civil Justice

On 7 December the Council of the European Union approved the General Approach on the Brussels IIa Recast proposed by the Presidency on 30 November 2018.

The text has been heavily discussed and has undergone several changes since the original Commission Proposal of 30 June 2016.

Importantly, the Council has agreed on:

  • the complete abolition of exequatur;
  • a limitation of jurisdiction for provisional measures to States where the child or property belonging to the child is present;
  • allowing the cross-border recognition and enforcement of provisional measures granted by the court to where the child has been abducted when ordering the return;
  • the harmonisation of certain rules on actual enforcement;
  • making the time frame for return proceedings and their enforcement more stringent;
  • providing for the hearing of children;
  • clearer rules on the placement of children;
  • clearer rules on the circulation of extra-judicial agreements.

See the press release here.

See the General Approach document here.

This probably means that the refinement of the final Regulation will be done within the next few months.

The Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults – A position paper by experts involved in the ELI Adults’ Project

Conflictoflaws - mar, 12/04/2018 - 10:38

The European Law Institute (ELI) has launched in 2017 a project on The Protection of Adults in International Situations.

The adults to which the project refers are persons aged 18 or more who are not in a position to protect their interests due to an impairment or insufficiency of their personal faculties.

The project purports to elaborate on the resolution of 1 June 2017 whereby the European Parliament, among other things, called on the European Commission to submit ‘a proposal for a regulation designed to improve cooperation among the Member States and the automatic recognition and enforcement of decisions on the protection of vulnerable adults and mandates in anticipation of incapacity’.

The Commission has made known that it does not plan to submit such a proposal in the near future. At this stage, the Commission’s primary objective is rather the ratification of the Hague Convention of 13 January 2000 on the International Protection of Adults by the Member States that have not yet done so.

The ELI project builds on the idea that the Convention, which is currently in force for twelve States (ten of which are also Member States of the Union), generally provides appropriate answers to the issues raised by the protection of adults in situations with a foreign element. That said, the team of experts charged with the project has taken the view that it would be desirable for the Union to legislate on the matter, in a manner consistent with the Convention, with the aim of improving the operation of the latter among the Member States.

The ultimate goal of the project is to lay down the text of the measure(s) that the Union might take for that purpose.

While the project is still in progress, a position paper has been issued on 3 December 2018, signed by some of the members of the project team, to illustrate the main views emerged so far from the discussion.

The paper suggests that the Union should consider the adoption of measures aimed, inter alia, to:

(i) enable the adult concerned, subject to appropriate safeguards, to choose in advance, at a time when he or she is capable, the Member State whose courts should have jurisdiction over his or her protection: this should include the power to supervise guardians, persons appointed by court or by the adult (by way of a power of attorney), or having power ex lege to take care of the adult’s affairs;

(ii) enlarge the scope of the adult’s choice of law, so that he or she can also choose at least the law of the present or a future habitual residence, in addition to the choices currently permitted under Article 15 of the Hague Convention of 2000;

(iii) outline the relationship between the rules in the Hague Convention of 2000 and the rules of private international law that apply in neighbouring areas of law (such as the law of contract, maintenance, capacity, succession, protection against violence, property law, agency);

(iv) specify the requirements of formal and material validity of the choice of the law applicable to a private mandate, including the creation and exercise (and supervision by the courts) of such mandates;

(v) address the practical implications of a private mandate being submitted (by virtue of a choice of law, as the case may be) to the law of a State whose legislation fails to include provisions on the creation or supervision on such mandates, e.g. by creating a “fall-back” rule in cases of choice of the “wrong” law, which does not cover the matters addressed (or at least applying Article 15(1) of the Hague Convention of 2000);

(vi) extend the protection of third parties beyond the scope of Article 17 of the Hague Convention of 2000 to the content of the applicable law, and possibly also to lack of capacity (or clarifying that the latter question is covered by Article 13(1) or the Rome I Regulation);

(vii) make it easier for those representing and/or assisting an adult, including under a private mandate, to provide evidence of the existence and scope of their authority in a Member State other than the Member State where such authority has been granted or confirmed, by creating a European Certificate of Powers of Representation of an Adult (taking into account the experience developed with the European Certificate of Succession);

(viii) clarify and make more complete the obligations and procedures under Articles 22, 23 and 25 of the Convention in order to ensure ‘simple and rapid procedures’ for the recognition and enforcement of foreign measures; further reflection is needed to determine whether, and subject to which safeguards, the suppression of exequatur would be useful and appropriate for measures of protection issued in a Member State;

(ix) facilitate and encourage the use of mediation or conciliation.

The ELI project will form the object of a short presentation in the framework of a conference on The Cross-border Protection of Vulnerable Adults that will take place in Brussels on 5, 6 and 7 December 2018, jointly organised by the European Commission and the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Griffin v Varouxakis: (obiter) rejection of jurisdiction on the basis of indirect damage, ditto discussion of Brussels I’s insurance title.

GAVC - ven, 11/30/2018 - 19:07

In [2018] EWHC 3259 (Comm) Griffin v Varouxakis, Males J gives an obiter masterclass in the (ir)relevance of indirect damage for the establishment of jurisdiction.

Objections to jurisdiction where formally dismissed on the basis that they were made late according to the relevant CPR rules. Yet Males J went on to discuss at length and obiter whether, if such objection had been made timely, it would have been successful. He suggest it would partially have been successful, for those parts of the claim based on indirect damage, and directed against a Greece domiciled defendant.

(Of immediate note is the contrast with Four Seasons v Brownlie: here indirect damage was not immediately dismissed as a jurisdictional trigger however in that case jurisdiction was to be assessed on the basis of residual English rules; Brussels I did not apply).

Claimant insurance company (“Griffin”) contends that as a result of the defendant’s conduct it has lost the right to claim general average contributions which were payable and would have been paid in London, so that the damage it has suffered was suffered in the London jurisdiction. The defendant disputes this analysis, contending that the damage in question was suffered either in the place where the underlying contract was broken or alternatively in Guernsey where Griffin is domiciled and where it would ultimately have received any general average payments. Alternatively he contends that Griffin’s claim is a “matter relating to insurance” within the meaning of Section 3 of Chapter II of the Regulation so that, in accordance with Article 14, he can only be sued in the courts of Greece where he is domiciled.

The Court reviews relevant case-law on Article 7(2) and applies it to two separate claims (particulars of which are in para 28 and para 29): for one of them only, direct damage would have been suffered in England; for the other, in Oman.

Finally at 92 ff and equally obiter Males J concludes that the litigation is not a “matter relating to insurance” within the meaning of Section 3 of Chapter II of the Recast Brussels Regulation. At 96: ‘Not all claims brought by a claimant who happens to be an insurer comprise matters relating to insurance.’ at 98: ‘neither of Griffin’s claims are matters relating to insurance. The fact that Griffin is an insurer forms part of the background to the claim and explains why the harm which Griffin has suffered is the loss of an ability to enforce a subrogated right (although insurers are not the only people who sometimes have the benefit of rights of subrogation), but that is all. In all other respects the nexus between the claim in tort and the policy is tenuous. Determination of the claim requires no consideration of the terms of the policy, which was scarcely looked at during the hearing.’ This latter suggestion goes along the Granarolo etc. judgments on the distinction between contract and tort.

Geert.

(Handbook of) EU Private international law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2 Heading 2.2.11.2, Chapter 4, Heading 4.4 .

AS Tallinna Vesi: Kokott AG on sludge and end of waste.

GAVC - ven, 11/30/2018 - 18:06

Case C-60/18 AS Tallinna Vesi could have been, as Advocate General Kokott noted yesterday, about much more. In particular about the exact scope of the Waste Framework Directive’s exclusion for sewage sludge and the relation between the WFD, the waste water Directive and the sewage sludge Directive. However the referring court at least for the time being sees no issue there (the AG’s comments may trigger the applicant into making it an issue, one imagines) and the AG therefore does not entertain it.

Instead the case focusses on whether waste may no longer be regarded as such only if and after it has been recovered as a product which complies with the general standards laid down as being applicable to it? And on whether, alternatively, a waste holder be permitted to request that the competent authorities decide, on a case-by-case basis and irrespective of whether any product standards are in place, whether waste is no longer to be regarded as such.

Ms Kokott emphasises the wide margin of discretion which the Member States have in implementing the Directive. End of waste criteria at the national level (in the absence of EU criteria) may not always be warranted particularly in the context of sewage sludge which is often hazardous. However precisely that need for ad hoc assessment should be mirrored by the existence of a procedure for waste operators to apply ad hoc for clarification on end of waste status.

Geert.

Handbook of EU Waste law, 2nd ed. 2015, OUP, 1.166 ff and 1.189 ff.

EDPB guidelines on the territorial reach of the GDPR: Some clear conflicts overlap.

GAVC - ven, 11/30/2018 - 17:05

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) aficionados will have already seen the draft guidelines published by the EDPB – the European data protection board – on the territorial scope of the Regulation.

Of particular interest to conflicts lawyers is the Heading on the application of the ‘targeting’ criterion of GDPR’s Article 3(2). There are clear overlaps here between Brussels I, Rome I, and the GDPR and indeed the EDPB refers to relevant case-law in the ‘directed at’ criterion in Brussels and Rome.

Geert.

(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.8.2.3, Heading 2.2.8.2.5.

 

Dutch Supreme Court refers conflicts relevant questions on posted workers Directive to CJEU.

GAVC - ven, 11/30/2018 - 16:04

Thank you MPI’s Veerle Van Den Eeckhout for pointing out a highly relevant reference to the CJEU by the Dutch Supreme Court /Hoge Raad. The link between the posted workers Directive and conflict of laws is clear, as I have also explained here. The most interesting part of the reference for conflicts lawyers, ae the questions relating to ‘cabotage’, particularly where a driver carries out work in a country where (s)he is not habitually employed (international trade lawyers will recognise the issue from i.a. NAFTA).

One to keep an eye on.

Geert.

(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed 2016, Chapter 3, Heading 3.2.5.

Stripes US. High Court considers jurisdiction for scheme of arrangement in the usual way.

GAVC - jeu, 11/29/2018 - 09:09

In [2018] EWHC 3098 (Ch) Stripes US, Smith J deals with jurisdiction for schemes of arrangement in the now well established way (see my last report on same in Algeco):

The EU’s Insolvency Regulation is clearly not engaged: the schemes fall under company law. The High Court then applies the jurisdictional test viz the Brussels I Recast Regulation arguendo: if it were to apply (which the English Courts have taken no definitive stance on), would an English court have jurisdiction? Yes, it is held: under Article 8 (anchor defendants).

The issue in fact splits in two: so far as the question of jurisdiction in relation to a foreign (non-EU or Lugano States based) company is concerned (Stripes US is incorporated in Delaware), the law is clear. It is well-established that the court has jurisdiction to sanction a Scheme in relation to a company provided that company is liable to be wound up under the Insolvency Act 1986.

Turning next to the Scheme Creditors, of the 31 Scheme Creditors, 19.4% by number (26.35% by value) of the ‘defendants’ (an odd notion perhaps in the context of a Scheme sanction) are domiciled in the UK, plenty Smith J holds to suggest enough reason for anchoring: not taking jurisdiction vis-a-vis the defendants domiciled in other Member States, would carry with it a serious risk of irreconcilable judgments.

Finally the case for forum non conveniens (and comity) is considered (vis-a-vis the US defendant), and rejection of jurisdiction summarily dismissed: in this case the relevant agreement which is the subject of the Scheme has a governing law which is (and, I understand, always has been) English law: at 63: ‘Generally speaking, that is enough to establish a sufficient connection. The view is that under generally accepted principles of private international law, a variation or discharge of contractual rights in accordance with the governing law of the contract should be done by the court of that law and will be given effect to in other third-party countries.’ US experts moreover advised any judgment would most probably have no difficulty being enforced in the US

Geert.

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

 

Vacancy at the University of Bremen: Paid PhD-Researcher Position in Private International Law

Conflictoflaws - lun, 11/26/2018 - 22:01

The University of BremenLaw School will recruit a doctoral researcher in Private International Law (‘wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter’ m/w/d), part time 50 per cent, starting in early 2019, for a duration of 36 months.

The researcher will work on the project ‘Rome Regulations. Commentary, 3rded. (Calliess/Renner eds.)’. In addition, there is a teaching obligation of 2 hours/week, 28 weeks/year in small groups under the supervision of Professor Calliess. Next to that candidates are expected to work on a PhD-thesis (doctor iuris), preferably in the area of private international law, international civil procedural law, or transnational private law.

Candidates shall hold a law degree comparable to the German ‘Prädikatsexamen’ (4-5 years of studies and graduation among the top 20 per cent of the year). A very good command of English is required, while a good command of German is an additional asset.

The position will provide a net income of ca. 1200-1300 €/month and includes social security. For further inquiries and to apply contact Professor Calliess at g.calliess@uni-bremen.de.

Deadline for applications with a letter of motivation, CV and certificates: 7 January 2019.

The legally binding call for applications A305/18is in German only and to be found here.

 

Deutsche Apotheker- und Arztebank v Leitzbach. A straightforward COMI assessment to start the week.

GAVC - lun, 11/26/2018 - 10:10

I am working on rather intricate conflicts issues this week (which I am enjoying) so I am turning to the blog for a little cerebral relief (equally pleasing). In [2018] EWHC 1544 (Ch) Deutsche Apotheker- und Arztebank EG v Leitzbach , reported with thanks by Ashfords, Hodge J correctly applied the COMI test of Regulation 1346/2000 to dismiss jurisdiction for the courts in England and Wales.

Dr Leitzbach had obtained a bankruptcy order after a previous attempt in which he had failed to testify to COMI in England and Wales. His, successful, second attempt, it now became clear, was obtained after misrepresentation. Dr Leitzbach’s arguments pro COMI it seems were mostly based on residence in the UK, proof for which he sought to obtain from (in fact non-existing) supermarket loyalty cards, as well as receipts of purchases made hundreds of miles apart within a short time-frame.

Note at 27 Hodge J’s in my view entirely correct sympathy for forum shopping in insolvency: as long as COMI can be correctly ascertained in the jurisdiction, this is an entirely justifiable phenomenon. Except indeed COMI was not in the UK as the High Court equally found:

at 71: ‘I simply cannot accept the evidence of Dr Leitzbach as to the fact that he was living and working …as a consultant in England and Wales at the relevant time. I simply do not accept his evidence to that effect. Secondly, however, I would in, any event, have found that, as a professional dentist who had been practising as such in Germany, Dr Leitzbach had never acquired a COMI in England and Wales…’

at 74: ‘so far as his visibility as a dentist is concerned, third parties would clearly have formed the view that he was continuing to practise with his brother in Germany until the end of 2012. He remained on the appropriate public dental register until the end of 2012. He secured a certificate that he was unfit for dental work at the end of 2011; but even that document was addressed to the former practice address in Hochheim, and it operated simply to relieve the debtor from making contributions to his official German dental pension scheme only until 30 June 2012…Dr Leitzbach accepted..that he was representing to third parties that he remained in practice as a dentist in the Hessen dental register until the end of December 2012. It was that dental practice address that was used by Dr Leitzbach to register himself on the postgraduate dental course that he undertook. He accepted that others on the course would all have assumed that he was continuing to practise as a dentist in Germany. His CV, written for the purpose of a published article in a dental journal, gave the impression that he had worked as a dentist in Germany until the end of 2012, and that, thereafter, his only professional activity was attending the postgraduate dental course.’

COMI never have been in the UK, the carpet was pulled from underneath the previous Bankruptcy order and this had to be annulled.

Geert.

(Handbook of) EU private international law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 5, Heading 5.6.1.

Blockchain Networks and European Private Internationale Law

Conflictoflaws - lun, 11/26/2018 - 07:00

Written by Anton S. Zimmermann, Institute for Comparative Law, Conflict of Laws and International Business Law (Heidelberg)

Blockchain technology and its offspring have recently attracted considerable attention in both media and scholarship. Its decentralised nature raises several legal questions. Among these are, for example, the challenges that blockchain technology poses to data protection laws and the threats it creates with regard to the effective enforcement of legal claims.

This post sheds light on issues of private international law relating to blockchain networks from a European perspective.

The concept of blockchain technology and its fields of application

Blockchain technology – put simply – involves two fundamental concepts. Firstly, data is written into so-called “blocks”. Each block of data is connected to its respective predecessor using so-called “hashes” that are calculated for each individual block. Consequently, each block does not only include its own hash but also the hash of its predecessor, thereby fixating consecutive blocks to one another. The result is a chain of blocks – hence the name blockchain. Secondly, the entire blockchain is decentrally stored by the networks’ members. Whenever a transaction concerning the blockchain is requested, it isn’t processed by just one member. On the contrary: several members check the transaction and afterwards share their result with the other members in what can best be described as a voting mechanism: From among potentially different results provided by different members, the result considered correct by the majority prevails. This mechanism bears the advantage that any attempt to tamper with data contained in a blockchain is without consequence as long as only the minority of members is affected.

The potential fields of application for blockchain technology are manifold and far from being comprehensively explored. For example, blockchain technology can replace a banking system in the context of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or it can be used to de-personalize monitoring and sanctioning of non-performance within a contractual relation. In short: Blockchain technology is an option whenever data is to be stored unalterably in a certain order without a (potentially costly) centralised monitoring entity.

Applicable rules of private international law

The first issue regarding blockchain technology and private international law concerns the applicable conflict rules. Blockchain technology involves a technical voting mechanism and, hence, requires a certain degree of cooperation between the members of the network. One might, therefore, be tempted to assume that blockchain networks constitute some kind of company. If this were indeed the case, the written conflict rules, especially those of the Rome I Regulation, would not be applicable (cf. Art. 1(1) lit. f) Rome I Regulation) and the unwritten conflict rules relating to international companies would claim application instead. However, this approach presupposes that the factual cooperation within a blockchain network suffices to create a company in the sense of European private international law. This is, however, not the case. The constitution of blockchain networks is only cooperative in a technical way, not in a legal one. The network is not necessarily based on a (written or unwritten) cooperation agreement and, therefore, lacks an essential prequisite of a company. Consequently, the determination of the law applicable to blockchain technology is not necessarily a question of international company law. Parties are, however, not precluded from creating a company statute that reflects the decentral structures of blockchain technology, whereas the mere decision to engage in a blockchain network does not suffice to create such a company.

Thus, the private international law of blockchain technology must also take into account the Rome I Regulation as well as the Rome II Regulation. Unfortunately, blockchain networks per seare not suitable as connecting factors: firstly, a decentralised network naturally escapes the classical European principle of territorial proximity. Secondly, the use of blockchain technology is usually not an end in itself but functionally subordinate to the purpose of another act, e.g. a contract, a company or a tort. This factor should, however, not be seen as a problem, but as a hint at a potential solution: although a superordinate act may render a blockchain network insufficient to determine the substantive law, the superordinate act itself can serve as a connecting factor.

The following two examples illustrate the proposed method of accessory connection and show that the European legal framework relating to private international law is capable to cope with several questions raised by novel phenomena such as blockchain technology. The remaining questions have to be dealt with on the basis of the principle of proximity.

First scenario: blockchain networks within centralised contracts

Blockchain technology often serves to achieve the goal of a centralised act. In this case, legal questions regarding the use, misuse and abuse of blockchain technology, e.g. access rights and permissions to write regarding data contained in a blockchain, should be governed by the substantive law governing the superordinate act.

To give an example: The parties of a supply chain decide to implement a blockchain in order to collectively store data concerning (1) when and in what quantity products arrive at their warehouse and (2) certificates of quality checks performed by them. As a result, production routes and quality control become more transparent and cost-efficient along the supply chain. Blockchain technology can thus be used e.g. to ensure the authenticity of drugs, food safety etc. The legal questions regarding the smart contract should in this scenario be governed by the substantive law governing the respective purchase agreement between the parties in question. The choice of law rules of the Rome I Regulation, hence, also determine the substantive law regarding the question how blockchain technology may or may not be used in the context of the purchase agreement. The application of blockchain technology becomes a part of the respective contract.

If one were to apply the substantive law governing the contract only to the contract itself but not to blockchain technology, one would create unjust distinctions: The applicable law should not depend on whether the parties pay an employee to regularly check on their warehouse and issue certificates in print, or whether they employ blockchain technology, achieving the same result.

Second scenario: blockchain networks within decentralised companies

The scenario described above shows that the decentralised nature of blockchain networks does not necessarily require special connecting criteria. This is a consequence of the networks’ primarily serving function to the respective superordinate entity.

Difficulties arise when parties agree on a company statute whose content reflects the decentralisation of blockchain technology. In this scenario, there is a decentral company that utilises only decentral technology as its foundation. A much-discussed case of this kind was “The DAO”, a former company based on blockchain technology. The DAO’s establishment was financed by investors providing financial resources in exchange for so-called tokens. These tokens can be described as the digital counterpart of shares and hence as an expression of the respective investor’s voting rights. Within the resulting investment community, voting rights were exercised in order to decide on investment proposals. The results of the votes were implemented automatically. The company thus consisted only of the investors and information technology but had no management body, no administrative apparatus, and no statutory seat.

Hence, the DAO did not only lack a territorial connection on the level of information technology, but also on the level of the companies’ legal constitution: it neither had an administrative seat nor a statutory seat. The connecting factors usually applied to determine the law applicable to companies were, therefore, ineffective. Because the DAO was a company, it was also exempt from the scope of the Rome I Regulation (cf. Art. 1 (2) lit. f. Rome I Regulation).

This vacuum of traditional conflict rules necessitates the development of new ones. There is no other valid connecting factor that could result in a uniform lex societatis: Especially the habitual residence or nationality of the majority of members is arbitrary as the company is built on a concept of decentralism and territorial detachment. Moreover, possible membership changes would lead to an intertemporally fluctuating statute whose current status could hardly be determined. The lack of a uniform connecting factor raises the question whether or not the ideal of a uniform lex societatiscan be upheld. The fact that members of the DAO do not provide a feasible uniform connecting factor suggests a fragmentation of the applicable law (dépeçage).

Assuming that there is no uniform lex societatisfor the DAO and that the applicable substantive law has to be fragmented, acts by the company become conceivable connecting factors. One might, for example, assume that preliminary questions concerning the company, i.e. its legal capacity, are subject to the substantive law that would govern the act in question. If the DAO enters into a contract that – given its validity – is governed by German substantive law according to Art. 4 of the Rome I-Regulation, German law should also determine the legal capacity of the DAO with respect to this particular contract. One might object that the Rome I-Regulation exempts both companies and legal capacity from its scope of application. This, however, only means that the Regulation is not bindingwithin those fields. As the conflict rules of International company law do not lead to conceivable results, the principle of proximity has to be the guiding factor in the search for a new unwritten conflict rule. As the closest territorial connections of decentral organisations are their respective acts, e.g. contracts, the principle of proximity suggests that the respective act is what determines the closest connection of the company. The resulting conflict rule states an accessory subjection of the lex societatisto the law governing the company’s respective acts. While the proposed solution does indeed lead to an indirectapplication of the Rome I Regulation, it nonetheless constitutes a self-reliant, unwritten conflict rule which is consequently not precluded by the catalogue of exemptions contained in the Rome I Regulation.

This fragmentation of applicable laws turns a membership in the DAO into a risky und legally uncertain endeavour, as – neglecting the tremendous practical and legal problems of the enforcement of claims – different legal orders impose different requirements for legal capacity, limitation of liability and other privileges.

Concluding thoughts

Blockchain technology is a novel phenomenon, but it does – in most cases – not necessitate new connecting factors or conflict rules. If, however, the legal entity in question mirrors the decentralised structure of a blockchain network, the legal assessment becomes more complicated.

In those cases, the usually uniformlex societatishas to be fragmented which leads to a high chance of personal liability of the members. Whether or not one accepts this fragmentation largely depends on the definition of the hierarchy of technical-economic progress and the lex lata. In my opinion, technical developments may and should act as an impetus to legislatorsfor legislative amendments but should not prevail over the existing rules of law. Those who desire legal advantages – such as a limitation of liability or even a uniform statute – must in exchange fulfil and adhere to the laws’ requirements.

This post is based on A. Zimmermann, Blockchain-Netzwerke und Internationales Privatrecht – oder: der Sitz dezentraler Rechtsverhältnisse, published in IPRax 2018, 568 ff. containing references to further literature.

15th Regional Private International Law Conference, Prishtina, 30 November, 2018

Conflictoflaws - dim, 11/25/2018 - 11:47

The University of Prishtina is hosting on November 30 the 15th Regional Private International Law Conference. This year’s edition focuses on the  1982 Yugoslav Private International Law Act [“From the 1982 PIL Act towards new PIL Acts in the region”].

The draft agenda is as follows:

Location: The Professors’ Room, Faculty of Law, University of Prishtina.

09:30- 09:45 Welcoming remarks
Prof. Haxhi Gashi, Dean of Faculty of Law and Mr. Abelard Tahiri, Minister of Justice

09:45-10:10 Prof. Asllan Bilalli
“Kosovo’s new Draft Act on Private International Law”

10:10 – 10:30 Prof. Hajredin Kuçi
“Kosovo’s New Draft Civil Code- a brief presentation of the key ideas and approximation with EU Private Law

11:15 – 11:35 Prof. Hrvoje Sikiric
“The New Croatian Act on Private International Law and developments in the region”

11:35 – 11:40 Prof. Nada Dollani, Prof. Aida Gugu Bushati and Prof. Eniana Qarri
“Property Regime under Albanian Private International Law; a comparative view”

13:30 – 13:50 Dr. Christa Jessel- Holst
“Enforcement of judgments originating from West Balkan countries in Germany”

13:50 – 14:10
Prof. Denis Salomon
“Res iudicata and conflicting decisions under the Brussels Ibis Regulation and the New York Convention”

14:30 – 14:50 Prof. Slavko Djordjevic
Topic TBD

14:50 – 15:10 Toni Deskoski and Prof. Vangel Dokovski
“Limitations of the principle of party autonomy under the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Contracts”

15:10 -15:30 Discussion and Closing remarks

Private International Law, Labour conditions of Hungarian truck drivers, and beyond

Conflictoflaws - dim, 11/25/2018 - 11:27

Written by Veerle Van Den Eeckhout (http://www.mpi.lu/the-institute/senior-research-fellows/veerle-van-den-eeckhout/)

On 23 November 2018 the Dutch Supreme Court referred a question for preliminary ruling to the CJEU in a case with regard to labour conditions of Hungarian truck drivers, particularly with regard to the Posting of Workers Directive, 96/71/EC (see, in Dutch, https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:HR:2018:2174. See, moreover, the decision of the same day https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:HR:2018:2165  ).

The preliminary question will certainly attract the attention of many who have a particular interest in the specific theme of labour conditions of mobile East European workers –  a theme in which rules of Private International Law matter.

The case, and its theme, might also be significant in a broader sense: it could be seen as taking place against the backdrop of discussions about the status quo of Private International Law, about current evolutions within Private International Law and the future of Private International Law, about the so-called “neutrality” of Private International Law.

These current evolutions and discussions might be analysed from the perspective of the “instrumentalization” of Private International Law. Questions about the instrumentalization of Private International Law might, ultimately, be framed as questions about the role and potential of the discipline of Private International Law with regard to social justice and global justice. Such questions arise with regard to the regulation of themes that are often put forward as hot topics in discussions about globalization (global / transnational) and social justice. Various case studies could illustrate this, in particular the theme of Corporate Social Responsibility, the theme of labour migration/labour exploitation, the theme of migration law (in the broad sense of the word – including e.g. also social security claims) in its interaction with Private International Law. The cases might concern both the regional-European setting (where legal arguments such as European freedoms arise) and the global setting (where legal arguments such as European freedoms do not arise as such).

When carrying out such an analysis, current developments – such as: recent developments regarding employee protection (recent revision of the Posting Directive, “Ryanair”, …), recent developments regarding consumer protection (in various shapes and forms), recent attention for the interaction between migration law/refugee law and Private International Law, etc. – might be taken into account. Such an analysis could be placed in a context of current calls to the discipline of Private International Law to play a more prominent role cq to exercise the role it deserves or should exercise cq “to do its bit”. See also, on this, i.a. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3265160.

Put this way, the preliminary question of the Dutch Supreme Court interests the European road transport, but the interest for this case might also go beyond the particular characteristics and merits of this case and might even go beyond the specific theme.

On 13 December Fieke van Overbeeke will defend her phd thesis at the University of Antwerp on the exact topic of this preliminary question (under the supervision of Thalia Kruger and Herwig Verschueren). Fieke analysed the law applicable to the employment contracts of lorry drivers in the light of the Rome I Regulation and the Posting of Workers Directive.

Facebook appeal against UK fine puts territoriality of data protection in the spotlight.

GAVC - sam, 11/24/2018 - 07:07

I have an ever-updated post on Google’s efforts to pinpoint the exact territorial dimension of the EU’s data protection regime, GDPR etc. Now, Facebook are reportedly appealing a fine imposed by the UK’s data protection authority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook’s point at least as reported is that the breach did not impact UK users.

The issue I am sure exposes Facebook in the immediate term to PR challenges. However in the longer term it highlights the need to clarify the proper territorial reach of both data protection laws and their enforcement.

One to look out for.

Geert.

 

“The Nature and Enforcement of Choice of Law Agreements” (2018) 14 Journal of Private International Law 500-531

Conflictoflaws - sam, 11/24/2018 - 00:26

This blog post presents a condensed version of Dr Mukarrum Ahmed’s (Lancaster University) article in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of Private International Law. The blog post includes specific references to the actual journal article to enable the reader to branch off into the detailed discussion. The journal article is a companion publication to the author’s recent book titled The Nature and Enforcement of Choice of Court Agreements: A Comparative Study (Oxford, Hart Publishing 2017).

The article examines the fundamental juridical nature, classification and enforcement of choice of law agreements in international commercial contracts. At the outset, it is observed that choice of law considerations are relegated to a secondary position in international civil and commercial litigation before the English courts as compared to international jurisdictional and procedural issues. (See pages 501-503 of the article) Significantly, the inherent dialectic between the substantive law paradigm and the internationalist paradigm of party autonomy is harnessed to provide us with the necessary analytical framework to examine the various conceptions of such agreements and aid us in determining the most appropriate classification of a choice of law agreement. (See pages 504-508 of the article and Ralf Michaels, ‘Party Autonomy in Private International Law – A New Paradigm without a Solid Foundation?’ (2013) 15 Japanese Yearbook of Private International Law 282) In binary terms, we are offered a choice between choice of law agreements as mere “factual” agreements on the one hand or as promises on the other. However, a more integrated and sophisticated understanding of the emerging transnationalist paradigm of party autonomy will guide us towards a conception of choice of law agreements as contracts, albeit contracts that do not give rise to promises inter partes. This coherent understanding of both the law of contract and choice of law has significant ramifications for the enforcement of choice of law agreements. It is argued that the agreement of the parties on choice of law will be successful in contracting out of the default choice of law norms of the forum and selecting the applicable law but cannot be enforced by an action for “breach” of contract.

It is argued that the emerging transnationalist paradigm of party autonomy supports a conception of choice of law agreements which borrows from both the internationalist and substantive law paradigms of party autonomy but cannot be comprehensively justified by either. This assimilated and coherent understanding of choice of law and the law of contract has led to the conclusion that the choice of law clause is a procedural contract but a contract nonetheless. (See Jürgen Basedow, The Law of Open Societies: Private Ordering and Public Regulation in the Conflict of Laws (Brill Nijhoff 2015) 145 and Maria Hook, The Choice of Law Contract (Oxford, Hart Publishing 2016) Chapter 2)

Professor Briggs’ promissory analysis of choice of law agreements is a seminal contribution to legal scholarship. (See Adrian Briggs, Agreements on Jurisdiction and Choice of Law (OUP 2008) Chapter 11) However, it is unlikely that the parallel existence of choice of law agreements as privately enforceable agreements will attract the attention of the CJEU and the EU legislature. The common law judicial authority coupled with the preponderance of opposing academic opinion has meant that the conventional “declaratory” classification of choice of law agreements has prevailed over the “promissory” approach. (See pages 508-517 of the article; Ace Insurance v Moose Enterprise Pty Ltd [2009] NSWSC 724 (Brereton J); Navig8 Pte Ltd v Al-Riyadh Co for Vegetable Oil Industry (The Lucky Lady) [2013] EWHC 328 (Comm), [2013] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 104, [2013] 2 CLC 461 (Andrew Smith J)) In assessing the relevance and significance of attributing an obligation to adhere to the chosen law in a choice of law agreement, the internationalist paradigm’s understanding of the fundamental nature of private international law rules and their inherent function has helped develop the counterargument.

If the choice of law regime of the forum is conceptualised as a set of secondary rules for the allocation of regulatory authority, the descriptive, normative and interpretive narrative of the promissory perspective loses its perceived dominance and coherence as it fails to yield a complete and satisfactory justification for what we really understand by those rules. In the mantle of secondary power conferring rules as opposed to primary conduct regulating rules, choice of law rules perform a very significant public function of allocating regulatory authority. From this perspective, it is misplaced and misconceived to interpret choice of law clauses as promissory in essence. The promissory justification does not adequately account for the authorisation of party autonomy by the choice of law rules of the forum, the supervening application of the laws of the forum and other states and ultimate forum control. (See pages 517-524 of the article) Moreover, the pragmatic attractiveness of anti-suit injunctions and claims for damages for breach of choice of law agreements may be unsound in principle from the standpoint of a truly multilateral conception of private international law based on mutual trust or a strong notion of comity. An international private international law will always seek to promote civil judicial cooperation between legal systems rather than encourage the clash of sovereign legal orders by interfering with the jurisdiction, judgments and choice of law apparatus of foreign courts. (See pages 524-529 of the article)

To reiterate, the more reconciled transnationalist paradigm of party autonomy strikes a balance between the competing demands of the internationalist and the substantive law paradigms. It is argued that a conception of a choice of law agreement as a contract, albeit one that does not give rise to any promises inter partes provides an appropriate solution.

On the one hand, the choice of law agreement is a legally binding contract as opposed to a mere “factual” agreement. On the other hand, the function of this agreement is not to regulate private law rights and obligations inter partes: it is to contract out of the forum’s default choice of law norms and to select the applicable law. Such a contract will not contradict the intrinsic logic of choice of law rules because the international allocative function remains paramount and is not compromised in any way by promises inter partes. The fact that the choice of law agreement is a contract which only gives rise to procedural consequences does not mean that it is not a contract per se. (See pages 530-531 of the article)

The Brussels Court of Appeal on joinders in the Lugano Convention (in Re Fifa /UEFA arbitration clause).

GAVC - ven, 11/23/2018 - 17:05

Thank you Quentin Declève and co-authors for reporting a short while back the Brussels Court of Appeal judgment in RFC Seraing and Doyen Sports v Belgian FA /FIFA /UEFA. (Judgment may be consulted here – I also have a copy). The case in substance concerns FIFA /UEFA’s TPO, Third Party Ownership rules.

Quentin first of all reports on the reasons for the Court to find the arbitration clause between the club and UEFA /FIFA not to be binding. The judgment does not contain copy of the clause (lest I have entirely missed it – but I don’t think so). The clause would not seem to have had a specific lex causae identified: the Court of Appeal uses a mix of Belgian law and New York Convention arguments to rule it invalid.

As we are on the subject of validity of arbitration clauses: please refer to Quentin’s reporting of the Belgian Court’s Supreme Court’s confirmation of validity of NATO’s arbitration clause.

For current blog however I would like to report the findings on the anchor defendant mechanism (19 ff): the Court of Appeal applies Article 6(1) Lugano (UEFA and FIFA are Swiss domiciled), which is the same anchor mechanism as Article 8(1) Brussels I Recast: the anchor defendant being the Belgian Football Association. Freeport and Reisch Montage as well as CDC feature heavily in the Court’s analysis. FIFA and UEFA’s claim is that the Belgian FA is abusively being used as an anchor defendant. The court disagrees: FIFA and the Belgian FA share regulatory powers; the FA is empowered by FIFA statute to impose additional regulations.  The FA’s presence in the proceedings is entirely justified and not artificially constructed.

Geert.

(Handbook of) European Private International Law. 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.12, Heading 2.2.12.1.

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