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On October 5th, The Cour de Cassation, the highest court in France for private law matters, requested an advisory opinion of the ECtHR (Ass. plén. 5 octobre 2018, n°10-19053). It is the first time a Contracting State applies to the ECtHR for an advisory opinion on the basis of Protocol n° 16 which entered into force on August 1st, 2018. The request relates to the legal parentage of children born to a surrogate mother. More specifically, it concerns the intended mother’s legal relationship with the child.

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Last year the New Zealand singer Lorde cancelled a concert in Tel Aviv following an open letter by two New Zealand-based activists urging her to take a stand on Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. A few weeks later, the two activists found themselves the subject of a civil claim brought in the Israeli court. The claim was brought by the Israeli law group Shurat HaDin, on behalf of three minors who had bought tickets to the concert, pursuant to Israel’s so-called Anti-Boycott Law (the Law for the Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott). The Israeli court has now released a judgment upholding the claim and ordering the activists to pay NZ$18,000 in damages (plus costs).

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The Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law has made available two reports for the attention of its governance Council (i.e. the Council on General Affairs and Policy): the Report of the Experts’ Group on the Parentage / Surrogacy Project and the Report of the Experts’ Group on the Co-operation and Access to Justice for International Tourists.

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Earlier today, the Court of Justice held that, under certain circumstances, special jurisdiction for an actio pauliana can be based on Art. 7(1) Brussels Ia (Case C-337/17 Feniks).

The actio pauliana is an instrument provided by the national laws of several EU member states that allows the creditor to challenge fraudulent acts by their debtor that have been committed to the creditor’s detriment. The ECJ already had several opportunities to decide on the availability of individual grounds of special jurisdiction for such an action, but has reliably denied their availability. In today’s decision however, the Court confirmed the availability of special jurisdiction for matters relating to contract, contrary to the proposition of AG Bobek (Opinion delivered on 21 June 2018).

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

Previous posts on this blog have described the emerging international commercial and business courts in various Member States. While the primary aim is and should be improving the dispute resolution system for businesses, the establishment of these courts also points to the increase of competitive activities by certain Member States that try to attract international commercial litigation. Triggered by the need to facilitate business, prospects of financial gain, and more recently also by the supposed vacuum that Brexit will create, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium in particular have been busy establishing outlets for international commercial litigants. One of the previous posts by the present authors dedicated to these developments asked who will be next to enter the competition game started by these countries. In another post, Giesela Rühl suggested that the EU could be the next.

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On 10 July 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rendered its judgment in the matter of Alan Philipps et al. v. the Federal Republic of Germany and the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

This case involves a claim by heirs of Holocaust victims for restitution of the „Welfenschatz“ (Guelph Treasure), a collection of medieval relics and devotional art housed for generations in the Cathedral of Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany. This treasure is now on display at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin (Museum of Decorative Arts) which is run by the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz. The value of the treasure is estimated to amount to USD 250 million (according to the claim for damages raised in the proceedings).

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By the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law

On 12 September 1893, Tobias Asser, Dutch Jurist, Scholar and Statesman, realised a vision: he opened the first Session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Today, exactly 125 years later, the HCCH celebrates Asser’s vision and the occasion of this First Session with a solemn ceremony in the presence of his Majesty The King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

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By Prof. Dr. Peter Mankowski, University of Hamburg

Sometimes the unexpected simply happens.  Rome I aficionados will remember that the entire Rome I project was on the brink of failure since Member States could not agree on the only seemingly technical and arcane issue of the law applicable to the third-party effects of assignments of claims. An agreement to disagree saved the project in the last minute, back then. Of course, this did not make the issue vanish – and this issues concerns billion euro-markets in the financial industry.

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It doesn’t happen too often that a Member State refuses enforcement of a judgment rendered in another Member State for violation of the ordre public. But in a decision published yesterday exactly this happened: The German Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) refused to recognize and enforce a Polish judgment under the Brussels I Regulation (before the recast) arguing that enforcement would violate the German public policy, notable freedom of speech and freedom of the press as embodied in the German Constitution. With this decision, the highest German court adds to the already difficult debate about atrocities committed by Germans in Poland during WW II.

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IM Skaugen SE v MAN Diesel & Turbo SE [2018] SGHC 123

In IM Skaugen SE v MAN Diesel & Turbo SE [2018] SGHC 123, the Singapore High Court had the occasion to discuss and resolve various meaty private international law issues. The facts concerned the alleged negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation by the defendants on the fuel consumption of a specific model of engine that was sold and installed into ships owned by the plaintiffs. The issue before the court was whether the Singapore courts had jurisdiction over the misrepresentation claim. The defendants were German and Norwegian incorporated companies so the plaintiffs applied for leave to serve the writ out of Singapore. This entailed fulfilling a 3 stage process, following English common law rules: (1) a good arguable case that the case falls within one of the heads set out in the Rules of Court, Order 11, (2) a serious issue to be tried on the merits, and (3) Singapore is forum conveniens on applying the test set out in The Spiliada [1987] AC 460. Stages (1) and (3) were at issue in the case.

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