King’s College School of Law is organising a conference on Unity and Diversity in the Law of the International Sale of Goods. This conference will bring together prominent academics and practitioners from all over the world to discuss pressing issues pertaining to international sales transactions.The focus will be on the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. The speakers will explore the current state of the law of sale of goods by examining how sales contracts, particularly those used in international trade, are governed in the modern world. The central theme concerns two competing forces within the sale of goods law:

  • Those leading to disintegration,
  • Those pushing towards uniformity, consolidation and standardisation.
The conference will take place on 16-17th of April 2018 at King’s College London.

For more information and the programme, please click here.

For the registration page, please click here.

Conferenza annuale: Corti europee e giudici nazionali

On 30 October 2017 the Jean Monnet Module on European Civil Procedure will host its annual conference on ‘Corti europee e giudici nazionali’ in Milan. The conference language is Italian. For further information see here.


Cross-Border Business Crisis: a Conference in Rome

On 3-4 November 2017 the LUISS «Guido Carli» University School of Law, with the support of the International Law Association (Italian Branch) and the auspices of the International Insolvency Institute, will host in Rome a conference on «Cross-Border Business Crisis: International and European Horizons».

Three bilingual (English/Italian) sessions are scheduled: I) International and European Policies on Business Crisis (Chairperson: Luciano Panzani); II) Regulation 2015/848 within the European System of Private International Law (Chairperson: Stefania Bariatti); III) Cross-Border Insolvency and Italian Legal Order: Old and New Challenges (Chairperson: Sergio M. Carbone).

Speakers include academics and practitioners (Massimo V. Benedettelli, Giorgio Corno, Domenico Damascelli, Luigi Fumagalli, Anna Gardella, Lucio Ghia, Francisco J. Garcimartín Alférez, Antonio Leandro, Maria Chiara Malaguti, Fabrizio Marongiu Buonaiuti, Alberto Mazzoni, Paul Omar, Antonio Tullio, Robert van Galen, Francesca Villata, Ivo-Meinert Willrodt).

Most of them are members of the ILA-Italy Study Group on «Cross-Border Insolvency and National Legal Orders» and will discuss the findings of their research during the conference.

Program and details on registration are available here


Out now: Encyclopedia of Private International Law!

Hard to believe, but true: The Encyclopedia of Private International Law, published by Edward Elgar and edited by Jürgen Basedow (Max Planck Institute Hamburg), Franco Ferrari (NYU Law School), Pedro de Miguel Asensio (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) and me, has finally been released end of September. Bringing together more than 180 authors from 57 countries the Encyclopedia sheds light on the current state of Private International Law around the globe and provides insights into how the discipline has been affected by globalization and increased regional integration over the last decades.

The Encyclopedia  is available both in print and via Elgaronline and consists of four volumes. The first two volumes describe topical aspects of Private International Law in form of 247 alphabetically sorted entries. The third volume describes the Private International Law regimes of 80 countries in form of national reports. The fourth volume contains a collection of national codifications and provisions of Private International Law in English translation. More information is available here and here.

I take the opportunity to thank everybody who has helped  to make the Encyclopedia come true, notably the authors and translators (many of them editors or readers of this blog), my fellow editors, my team at the University of Jena and last but not least the team over at Edward Elgar!

Should you be interested in receiving a review copy please send an email to


Written by Ekaterina AristovaPhD in Law Candidate, University of Cambridge

On 14 October 2017, the London’s Court of Appeal passed its long awaited decision in Lungowe v Vedanta confirming that foreign citizens can pursue in England legal claims against English-based multinationals for their overseas activities.

In 2015, Zambian villagers commenced proceedings against Vedanta, an English-based mining corporation, and its indirect Zambian subsidiary, KCM, alleging responsibility of both companies for the environmental pollution arising out of the operation in Zambia of the Nchanga Copper Mine by KCM. In 2016, the High Court allowed claims against both companies to be heard in England. The overall analysis of the judgement (see the author’s earlier post on this blog) suggested that (1) claims against the parent company on the breach of duty of care in relation to the overseas operations of the foreign subsidiary can be heard in the English courts and (2) the existence of an arguable claim against the English-domiciled parent company also establishes jurisdiction of the English courts over the subsidiary even if the factual basis of the case occurs almost exclusively in the foreign state. The Court of Appeal has entirely upheld a High Court ruling.

Vedanta has focused their argument on the fact that Article 4 of the Brussels I Regulation Recast does not automatically allow an English-domiciled parent company to be sued in England and, despite the CJEU’s ruling in Owusu v Jackson, there is always discretion as to whether the English court should allow the claims to be tried in England. In response, the three appeal judges were very clear in confirming the univocal effect of Owusu decision which precludes English courts from declining a mandatory jurisdiction to try claims against the English-domiciled defendant. Logically, analysis further moved to KCM’s applications. KCM as a foreign defendant was brought into proceedings on the basis of a ‘necessary or proper party’ gateway under the English traditional rules of jurisdictions. It allows service out of the jurisdiction subject to two additional conditions: (1) there is between the claimant and English-domiciled defendant a real issue which it is reasonable for the court to try; and (2) England is the proper forum for trying the claims. Unsurprisingly, an initial question of whether uncustomary claims alleging liability of the local parent company for overseas damages are viable in England was a major stumbling block for the corporate defendants.

First of all, Lord Justice Simon, who delivered a leading judgement, confirmed that absence of the reported cases on the breach of duty of care by the parent company owed to the persons affected by its subsidiary’s operations does not automatically render such a claim unarguable. He then relied on several well-known English cases to derive basic principles for the imposition of such duty of care on the parent company: (1) The three-part test of foreseeability, proximity and reasonableness set out in Caparo Industries Plc v Dickman constitutes a starting point of the analysis; 2) A duty of care may be owed, in appropriate circumstances, to the employees of the parent company and those directly affected by the subsidiary’s operations; 3) Such a duty of care arises when the parent company has taken direct responsibility for devising a material health and safety policy the adequacy of which is the subject of the claim, or controls the operations which give rise to the claim; 4) Some of the circumstances in which the existence of the duty of care may, or may not, be established can be traced in Chandler v Cape and Thompson v The Renwick Group; 5) It is necessary to determine whether the parent company was well placed, because of its knowledge and expertise to protect the claimants; proving that parent company and the subsidiary run the same business is not sufficient; (6) The evidence sufficient to establish the duty may not be available at the early stages of the case. Following these principles, it was concluded that, irrespective of the strength or the weakness of the claim against the parent company (as opposed to the claim against the subsidiary as an operator of the mine) and in light of the supporting evidence already presented by the claimants, the claim against Vedanta cannot be dismissed as not properly arguable.

The Court of Appeal’s decision is particularly interesting for two reasons. The first issue relates to how its conclusions should be approached in the context of similar environmental litigation against English-based multinational in Okpabi v Shell. Earlier this year, Fraser J, sitting as a judge in the Technology and Construction Court, ruled that a claim against English-based parent company and the Nigerian subsidiary of the Shell group for oil pollution in Nigeria will not proceed in the English courts. The judge himself did not make any conclusions which would question the ultimate decision reached by the two instances in Lungowe v Vedanta. More importantly, his analysis fairly suggests that determination of the parent company liability should be approached on a case-by-case basis weighing the particular characteristics of the corporate organisation of the group and the nexus between the parent company and its subsidiaries (see the author’s earlier post on this blog). Nevertheless, the reasoning of Fraser J could be criticised for the scrupulousness of identifying whether sufficient evidence on each factor of the duty of care test was presented by the claimants at such an early stage of the proceedings. The jurisdictional inquiry into existence of an arguable claim against the parent company should not substitute the determination of the substantive argument and the trial itself. This approach was rightly emphasised by the Court of Appeal in Vedanta. By contrast, thorough analysis of the liability argument carried by Fraser J in Okpabi v Shell is arguably very close to the resolution of the case on the merits. The decision was appealed by the claimants, the Nigerian citizens, on these very grounds.

The second set of issues arises from the Court of Appeal’s reluctance to engage in the discussion of the regulatory significance of the litigation against major transnational corporations for their overseas operations in the English courts. In the course of appeal’s hearing Vedanta argued that allowing cases against English multinationals in their home state was not in the public interest. The judgement itself refrained to consider whether public interest factors have any impact on the jurisdictional inquiry in the disputes concerned with the private interests of the litigants. Therefore, foreign direct liability claims against powerful corporate groups were placed in the context of conventional theoretical public/private divide of the rules of private international law. The Parliament and the Government have at least twice engaged into discussion of the UK role in promoting responsibility and ensuring accountability of its companies in the course of 2009 and 2017 human rights and business inquiries. Further increase in the number of legal claims against English-based transnational corporations brought by the foreign citizens in the English courts may revive interest in the role of the discipline of private international law to take part in the global governance debate.




Child Focus, the University of Antwerp, Center IKO, CFPE-Enfants Disparus, Missing Children Europe and the French Central Authority invite you to the final conference of their research project, EWELL, co-funded by the European Commission.

The project partners conducted a large scale research study on the psychological effects of  international child abduction on the well-being of abducted children. Their results will be presented at the final conference. This will be conbined with workshops on topics of psychology and law (including Brussels IIa).

The full programme is available here.

This conference is free of charge, but registration is required.

Travel and accommodation expenses will not be reimbursed.



Postdoctoral fellowships in commercial private international law / international commercial law are available at the Research Centre for Private International Law in Emerging Countries at the University of Johannesburg.

See the application form here.

The submission link is here.

The closing date is 31 October 2017.

For administrative enquires: Ms Dudu Mbatha

For academic enquiries: Prof Jan Neels


On Saturday, October 7, Professor Bertrand Ancel’s Éléments d’histoire du droit international privé , already presented here, was awarded the Prix du livre juridique at the Salon du livre juridique du Conseil Constitutionnel.

As Professor Ancel said in his thank you speech, Éléments d’histoire du droit international privé is the fruit of more than fifteen years of teaching in the history of private international law. Bertrand Ancel was an associate in private law and criminal sciences, specializing in civil law, comparative private law and private international law, but was not prepared to teach legal history. He has devoted himself to the writing of these Éléments out of passion for an area whose knowledge embraces both Greco-Roman Antiquity and the Middle Ages and the contemporary world. Written on the eve of the twenty-first century, the book is an extension of the great works in French by Armand Lainé, Eduard Maurits Meijers and Max Gutzwiller prior to the Second World War, to which Elements of History of Private International Law pays tribute. Thus aggregated, Éléments give an innovative view of the history of private international law.

Provided with appendices and an extensive bibliography, this work of more than six hundred pages allows to read “l’inlassable réflexion doctrinale et les leçons d’une expérience sans cesse renouvelée des cas concrets”. It is dedicated especially to master’s students to whom this reflection offers a look at the positive data – essentially case law- and doctrinal constructions. Without history, it remains difficult to understand all the subtleties of private law: “la démarche historique restitue l’expérience” and “l’histoire est ici encore plus qu’ailleurs l’antidote du dogmatisme et l’indispensable auxiliaire de qui entreprend de connaître le droit international privé d’aujourd’hui”. The reader will also find the most important judicial decisions and the most significant doctrinal comments.

Source: Université Paris II (Panthéon-Assas)


(I am grateful to Prof. Fabrizio Marongiu Buonaiuti for providing this presentation of the Macerata conference)

The European Documentation Centre (EDC) established at the Department of Law of the University of Macerata is hosting a Conference (in Italian) on Wednesday, 25th October 2017, as part of a programme of initiatives launched by the European Commission’s Permanent Representation to Italy for celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome: “60 anni di libertà di circolazione delle persone nell’Unione europea e continuità degli status familiari: la problematica delle unioni civili e delle convivenze” (60 Years of Freedom of Movement of Persons in the European Union and the Continuity of Family Status: Problems concerning Registered Partnerships and Cohabitation).

The Conference deals with the implications for the freedom of movement of persons within the EU of the problems related to the continuity of family status acquired abroad, with particular regard to registered partnerships and cohabitation. A discussion on this topic appears particularly timely, in consideration of the recent adoption by the Italian legislature of both the substantive regulation of registered parterships (unioni civili) and cohabitation (convivenze) under law No. 76 of 20 May 2016, and the relevant conflict of laws rules, as set out in Legislative Decree No. 7 of 19 January 2017. The parallel developments taking place at the European Union level will also be taken into consideration, with particular regard to the recent adoption, by the implementation of an enhanced cooperation, of Regulation (EU) No. 1104/2016, concerning jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matters of the property consequences of registered partnerships.

Here is the programme (available as .pdf; all presentations will be delivered in Italian):

Introductory remarks

  • Prof. Francesco Adornato – Dean of the University of Macerata
  • Prof. Ermanno Calzolaio – Director of the Department of Law

Ist Session: Freedom of Movement of Persons and Continuity of Personal and Family Status

Chair: Prof. Angelo Davì, University of Rome “La Sapienza”

  • Registered Partnerships and Freedom of Movement of Persons in the European Space of Freedom, Security and Justice – Prof. Claudia Morviducci, University of Rome III
  • European Guarantees and Rules concerning Continuity of Status as concerns Same-Sex Marriages and Registered Partnerships – Prof. Francesco Salerno, University of Ferrara
  • Italian Conflict of Laws Rules concerning Registered Partnerships under Legislative Decree No. 7 of 19 January 2017 – Prof. Cristina Campiglio, University of Pavia
  • Private International Law Rules concerning the Property Consequences of Registered Partnerships under Regulation (EU) No. 1104/2016 – Prof. Gian Paolo Romano – University of Geneva


2nd Session: The Substantive Regulation of Registered Partnerships and Cohabitation in the Italian Legal System and Unsolved Problems

Chair: Prof. Enrico del Prato, University of Rome “La Sapienza”

  • The Substantive Regulation of Same-Sex Registered Partnerships under Law No. 76 of 20 May 2016 – Prof. Michele Sesta, University of Bologna
  • The Substantive Regulation of Cohabitation under Law No. 76 of 20 May 2016 – Prof. Ubaldo Perfetti, University of Macerata
  • Adoption by Partners of Registered Partnerships – Prof. Enrico Antonio Emiliozzi, University of Macerata
  • Problems Concerning the Registration of Partnerships Created Abroad in the Italian Civil Status Records – Dr. Renzo Calvigioni – National Association of Civil Status Officials


Concluding Remarks


The University of Sydney Law School is hosting a conference on Commercial Issues in Private International Law on 16 February 2018.

The organisers have provided the following information about the conference’s theme:

‘As people, business, and information cross borders, so too do legal disputes. Globalisation means that courts need to invoke principles of private international law with increasing frequency. Thus, as the Law Society of New South Wales recognised in its 2017 report on the Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession, knowledge of private international law is increasingly important to the practice of law.

This conference will bring together members of the judiciary, the profession, academia, and government to discuss private international law as it relates to commercial law. The conversation will be timely. In late 2016, the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules were amended in respect of service outside of the jurisdiction. In 2017, Australia is likely to accede to the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements, and to implement the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts.

The extraterritorial application of the Australian Consumer Law is under consideration by the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia. While Brexit and the rise of Trump may have signalled a retreat from globalism, arguably, that is not the experience of private international law in Australia.’

Further details are available here:

Registration will open and the full conference programme will be released later in 2017.