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The latest issue of the „Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts (IPRax)“ features the following articles:

S.A. Kruisinga: Commercial Courts in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany – Salient Features and Challenges

A new trend is emerging in continental Europe: several states have taken the initiative to establish a new commercial court which will use English as the language of the proceedings. Other states have provided that the English language may be used in civil proceedings before the existing national courts. Several questions arise in this context. Will such a new international (chamber of the) court only be competent to hear international disputes, or only a specific type of dispute? Will there be a possibility for appeal? Will extra costs be involved compared to regular civil proceedings? Which provisions of the law of procedure will the court be required to follow? These questions will be answered in relation to developments in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. For example, in Belgium, a draft bill, which is now being discussed in Parliament, provides for the establishment of a new court that is still to be established: the Brussels International Business Court. In the Netherlands, as of 1 January 2019, the Netherlands Commercial Court has been established, which will allow to conduct civil proceedings in the English language.

K. de la Durantaye: Same same but different? Conflict rules for same sex-marriages in Germany and the EU

Conflict rules for same-sex marriages are as hotly disputed as the legal treatment of such marriages in general. The German rules on the topic contain multiple inconsistencies. This is true even after the latest amendments to the relevant statute (EGBGB) entered into force in January 2019. Things become even more problematic when the German rules are seen in conjunction with Rome III as well as the two EU Regulations on matrimonial property regimes and on property consequences of registered partnerships, both of which are applicable since January 29, 2019. Some instruments do treat same-sex marriages as marriages, others – notably the EGBGB – do not. Curiously, this leads to a preferential treatment vis-à-vis opposite-sex marriages. The EU Regulation on matrimonial property regimes does not define the term marriage and provides for participating member states to do so. At the same time, the ECJ extends its jurisdiction on recognition of personal statuses to marriages. Given all these developments, one might want to scrutinize the existing conflict rules for marriages as provided for in the EGBGB.

T. Lutzi: Little Ado About Nothing: The Bank Account as the Place of the Damage?

The Court of Justice has rendered yet another decision on the place of the damage in the context of prospectus liability. In addition to the question of international jurisdiction, it also concerned the question of local competence under Art. 5 No. 3 Brussels I (now Art. 7 No. 2 Brussels Ia) in a case where the claimant held multiple bank accounts in the same member state. The Court confirms that under certain circumstances, the courts of the member state in which these banks have their seat may have international jurisdiction, but avoids specifying which bank account designates the precise place of the damage. Accordingly, the decision adds rather little to the emerging framework regarding the localization of financial loss.

P.-A. Brand: International jurisdiction for set-offs – Procedural prohibition of set-off and rights of retention in domestic litigation where the jurisdiction of a foreign court has been agreed for the claims of the Defendant

The question whether or not a contractual jurisdiction clause entails an agreement of the parties to restrict the ability to declare a set-off in court proceedings to the forum prorogatum has been repeatedly dealt with by German courts. In a recent judgement – commented on below – the Oberlandesgericht München in a case between a German plaintiff and an Austrian defendant has held that the German courts may well have international jurisdiction under Article 26 of the Brussels Ia-Regulation also for the set-off declared by the defendant, even if the underlying contract from which the claim to be set-off derived contained a jurisdiction clause for the benefit of the Austrian courts. However, the Oberlandesgericht München has taken the view that the jurisdiction clause for the benefit of the Austrian courts would have to be interpreted to the effect that it also contains an agreement of the parties not to declare such set-off in proceedings pending before the courts of another jurisdiction. That agreement would, hence, render the set-off declared in the German proceedings as impermissible. The judgment seems to ignore the effects of entering into appearance according to Article 26 of the Brussels Ia-Regulation. That provision must be interpreted to the effect that by not contesting jurisdiction despite a contractual jurisdiction clause for the claim to be set-off, any effects of the jurisdiction clause have been repealed.

P. Ostendorf: (Conflict of laws-related) stumbling blocks to damage claims against German companies based on human rights violations of their foreign suppliers

In an eagerly awaited verdict, the Regional Court Dortmund has recently dismissed damage claims for pain and suffering against the German textile discounter KiK Textilien und Non-Food GmbH („KiK“) arising out of a devastating fire in the textile factory of one of KiK’s suppliers in Pakistan causing 259 fatalities. Given that the claims in dispute were in the opinion of the court already time-barred, the decision deals only briefly with substantial legal questions of liability though the latter were upfront hotly debated both in the media as well as amongst legal scholars. In contrast, many conflict-of-laws problems arising in this setting were explicitly addressed by the court. In summary, the judgment further stresses the fact that liability of domestic companies for human rights violations committed by their foreign subsidiaries or independent suppliers is – on the basis of the existing framework of both Private International as well as substantive law – rather difficult to establish.

M. Thon: Overriding Mandatory Provisions in Private International Law – The Israel Boycott Legislation of Arab States and its Application by German Courts

The application of foreign overriding mandatory provisions is one of the most discussed topics in private international law. Article 9 (3) Rome I- Regulation allows the application of such provisions under very restrictive conditions and confers a discretionary power to the court. The Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt a.M. had to decide on a case where an Israeli passenger sought to be transported from Frankfurt a.M. to Bangkok by Kuwait Airways, with a stop over in Kuwait City. The Court had to address the question whether to apply such an overriding mandatory provision in the form of Kuwait’s Israel-Boycott Act or not. It denied that because it considered the provision to be “unacceptable”. However, the Court was not precluded from giving effect to the foreign provision as a matter of fact, while applying German law to the contract. Since the air transport contract had to be performed partly in Kuwait, the Court considered the performance to be impossible pursuant to § 275 BGB. The judgement of the Court received enormous media coverage and was widely criticized for promoting discrimination against Jews.

C.F. Nordmeier: The inclusion of immoveable property in the European Certificate of Succession: acquisition resulting from the death and the scope of Art. 68 lit. l) and m) Regulation (EU) 650/2012

The European Certificate of Succession (ECS) has arrived in legal practice. The present article discusses three decisions of the Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg dealing with the identification of individual estate objects in the Certificate. If a transfer of title is not effected by succession, the purpose of the ECS, which is to simplify the winding up of the estate, cannot be immediately applied. Therefore, the acquisition of such a legal title in accordance with the opinion of the OLG Nuremberg is not to be included in the Certificate. In the list foreseen by Art. 68 lit. l and m Regulation 650/2012, contrary to the opinion of the Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg, it is not only possible to include items that are assigned to the claimant „directly“ by means of a dividing order, legal usufruct or legacy that creates a direct right in the succession. Above all, the purpose of the ECS to simplify the processing of the estate of the deceased is a central argument against such a restriction. Moreover, it is not intended in the wording of the provision and cannot constructively be justified in the case of a sole inheritance under German succession law.

J. Landbrecht: Will the Hague Choice of Court Convention Pose a Threat to Commercial Arbitration?

Ermgassen & Co Ltd v Sixcap Financials Pte Ltd [2018] SGHCR 8 is the first judicial decision worldwide regarding the Hague Choice of Court Convention. The court demonstrates a pro-enforcement and pro-Convention stance. If other Contracting States adopt a similar approach, it is likely that the Convention regime will establish itself as a serious competitor to commercial arbitration.

F. Berner: Inducing the breach of choice of court agreements and “the place where the damage occurred”

Where does the relevant damage occur under Article 7 (2) of the Brussels I recast Regulation (Article 5 (3) of the Brussels I Regulation), when a third party induces a contracting party to ignore a choice of law agreement and to sue in a place different from the forum prorogatum? The UK Supreme Court held that under Article 5 (3) of the Brussels I Regulation, the place where the damage occurs is not the forum prorogatum, but is where the other contracting party had to defend the claim. This case note agrees, but argues that the situation is now different under the Brussels I recast Regulation because of changes made to strengthen choice of court agreements. Thus, under the recast Regulation, the place where the damage occurs is now the place of the forum prorogatum. Besides the main question, the decision deals implicitly with the admissibility for claims of damages for breach of choice of law agreements and injunctions that are not antisuit injunctions. The decision also raises questions about the impact of settlement agreements on international jurisdiction.

D. Otto: No enforcement of specific performance award against foreign state

Sovereign immunity is often raised as a defence either in enforcement proceedings or in suits against foreign states. The decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia deals with a rarely discussed issue, whether an arbitration award ordering a foreign state to perform sovereign acts can be enforced under the New York Convention. The U.S. court held that in general a foreign state cannot claim immunity against enforcement of a Convention award, however that a U.S. court cannot order specific performance (in this case the granting of a public permit) against a foreign state as this would compel a foreign state to perform a sovereign act. Likewise, enforcement of an interest or penalty payment award has to be denied for sovereign immunity reasons if the payment does not constitute a remedy for damages suffered but is of a nature so as to compel a foreign state to perform a sovereign act. Whilst some countries consider sovereign immunity to be even wider, the decision is in line with the view in many other countries.

A. Anthimos: No application of Brussels I Regulation for a Notice of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians

The Greek court refused to declare a Notice of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Rhineland-Palatinate enforceable. The Greek judge considered that the above order is of an administrative nature; therefore, it falls out of the scope of application of the Brussels I Regulation.

C. Jessel-Holst: Private international law reform in Croatia

This contribution provides an overview over the Private International Law Act of the Republic of Croatia of 2017, which applies from January 29, 2019. The Act contains conflict-of-law rules as well as rules on procedure. In comparison to the previous Act on Resolution of Conflicts of Laws with Provisions of Other States in Certain Matters which had been taken over after independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991, nearly everything is new. Full EU-harmonization was a key purpose of the reform. The 2019 Act also refers to a number of Hague Conventions. Habitual residence has been introduced as a main connecting factor. Renvoi is as a rule excluded. Many issues are addressed for the first time. For the recognition of foreign judgments, the reciprocity requirement has been abandoned.

G. Ring/L. Olsen-Ring: New Danish rules of Private International Law applying to Matrimonial Property Matters

The old Danish Law on the Legal Effects of Marriage, dating back to the year 1925, has been replaced by a new Law on Economic Relations Between Spouses, which was passed on May 30, 2017. The Law on Economic Relations Between Spouses entered into force on January 1, 2018. There is no general statutory codification of private international law in Denmark. The Law on Economic Relations Between Spouses, however, introduces statutory rules on private international law relating to the matrimonial property regime. The Danish legislature was inspired by the EU Matrimonial Property Regulation, but also developed its own approach. The EU Matrimonial Property Regulation is not applied in Denmark, as Denmark does not take part in the supranational cooperation (specifically the enhanced cooperation) in the field of justice and home affairs, and no parallel agreement has been concluded in international law between the European Union and Denmark. The rules set out in the Danish Law on Economic Relations Between Spouses are based on the principle of closest connection. The main connecting factor is the habitual residence of both spouses at the time when their marriage was concluded or the first country in which they both simultaneously had their habitual residence after conclusion of the marriage. The couple is granted a number of choice-of-law options. In case both spouses have had their habitual residence in Denmark within the last five years, Danish law automatically applies.

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