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A free webinar to hear experts of MK Family Law (Washington) and Grotius Chambers (The Hague) discuss pertinent issues relating to international child abduction in times of COVID-19. 

Date: 8 April 2020
Time: 3 pm (CET Amsterdam)

COVID-19 has a significant impact on all aspects of our lives. Since the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic, numerous States have implemented travel bans in an attempt to contain its spread. Moreover, States have closed courts and adjourned or even cancelled hearings.

Such restrictions cause direct impacts on transnational families. They may hinder, in particular, the prompt return of children in cases of international child abduction. Parents may encounter difficulties in commencing proceedings before the competent authorities, as well as complying with an agreement or return order.

Art. 17 of the Rome II Regulation, which transposes an element of US conflicts theory (the concept of local data) into a European choice-of-law instrument, is certainly one of the more controversial provisions of the Regulation. It stipulates that

[i]n assessing the conduct of the person claimed to be liable, account shall be taken, as a matter of fact and in so far as is appropriate, of the rules of safety and conduct which were in force at the place and time of the event giving rise to the liability.

In a highly illustrative decision of 27 March 2020 (1 U 95/19), the Higher Regional Court of Cologne (upholding a decision from the Regional Court of Bonn) has provided a textbook example of its application in practice.

In this case, a Czech passenger entered into a package travel contract with a Czech travel agency on a flight from Prague to Keflavik in Iceland and on accommodation there. The flight was operated by the Danish air carrier Primera Air Scandinavia. The flight was delayed by four hours. This is why the passenger brought an action for compensation of EUR 400 against the airline under the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights. The proceedings were instituted before a District Court in Prague.

A book edited by Catherine Kessedjian & Humberto Cantú Rivera and titled “Private International Law Aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility” has just been released electronically and in hard copy. As said in the abstract of the book, “This book addresses one of the core challenges in the corporate social responsibility (or business and human rights) debate: how to ensure adequate access to remedy for victims of corporate abuses that infringe upon their human rights. However, ensuring access to remedy depends on a series of normative and judicial elements that become highly complex when disputes are transnational. In such cases, courts need to consider and apply different laws that relate to company governance, to determine the competent forum, to define which bodies of law to apply, and to ensure the adequate execution of judgments. The book also discusses how alternative methods of dispute settlement can relate to this topic, and the important role that private international law plays in access to remedy for corporate-related human rights abuses…”

Hague Academy Postpones Summer Courses 2020

The Hague Academy has canceled its summer courses for 2020 and will hold them in the summer of 2021. The announcement, including a video message from the Secretary-General, is here. Moving the program online was rejected because students would not get the special experience of being in the Hague. The promise of other videos to posted on a new website will be only insufficient comfort.

The only prior time that the courses were canceled was World War II. It is sad news for countless students who were looking forward to the courses, for the (excellent) scholars who have prepared their courses, and for the discipline of private international law, which benefits from this regular event. The decision against bringing together students from all the world to one physical space seems eminently rational, and has been made with enough time for participants to adapt plans. The decision against holding the courses online may raise more mixed responses.

In his today’s Opinion, Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe addresses the question that has recently inspired much debate, already reported to our readers this January by Rishi Gulati.

At point 5, the Opinion clarifies that – at the request of the Court of Justice – its scope is limited to analysis of the issues related to Article 1(1) of the Brussels I bis Regulation. Therefore, no considerations concerning Article 24(5) of this Regulation, also invoked in the request for a preliminary ruling, were to be expected in the Opinion.

A non-profit consumer protection association established in Austria is bringing an action before the Austrian courts against a motor vehicle manufacturer with its registered office in Germany. The association asserts claims for damages, assigned to it by the purchasers of motor vehicles, and seeks the payment of a fixed amount and a declaration establishing the liability of the defendant for all future damage. These claims are related to an alleged emission manipulation: had the purchasers been aware of the manipulation, they would have not purchased the vehicles or would have purchased them at a reduced price.

Job Vacancy: Kiel University (Germany)

Professor Susanne Lilian Gössl, Professor for Civil Law and Digitalization in Private Law, Comparative Law and Private International Law at Kiel University is looking for a highly skilled and motivated PhD candidate and fellow (Wissenschaftliche*r Mitarbeiter*in, 50% or 25%) to work in the areas of Civil Law and Digitalization in Private Law, Comparative Law and Private International Law.

For a detailed job description (in German) see https://www.goessl.jura.uni-kiel.de/de/aktuelles or as pdf .

The POAM project (Protection of Abducting Mothers in Return Proceedings) is co-funded by the European Commission. It would have held an Experts’ Workshop in Milan today, but this event has of course been cancelled.

The project partners (the Universities of Aberdeen, Ludwig-Maximilians Munich, JJ Strossmayer Osijek and Milan-Bicocca) wanted to in any event share the project’s reports with the readers of this blog.

POAM explores the intersection between domestic violence and international parental child abduction within the European Union. The project is concerned with the protection of abducting mothers who have been involved in return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention and the Brussels IIa Regulation, in circumstances where the child abduction had been motivated by acts of domestic violence from the left-behind father.  POAM examines the usefulness of the Protection Measures Regulation and the European Protection Order Directive in the context of such return proceedings.

The European Law Institute‘s (ELI) members on 21 March 2020 approved the Report on the Protection of Adults in International Situations.

This report is the outcome of the work of a team of academics and professionals chaired by Pietro Franzina and Richard Frimston. It sets out the current legal framework on the protection of persons above 18 years old who are not in a position to protect their own insterests (due to an impairment or incapacity).

The Report acknowledges the importance in this field of the Hague Convention of 13 January 2000 on the International Protection of Adults and encourages further ratification of it. The Convention has been ratified by only nine EU Member States (and signed by an additional seven).