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Interpreting Forum Selection Clauses

Written by John Coyle, the Reef C. Ivey II Term Professor of Law, Associate Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law

Last week, I wrote about the interpretive rules that U.S. courts use to construe ambiguous choice-of-law clauses.  Choice-of-law clauses are not, however, the only means by which contracting parties may exercise their autonomy under the rules of private international law.  Parties may also select via contract the forum in which their disputes will be resolved.  In the United States, these contractual provisions are generally known as forum selection clauses.  Elsewhere in the world, such provisions are generally known as choice-of-court clauses.  Since this post is largely focused on U.S. practice, I utilize the former term.


Outline and Call for Papers


Deadline extended: May 17!

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Last week, the European Parliament adopted the highly controversial proposal for a new Copyright Directive (which is part of the EU Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy). The proposal had been criticized by academics, NGOs, and stakeholders, culminating in an online petition with more than 5 million signatures (a world record just broken by last week’s Brexit petition) and public protests with more than 150,000 participants in more than 50 European (although mainly German) cities.


I. Introduction

It was the 3rd of March 1989, when an announcement was published in the Official Gazette of the Hellenic Republic, stating that the Brussels Convention would finally enter into force on April 1, 1989. Why finally? Because it took the state nearly a decade after the accession to the EC [1.1.1981] to activate the Brussels Convention in the country. After a long hibernation time, Law Nr. 1814/1988 was published in November 11, 1988, marking the official ratification of the Convention. In less than a year, the Convention became operative in the Greek legal order. Since that time, a great number of judgments were published in the legal press, some of them with elucidating notes and comments. Commentaries and monographs paved the path for widespread knowledge and ease of access to the new means of handling cross border cases within the EC.


The Conclusions & Recommendations (C&R) of the governance body of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) (i.e. the Council on General Affairs and Policy) are available in both English and French.

The conclusions that are worthy of note are the following:


Written by Georgia Antonopoulou and Xandra Kramer, Erasmus University Rotterdam (PhD candidate and PI ERC consolidator project Building EU Civil Justice)

1. Mushrooming International Business Courts on the Eve of Brexit

Readers of this blog will have followed the developments on the international business courts and international commercial chambers being established around Europe and elsewhere. While many of the initiatives to set up such a court or special chamber date from before the Brexit vote, it is clear that the UK leaving the EU has boosted these and is considered to be a big game changer. It remains to be seen whether it really is, but in any case the creation of courts and procedures designed to deal with international commercial disputes efficiently is very interesting!


Brexit: Three modest proposals

After last Thursday’s EU summit, which resulted in a double-barreled “flextension” of the date for Brexit, all cards are on the table again. Insofar, it is worth noticing that the German journalist Harald Martenstein, in his weekly column for the Berlin-based “Tagesspiegel”, has recently offered three innovative solutions for the Brexit dilemma:


Interpreting Choice-of-Law Clauses

Written by John Coyle, the Reef C. Ivey II Term Professor of Law, Associate Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law

Over the past few decades, the concept of party autonomy has moved to the forefront of private international law scholarship.  The question of whether (and to what extent) private actors may choose the law that will govern their relationship has generated extensive commentary and discussion.  The result?  An ever-expanding literature on the role of party autonomy in private international law.


The Australian common law does not require reciprocity for recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments. Therefore, although Chinese courts have never recognized and enforced an Australian monetary judgment, Australian courts have recognized and enforced Chinese judgments. Thus far, there have been two Chinese judgments recognized and enforced in Australia (both in the State of Victoria). In both cases, the Australian judges considered whether the Chinese courts had international jurisdiction based on the defendants’ citizenship/nationality.


Professor Dr. Robert Freitag, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen, has kindly provided us with his thoughts on the proposal for a Regulation on Third-Party Effects of Assigment:

Article 14 para. (1) of Regulation Rome I subjects the relationship between assignor and assignee under a voluntary assignment of a claim to the law that applies to the contract between the assignor and assignee. Pursuant to recital (38) of the regulation, the relevant law is to govern the “property aspects of an assignment, as between assignor and assignee”. It is a much debated question whether article 14 para. (1) of Regulation Rome I also applies to the third-party effects of assignments, i.e. to “proprietary effects of assignments such as the right of the assignee to assert his legal title over a claim assigned to him towards other assignees or beneficiaries of the same or functionally equivalent claim, creditors of the assignor and other third parties” (for this definition see article 2 lit. (2) of the Commission’s 2018 proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the law applicable to the third-party effects of assignments of claims, COM(2018)096 final).

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