Latest Issue of “Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts” (4/2013)


Recently, the July/August issue of the German law journal “Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts” (IPRax) was published.

  • Bettina Heiderhoff: “Fictitious service of process and free movement of judgments”

When judgments or court orders are to be enforced in other member states, it is an essential prerequisite that the defendant was served with the document which instituted the proceedings in sufficient time (Article 34 Nr. 2 Brussels I Regulation).

When the service was conducted in a fictitious manner, the issue of service “in sufficient time” causes friction. It is acknowledged that the measure for timeliness – or, in such a case, more accurately for rightfulness – is not set by the state of origin, but by the recognising state. However, if the criteria are taken from the autonomous procedural rules of the recognising state, as has occasionally happened, minor differences between national laws can cause unreasonable obstacles to the recognition of titles.

In order to fulfill the aim of the Brussels I Regulation, to improve the free movement of judgments and strengthen mutual trust, the criteria must, therefore, not be taken from the national rules of the recognising state, but ought rather to resemble the standards valid for breaches of public policy. Only such a “mildly Europeanized” standard for fictitious services may avoid a trapping of the claimant who, trusting in the decision of the court of origin, is then surprised by the differing measures of the recognising state.

  •  Haimo Schack: “What remains of the renvoi?”

The renvoi is one of the main principles of classic private international law. The renvoi doctrine aims for the conformity of decisions in different jurisdictions, which may also facilitate the recognition of the decision abroad. With this goal in mind the following article gives an overview of the acceptance of renvoi in different national jurisdictions. In addition, the article evaluates and criticizes the tendency to push back the doctrine of renvoi in international treaties and in EU private international law. Especially in the former domain of renvoi, i.e. the law of personal status, family and inheritance law, the European conflict rules are dominating more and more and preventing the conformity of decisions in relation to third countries. As a means to achieve this decisional harmony the renvoi remains useful, it shows the cosmopolitan attitude of classic private international law.

  •  Hannes Wais: “Hospital contracts and Place of Performance Jurisdiction under § 29 ZPO (German Code of Civil Procedure)”

This article comments on a recent decision of the German Federal Supreme Court, in which the court ruled that, for payment claims from a hospital contract, § 29 ZPO conferred jurisdiction upon the courts in the locality of the hospital. The Court decided that, not only for the purposes of § 29 ZPO, the place of performance of the monetary obligation from a hospital contract is the creditor’s seat and not that of the debtor (in contrast to what is generally accepted for monetary obligations). This article will discuss the implications of this decision, and will consider the possibility of a conceptual “reversal” of § 29 ZPO.

  •  Markus Würdinger: “Der ordre public-Vorbehalt bei Verzugsaufschlägen im niederländischen Arbeitsrecht” – the English abstract reads as follows:

The substantive ordre public rarely plays a role when it comes to recognition and enforcement of foreign legal decisions. This article deals with such a case. It is about the declaration of enforceability of a Dutch court decision in Germany. The judgment in question decided the applicant’s claim for unpaid wages plus a statutory increase of 50% as a penalty for late payment in his favour. The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (OLG) rightly interpreted Art. 34 EuGVVO (Regulation (EC) No 44/2001) narrowly and refused to consider this decision as being comparable to an award of punitive damages.

  •  Urs Peter Gruber: “Die Vollstreckbarkeit ausländischer Unterhaltstitel – altes und neues Recht” – the English abstract reads as follows:

For a maintenance creditor, the swift and efficient recovery of a maintenance obligation is of paramount importance. In the Brussels I Regulation – which until recently was also applicable with regard to maintenance obligations – and in various conventions there are procedures for the declaration of enforceability of decisions. In these procedures, the courts have to ascertain whether there is a maintenance claim covered by the Regulation or the convention and whether there are reasons to refuse recognition of the foreign decision. In the new Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 on maintenance obligations however, a declaration of enforceability of decisions is no longer required, provided that the decision was given in a Member State bound by the Hague Protocol of 23 November 2007 on the law applicable to maintenance obligations. In this case, a decision on maintenance obligations given in a Member State is automatically enforceable in another Member State. The article discusses recent court decisions on the declaration of enforceability in maintenance obligations. It then examines the changes brought about by the Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 on maintenance obligations. Weighing the interests of both the creditor and the debtor, it comes to the conclusion that the abolition of the above-mentioned procedures is fully justified.

  •  Wolf-Georg Ringe: “Secondary proceedings, forum shopping and the European Insolvency Regulation”

The German Federal Supreme Court held in a recent decision that secondary proceedings according to Article 3(2) of the European Insolvency Regulation cannot be initiated where the debtor only has assets in a particular country. The requirements for an “establishment” go beyond this and require an economic activity with a “minimum of organisation and certain stability”. This decision stands in conformity with the leading academic comment and other case-law. Nevertheless, the decision is a good opportunity to stress the importance of secondary proceedings and their function to protect local creditors. This is particularly true where the secondary proceedings are initiated (as here) in the context of a cross-border transfer of the “centre of main interests” (COMI) of the debtor. The ongoing review of the European Insolvency Regulation should respond to this problem in one of the regulatory options provided.

  •  Moritz Brinkmann: “Ausländische Insolvenzverfahren und deutscher Grundbuchverkehr” – the English abstract reads as follows:

Art. 16 EIR provides for the automatic recognition of insolvency proceedings which have been commenced in another member state. The recognition of insolvency proceedings pertains not only to the debtor’s power with respect to the estate, but also to his procedural position as well as to questions regarding company law or the law of land registries. The decision rendered by the OLG Düsseldorf (March 2, 2012) illustrates that these consequences are easily ignored in the routine of everyday legal life as long as courts and parties have difficulties in accessing reliable information as to the status of foreign proceedings. The existing deficits in terms of access to information regarding foreign insolvency proceedings may thwart the concept of automatic recognition. Hopefully, the coming reform of the EIR will address this issue (see proposed Art. 22 EIR in COM (2012) 744 final).

  •  Kurt Siehr: “Equal Treatment of Children of Unmarried Parents and the Law of Nationality”

A child of unmarried parents acquires nationality of Malta only if the child is recognized by the Maltese father and legitimized by marriage or court decision. The European Court of Human Rights decided that this provision violates the European Convention of Human Rights, especially Article 8 on the right of family life and Article 14 on non-discrimination. There are doubts whether the decision is correct. A more careful phrasing of Maltese law could avoid the violation of the Convention. Or is the decision of the European Court of Human Rights its step further towards a human right for nationality?

  •  Fritz Sturm: “Forfeiture of the choice of surname: The European Court of Human Rights compels the Swiss Federal Court to set aside its former judgment”

The Swiss Federal Court, 24 May 2005, did not authorize foreign husbands to have their surname governed by their national law (s. 37 ss. 2 Swiss Private International Law Act) when they have previously chosen to take the wife’s surname as the family name, situation which could not have occured if the sexes had been reversed. In fact, in this case the husband’s surname would automatically become the family name and the wife could choose to have her surname governed by her national law. For the Court of Strasburg this difference in treatment is discriminatory (violation of art. 14 in conjunction with art. 8 ECHR). The Swiss Federal Court has therefore been compelled to set aside its former judgment.

  • Dirk Looschelders: “Jurisdiction of the Courts for the Place of Accident in case of a Recourse Direct Action by a Social Insurance Institution against the Liability Insurer of the Tortfeasor”

In the present judgement the Austrian High Court (OGH) deals with the question whether a social insurance institution can sue the liability insurer of the tortfeasor in the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred. The OGH comes to the conclusion that such a jurisdiction is granted at least by Article 5 no 3 Brussels I Regulation. The problematic issue whether the priority provision of Article 11 (2) read together with Article 10 s. 1 Brussels I-Regulation applies, is left undecided. In the decision Vorarlberger Gebietskrankenkasse the European Court of Justice has held that the social insurance institution cannot take a recourse direct action against the liability insurer under Article 11 (2) read together with Article 9 (1) (b) Brussels I Regulation. According to the opinion of the author, jurisdiction in such cases shall generally not be determined by Chapter II Section 3 of the Brussels I Regulation. Therefore, Article 11 (2) read together with Article 10 s. 1 Brussels I Regulation is inapplicable, too. In consequence, contrary to the opinion of the OGH, the social insurance institution cannot be regarded as an injured party in terms of Article 11 (2) Brussels I-Regulation.

  • Michael Wietzorek: “On the Recognition of German Decisions in Albania”

There is still no established opinion as to whether the reciprocity requirement of § 328 Sec. 1 No. 5 German Civil Procedure Code is fulfilled with regard to Albania. A decision of the High Court of the Republic of Albania dated 19 February 2009 documents that the Court of Appeals of Durr?s, on 5 December 2005, recognized two default judgments by which the Regional Court of Bamberg had ordered an Albanian company to pay two amounts of money to a German transport insurance company. One single court decision may not be sufficient to substantiate that there is an established judicial practice. Yet the reported decision appears to be the only one available in the publicly accessible database of the High Court dealing with the recognition of such foreign default judgments by which one of the parties was ordered to pay an amount of money.

  •  Chris Thomale: “Conflicts of Austrian individual labour law and the German law of the works council – intertemporal dimensions of foreign overriding mandatory provisions”

The Austrian Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof) recently held that the cancellation of an individual employment contract between a German employer and an Austrian employee posted in Austria was valid despite the fact that the employer failed to hear his German works council properly beforehand. The case raises prominent issues of intertemporal conflicts of laws, characterization of the mentioned hearing requirement and the applicability of foreign overriding mandatory provisions, which are discussed in this article.

  •  Sabine Corneloup: “Application of the escape clause to a contract of guarantee”

The French Cour de cassation specifies how to apply the escape clause of Art. 4 n° 5 of the Rome Convention to a contract of guarantee. The ancillary nature of guarantees leads national courts often to the application of the law governing the main contract, on the basis of a tacit choice of law or on the basis of the escape clause. The latter is to be used very restrictively, according to the Cour de cassation. It is necessary to establish first that the ordinary connecting factor, designating the law of the habitual residence of the guarantor, is of no relevance in the examined case. Only after this step, the courts can examine the connections existing with another State. This restrictive interpretation adds a condition to the text that seems neither necessary nor appropriate.

  • Oliver Heinrich/Erik Pellander: “Das Berliner Weltraumprotokoll zum Kapstadt-Übereinkommen über Internationale Sicherungsrechte an beweglicher Ausrüstung”
  • Stefan Leible: “Hannes Unberath † (23.6.1973–28.1.2013)”