Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts (IPRax) 6/2017: Abstracts


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

P. Mankowski: The German Act on Same-Sex Marriages, its consequences and its European vicinity in private international law

Finally, Germany has promulgated its Act on Same-Sex Marriages. In the arena of private international law the Act calls for equal treatment of same-sex marriages and registered partnerships whereas in German substantive law it aligns same-sex marriages with traditional marriages and institutionally abandons registered partnerships pro futuro. In private international law the Act falls short of addressing all issues it should have addressed in light of its purpose. In particular, it lacks provisions on the PIL of kinship and adoption – and does not utter a single word on jurisdiction or recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In other respects it is worthwhile to have a closer look at its surroundings and ramifications in European PIL (Brussels IIbis, Rome III, Matrimonial Property, and Partnership Property Regulations), i.e. at the coverage which European PIL exacts to same-sex marriages.

P.F. Schlosser: Brussels I and applications for a pre-litigation preservation of evidence

The judgement is revealing a rather narrow finding. An application for a pre-litigation preservation of evidence is within the meaning of Art. 32 Brussels Ia Regulation not tantamount to “the document instituting the proceedings or an equivalent document”. The commentator is emphasizing that this solution cannot be subject to any reasonable doubt. He further explains, however, that the Regulation is applicable to such applications and the ensuing proceedings to the effect that the outcome of such a preservation of evidence must be recognized to the same degree as a domestic preservation is producing effects in the main proceedings. In particular is it clear for him, that such recognition must not be restricted by the German numerus clausus of legally recognized means of evidence.

T. Lutzi: Jurisdiction at the Place of the Damage and Mosaic Approach for Online Acts of Unfair Competition

Once again, the Court of Justice was asked to determine the place of the damage under Art. 5 No. 3 Brussels I (now Art. 7(2) Brussels Ia) for a tort committed online. The decision can be criticised both for its uncritical reception of the mosaic approach and for the way in which it applied the latter to the present case of an infringement of competition law through offers for sale on websites operated in other member states. Regardless, the decision confirms the mosaic approach as the general rule to identify the place of the damage for torts committed through the internet.

K. Hilbig-Lugani: The scope of the Brussels IIa Regulation and actions for annulment of marriage brought by a third party after the death of one of the spouses

The ECJ has decided that an action for annulment of marriage brought by a third party after the death of one of the spouses falls within the scope of Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003. But the third party who brings an action for annulment of marriage may not rely on the grounds of jurisdiction set out in the fifth and sixth indents of Art. 3(1)(a) of Regulation No 2201/2003. The ECJ does not differentiate between actions for annulment brought after the death of one of the spouses and an action for annulment brought by a third party. The decision raises several questions with regard to the application of Art. 3 of Regulation No 2201/2003.

J. Pirrung: Forum (non) conveniens – Application of Article 15 of the Brussels IIbis Regulation in Proceedings Before the Supreme Courts of Ireland and the UK

On a reference submitted by the Irish Supreme Court, the ECJ ruled that Art. 15 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 (Brussels IIa) is applicable where a child protection application brought under public law concerns the adoption of measures relating to parental responsibility, (even) if it is a necessary consequence of a court of another Member State assuming jurisdiction that an authority of that other State thereafter commence proceedings separate from those brought in the first State, pursuant to its own domestic law and possibly relating to different factual circumstances. In order to determine that a court of another Member State with which the child has a particular connection is better placed, the court having jurisdiction must be satisfied that the transfer of the case to the other court is such as to provide genuine and specific added value to the examination of the case, taking into account the rules of procedure applicable in the other State. In order to determine that such a transfer is in the best interests of the child, the court having jurisdiction must be satisfied that the transfer is not liable to be detrimental to the situation of the child, and must not take into account, in a given case relating to parental responsibility, the effect of a possible transfer of the case to a court of another State on the right of freedom of movement of persons concerned other than the child, or the reason why the mother exercised that right, prior to the court being seised, unless those considerations are such that there may be adverse repercussions on the situation of the child. The judgment is juxtaposed to the decision of the UK Supreme Court – pronounced some months before that of the ECJ – in re N, an Art. 15 case concerning a different situation without freedom of movement questions. Both jurisdictions have found acceptable results, the UKSC, though happily much faster than the ECJ, perhaps not entirely without one or the other risk concerning its treatment of procedural questions

A.-R. Börner: News on the competence-competence of arbitral panels under German law – Simultaneously a note on the Federal High Court decision of August 9, 2016, I ZB 1/15

The Federal Court of Justice of Germany has decided that the arbitration clause even survives the insolvency of a party (severability), unless stipulated to the contrary or in case of the existence of reasons for the nullity or termination of the arbitral agreement, such reasons either existing separately or resulting from the main contract. Under the German Law of Civil Procedure, the challenge to the state court that – contrary to an early decision of the arbitration panel affirming its competency – the panel has no competency, must be raised within the very short timeframe of one month, otherwise the judicial review will be forfeited. The Federal Court of Justice had held until now that in case of a (supervening) final award the state court procedure ended and that the arguments against the competency had to be raised anew in the procedure on the enforceability of the award. The Court has now accepted the criticism by the scientific literature that this places an undue burden on the challenging party. So it now holds that the second procedure (on enforceability) will be stayed until the first procedure (on competency) is terminated, as its result takes precedence.

B. Köhler: Dual-use contracts as consumer contracts and no attribution of consumer status of a third party to the proceedings under Brussels-I Regulation

The determination of the scope of the provisions on jurisdiction over consumer contracts in Art. 15 to 17 Brussels I Regulation is one of the most controversial problems in international procedural law. The German Federal Supreme Court’s decision raises two interesting questions in this respect. The first controversial issue concerns the classification of contracts for both professional and private purposes as consumer contracts. In its judgment Gruber, the European Court of Justice had held that such a dual-purpose contract can only be considered a consumer contract if the role of the professional purpose is marginal. However, the European legislator adopted the criterion of predominant purpose in recital 17 to the Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU). Regrettably, the German Federal Supreme Court missed an opportunity to clarify the classification of dual-purpose contracts within the Brussels I Regulation. The Court applied the criterion laid down by the ECJ in Gruber without further discussion. In a second step, the Court held – convincingly – that Art. 16 (2) Brussels I Regulation presupposes that the consumer is a party to the proceedings. The capacity of consumer of a third party cannot be attributed to a defendant who, him- or herself, is not a consumer.

L. Hübner: The residual company of the deregistered limited

The following article deals with the consequences of the dissolution of companies from a common law background having residual assets in Germany. The prevailing case law makes use of the so-called “Restgesellschaft” in these cases. By means of three judgments of the BGH and the Higher Regional Court of Brandenburg, this article considers the conflicts of laws solutions of these courts and articulates its preference for the application of German company law on the “Restgesellschaft”. It further analyses the subsequent questions as regards the legal form and the representation of the “Restgesellschaft“, and the implications of the restoration of the foreign company.

D. Looschelders: Temporal Scope of the European Succession Regulation and Characterization of the Rules on the Invalidity of Joint Wills in Polish Law

Joint wills are not recognized in many foreign legal systems. Therefore, in cross-border disputes the use of joint wills often raises legal problems. The decision of the Schleswig-Holstein Higher Regional Court concerns the succession of a Polish citizen, who died on 15 October 2014 and had drawn up a joint will along with his German wife shortly before his death. The problem was that joint wills are invalid under Polish law of succession. First, the court dealt with the question whether the case had to be judged according to the European Succession Regulation or according to the former German and Polish private international law. The court rightly considered that in Germany the new version of Art. 25 EGBGB does not extend the temporal scope of the European Succession Regulation. Hereafter the court states that the invalidity of joint wills under Polish law is not based on a content-related reason but is a matter of form. Therefore, the joint will would be valid under the Hague Convention on the Form of Testamentary Dispositions. This decision is indeed correct, but the court’s reasoning is not convincing in all respects.

C. Thomale: The anticipated best interest of the child – Strasburgian thoughts of season on mother surrogacy

The ECtHR has reversed its opinion on Art. 8 ECHR. The protection of private and family life as stipulated therein is subject to a margin of appreciation far wider than hitherto expected. In stating this view, the ECtHR also takes a critical stand towards mother surrogacy: Restricting the human right to procreate, national legislators are given room to protect the child’s best interest inter alia through deterrence against surrogacy. The article investigates some implications of this new landmark decision, which is being put into the context of ongoing debates on international surrogacy.

K. Thorn/P. Paffhausen: The Qualification of Same-sex Marriages in Germany under Old and New Conflict-of-law Rules

In its decision in case XII ZB 15/15 (20th April 2016) the German Federal Court of Justice recognized the co-motherhood of a female same-sex couple, registered in South Africa, for a child born by one of the women. While underlining that the result of the decision – the legal recognition of the parenthood – is right, the authors point out the methodological weaknesses of the reasoning. In their opinion, a same-sex marriage celebrated abroad had to be qualified as a “marriage” in Art. 13 EGBGB and not – as the Court held – as a “registered life partnership” in Art. 17b EGBGB (old version). Also, they demonstrate that the Court’s interpretation of Art. 17b para. 4 EGBGB (old version) as well as the reasoning for the application of Art. 19 para. 1 s. 1 EGBGB are not convincing. Following the authors’ opinion, the right way to solve the case would have been the legal recognition of the parenthood (as an individual case) because of Art. 8 ECHR. As Germany recently legalized same-sex marriage, the authors also show which impacts the new law will have on Germany’s international matrimonial law. In particular, they point out the new (constitutional) questions risen by the new conflict-of-law-rule for same-sex marriages in Art. 17b EGBGB (new version).

D. Martiny: Modification and binding effect of Polish maintenance orders

The two decisions of the German Courts of Appeal concern everyday problems in modifying maintenance orders given in the context of Polish divorce decrees. In both cases the Polish district courts ordered the fathers to pay child maintenance. At that point in time, the children already lived in Germany. The foreign orders did not state the grounds for the decision in respect of either the conflict-of-law issue or the substantive law issue. The recognition of the orders under the Maintenance Regulation in the framework of the German modification proceedings (§ 238 Family Proceedings Act – Familienverfahrensgesetz; FamFG) did not pose any difficulty. However, according to established German practice, foreign decisions have a binding effect as to their factual and legal basis. Whereas the Frankfurt court’s interpretation of the Polish decision concluded that it was based on German law, the Bremen court assumed in its proceedings that the foreign decision was based on Polish law. The Bremen court stated a binding effect existed even if the foreign decision applied the incorrect law. The Bremen court then gave some hints as to how the assessment of maintenance should be made in the German proceedings under Polish substantive law.