Case C-191/18 and Us

Open your eyes, we may be next.

(Or maybe we are already there?)

Case C- 191/18, KN v Minister for Justice and Equality, is not about PIL; the questions referred to the CJ on March 16, actually relate to the European Arrest warrant (and Brexit). However, PIL decisions are mirroring the same concerns. It has been reported, for instance, that a Polish district court has refused a Hague child return to England on the basis (inter alia) that Brexit makes the mother`s position too uncertain. A recent case before the Court of Appeal of England and Wales shows that English judges are also struggling with this (see “Brexit and Family Law”, published on October 2017 by Resolution, the Family Law Bar Association and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, supplemented by mainland IAFL Fellows, Feb 2018).

And even if it was not the case: can we really afford to stay on the sidelines?

Needless to say, Brexit is just one of the ingredients in the current European Union melting pot. Last Friday’s presentation at the Comité Français de Droit International Privé, entitled « Le Droit international privé en temps de crise », by Prof. B. Hess, provided a good assessment of the main economic, political and human factors explaining European  contemporary mess – by the way, the parliamentary elections in Slovenia on Sunday did nothing but confirm his views. One may not share all that is said on the paper; it’s is legitimate not to agree with its conclusions as to the direction PIL should follow in the near future to meet the ongoing challenges; the author’s global approach, which comes as a follow up to his 2017 Hague Lecture, is nevertheless the right one. Less now than ever before can European PIL be regarded as a “watertight compartment”, an isolated self-contained field of law. Cooperation in criminal and civil matters in the AFSJ follow different patterns and maybe this is how it should be (I am eagerly waiting to read Dr. Agnieszka Frackowiak-Adamska’s opinion on the topic, which seem to disagree with the ones I expressed in Rotterdam in 2015, and published later). The fact remains that systemic deficiencies of the judiciary in a given Member State can hardly be kept restricted to the criminal domain and leave untouched the civil one; doubts hanging over one prong necessarily expand to the other. The Celmer case, C-216/18 PPU, Minister for Justice and Equality v LM, heard last Friday (a commented report of the hearing will soon be released in Verfassungsblog, to the best of my knowledge), with all its political charge, cannot be deemed to be of no interest to us; precisely because a legal system forms a consistent whole mutual trust cannot be easily, if at all, compartmentalized.

The Paris presentation was of course broader and it is not my intention to address it in all its richness, in the same way that I cannot recall the debate which followed, which will be reproduced in due time at the Travaux. Still, I would like to mention the discussion on asylum and PIL, if only to refer to what Prof. S. Courneloup very correctly pointed out to: asylum matters cannot be left to be dealt with by administrative law alone; on the contrary, PIL has a big say and we – private international lawyers- a wide legal scenario to be alert to (for the record, albeit I played to some extent the dissenting opinion on Friday, my actual stance on the need to pair up public and private law for asylum matters is clear in CDT, 2017). Last year the JURI Committee of the European Parliament commissioned two studies (here and here; they were also reported in CoL) on the relationship between asylum and PIL, thus suggesting some legislative initiative might be taken. But nothing has happened since.

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