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Krzysztof Pacula

According to the judgment in Blijdenstein, delivered by the Court of Justice in 2004, a public body which seeks reimbursement of sums paid under public law to the original maintenance creditor, to whose rights it is subrogated against the maintenance debtor, cannot rely on Article 5(2) of the Brussels Convention. It cannot, therefore, sue the debtor before the courts for the place of domicile/habitual residence of the original maintenance creditor.

In 2008, the EU legislator adopted the Maintenance Regulation. As it follows from Article 68 of this Regulation, it replaced the provisions of the Brussels regime relating to maintenance obligations. The Regulation contains a provision that seems to be somehow similar to Article 5(2) of the Brussels Convention. Its Article 3(b) allows to bring the proceedings in matters relating to maintenance obligations before the court for the place where the creditor is habitually resident.

Before a court of a Member State of enforcement, a debtor lodges an application opposing enforcement of a maintenance decision given by a court of another Member State. The court of the Member State of enforcement asks the Court of Justice whether that application falls within the scope of the Maintenance Regulation or that of Brussels I bis Regulation and whether the jurisdiction to rule on the application lies with the courts of the Member State of enforcement.

In essence, these are the questions at stake in the case C-41/19, FX. Back in February, we reported on the Opinion of AG Bobek presented in this case.

Written by María Barral Martínez, a former trainee at the European Court of Justice (Chambers of AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona) and an alumna of the University of Amsterdam and the University of Santiago de Compostela

The Hoge Raad Neederlanden (The Dutch Supreme Court), the referring court in the case Supreme Site Service and Others, C-186/19, harbours doubts regarding the international jurisdiction of Dutch courts under the Brussels I bis Regulation, in respect to a request to lift an interim garnishee order. An insight on the background of the case can be found here and here, while the implications of that background for admissibility of request for a preliminary ruling are addressed in section 1 of the present text.

Preliminary question and its context

In its Judgment of 7 May 2020, delivered in the joined cases C-267/19 and C-323/19 without Advocate General’s Opinion, the Court of Justice provides some further guidance on the implications of its previous case law and most notably of the Judgment in the case C-551/15, Pula Parking (‘Judgment in Pula Parking’).

Just as in the case that led to Judgment in Pula Parking, the requests for a preliminary ruling in the cases in question were lodged in the context of the proceedings on the oppositions to the writs of execution. Put succinctly: under the Croatian law, a notary issues a writ of execution based on an ‘authentic document’. The party against whom enforcement is sought may lodge an opposition to that writ. The court to which the opposition is transferred has jurisdiction to set aside the writ and to annul the measures taken so far. The procedure continues according to the rules applicable to cases of opposition to a payment order.

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.

In his Opinion delivered today, Advocate General Tanchev presents his take on Article 10 of the Regulation No 1259/2010 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the law applicable to divorce and legal separation (commonly referred to as Rome III Regulation), under which ‘[w]here the law applicable pursuant to Article 5 or Article 8 makes no provision for divorce or does not grant one of the spouses equal access to divorce or legal separation on grounds of their sex, the law of the forum shall apply’.

The case concerns the question whether the Lithuanian courts have jurisdiction under the Brussels I bis Regulation to deal with a case involving an insurance payment claimed by a company established in Lithuania and covered by a civil liability insurance contract concluded between the policyholder and the insurer, both of whom are established in Latvia.

The insurance contract in question contained a clause providing that any dispute relating to this contract should be brought before the Latvian courts. Following the wording of the preliminary question, the claimant is a ‘person insured under that contract who has not expressly subscribed to that clause’.

In today’s Opinion, Advocate General Bobek analyses whether the courts of a Member State in which a maintenance decision delivered by the courts of another Member State is enforced have jurisdiction to rule on an application opposing the enforcement.

More specifically, the reference for a preliminary ruling originates in a dispute between a maintenance debtor residing in Germany and a maintenance creditor residing in Poland. The latter lodged with the referring court an application requesting the recognition of a Polish maintenance decision and a declaration of its enforceability in Germany in accordance with Maintenance Regulation. The referring court delivered an order for enforcement in respect of the Polish maintenance decision. On the basis of that order, the defendant sought the enforcement of this decision against the debtor in Germany. The maintenance debtor opposed the enforcement based on Paragraph 767 of the German Code of Civil Procedure (the ZPO) and argued that the claim underlying the maintenance decision has been settled by payment.