Opinion of AG Emiliou on stay of enforcement of final return order in the case C-638/22 PPU

In the case Rzecznik Praw Dziecka and Others, C-638/22 PPU, a Polish court asks the Court of Justice in essence whether, in accordance with the Brussels II Regulation and The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a Member State may provide for the possibility of an appeal in cassation (in practice: a third judicial instance) involving a stay of enforcement of a final return order on a simple application by one of the public entities entitled to lodge such an appeal.

AG Emiliou states from the outset that this question calls for a negative answer. His Opinion explains why this is the case.

A summary of the facts of the case reported here case has been already posted online by Marta Requejo Isidro so I am happy to refer to her contribution.

The urgency of the matter has compelled the Court to submit the case, at the request for the referring court, to the urgent preliminary ruling procedure provided for in Article 107 of the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice.

I might add that the provision of national law that made the aforementioned stay of enforcement possible entered into force on 24 June 2022 and the request for a preliminary ruling has been brought before the Court of Justice already on 13 October 2022.

Concerning the preliminary question itself, in his Opinion, AG Emiliou recognizes that the 1980 Hague Convention and the Brussels II bis Regulation do not unify the procedural rules applicable to return applications based on that Convention. Those issues are left to the procedural law of the Member State where a request for a return order is made (point 52).

Nevertheless, the competence of the Member States has its limits. For AG Emiliou, those limits are not respected by the Polish provision in question.

Advocate General argues that by adopting the provision in question, the Polish legislator has exceeded the limits of its competence: he has rendered the return proceedings ineffective. Furthermore, in doing so, the legislator has also limited the fundamental right to respect for family life and the fundamental right to an effective remedy of the parent requesting the return, despite there being no compelling justification for such limitation and the negative consequences it entails (point 54).

All those aspects are addressed in a detailed manner in the Opinion, so there is still a lot to unpack.

The Opinion is available here (so far only in French).

Draft UNIDROIT Principles on Digital Assets and Private Law – Public Consultation

As part of the UNIDROIT Project on Digital Assets and Private Law, UNIDROIT has launched a Public Consultation to solicit comments and feedback on a set of Draft Principles and Commentary which have been prepared by its Working Group over the course of 7 sessions between 2020-2022. These Principles have been drafted to provide guidance to legislators, judges, practitioners, and the industry involved in the digital asset economy with regard to issues of private law. This includes issues regarding the definition of a digital asset, the importance of control, matters related to transfer of digital assets, custody relationships, conflicts of law, secured transactions, enforcement, and insolvency. The text contains a detailed introduction which explains what the Principles seek to do. UNIDROIT now looks for comments. All the relevant information can be found on this page. All comments should be provided using this online form. The Secretariat is seeking wide distribution of the consultation.

One Private International Law Article published in the First Issue of the International and Comparative Law Quarterly for 2023

One recent article on private international law was published today in International and Comparative Law Quarterly:

A Chong, “Characterisation and Choice of Law for Knowing Receipt”

Knowing receipt requires the satisfaction of disparate elements under English domestic law. Its characterisation under domestic law is also unsettled. These in turn affect the issues of characterisation and choice of law at the private international law level, as knowing receipt sits at the intersection of the laws of equity, restitution, wrongs and property. This article argues that under the common law knowing receipt ought to be considered as sui generis for choice of law purposes and governed by the law of closest connection to the claim. Where the Rome II Regulation applies, knowing receipt fits better within the tort rather than unjust enrichment category and the escape clause in Article 4(3) of the Regulation ought to apply.

 

 

Conference on PIL Aspects of the Digital Market Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA)

On Friday, January 20, 2023, the University of Strasbourg (France) will host a conference on the PIL aspects of the Digital Market Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), organized by Etienne Farnoux, Nicolas Gillet, Kansu Okyay and Delphine Porcheron.

The conference is structured in two parts. The first will be dedicated to general presentation of the new regulations. The second will address specific topics in private international law.

Full Programme:

14h00 : Propos Introductif
Delphine Porcheron, Maître de conférences à l’Université de Strasbourg – CDPF
et Etienne Farnoux, Professeur à l’Université de Strasbourg – DRES

1re session – Présentation générale des règlements et étude du conflit de lois
Présidence : Delphine Porcheron, Maître de conférences à l’Université de Strasbourg – CDPF

14h10 : Présentation du règlement DMA
Frédérique Berrod, Professeure à Sciences Po Strasbourg – CEIE

14h30 : Présentation du règlement DSA
Stéphanie Carre, Maître de conférences HDR à l’Université de Strasbourg – CEIPI

14h50 : Scope of the regulations and conflicts of laws
Tobias Lutzi, Professeur à l’Université de Augsburg

15h10 : Questions et échange avec la salle

15h30 : Pause

2e session – Les règlements et le contentieux
Présidence : Etienne Farnoux, Professeur à l’Université de Strasbourg – DRES

16h00 : Le contentieux devant les juridictions étatiques
Yves El Hage, Maître de conférences à l’Université Lyon 3 – CREDIP

16h20 : Les modes extrajudiciaires de règlement des litiges
Nurten Kansu Okyay, Maître de conférences contractuelle à l’Université de Strasbourg – CEIE

16h50 : Conclusions
Delphine Porcheron, Maître de conférences à l’Université de Strasbourg – CDPF
Etienne Farnoux, Professeur à l’Université de Strasbourg – DRES

17h00 : Clôture

The conference will be held both in site and online. The full program and details about the location and registration can be found here.

Conference on the evaluation of the European Succession Regulation, 20 January 2023

Colleagues at the University of Heidelberg are organising this conference on 20 Januari 2023 at the

Auditorium of the Neue Universität at Heidelberg University, Universitätsplatz 1, 69117 Heidelberg.

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in German, English and French.

Background:

The European Succession Regulation (Reg. 650/12) is due for evaluation ten years after its entry into force in August 2015 (Art. 82 Reg. 650/12).

The European Commission must submit its report on the application of the European Succession Regulation by 18 August 2025.

The upcoming evaluation gives an opportunity to reflect on various questions in light of the practical experience gained so far. Although the European Succession Regulation has proven successful in practice, there are many open questions which the ever-growing body of European Court of Justice case-law has not yet answered. These questions fuel a lively debate, both internationally and within the Member States. Hence, the outcome of the evaluation process is not predictable and the German view is only one of many that will contribute to the political decision-making process. Contrasting national views must be reconciled.

The first findings of a pan-European study on the experiences and expectations of legal practice with regard to Reg. 650/12 are now available. The study (MAPE Successions) is carried out by the Council of the Notariats of the European Union (C.N.U.E.) with the cooperation of the German Federal Chamber of Notaries (Bundesnotarkammer).

This study is an opportunity to map out the future objectives of the discussion on the evaluation of Reg. 650/12 from the perspective of academia and legal practice. At the same time, the conference provides a broad circle of legal practitioners with the opportunity to feed their experiences and insights into the reform process and discuss with renowned stakeholders.

Participation is free, but registration is required by 5 January 2023: notareg@igr.uni-heidelberg.de

 

Programme:

1 p.m. Welcome reception with lunchtime snack

2.15 p.m. Welcoming address and introduction

Prof. Dr. Christian Baldus, Heidelberg

 

2.30 p.m. The European Succession Regulation in the System of European Private International and Procedural Law: More “Brussels-Rome 0” after the Revision?

Prof. Dr. Martin Gebauer, Tübingen, Judge at the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart

 

3.15 p.m. Presentation of the MAPE Successions study: What do practitioners expect from the revision of the European Succession Regulation?

Notary Christian Schall, LL.M. (Edinburgh), Marktheidenfeld

 

4 p.m. Questions and discussion

4.15 p.m. Coffee break

 

4.45 p.m. The European Succession Regulation in German judicial practice

Dr. Carl-Friedrich Nordmeier, Judge at the Regional Court of Frankfurt

5.30 p.m. Panel discussion followed by questions from the audience: European experiences with the application of the European Succession Regulation

Presenter: Notary Dr. Thomas Raff, Ludwigshafen

France, Maître de conférences HDR Paul Klötgen, Nancy

Luxembourg, Notary Anja Holtz, Esch-sur-Alzette

Poland, Notary Tomasz Kot, Krakow, Vice President of the Polish Chamber of Notaries (Krajowa Rada Notarialna)

Portugal, Notary Prof. Sofia Henriques, Lisbon

Sweden, Attorney Ulf Bergquist, Stockholm

Spain, Notary Dr. Isidoro Calvo Vidal, A Coruña

7 p.m.Closing remarks

Notary Dr. Andrea Stutz, Konstanz, Vice President of the Chamber of Notaries of Baden-Württemberg

7.15 p.m. End of conference

Virtual Workshop on January: Guangjian Tu on China’s Ambition to Build up the Highland for International Commercial Litigation

On Tuesday, January 10, 2022, the Hamburg Max Planck Institute will host its 29th monthly virtual workshop Current Research in Private International Law at 11:00 a.m.  12:30 p.m. (CET). Guangjian Tu (University of Macau) will speak, in English, about the topic

China’s Ambition to Build up the Highland for International Commercial Litigation: Some Recent Attempts.

The presentation will be followed by open discussion. All are welcome. More information and sign-up here.

If you want to be invited to these events in the future, please write to veranstaltungen@mpipriv.de.

A Major Amendment to Provisions on Foreign-Related Civil Procedures Is Planned in China

Written by NIE Yuxin and LIU Chang, Wuhan University Institute of International Law

  1. Background

The present Civil Procedure Law of China (hereinafter “CPL”) was enacted in 1990 and has been amended four times. All amendments made no substantive adjustments to the foreign-related civil procedure proceedings. In contrast with legislative indifference, foreign-related cases in the Chinese judicial system have been growing rapidly and call for modernization of the foreign-related civil procedure law. On 30 December 2022, China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued the “Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (amendment draft)”. Amendments are proposed for 29 articles, 17 of which relate to special provisions on foreign-related civil procedures, including rules on the jurisdiction, service abroad, taking of evidence abroad and recognition and enforcement of judgements.

 

  1. Jurisdiction

Special jurisdiction: Present special jurisdiction rules apply to “disputes concerning contract or other property rights or interests”. The literal interpretation may suggest non-contractual or non-propertary disputes are excluded. The amendment draft extends special jurisdiction rules to cover “disputes relating to property right or interest, and right or interest other than property” (Art. 276, para. 1). The amendment draft provides proceedings may be brought before the courts “where the contract is signed or performed, the subject matter of the action is located, the defendant has any distrainable property, the tort or harmful event occurred, or the defendant has any representative office” (Art. 276, para. 1). Furthermore, “the Chinese court may have jurisdiction over the action if the dispute is of other proper connections with China” (Art. 276, para. 2).

 

Choice of court agreement: A special provision on the choice of court agreement is inserted in the foreign-related procedure session (Art. 277), which states: “If the place actually connected to dispute is not within the territory of China, and the parties have agreed in written that courts of China are to have jurisdiction, Chinese courts may exercise jurisdiction. The competent court shall be specified according to provisions on hierarchical jurisdiction and exclusive jurisdiction of this law and other laws of China.” In contrast to Art. 35 on choice of court agreement in purely domestic cases, Art. 277 partly partially abolished the constraint prescribed in Art. 35, which requires the chosen forum to have practical connection to the dispute. When the party chose Chinese court to exercise jurisdiction, there will be no requirement for actually connection between the dispute and chosen place. But it does not state whether Chinese court should stay jurisdiction if a foreign court is chosen, and whether the chosen foreign court must have practical connections to the dispute. This is an obvious weakness and uncertainty.

 

Submission to jurisdiction: Art. 278 inserted a new provision on submission to jurisdiction: “Where the defendant raises no objection to the jurisdiction of the courts of China and responds to the action by submitting a written statement of defence or brings a counterclaim, the court of China accepting the action shall be deemed to have jurisdiction.”

 

Exclusive jurisdiction: The draft article expands the categories of disputes covered by exclusive jurisdiction (Art. 279), including disputes arising from: “(1) the performance of contracts for Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, Chinese-foreign contractual joint ventures or Chinese-foreign cooperative exploration and exploitation of natural resources in China; (2) the formation, dissolution, liquidation and effect of decisions of legal persons and other organizations established within the territory of China; (3) examining the validity of intellectual property rights which conferred within the territory of China.” Not only matters relating to Chinese-foreign contractual cooperation, but the operation of legal persons and other organizations and the territoriality of intellectual property rights are deemed key issues in China.

 

Jurisdiction over consumer contracts: The proposal inserts protective jurisdiction rule for consumer contracts (Art. 280). paragraph 1 of this article provides “(w)hen the domicile of consumer is within the territory of China but the domicile of operator or its establishment is not”, which permits a Chinese consumer to sue foreign business in China. Paragraph 2 restricts the effect of standard terms on jurisdiction. It imposed the operator the “obligation to inform or explicate reasonably” the choice of court clause, otherwise the consumer may claim the terms are not part of the contract. Furthermore, even if consumers are properly informed of the existence of a choice of court clause, if it is “obviously inconvenient for the consumer” to bring proceedings in the chosen court, the consumer may claim the terms are invalid. In other words, the proposal pays attention to the fairness of a choice of court clause in consumer contracts both in procedure and in substance.

 

Jurisdiction over cyber torts: With regard to cyber torts, Art. 281 of the draft states: action for cyber torts may be instituted in the Chinese court if: (1) “computer or other information device locates in the territory of China”; (2) “the harmful event occurs in the territory of China”; (3) “the victim domiciles in the territory of China”.

 

3. Conflict of Jurisdiction, Lis pendens and Forum Non Conveniens

Parallel litigation and exclusive jurisdiction agreements: Art. 282 states: “If one party sues before a foreign court and the other party sues before the Chinese court, or if one party sues before a foreign court as well as the Chinese court, for the same dispute, the Chinese court having jurisdiction under this law may exercise jurisdiction. If the parties have agreed in writing on choosing a foreign court to exercise jurisdiction exclusively, and that choice does not violate the provisions on exclusive jurisdiction of this law or involve the sovereignty, security or social public interests of China, the Chinese court may dismiss the action.” The first part of this article deals with parallel litigation. It allows the Chinese court to exercise jurisdiction over the same dispute pending in a foreign court. The second part of this article provides exception to exclusive jurisdiction agreements. Although Chinese courts are not obliged to stay jurisdiction in parallel proceedings, they should stay jurisdiction in favour of a chosen foreign court in an exclusive jurisdiction clause, subject to normal public policy defence.

 

First-seized court approach: If the same action is already pending before a foreign court, conflict of jurisdiction will happen. First-seized court approach encourages the latter seized court to give up jurisdiction. The draft implements this approach in China. Art. 283 states: “Where a foreign court has accepted action and the judgment of the foreign court may be recognized by Chinese court, the Chinese court may suspend the action with the party’s written application, unless: (1) there is choice of court agreement indicating to Chinese court between the parties, or the dispute is covered by exclusive jurisdiction; (2) it is obviously more convenient for the Chinese court to hear the case. Where foreign court fails to take necessary measures to hear the case, or is unable to conclude within due time, the Chinese court may remove the suspension with the party’s written application.” This provision is the first time that introduces the first-in-time or lis pendens rule in China. But the doctrine is adopted with many limitations. Firstly, the foreign judgment may be recognised in China. Secondly, Chinese court is not the chosen court. Thirdly, Chinese court is not the natural forum. The lis pendens rule is thus fundamentally different from the strict lis pendens rule adopted in the EU jurisdiction regime, especially it incorporates the consideration of forum conveniens. Furthermore, it is also necessary to reconcile the first-in-time provision with the article on parallel proceedings, which states Chinese courts, in principle, can exercise jurisdiction even if the dispute is pending in the foreign court.

 

Res judicata: Paragraph 3 of Art. 283 state: “Once the foreign judgment has been fully or partially recognized by Chinese court, and the parties institute an action over issues of the recognized content of the judgement, Chinese court shall not accept the action. If the action has been accepted, Chinese court shall dismiss the action.”

 

Forum non conveniens: Even if the conflict of jurisdiction has not actually arisen, the Chinese court may decline jurisdiction in favour of the more appropriate court of another country. The defendant should plead forum non conveniens or challenge jurisdiction. Applying forum non conveniens should meet four prerequisites. (1) “Since major facts of disputes in a case do not occur within the territory of China, Chinese court has difficulties hearing the case and it is obviously inconvenient for the parties to participate in the proceedings”. (2) “The parties do not have any agreement for choosing Chinese court to exercise jurisdiction”. (3) “The case does not involve the sovereignty, security or social public interests of China”. (4) “It is more convenient for foreign courts to hear the case” (Art. 284, para. 1). This article also provides remedy for the parties if the proceedings on foreign court do not work well. “Where foreign court declined to exercise jurisdiction over the dispute, failed to take necessary measures to hear the case, or is unable to conclude within due time after Chinese court’s dismissal, the Chinese court shall accept the action which the party instituted again.” (Art. 284, para. 2).

 

4. Judicial Assistance

Service of process on foreign defendants: One of the amendment draft’s main focuses is to improve the effectiveness of foreign-related legal proceedings. In order to achieve this goal, the amendment draft introduces multiple mechanisms to serve process abroad.

Before the draft, the CPL has provided the following multiple service methods: (1) process is served in the manners specified in the international treaty concluded or acceded to by the home country of the person to be served and China; (2) service through diplomatic channels; (3) if the person to be served is a Chinese citizen, service of process may be entrusted to Chinese embassy or consulate stationed in the country where the person to be served resides; (4) process is served on a litigation representative authorized by the person to be served to receive service of process; (5) process is served on the representative office or a branch office or business agent authorized to receive service of process established by the person to be served within the territory of China; (6) service by post; (7) service by electronic means, including fax, email or any other means capable of confirming receipt by the person to be served; (8) if service of process by the above means is not possible, process shall be served by public notice, and process shall be deemed served three months after the date of public notice.[1]

Article 285 of the draft outlines two new methods to serve a foreign natural person not domiciled in China. First, if the person has a cohabiting adult family member in China, the cohabiting adult family member shall be served (Art. 285, para. 1(g)). Second, if the person acts as legal representative, director, supervisor and senior management of his enterprise established in the territory of China, that enterprise shall be served (Art. 285, para. 1(f)). Similarly, a foreign legal person or any other organization may be served on the legal representative or the primary person in charge of the organization if they are located in China (Art. 285, para. 1(h)). It is clear that by penetrating the veil of legal persons, the amendment draft increases the circumstances of alternative service between relevant natural persons and legal persons.

Amongst the amendments to the CPL, there are points relating to service by electronic means that are worthy of note. Compared to traditional ways of service, service by electronic means is usually more convenient and more efficient. The position in respect of service by electronic means, both before and after the amendment to the CPL, is that such service is permitted. A major innovation introduced by the amendment draft is that the service can now be conducted via instant messaging tools and specific electronic systems, if such means are legitimate service methods recognized in the state of destination (Art. 285, para. 1(k)). It meets the urgent demand of both sides in lawsuits by improving the delivery efficiency.

Party autonomy in service abroad is also accepted. The validity of service by other means agreed to by the person served is recognized, provided that it is permitted by the state of the person served (Art. 285, para. 1(l)).

If the above methods fail, the defendant may be served by public notice. The notice should be publicized for 60 days and the defendant is deemed served at the end of the period. Upon the written application of the party, the above methods and the way of service by public notice may be made at the same time provided that the service by public notice is not less than 60 days and the litigation rights of the defendant are not affected (Art. 285, para. 2).

 

Investigation and collection of evidence:

Prior to the draft, the CPL stipulated that Chinese and foreign courts can each request the other to provide judicial assistance in acquiring evidence located in the territory of the other country, in accordance with treaty obligations and the principle of reciprocity. Chinese courts can take evidence abroad generally via two channels. First, evidence overseas can be acquired according to treaty provisions. In the absence of treaties, foreign evidence can only be obtained through diplomatic channels based on the principle of reciprocity.[2]

Article 286 of the draft provides more varied methods to collect foreign evidence. Firstly, foreign evidence can be acquired according to the methods specified in the international treaties concluded or acceded to by both the country where the evidence is located and China. Secondly, the evidence can also be obtained through diplomatic channels. Thirdly, for a witness with Chinese nationality, the Chinese embassy or consulate in the country of the witness will be entrusted to take the evidence on behalf of the witness. Fourthly, via instant messenger tools or other means. Access to electronic evidence stored abroad faces the dilemma of inefficient bilateral judicial assistance, controversial unilateral evidence collection and inadequate functioning of multilateral conventions.[3] The application of modern information technology, such as video conferencing and teleconferencing, can overcome the inconvenience of distance, saving time and costs. It is the mainstream of international cooperation to apply modern technology in the field of extraterritorial evidence-taking. For example, in 2020, the EU Parliament and Council revised the EU Evidence Regulation. The most important highlight of the EU Evidence Regulation is the emphasis on the digitalization of evidence-taking and the use of modern information technology in the process of evidence-taking.[4] On this basis, the amendment draft proposes that the court may, with the consent of the parties, obtain evidence through instant messenger tools or other means, unless prohibited by the law of the country where the evidence is collected (Art. 286).

 

5. Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards

Grounds for non-recognition and non-enforcement of foreign judgments: Recognition and enforcement shall not be granted if (1) the foreign court has no jurisdiction over the case in accordance with the provisions of Article 303; (2) the respondent has not been legitimately summoned or has not been given a reasonable opportunity to be heard or to argue, or the party who is incapable of litigation has not been properly represented; (3) the judgment or ruling has been obtained by fraud; (4) the court of China has issued a judgment or ruling on the same dispute, or has recognized and enforced a judgment or ruling issued by a court of a third country on the same dispute; (5) it violates the Chinese general principles of the law or sovereignty, national security or public interests of China (Art. 302).

After several amendments and official promulgation, the CPL has not significantly changed the requirements for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In China, reciprocity as a prerequisite for recognition of foreign judgments continues to play a dominating role in China. The difficulty of enforcing foreign judgments is one of the major concerns in the current Chinese conflicts system when applying the principle of reciprocity, impeding the development of international cooperation in trade and commerce. The local judicial review process may become more transparent thanks to this new draft. However, the key concern, the reciprocity principle, is still left unaltered in this draft.

In addition, if the foreign judgment for which recognition and enforcement are sought involves the same dispute as that being heard by a Chinese court, the proceedings conducted by the Chinese court may be stayed. If the dispute is more closely related to China, or if the foreign judgment does not meet the conditions for recognition, the application shall be refused (Art. 304).

 

Lack of jurisdiction of the foreign court: One of the grounds for non-recognition and non-enforcement of foreign judgments is that the foreign court lacks jurisdiction (See Art. 302). Article 303 provides that the foreign courts shall be found to have no jurisdiction over the case in the following circumstances: (1) The foreign court has no jurisdiction over the case pursuant to its laws; (2) Violation of the provisions of this Law on exclusive jurisdiction; (3) Violation of the agreement on exclusive choice of court for jurisdiction; or (4) The existence of a valid arbitration agreement between the parties (Art. 303).

 

Recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards: If the person sought to be enforced is not domiciled in China, an application for recognition and enforcement may be made to the Chinese intermediate court of the place of domicile of the applicant or of the place with which the dispute has an appropriate connection (Art. 306). The inclusion of the applicant’s domicile and the court with the appropriate connection to the dispute as the court for judicial review of the arbitration significantly facilitates the enforcement of foreign awards. A major uncertainty, however, is how “appropriate connection” is defined. The amendment draft remains silent on the criterion.

 

6. Conclusion

The amendment draft presents efforts to actively correspond to the trends in the internationalization of the civil process along with the massive ambition to build a fair, efficient, and convenient civil and commercial litigation system. It offers more comprehensive and detailed rules that apply to all proceedings involving foreign parties. The amendment draft is significant both in terms of its impact on foreign-related civil procedures and the continuing open-door policy. It demonstrates that China is growing increasingly law-oriented to provide more efficient and convenient legal services to foreign litigants and to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests. On the other hand, the proposal also includes discrepancy and uncertainty, especially whether the practical connection for choice of foreign court is still required, what is the relationship between the first-in-time rule and the rule permitting parallel proceedings, whether reciprocity should be reserved for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. It is also noted that although anti-suit injunction is used in Chinese judicial practice, the proposal does not include a provision on this matter. Hopefully, these issues may be addressed in the final version.

 

[1] The CPL, Art. 274.

[2] The CPL, Art. 284.

[3] Liu Guiqiang, ‘China’s Judicial Practice on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters: Current Situation, Problems and Solutions’ (2021) 1 Wuhan University International Law Review, 92, 97.

[4] Regulation (EU) 2020/1783 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil and commercial matters (Taking of Evidence Recast). Official Journal of the European Union [online], L 405, 2 December 2020.

Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts (IPRax) 1/2023: Abstracts

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

(These abstracts can also be found at the IPRax-website under the following link: https://www.iprax.de/en/contents/)

 

R. Wagner: European account preservation orders and titles from provisional measures with subsequent account attachments

The enforcement of a claim, even in cross-border situations, must not be jeopardised by the debtor transferring or debiting funds from his account. A creditor domiciled in State A has various options for having bank accounts of his debtor in State B seized. Thus, he can apply for an interim measure in State A according to national law and may have this measure enforced under the Brussels Ibis Regulation in State B by way of attachment of accounts. Alternatively, he may proceed in accordance with the European Account Preservation Order Regulation (hereinafter: EAPOR). This means that he must obtain a European account preservation order in State A which must be enforced in State B. By comparing these two options the author deals with the legal nature of the European account preservation order and with the subtleties of enforcement under the EAPOR.

 

H. Roth: The „relevance (to the initial legal dispute)“ of the reference for a preliminary ruling pursuant to Article 267 TFEU

The preliminary ruling procedure under Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) exists to ensure the uniform interpretation and application of EU law. The conditions under which national courts may seek a preliminary ruling are based on the established jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) and are summarised in Article 94 of the Rules of Procedure of the CJEU. One such condition is that the question referred to the court must be applicable to the decision in the initial legal dispute. Any future judgement by the referring court must thereafter be dependant on the interpretation of Union law. When cases are obviously not applicable, the European Court dismisses the reference for a preliminary ruling as inadmissible. The judgement of the CJEU at hand concerns one of these rare cases in the decision-making process. The sought-after interpretation of Union law was not materially related to the matter of the initial legal dispute being overseen by the referring Bulgarian court.

 

S. Mock/C. Illetschko: The General International Jurisdiction for Legal Actions against Board Members of International Corporations – Comment on OLG Innsbruck, 14 October 2021 – 2 R 113/21s, IPRax (in this issue)

In the present decision, the Higher Regional Court of Innsbruck (Austria) held that (also) Austrian courts have jurisdiction for investors lawsuits against the former CEO of the German Wirecard AG, Markus Braun. The decision illustrates that the relevance of the domicile of natural persons for the jurisdiction in direct actions for damages against board members (Art 4, 62 Brussels Ia Regulation) can lead to the fact that courts of different member states have to decide on crucial aspects of complex investor litigation at the same time. This article examines the decision, focusing on the challenges resulting from multiple residences of natural persons under the Brussels Ia Regulation.

 

C. Kohler: Lost in error: The ECJ insists on the “mosaic solution” in determining jurisdiction in the case of dissemination of infringing content on the internet

In case C-251/20, Gtflix Tv, the ECJ ruled that, according to Article 7(2) of Regulation No 1215/2012, a person, considering that his or her rights have been infringed by the dissemination of disparaging comments on the internet, may claim, before the courts of each Member State in which those comments are or were accessible, compensation for the damage suffered in the Member State of the court seized, even though those courts do not have jurisdiction to rule on an application for rectification and removal of the content placed online. The ECJ thus confirms the “mosaic solution” developed in case C-509/09 and C-161/10, eDate Advertising, and continued in case C-194/16, Bolagsupplysningen, for actions for damages for the dissemination of infringing contents on the internet. The author criticises this solution because it overrides the interests of the sound administration of justice by favouring multiple jurisdictions for the same event and making it difficult for the defendant reasonably to foresee before which court he may be sued. Since a change in this internationally isolated case law is unlikely, a correction can only be expected from the Union legislator.

 

T. Lutzi: Art 7 No 2 Brussels Ia as a Rule on International and Local Jurisdiction for Cartel Damage Claims

Once again, the so-called “trucks cartel” has provided the CJEU with an opportunity to clarify the interpretation of Art. 7 No. 2 Brussels Ia in cases of cartel damage claims. The Court confirmed its previous case law, according to which the place of damage is to be located at the place where the distortion of competition has affected the market and where the injured party has at the same time been individually affected. In the case of goods purchased at a price inflated by the cartel agreement, this is the place of purchase, provided that all goods have been purchased there; otherwise it is the place where the injured party has its seat. In the present case, both places were in Spain; thus, a decision between them was only necessary to answer the question of local jurisdiction, which is also governed by Art. 7 No. 2 Brussels Ia. Against this background, the Court also made a number of helpful observations regarding the relationship between national and European rules on local jurisdiction.

 

C. Danda: The concept of the weaker party in direct actions against the insurer

In its decision T.B. and D. sp. z. o. o. ./. G.I. A/S the CJEU iterates on the principle expressed in Recital 18 Brussels I bis Regulation that in cross-border insurance contracts only the weaker party should be protected by rules of jurisdiction more favourable to his interests than the general rules. In the original proceedings – a joint case – the professional claimants had acquired insurance claims from individuals initially injured in car accidents in Poland. The referring court asked the CJEU (1) if such entities could be granted the forum actoris jurisdiction under Chapter II section 3 on insurance litigation against the insurer of the damaging party and (2) if the forum loci delicti jurisdiction under Art. 7(2) or 12 Brussels I bis Regulation applies under these conditions. Considering previous decisions, the CJEU clarified that professional claimants who regularly receive payment for their services in form of claim assignment cannot be considered the weaker party in the sense of the insurance section and therefore cannot rely on its beneficial jurisdictions. Moreover, the court upheld that such claimants may still rely on the special jurisdiction under Art. 7(2) Brussels I bis Regulation.

 

C. Reibetanz: Procedural Consumer Protection under Brussels Ibis Regulation and Determination of Jurisdiction under German Procedural Law (Sec. 36 (1) No. 3 ZPO)

German procedural law does not provide for a place of jurisdiction comparable to Article 8 (1) Brussels Ibis Regulation, the European jurisdiction for joinder of parties. However, according to Sec. 36 ZPO, German courts can determine a court that is jointly competent for claims against two or more parties. In contrast to Art. 8 (1) Brussels Ibis Regulation, under which the plaintiff has to choose between the courts that are competent, the determination of a common place of jurisdiction for joint procedure under German law is under the discretion of the courts. Since EU law takes precedence in its application over contrary national law, German courts must be very vigilant before determining a court at their discretion. The case is further complicated by the fact that the prospective plaintiff can be characterised as a consumer under Art. 17 et seq. Brussels Ibis Regulation. The article critically discusses the decision of the BayObLG and points out how German judges should approach cross-border cases before applying Sec. 36 ZPO.

 

M.F. Müller: Requirements as to the „document which instituted the proceedings“ within the ground for refusal of recognition according to Art 34 (2) Brussels I Regulation

The German Federal Court of Justice dealt with the question which requirements a document has to comply with to qualify as the “document which instituted the proceedings” within the ground for refusal of recognition provided for in Art 34 (2) Brussels I Regulation regarding a judgment passed in an adhesion procedure. Such requirements concern the subject-matter of the claim and the cause of action as well as the status quo of the procedure. The respective information must be sufficient to guarantee the defendant’s right to a fair hearing. According to the Court, both a certain notification by a preliminary judge and another notification by the public prosecutor were not sufficiently specific as to the cause of action and the status quo of the procedure. Thus, concerning the subject matter of the claim, the question whether the “document which instituted the proceedings” in an adhesion procedure must include information about asserting civil claims remained unanswered. While the author approves of the outcome of the case, he argues that the Court would have had the chance to follow a line of reasoning that would have enabled the Court to submit the respective question to the ECJ. The author suggests that the document which institutes the proceedings should contain a motion, not necessarily quantified, concerning the civil claim.

 

B. Steinbrück/J.F. Krahé: Section 1032 (2) German Civil Procedural Code, the ICSID Convention and Achmea – one collision or two collisions of legal regimes?

While the ECJ in Achmea and Komstroy took a firm stance against investor-State arbitration clauses within the European Union, the question of whether this will also apply to arbitration under the ICSID Convention, which is often framed as a “self-contained” system, remains as yet formally undecided. On an application by the Federal Republic of Germany, the Berlin Higher Regional Court has now ruled that § 1032 (2) Civil Procedural Code, under which a request may be filed with the court to have it determine the admissibility or inadmissibility of arbitral proceedings, cannot be applied to proceedings under the ICSID Convention. The article discusses this judgment, highlighting in particular that the Higher Regional Court chooses an interpretation of the ICSID Convention which creates a (presumed) conflict between the ICSID Convention and German law, all the while ignoring the already existing conflict between the ICSID Convention and EU law.

 

L. Kuschel: Copyright Law on the High Seas

The high seas, outer space, the deep seabed, and the Antarctic are extraterritorial – no state may claim sovereignty or jurisdiction. Intellectual property rights, on the other side, are traditionally territorial in nature – they exist and can be protected only within the boundaries of a regulating state. How, then, can copyright be violated aboard a cruise ship on the high seas and which law, if any, ought to be applied? In a recent decision, the LG Hamburg was confronted with this quandary in a dispute between a cruise line and the holder of broadcasting rights to the Football World Cup 2018 and 2019. Unconvincingly, the court decided to circumnavigate the fundamental questions at hand and instead followed the choice of law agreement between the parties, in spite of Art. 8(3) Rome II Regulation and opting against the application of the flag state’s copyright law.

 

T. Helms: Validity of Marriage as Preliminary Question for the Filiation and the Name of a Child born to Greek Nationals in Germany in 1966

The Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg has ruled on the effects of a marriage on the filiation and the name of a child born to two Greek nationals whose marriage before a Greek-orthodox priest in Germany was invalid from the German point of view but legally binding from the point of view of Greek law. The court is of the opinion that – in principle – the question of whether a child’s parents are married has to be decided independently applies the law which is applicable to the main question, according to the conflict of law rules applicable in the forum. But under the circumstances of the case at hand, this would lead to a result which would be contrary to the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice on names lawfully acquired in one Member State. Therefore – as an exception – the preliminary question in the context of the law of names has to be solved according to the same law which is applicable to the main question (i.e. Greek law).

 

K. Duden: PIL in Uncertainty – failure to determine a foreign law, application of a substitute law and leaving the applicable law open

A fundamental concern of private international law is to apply the law most closely connected to a case at hand – regardless of whether this is one’s own or a foreign law. The present decision of the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court as well as the proceedings of the lower court show how difficult the implementation of this objective can become when the content of the applicable law is difficult to ascertain. The case note therefore first addresses the question of when a court should assume that the content of the applicable law cannot be determined. It examines how far the court’s duty to investigate the applicable law extends and argues that this duty does not seem to be limited by disproportionate costs of the investigative measures. However, the disproportionate duration of such measures should limit the duty to investigate. The comment then discusses which law should be applied as a substitute for a law whose content cannot be ascertained. Here the present decision and the proceedings in the lower court highlight the advantages of applying the lex fori as a substitute – not as an ideal solution, but as the most convincing amongst a variety of less-than-ideal solutions. Finally, the note discusses why it is permissible as a matter of exception for the decision to leave open whether German or foreign law is applicable.

 

M. Weller: Kollisionsrecht und NS-Raubkunst: U.S. Supreme Court, Entscheidung vom 21. April 2022, 596 U.S. ____ (2022) – Cassirer et al. ./. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation

In proceedings on Nazi-looted art the claimed objects typically find themselves at the end of a long chain of transfers with a number of foreign elements. Litigations in state courts for recovery thus regularly challenge the applicable rules and doctrines on choice of law – as it was the case in the latest decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Cassirer. In this decision, a very technical point was submitted to the Court for review: which choice-of-law rules are applicable to the claim in proceedings against foreign states if U.S. courts ground their jurisdiction on the expropriation exception in § 1605(3)(a) Federal Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The lower court had opted for a choice-of -aw rule under federal common law, the U.S. Supreme Court, however, decided that, in light of Erie and Klaxon, the choice-of-law rules of the state where the lower federal courts are sitting in diversity should apply.

Fourth Issue of Gravitas Review of Business & Property Law

The fourth issue of Gravitas Review of Business & Property Law was published this week. It contains the following private international law article:

UV Obi (SAN) et al, “The Enforcement of Foreign Jurisdiction Clauses of Contracts in Nigeria”

The inclusion of foreign jurisdiction clauses in contracts has become a common
trend in international commercial transactions. Since most parties are often not
familiar with the laws of their foreign counterparts and are sceptical about getting a
fair trial in the latter’s jurisdiction when a dispute arises from the contract, the
option of a usually neutral foreign jurisdiction clause, therefore, is cardinal when
considering the risks associated with contractual relationships. In this article, the
Authors consider, inter alia, the meaning and nature of contracts, foreign
jurisdiction clause as a term of a contract, its enforcement in both England and
Nigeria, with a particular focus on the attitude of Nigerian Courts to the
enforcement of foreign jurisdiction clause as a term of a contract. The Authors
opine that while the Supreme Court has consistently upheld and enforced foreign
jurisdiction clauses, the lower courts have often refused to do so because they
perceive those clauses to be ouster clauses. The Authors recommend enacting
legislation and practice direction to uphold parties’ freedom of contract, including
parties’ rights to subject their disputes to the laws and country of their choice. This
will no doubt result in a more predictable outcome of international commercial
contracts litigations and related issues in Nigeria, engender trust in our judicial
system, promote party autonomy, strengthen the parties’ existing rights, promote
access to justice, and strengthen our legal system.

PhD/Research Assistant Position at the University of Cologne

The Institute for Private International and Comparative Law of the University of Cologne (Professor Mansel) is looking to appoint one Research Assistant (Wissenschaftliche/r Mitarbeiter/in) on fixed-term contracts for 2 years, from March 2023, with contract extension possible, based in Cologne. This is a part-time position (19.92 hrs./week), possibility of PhD is given. In case of a post-doc application, it can be extended to a full-time position (39.83 hrs./week) within short time, provided that the requirements are met. A German state law examination (1. Prüfung) with clearly above-average grades and a command of written and spoken German are required. In addition, knowledge of Dutch, Italian, Spanish or French is an advantage, but not a requirement. Remuneration is based on pay group 13 TV- L.

The University of Cologne promotes equal opportunities and diversity in its employment relationships. Women are expressly invited to apply and will be given preferential treatment in accordance with the LGG NRW. Applications from severely disabled persons are very welcome. They will be given preferential consideration if suitable for the position.

Interested candidates are invited to send their detailed application including the usual documents in a single .pdf file by January 11, 2023 to ipr-institut@uni-koeln.de, for the attention of Professor Mansel.