Ficticious service still active outside Europe

With the EU Service Regulation being active for more than 20 years, and the Hague Service Convention being ratified by almost all European countries, there is little space for practicing fictitious service of proceedings in Europe. However, for service to third countries outside Europe, and especially to continents, such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, remise au parquet is still the ground rule for many European countries. A recent judgment issued by the Piraeus Court of Appeal provides a clear picture of how the mechanism operates in Greece [Piraeus Court of Appeal, judgment nr. 142/2024, available here].

I. THE FACTS:

The parties are two companies active in the international maritime sector. The claimant, a Greek company with its seat in Piraeus, filed an action before the Piraeus Court of First Instance, seeking the award of the total sum of $29,163,200. The defendant, an Iranian company with its seat in Tehran, did not appear in the hearing. The action was upheld as being well founded in substance by the Piraeus Court of 1st Instance. The defendant was ordered to pay the equivalent of $28. 663,200.

Both the action and the first instance judgment were duly served on the Piraeus District Attorney, in accordance with the provisions of Articles 134 §§ 1 and 2, and 136 § 1 Code of Greek Civil Procedure (henceforth CCP), due to the defendant’s domicile in a non-member state of the European Union, thus excluding the application of EU law, and because Iran has not acceded to the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965, which requires actual service of documents by one of the methods provided for therein. Finally, the court underlined the absence of a bilateral agreement between Iran and Greece, which would possibly regulate the issues of service in a different manner.

The defendant lodged an appeal. The appeal was however untimely filed, because it was brought after the expiry of the sixty [60] days period following service of the judgment, provided for in Article 518 § 1 CCP, which began with the fictitious service of the judgment on the Public Prosecutor, to be sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in order to be transmitted through diplomatic channels to the addressee, as provided for by Article 134 §§ 1 and 3 CCP.

The Iranian company acknowledged that the time-limit had expired without effect. For this reason, it filed a request for restitutio in integrum in accordance with Article 152 CCP, requesting that the appeal be considered as timely lodged, claiming that the delay in lodging the appeal was due to force majeure. In particular, it is asserted that the Iranian company did not receive notification of both the claim, which resulted in a default judgment without its participation in the trial at first instance, and of the judgment given in default of appearance, due to the service method selected, i.e., ficticious service to the Public Prosecutor, which sets the time-limit for the appeal. Secondly, the appellant asserts that that it acted within the time-limit laid down in Article 153 CCP, that is to say, immediately after real service.

The appellant invokes the delay caused by the Piraeus Prosecutor’s Office and the diplomatic services of the Country, which did not take care to complete service within two months. In other words, it relies on the omission of third parties, which it could not prevent, and which prevented the appellant from being aware of the fictitious service and the commencement of the time-limit for lodging an appeal in Greece.

II.THE JUDGMENT OF THE PIRAEUS COURT OF APPEAL

The appellate court ruled as follows: The lawsuit was forwarded by the Piraeus Prosecutor’s Office to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in order to be served at the defendant’s headquarters in Tehran. The diplomatic authorities of Greece did indeed send and their counterparts in Iran did receive and forward the statement of claim to its addressee. However, the Iranian company’s agents, namely the secretariat and the clerk in the Legal Affairs Department, refused to receive it. This is evident from the “Letter of confirmation for declaration of received documents from foreign countries” issued by the International Affairs Department of the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This document states that the defendant, through its aforementioned nominees, refused to receive the disputed “document”.

The reason for that refusal is not specified. However, from the document of the Consular Office of the Embassy of Greece in Iran, and the attached document of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it can be inferred that the refusal was made because the document to be served was not accompanied by an official translation into Farsi. Iranian law does indeed appear to permit refusal to accept service of a foreigner’s statement of claim against an Iranian national on that ground (a legal opinion of Mr., a lawyer at the Central Iranian Bar Association was submitted to the CoA by the appellant). Still, domestic Greek law does not make the validity of service of an action dependent on the attachment of a translated copy of the action in the language of the State of destination. Therefore, service of the action, if it had been completed, would always be valid under Greek law.

In addition, the mere attempt to serve the action made it clear to the defendant in any event, irrespective of whether it had been aware of its content from the outset, that a claim has being brought against it in a Greek court and triggered its obligation under Article 116 CCP to monitor the progress of the proceedings from that time onwards, even if it chose not to participate in the proceedings, which the defendant was able to do, by behaving in a prudent and diligent manner, and by following the fate of the action brought in Greece.

To that end, it was sufficient simply to appoint a lawyer in Greece, who would arrange for the translation of the documents, and would attend the ongoing proceedings at first instance. Such an action was made by the appellant only after actual service of the judgment.

Similarly, the applicant does not explain the reason why it did not act by appointing a lawyer in Greece, after the refusal to receive the summons of the claimant, even though it was also sent to it accompanied by a translation of the summons in English. That omission gives the impression that the refusal to receive the summons was made in order to prolong the proceedings, and to prepare for the lodging of the appeal and the application for restitutio in integrum, which on the whole is considered to be abusive.

Consequently, the application for restitutio in integrum was dismissed as unfounded and the appeal, which was nevertheless brought out of time, was dismissed as inadmissible.

III. COMMENT

The judgment of the Piraeus CoA is interesting because it goes a step further in the examination of fictitious service: It did not simply reiterate the wording of the domestic rules; moreover, it scrutinized the facts, and avoided a stringent application of Article 134 CCP. Due process and right to be heard were included in the court’s analysis. Finally, the court dismissed the legal remedies of the appellant due to its reluctance to demonstrate proactivity, and its intention to bring the Greek proceedings to a stalemate.

[Out Now!] New Open Access Book on Corruption and Investment Arbitration: Nobumichi Teramura, Luke Nottage and Bruno Jetin (eds), Corruption and Illegality in Asian Investment Arbitration (Springer, 2024)

Nobumichi TERAMURA (Assistant Professor, Universiti Brunei Darussalam; Affiliate, Centre for Asian and Pacific Law in the University of Sydney), Luke Nottage (Professor of Comparative and Transnational Business Law, Sydney Law School) and Bruno Jetin (Associate Professor of Economics, Universiti Brunei Darussalam) published an edited volume entitled “Corruption and Illegality in Asian Investment Arbitration” from Springer on 20 April 2024. The book is an open access title, so it is freely available to any states and organisations, including less well-resourced institutions in transitioning economies. Corrupt behaviour by foreign investors, like bribery to local government officials, faces wide condemnation in any society. Nevertheless, there remains a paucity of research appraising the consequences of corruption and illegality affecting international investment in Asia, especially investment arbitration involving East and South Asian jurisdictions. This book intends to fill the gap from an interdisciplinary (legal-economic) perspective.

 

The volume’s description reads as follows:

This open access book explores Asian approaches towards investment arbitration—a transnational procedure to resolve disputes between a foreign investor and a host state—setting it in the wider political economy and within domestic law contexts. It considers the extent to which significant states in Asia are, or could become, “rule makers” rather than “rule takers” regarding corruption and serious illegality in investor-state arbitration. Corruption and illegality in international investment are widely condemned in any society, but there remains a lack of consensus on the consequences, especially in investment arbitration. A core issue addressed is whether a foreign investor violating a host state’s law should be awarded protection of its investment, as per its contract with the host state and/or the applicable investment or trade agreement between the home state and the host state. Some suggest such protection would be unnecessary as the investor committed a crime in the host state, while others attempt to establish an equilibrium between the investor and the host state. Others claim to protect investment, invoking the sanctity of promises made. The book starts with a deep dive into economic and legal issues in corruption and investment arbitration and then explores the situation and issues in major countries in the region in detail. It is a useful reference point for lawyers, economists, investors, and government officials who are seeking comprehensive and up-to-date information on anti-bribery rules in Asian investment treaties. It is of particular interest to students and researchers in economics, finance, and law, who are undertaking new research relating to the multifaceted impacts of corruption.

 

The book’s table of contents is as follows:

Chapter 1 – “Bribery and Other Serious Investor Misconduct in Asian International Arbitration” by Nobumichi Teramura, Luke Nottage and Bruno Jetin;

Chapter 2 – “Does Corruption Hinder Foreign Direct Investment and Growth in Asia and Beyond? The Grabbing Versus the Helping Hand Revisited” by Ahmed M Khalid (Professor of Economics, Universiti Brunei Darussalam);

Chapter 3 – “The Effect of Corruption on Foreign Direct Investment at the Regional Level: A Positive or Negative Relationship?” By Bruno Jetin, Jamel Saadaoui (Senior Lecturer of Economics, The University of Strasbourg), Haingo Ratiarison (The University of Strasbourg);

Chapter 4 – “Anti-Corruption Laws and Investment Treaty Arbitration: An Asian Perspective” by Anselmo Reyes (International Judge, Singapore International Commercial Court) and Till Haechler (Associate, Lenz & Staehelin);

Chapter 5 – “Multi-Tiered International Anti-Corruption Cooperation in Asia: A Review of Treaties and Prospects” by Yueming Yan (Assistant Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Tianyu Liu (ADR Case Manager, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre);

Chapter 6 – “Corruption in International Investment Arbitration” by Michael Hwang SC (Arbitrator, Michael Hwang Chambers) and Aloysius Chang (Michael Hwang Chambers);

Chapter 7 – “Rebalancing Asymmetries Between Host States and Investors in Asian Investor–State Dispute Settlement: An Exception for Systemic Corruption” by Martin Jarrett (Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law);

Chapter 8 – “Foreign Investment, Investment Treaties and Corruption in China and Hong Kong” by Vivienne Bath (Professor of Chinese Law, Sydney Law School) and Tianqi Gu (Sydney Law School);

Chapter 9 – “Corruption and Investment Treaty Arbitration in India” by Prabhash Ranjan (Professor and Vice Dean, Jindal Global Law School);

Chapter 10 – “Corruption and Illegality in Asian Investment Disputes: Indonesia” by Simon Butt (Professor of Indonesian Law, Sydney Law School), Antony Crockett (Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills Hong Kong) and Tim Lindsey (Malcolm Smith Chair of Asian Law and Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, Melbourne Law School);

Chapter 11 – “Foreign Investment, Treaties, Arbitration and Corruption: Comparing Japan” by Luke Nottage and Nobumichi Teramura;

Chapter 12 – “Corruption and Investment Arbitration in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Corruptio Incognito” by Romesh Weeramantry (Special Counsel, Clifford Chance Perth) and Uma Sharma (Associate, Jones Day Singapore);

Chapter 13 – “Corruption and Illegality in Asian Investment Arbitration: The Philippines” by Thomas Elliot A Mondez (Faculty Member, De La Salle University, Philippines) and Jocelyn P Cruz (Associate Professor, De La Salle University, Philippines);

Chapter 14 – “Investment Arbitration, Corruption and Illegality: South Korea” by Joongi Kim (Professor Yonsei Law School);

Chapter 15 – “Foreign Investment, Corruption, Investment Treaties and Arbitration in Thailand” by Sirilaksana Khoman (Professor, Thammasat University, Thailand), Luke Nottage and Sakda Thanitcul (Professor, Chulalongkorn University); and

Chapter 16 – “Towards a More Harmonised Asian Approach to Corruption and Illegality in Investment Arbitration” by Nobumichi Teramura, Luke Nottage and Bruno Jetin.

CfP: 5th German Conference for Young Researchers in Private International Law (14/15 Feb 2025 in Heidelberg)

On 14 and 15 February 2025, the 5th Conference for Young Researchers in PIL will take place at Heidelberg University. It will be dedicated to the topic of ‘Digital transformation and Private International Law. Local connections in boundless spaces’ and feature a keynote speech by Christiane Wendehorst (University of Vienna).

After statute theory, Savignyan PIL and Europeanisation, digitalisation has the potential to initiate a fourth evolutionary stage in the history of conflict of laws, which is characterised by decentralisation and delocalisation. We may therefore be on the threshold of a PIL 4.0. We would like to discuss how the conflict-of-laws problems arising from the boundless spaces of digitalisation can be solved in European and
autonomous German, Austrian and Swiss private international law. At the same time, we would like to look at the possibilities for legal changes at national, European and international level. In particular, we welcome contributions on comparative aspects of conflict of laws and international procedural law.

More information, including on possible topics and formal requirements can be found in the German and English Call for Papers.
All submissions need to be sent to nachwuchstagung@ipr.uni-heidelberg.de by 23 September 2024.

Further information can also be found on the conference website.

First View Article on ICLQ

A first view article was published online on 12 April 2024 in International and Comparative Law Quarterly.

Raphael Ren, “The Dichotomy between Jurisdiction and Admissibility in International Arbitration”

The dichotomy between jurisdiction and admissibility developed in public international law has drawn much attention from arbitrators and judges in recent years. Inspired by Paulsson’s ‘tribunal versus claim’ lodestar, attempts have been made to transpose the distinction from public international law to investment treaty arbitration, yielding a mixed reception from tribunals. Remarkably, a second leap of transposition has found firmer footing in commercial arbitration, culminating in the prevailing view of the common law courts in England, Singapore and Hong Kong that arbitral decisions on admissibility are non-reviewable. However, this double transposition from international law to commercial arbitration is misguided. First, admissibility is a concept peculiar to international law and not embodied in domestic arbitral statutes. Second, its importation into commercial arbitration risks undermining the fundamental notion of jurisdiction grounded upon the consent of parties. Third, the duality of ‘night and day’ postulated by Paulsson to distinguish between reviewable and non-reviewable arbitral rulings is best reserved to represent the basic dichotomy between jurisdiction and merits.

ARBITRATION: International Commercial – Domestic – Investment

The author is Dr. Faidon Varesis, Attorney at Law

Teaching Fellow, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

PhD (University of Cambridge); MJur (University of Oxford); LLM, LLB (University of Athens).

 

In an era where the resolution of disputes is increasingly moving away from traditional court systems towards alternative methods, the comprehensive collective work in Greek with Professor Charalampos (Haris) P. Pamboukis as editor emerges as both a timely and seminal contribution to the field of arbitration, both nationally within Greece and on an international scale. This book review seeks to delve into the multifaceted contributions of the book, examining its scope, its pioneering contributors, its evolution within Greek law, and its broader implications for dispute resolution globally.

The book begins by exploring the flourishing landscape of arbitration across various domains such as commercial, investment, construction, maritime, and energy disputes, alongside other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. The interest in these mechanisms reflects a societal shift towards less adversarial, more cosmopolitan forms of dispute resolution, aimed at alleviating the burdens on state judiciary systems characterized by procedural rigidity and often excessive delays. The prologue set the stage by discussing the significant legislative and jurisprudential developments in domestic and international arbitration within Greece, highlighting the transformative impact of laws passed from 1999 through to the latest reforms in 2023. Such legislative milestones not only signify Greece’s evolving arbitration framework but also illustrate the dynamic interplay between law, scholarly research, and practical application in shaping effective dispute resolution practices. Furthermore, the book weaves through the theoretical underpinnings and the practical aspects of arbitration agreements, the composition of arbitral tribunals, and the procedural norms governing arbitration proceedings, offering a holistic view of the arbitration landscape.

Central to the book’s discourse is the collaborative effort of esteemed scholars, academics, and practitioners who contribute their insights across various themes. This collective approach not only enriches the book’s content with a diversity of perspectives but also underscores the collaborative spirit within the arbitration community. The inclusion of introductory developments on increasingly significant areas such as investment arbitration and mediation, alongside a critical overview of international arbitration consent and the arbitral process, reflects a comprehensive and forward-looking examination of the field.

The book does not shy away from discussing the inherent challenges within arbitration and the diverse methodological approaches adopted by different contributors. However, these aspects are presented as enriching the scientific pluralism and intellectual rigor of the work rather than detracting from its cohesion.

In addition to its substantive chapters, the book is augmented with appendices that include key legislative and regulatory texts relevant to arbitration and mediation. This practical inclusion underlines the book’s aim to serve as a useful tool for both practitioners and scholars.

In conclusion, this collective work stands as a testament to the evolving and vibrant field of arbitration within Greece and its broader implications on the international stage. It encapsulates the intellectual legacy, the legislative advancements, and the practical insights of a diverse group of contributors, offering a comprehensive resource for understanding and navigating the complexities of arbitration. As such, it represents an invaluable contribution to the legal scholarship and practice of arbitration, both within Greece and beyond, fostering a deeper appreciation for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the pursuit of justice and societal harmony.

CCTL Cross-Border Legal Issues Dialogue Seminar Series – ‘Parallel Proceedings between International Commercial Litigation and Arbitration’ by Dr. Guangjian Tu (Recording Released)

Parallel proceedings in international commercial litigation between the courts of different countries have long been discussed and explored, for which the Brussels I Regulation in the EU provides a good model for solution although it is still a problem at the global level and an obstacle for the Hague Jurisdiction Project.

 

However, it seems that so far no enough attention has been paid to the problem of parallel proceedings between international commercial litigation and arbitration. Theoretically, parties’ consent to arbitration will exclude the jurisdiction of states’ courts by virtue of the rules set out in Article 2 of the New York Convention altogether. But the Convention fails to successfully eradicate parallel proceedings between arbitral tribunals and state courts, owing to its inherent defects. When a conflict arises between international commercial arbitration and litigation proceedings, a rational balance must be struck between the judiciary and the arbitral tribunal with a reasonable division of competence between the two bodies. Different from parallel proceedings between two courts of different countries where usually both have jurisdiction and the question is only who should decide first, the jurisdiction of a national court and that of an arbitral tribunal excludes each other; similar to them, the problems with the former will also happen to the latter. Shall one always give “priority” to the arbitral tribunal to decide i.e. the issue of validity of the arbitration agreement for the purpose of respecting the doctrine of competence/competence? Can a simple lis pendens rule like that under the Brussels I Regulation work i.e. a national court or arbitral tribunal whoever is seized earlier shall decide when the issue of the validity of arbitration agreement is raised as a preliminary question in the national court? This presentation will try to explore an ideal model for the solution to this problem.

The recording can be found here. Read more

Hague Conventions on International Civil Procedure – a Pathway to Adoption in New Zealand (Seminar)

This Friday (12 April) at 3 pm (NZST), Jack Wass and Maria Hook will be giving a seminar at the University of Otago (New Zealand) on their project “Hague Conventions on International Civil Procedure – Pathway to Adoption”. This project, which is funded by the Borrin Foundation, explores a pathway for New Zealand to adopt four key treaties on international civil procedure developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law – the Service Convention 1965, the Evidence Convention 1970, the Choice of Court Convention 2005, and the Judgments Convention 2019. The purpose of the project is to try and dislodge the inertia within the executive that has resulted in consideration of these Conventions stalling, by producing a briefing paper and draft legislation for the implementation of the treaties. The seminar will focus on the proposed pathway for adoption of the Conventions and discuss its potential effectiveness in encouraging New Zealand’s participation in international treaties.

There is a Zoom link available for anyone who would like to attend the seminar but is unable to do so in person. Please contact me if you would like to attend.

Badr on Religion, Colonialism, and Legal Pluralism: The Story and Legacy of the Egyptian Choice of Law Rules for Personal Status International and Interpersonal Conflicts of Law

Yehya Badr (Associate Professor, College of Law, Al-Yamamah University, KSA) presents his recent publication entitled “Religion, Colonialism, and Legal Pluralism: The Story and Legacy of the Egyptian Choice of Law Rules for Personal Status International and Interpersonal Conflicts of Law“, published in the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Issue 1 of Volume 31, 2024. The paper addresses the important issue of Egyptian choice of law rules for international and interpersonal conflicts of law.

The detailed summary, kindly provided by the author, reads as follows: Read more