The Nigerian Court of Appeal declines to enforce a Commonwealth of Virginia (in USA) Choice of Court Agreement

 

I am coordinating together with other African private international law experts (Richard Frimpong Oppong, Anthony Kennedy, and Pontian Okoli) an extended and in-depth version of this blog post and more topics, titled “Investing in English-speaking Africa: A private international law toolkit”, which will be the topic of an online Master Class at TMC Asser Institute on June 24-25, 2021.

 

Introduction

In  the year 2020, the Nigerian Court of Appeal delivered at least three decisions on foreign choice of court agreements.[1] I discussed two of those cases in this blog here and here. In the first two decisions delivered in the year 2020, the Nigerian Court of Appeal gave full contractual effect to the parties’ foreign choice of court agreement.[2] In other words, the Nigerian Court of Appeal interpreted the parties’ foreign choice of court agreement strictly according to is terms as it would do to a contractual document between commercial parties.

In November 30 2020, the Nigerian Court of Appeal delivered a third decision where it declined to enforce a Commonwealth of Virginia (in USA) Choice of Court Agreement.[3] In this connection, the author is of the view that the Court of Appeal’s decision was delivered per incuriam. This is the focus of this comment.

 

Facts

In this case, the claimant/respondent commenced action at the Kaduna High Court with a writ of summons and statement of claim dated the 18th December, 2018 wherein it claimed against the defendant/appellant, the sum of $18,103.00 (USD) being due and unpaid software licensing fee owed by them by virtue of the agreement between the parties dated 12th day of June, 2013.

Is Tessili still good law?

by Felix M. Wilke, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Most readers of this blog will be well aware that, according to the ECJ, the “place of performance” of a contractual obligation within the meaning of Article 7(1)(a) Brussels Ibis is not a concept to be understood independently from national law. Rather, in order to determine this place, one must apply the substantive law designated by the forum’s conflict-of-law rules. The ECJ has held so for decades, starting with Tessili (Case C-12/76, ECLI:EU:C:1976:133, at 13). Recent decisions by the ECJ have led me to doubt that Tessili still is lex terrae Europaea, at least as far as contracts with some relation to a right in rem in immovable property are concerned. (And I am not alone: Just today, Marion Ho-Dac analyses this issue as well over at the EAPIL Blog.)

The applicability of Article 7(1)(a) Brussels Ibis in the context of co-ownership agreements

A few takeaways of the Conclusions & Decisions of the HCCH governing body (CGAP): gender issues, Jurisdiction Project and future meetings

On 5 March 2021, the Conclusions & Decisions of the HCCH governing body, the Council on General Affairs and Policy (CGAP), were released. Click here for the English version and here for the French version.

Although there is a wide range of topics discussed, I would like to focus on three aspects: gender issues, the Jurisdiction Project and future meetings.

1) Today is International Women’s Day and there are important conclusions on gender issues. The Conclusions & Decisions No 52-54 read as follows:

“G. Geographic Representation

“52. Reaffirming the principles of universality and inclusiveness, CGAP reiterated its commitment to ensuring appropriate geographic representation at the HCCH. Recognising the importance of this issue, CGAP agreed to maintain this item on the agenda for its 2022 meeting. CGAP invited the  PB  to facilitate,  within  existing  resources,  informal  consultations  ahead  of  the  2022 meeting of CGAP,  through in-person meetings, while ensuring the opportunity for any HCCH Member to participate.

Recommendation in The Netherlands to suspend intercountry adoptions

The Committee Investigating Intercountry Adoption, has recommended that The Netherlands suspend intercountry adoptions. The interdisciplinary committee considered the history and legal evolution, and did an in-depth investigation into adoptions from five selected countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka). It looked into the consequences for the people involved (adoptees, birth families and adoptive families), the perception in society, the best interests of the child and the right to know one’s origins and identity. It came to the conclusion that there have been too many abuses and that the current system is still open to fraud and abuses. It further stated that the lessons learned should be applied to new methods of family formation such as surrogacy.

Mareva injunctions, submission and forum non conveniens

Written by Marcus Teo (Sheridan Fellow (Incoming), National University of Singapore)

The law in Singapore on Mareva injunctions supporting foreign proceedings is on the move again. The High Court’s recent decision in Allenger v Pelletier [2020] SGHC 279, issued barely a year after the Court of Appeal’s decision in Bi Xiaoqiong v China Medical Technologies [2019] 2 SLR 595; [2019] SGCA 50 (see previous post here) qualifies the latter, confounding Singapore’s position on this complex issue even further.

RCD Holdings Ltd v LT Game International (Australia) Ltd: Foreign jurisdiction clauses and COVID-19

By Jie (Jeanne) Huang, Associate Professor, University of Sydney Law School Australia

In 2013, the plaintiffs, ePayment Solutions Pty Ltd (EPS) and RCD Holdings Ltd (RCD) concluded a written contract with the defendant, LT Game International (Australia) Ltd (LT) about the development and installation of a computer betting game. LT is a company incorporated in the Virgin Islands and registered in Australia as a foreign company. The contract was signed in Australia. Its Clause 10 provides.

10. Governing Law

Any dispute or issue arising hereunder, including any alleged breach by any party, shall be heard, determined and resolved by an action commenced in Macau. The English language will be used in all documents.”

UK Supreme Court in Okpabi v Royal Dutch Shell (2021 UKSC 3): Jurisdiction, duty of care, and the new German “Lieferkettengesetz”

by Professor Dr Eva-Maria Kieninger, Chair for German and European Private Law and Private International Law, University of Würzburg, Germany

The Supreme Court’s decision in Okpabi v Royal Dutch Shell (2021 UKSC 3) concerns the preliminary question whether English courts have jurisdiction over a joint claim brought by two Nigerian communities against Royal Dutch Shell (RSD), a UK parent company, as anchor defendant, and a Nigerian oil company (SPDC) in which RSD held 30 % of the shares. The jurisdictional decision depended (among other issues that still need to be resolved) on a question of substantive law: Was it “reasonably arguable” that RSD owed a common law duty of care to the Nigerian inhabitants whose health and property was damaged by the operations of the subsidiary in Nigeria?

Webb v Webb (PC) – the role of a foreign tax debt in the allocation of matrimonial property

By Maria Hook (University of Otago, New Zealand) and Jack Wass (Stout Street Chambers, New Zealand)

When a couple divorce or separate, and the court is tasked with identifying what property is to be allocated between the parties, calculation of the net pool of assets usually takes into account certain debts. This includes matrimonial debts that that are in the sole name of one spouse, and even certain personal debts, ensuring that the debtor spouse receives credit for that liability in the division of matrimonial property.  However, where a spouse owes a liability that may not, in practice, be repaid, deduction of the debt from the pool of the couple’s property may result in the other spouse  receiving a lower share of the property than would be fair in the circumstances. For example, a spouse owes a debt to the Inland Revenue that is, in principle, deductible from the value of that spouse’s assets to be allocated between the parties. But the debtor spouse has no intention of repaying the debt and has rendered themselves judgment-proof. In such a case, deduction of the debt from the debtor spouse’s matrimonial property would leave the other spouse sharing the burden of a debt that will not be repaid.

Territorial Jurisdiction relating to Succession and Administration of Estates under Nigerian Private International Law

 

Issues relating to succession and administration of estate of a deceased person raise significant issues in Nigerian private international law (or conflict of laws), whether a person dies testate or intestate. In the very recent case of Sarki v Sarki & Ors,[1] the Nigerian Court of Appeal considered the issue of what court had territorial jurisdiction in a matter of succession and administration of estate of a deceased person’s property under Nigerian conflict of laws dealing with inter-state matters. While this comment agrees with the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeal, it submits that the rationale for the Court’s decision on the issue of territorial jurisdiction for succession and administration of estates under Nigerian private international law in inter-state matters is open to question.

Global sales law in a global pandemic: The CISG as the applicable law to the EU-AstraZeneca Advance Purchase Agreement?

 

Written by Dr Ben Köhler, MPI Hamburg

Last week, following severe criticisms of its procurement strategy and a dispute with AstraZeneca over the delays in delivery of the vaccine, the EU Commission has published the Advance Purchase Agreement for the Production, Purchase and Supply of a Covid-19 Vaccine in the European Union (APA) it had concluded with AstraZeneca in August 2020. Although some important clauses were blackened at the request of AstraZeneca, the document gives interesting insights into the procurement practice of the EU and has incited a plethora of comments by the legal experts. Despite the broad coverage in legal and non-legal press, the issue of applicable law has received comparably little attention (but see Till Maier-Lohmann on the CISG’s potential applicability). In its first part, this post will argue that, as far as one can tell by the published document, the CISG is likely to be the applicable law to the contract, before outlining some of the consequences of the CISG’s potential application in the second part.

I. The CISG as the applicable law to the APA?

The issue of the applicable law would be considered by Belgian courts that are exclusively competent under the APA’s forum selection clause (§ 18.5 (b) APA). Since Belgium is a Contracting State to the CISG, Belgian courts are bound to apply the CISG’s provisions on its sphere of application that take precedence over the conflict rules in the Rome I-Regulation (Article 25 Rome I-Regulation). Pursuant to Article 1 (1) (a) CISG, the Convention applies to contracts of sale of goods between parties that have their places of business in different Contracting States.