There is no doubt that the issue of same-sex marriage is highly controversial. This is true for both liberal and conservative societies, especially when the same-sex union to be formed involves parties from different countries. Liberal societies may be tempted to open up access to same-sex marriage to all, especially when their citizens are involved and regardless of whether the same-sex marriage is permitted under the personal law of the other foreign party. For conservative societies, the challenge is even greater, as local authorities may have to decide whether or not to recognise same-sex marriages contracted abroad (in particular when their nationals are involved). The issue becomes even more complicated in countries where domestic law is hostile to, or even criminalises, same-sex relationships.
Claude Cassirer brought suit in federal court in California eighteen years ago against the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum of Madrid, Spain, to recover a painting by Camille Pissarro that was stolen from his grandmother by the Nazis during World War II. After a reversal and remand from the U.S. Supreme Court last summer, the case is now before the Ninth Circuit for decision of the legal question that is likely to be decisive: which law governs?
The district court and the court of appeals have so far framed the issue as a binary choice: the governing law on the merits is either that of Spain or that of California. I suggest here that the issue is better framed as a choice between the law of Spain, on the one hand, and the laws of all the other states or countries with connections to the dispute, on the other. (Disclosure: I submitted expert declarations in support of the plaintiffs on issues of public international law during earlier phases of this case.)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the district court’s holding that, under the law of Spain, the plaintiff loses because the museum acquired title to the painting through adverse possession (otherwise known as acquisitive prescription). It is equally clear that, under the law of California, the plaintiff would prevail because California does not recognize the acquisition of title to moveable property through adverse possession. What has so far not featured prominently in the courts’ analyses of the choice-of-law issue is that the plaintiff would also prevail under the laws of all the other jurisdictions that have relevant connections to the dispute. Under governmental interest analysis, this should be central to the analysis. Read more
Very recently, Indonesian private international law has attracted significant scholarship in the English language. Dr Penasthika’s monograph (‘the monograph’) is one such work that deserves attention for its compelling and comprehensive account of choice of law in international commercial contracts in Indonesia. My review attempts to capture the methodology, summarise the contents, and give a verdict on the quality of this monograph.
Guest Post by Chytanya S. Agarwal*
Rising cross-border migration of people and concomitant increase in lawsuits relating to matrimonial disputes between couples brings to the forefront the issue of conflict of jurisdictional laws (219th Law Commission Report, ¶1.1-¶1.2). Mbatha v. Cutting is one such recent case that grapples with conflict of laws pertaining to divorce and division of matrimonial property when the spouses are domiciled in separate jurisdictions. In this case, the Georgian Court of Appeal dealt with competing claims from a couple who married in New York and had their matrimonial domicile in South Africa. The wife, domiciled in Georgia, USA, argued for the application of the matrimonial property regime of South Africa – their only (though temporary) common matrimonial domicile. In determining the applicable law, the Court upheld the traditional approach, which favours lex situs for real property and lex domicilii for personal property.
Four years after the 8th JPIL conference in Munich, the global community of PIL scholars finally got another opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas, this time at Singapore Management University on the kind invitation of our co-editor Adeline Chong.
The conference was kicked off by a keynote speech by Justice Philip Jeyaretnam (Singapore International Commercial Court), providing an in-depth analysis of the Court of Appeal’s decision in Anupam Mittal v Westbridge Ventures II  SGCA 1 (discussed in more detail here).
The keynote was followed by a total of 23 panels and four plenary sessions, a selection of which is summarised below by our editors.
The Draft for a Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive currently contains no rules on jurisdiction. This creates inconsistencies between the scope of application of the Draft Directive and existing jurisdictional law, both on the EU level and on the domestic level, and can lead to an enforcement gap: EU companies may be able to escape the existing EU jurisdiction; non-EU companies may even not be subject to such jurisdiction. Effectivity requires closing that gap, and we propose ways in which this could be achieved.
- The Proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence
The process towards an EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive is gaining momentum. The EU Commission published a long awaited Proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDDD), COM(2022) 71 final, on 23 February 2022; the EU Council adopted its negotiation position on 1 December 2022; and now, the EU Parliament has suggested amendments to this Draft Directive on 1 June 2023. The EU Parliament has thereby backed the compromise textreached by its legal affairs committee on 25 April 2023. This sets off the trilogue between representatives of the Parliament, the Council and the Commission.
By Dr Johannes Ungerer, University of Oxford
The sunset of retained EU law in the UK has begun: the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 received Royal Assent at the end of June. The Act will revoke many EU laws that have so far been retained in the UK by the end of 2023.
The good news for the conflict of laws is that the retained Rome I and II Regulations are not included in the long list of EU legal instruments which are affected by the mass-revocation. Both Regulations have been retained in the UK post-Brexit by section 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and were modified by the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations and Non-Contractual Obligations (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (as amended in 2020). The retained (modified) Rome I and II Regulations will thus be part of domestic law beyond the end of 2023. Yet this retained EU law must not be called by name anymore: it will be called “assimilated law” according to section 5 of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (although the title of this enactment, like others, will strangely continue to contain the phrase “Retained EU Law” and will not be changed to “Assimilated Law”, see section 5(5)).
Comment on CJEU case Rzecznik Praw Dziecka e.a., C-638/22 PPU, 16 February 2023)
Written by Tine Van Hof, post-doc researcher in Private International Law and Children’s Rights Law at the University of Antwerp, previously published on EU live
The Court of Justice of the EU has been criticised after some previous cases concerning international child abduction such as Povse and Aguirre Zarraga for prioritising the effectiveness of the EU private international law framework (i.e. the Brussels IIa Regulation, since replaced by Brussels IIb, and the principle of mutual trust) and using the children’s rights law framework (i.e. Article 24 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the principle of the child’s best interests) in a functional manner (see e.g. Silvia Bartolini and Ruth Lamont). In Rzecznik Praw Dziecka the Court takes both frameworks into account but does not prioritise one or the other, since the frameworks concur.
Written by: Aditya Singh, BA.LL.B. (Hons) student at the National Law School of India University(NLSIU), Bengaluru and line editor at the National Law School Business Law Review (NLSBLR)
The debate surrounding the composite approach i.e., the approach of accommodating the application of both the law applicable to the substantive contract and the Lex Fori to the arbitration clause has recently resurfaced with Anupam Mittal v Westbridge Ventures II (“Westbridge”). In this case, the Singapore Court of Appeal paved way for application of both the law governing substantive contract and the Lex Fori to determine the arbitrability of the concerned oppression and mismanagement dispute. The same was based on principle of comity, past precedents and s 11 of the International Arbitration Act. The text of s 11 (governing arbitrability) does not specify and hence limit the law determining public policy to Lex Fori. In any event, the composite approach regardless of any provision, majorly stems from basic contractual interpretation that extends the law governing substantive contract to the arbitration clause unless the presumption is rebuttable. For instance, in the instant case, the dispute would have been rendered in-arbitrable with the application of Indian law (law governing substantive contract) and hence the Singapore law was inferred to be the implied choice. Read more
Presta v VLEP (23 june 2023) illustrates the application of the CEJU’s Gruber Logistics (Case C-152/20, 15 July 2021) by the Dutch Supreme Court. In order to determine the law applicable to an individual employment contract under article 8 Rome I, one must compare the level of protection that would have existed in the absence of a choice of law (in this case, Dutch law) with the level of protection offered by the law chosen by the parties in the contract (in this case, the laws of Luxembourg), thereafter, the law of the country offering the highest level of employee protection should be applied.