The “Coman” Case (C-673/16): Some reflections from the point of view of private international law

Written by Dr. iur. Baiba Rudevska (Latvia)

On 5 June 2018, the ECJ rendered a judgment in the Coman case (C-673/16). For the first time the ECJ had the opportunity to rule, on the concept of ‘spouse’ within the meaning of the Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States (Directive 2004/38) in the context of a same-sex marriage. Even if the Directive only covers questions related to the entry and residence in the European Union (EU), this judgment could be of interest for Private International lawyers as well. (more…)

Petronas Lubricants: ECJ confirms that Art 20(2) Brussels I can be used by employer for assigned counter-claim

Last Thursday, the ECJ rendered a short (and rather unsurprising) decision on the interpretation of Art 20(2) Brussels I (= 22(2) of the Recast Regulation). In Petronas Lubricants (Case C 1/17), the Court held that an employer can rely on the provision to bring a counter-claim in the courts chosen by the employee even where said claim has been assigned to the employer after the employee had initiated proceedings.

The question had been referred to the ECJ in the context of a dispute between an employee, Mr Guida, and his two former employers, Petronas Lubricants Italy and Petronas Lubricants Poland. Mr Guida’s parallel employment contracts with these two companies had been terminated among allegations of wrongly claimed reimbursements. Mr Guida, who is domiciled in Poland, had sued his Italian employer in Italy for wrongful dismissal and his employer had brought a counter-claim for repayment of the sums Mr Guida had allegedly wrongfully received, which had been assigned by the Polish employer.

Mareva injunctions under Singapore law

Whether the Singapore court has the jurisdiction or power to grant a Mareva injunction in aid of foreign court proceedings was recently considered by the Singapore High Court in PT Gunung Madu Plantations v Muhammad Jimmy Goh Mashun [2018] SGHC 64. Both plaintiff and defendant were Indonesian and the claim related to alleged breaches of duties which the defendant owed to the plaintiff. The plaintiff had obtained leave to serve the writ in Indonesia on the defendant. The defendant thereupon applied, inter alia, to set aside service of the writ and for a declaration that the court has no jurisdiction over him. In response, the plaintiff applied for a Mareva injunction against the defendant in respect of the defendant’s assets in Singapore. The plaintiff had, after the Singapore action was filed, commenced actions in Malaysia and Indonesia covering much the same allegations against the defendant.


The long tentacles of the Helms-Burton Act in Europe (II)

written by Nicolás Zambrana-Tévar LLM(LSE) PhD(Navarra), Associate Professor KIMEP University (Kazakhstan),

Some months ago I commented here about an interlocutory ruling of September 2019, issued by the First Instance Court of Palma de Mallorca (Spain). The ruling stayed proceedings commenced by Central Santa Lucía L.C., a US corporation, against Meliá Hotels International S.A., on grounds of sovereign immunity. The court ruled that although the defendant was a Spanish legal entity, the basis of the claim entirely depended on a declaration that the nationalization of the land formerly owned by the claimants’ predecessors in Cuba had been contrary to international law.

In March 2020, the Court of Appeal of Mallorca overturned the abovementioned interlocutory ruling and established the jurisdiction and competence of Spanish courts. The Court of Appeal found that the Cuban state was not a defendant in the proceedings, and neither was Gaviota S.A., a Cuban corporation owned by the Cuban state and the current owner of the expropriated land. Although the Court of Appeal admitted that any right to compensation for the allegedly illicit or unjustified enrichment of Meliá Hotels depended upon the illegality of the nationalization program introduced by Cuban Law 890 of 13 October 1960, the fact remained that the only defendant in the proceedings was a non-sovereign legal entity incorporated in Spain. Meliá Hotels argued that under the UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property of 2004 it was not necessary that the claim be addressed to a foreign state; it was enough that the proceedings were meant to harm the interests, rights or activities of the foreign state. The Court of Appeal was not convinced and insisted that under Spanish Organic Law 16/2015 it was necessary that the proceedings had commenced against a foreign state or that measures had been requested against the property of the foreign state, in enforcement proceedings.

The Court of Appeal discussed several past rulings where Spanish courts had had an opportunity to deal with the effects of the nationalizations which followed the Cuban revolution of 1959. From this series of cases arises the doctrine that even where Spain and Cuba had entered into a lump sum agreement in 1986, whereby Cuba agreed to pay the Spanish Government a fixed amount as compensation for all Spanish nationals affected by the expropriation program, the rights of those Spanish nationals were not extinguished and might be raised again before the present or future Cuban Governments (Supreme Court Ruling of 10 December 2003). Moreover, although Spanish courts could not control the legality of the expropriations, they could indeed assess such legality in so far as it may be necessary to determine their private law effects in Spain (Supreme Court Ruling of 25 September 1992).

HCCH-WIPO Questionnaire on PIL & IP

The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have just launched a questionnaire that aims to identify problems of private international law, from jurisdiction to enforcement, relating to disputes involving intellectual property. The questionnaire is adressed to the member states of both organisations and other intergovernmental organisations as well as to individual practitioners, academics and other interested parties. It will inform the future work of both organisations on the intersection between PIL and IP.

The English version of the questionnaire can be found here; further information can be found here and here. Readers of this blog with an expertise and/or interest in IP are warmly invited to participate before the end of the consultation on 30 June 2021.

CJEU on jurisdiction for an assigned insurance claim and branch jurisdiction in the case CNP, C-913/19

Back in January, we reported about the Opinion presented by AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona in the case CNP, C-913/19. At the request of the Court, the Opinion addressed only the second preliminary question on the branch jurisdiction under the Brussels I bis Regulation. This Thursday the Court delivered its judgment, which answers the second as well as two other (first and third) questions of the referring court, pertaining to the jurisdiction in matters of insurance.