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Dutch collective redress dangerous? A call for a more nuanced approach

Prepared by Alexandre Biard, Xandra Kramer and Ilja Tillema, Erasmus University Rotterdam

The Netherlands has become dangerously involved in the treatment of mass claims, Lisa Rickard from the US Chamber of Commerce recently said to the Dutch financial daily (Het Financieele Dagblad, 28 September 2017) and the Dutch BNR newsradio (broadcast of 28 September 2017). This statement follows the conclusions of two reports published in March and September 2017 by the US Institute for Legal Reforms (ILR), an entity affiliated with the US Chamber of Commerce. Within a few hours, the news spread like wildfire in online Dutch newspapers, see for instance here.

Worryingly enough, the March 2017 report, which assessed collective redress mechanisms in ten Member States, predicted that ‘there are a number of very powerful indicators that all of the same incentives and forces that have led to mass abuse in other jurisdictions are also gathering force in the EU’. Among the jurisdictions surveyed, the Netherlands appeared as a place particularly prone to such abuse. The September 2017 report focuses on consumer attitudes towards collective redress safeguards, and ultimately concludes that 85% of respondents tend to support the introduction of safeguards for the resolution of mass claims.

I thought we were exclusive? Some issues with the Hague Convention on Choice of Court, Brussels Ia and Brexit

This blog post is by Dr Mukarrum Ahmed (Lancaster University) and Professor Paul Beaumont (University of Aberdeen). It presents a condensed version of their article in the August 2017 issue of the Journal of Private International Law. The blog post includes specific references to the actual journal article to enable the reader to branch off into the detailed discussion where relevant. It also takes account of recent developments in the Brexit negotiation that took place after the journal article was completed.    

On 1 October 2015, the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements 2005 (‘Hague Convention’) entered into force in 28 Contracting States, including Mexico and all the Member States of the European Union, except Denmark. The Convention has applied between Singapore and the other Contracting States since 1 October 2016. China, Ukraine and the USA have signed the Convention indicating that they hope to ratify it in the future (see the official status table for the Convention on the Hague Conference on Private International Law’s website). The Brussels Ia Regulation, which is the European Union’s device for jurisdictional and enforcement matters, applies as of 10 January 2015 to legal proceedings instituted and to judgments rendered on or after that date. In addition to legal issues that may arise independently under the Hague Convention, some issues may manifest themselves at the interface between the Hague Convention and the Brussels Ia Regulation. Both sets of issues are likely to garner the attention of cross-border commercial litigators, transactional lawyers and private international law academics. The article examines anti-suit injunctions, concurrent proceedings and the implications of Brexit in the context of the Hague Convention and its relationship with the Brussels Ia Regulation. (See pages 387-389 of the article)

On the Global Community of Private International Law – Impressions from Brazil

From August 3-5 this year, the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro hosted the 7th biennial conference of the Journal of Private International Law. Ably organized by Nadia de Araujo and Daniela Vargas from the host institution, together with Paul Beaumont from Aberdeen, the conference was a great success, as concerns both the quality and quantity of the presentations. Instead of a conference report, I want to provide some, undoubtedly subjective, impressions as concerns the emerging global community of private international law.

First, no less than 168 participants attended, from all over the world. The Journal conference has, by now, become something like a World Congress of Private International Law. This is no small achievement. The Journal of Private International Law started out in 2005 as a very doctrinal publication focusing primarily on common law systems and European private international law. Fittingly, the first two conferences took place in the UK. It was a very wise decision to move, after that, to cities in other countries—New York (2009), Milan (2011), Madrid (2013) and now, after a return to the UK (Cambridge) for the ten-year anniversary in 2015, Rio de Janeiro (2017). By now, it can be said that Journal and conference both really represent the world. And what is emerging is a global community that comes together at these and other events.

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Webinar: Contextualising Insurance Contracts: Interactions with Various Fields of Law (Day 4)-Insurance and Transport Risks

Prof. Lima Pinheiro’s “Last Class”

Luís de Lima Pinheiro, Professor of Law at the University of Lisbon, has given his so-called “Last Class” earlier this week, thus putting an end to his activity as a Professor at the graduate level in this Law School (while remaining active in post-graduate courses).

The online lecture, in Portuguese, is available here.

United Kingdom Supreme Court rules on a jurisdictional issue against Shell

In a landmark decision in the case of Okpabi and others v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Another, the United Kingdom Supreme Court (“UKSC”) ruled on a jurisdictional issue on whether the claimants/appellants have an arguable case that the defendants/respondents – Royal Dutch Shell (an English domiciled company) – owed them a common law duty of care so as properly to found jurisdiction against a foreign subsidiary company (Shell Petroleum Development Corporation Limited, domiciled in Nigeria) as a necessary and proper party to the proceedings. This jurisdictional aspect was concerned with whether there was a real issue to be tried against the anchor defendant – Royal Dutch Shell (an English domiciled company).

The facts of the case was that the claimants/appellants, who are Nigerian citizens alleged that as a result of the negligence of  Shell Petroleum Development Corporation Limited, numerous oil spills have occurred from oil pipelines and associated infrastructure operated in the vicinity of the claimants’/appellants’ communities. It is said that these oil spills have caused widespread environmental damage, including serious water and ground contamination, and have not been adequately cleaned up or remediated. It is also alleged that as a result of the spills, the natural water sources in the claimants’/appellants’ communities cannot safely be used for drinking, fishing, agricultural, washing or recreational purposes.