UKSC on Traditional Rules of Jurisdiction: Brownlie v Four Seasons Holdings Incorporated

Shortly before Christmas the UKSC released its decision on jurisdiction in Brownlie v Four Seasons Holdings Incorporated (available here). Almost all the legal analysis is obiter dicta because, on the facts, it emerges that no claim against the British Columbia-based holding corporation could succeed (para 15) and the appeal is allowed on that basis. I suppose there is a back story as to why it took a trip to the UKSC and an extraordinary step by that court (para 14) for the defendant to make those facts clear, but I don’t know what it is. On the facts there are other potential defendants to the plaintiffs’ claim and time will tell whether jurisdictional issues arise for them.

The discussion of the value of the place of making a contract for jurisdiction purposes is noteworthy. In para 16 two of the judges (Sumption, Hughes) are critical of using the traditional common law rules on where a contract is made for purposes of taking jurisdiction. This has been the subject of debate in some recent Canadian decisions, notably the difference in approach between the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada in Lapointe Rosenstein Marchand Melançon LLP v Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, 2016 SCC 30 (available here). The SCC was fine with using the traditional rules for this purpose. In Brownlie, I do not think it is clear as to what view the other three judges take on this point.

Even more interestingly, the UKSC judges split 3-2 on how to understand the idea of damage in the forum as a basis for jurisdiction. Three judges (Hale, Wilson, Clarke) retain the traditional broad common law view – the position in many Canadian provinces prior to Club Resorts Ltd v Van Breda, 2012 SCC 17 (available here) – that ongoing suffering in the forum in respect of a tort that happened abroad is sufficient. Two judges (Sumption, Hughes) reject that approach and adopt a more narrow meaning of damage in the forum (it must be direct damage only).

This 3-2 split is closer even than it might first seem, since Lord Wilson (para 57) suggests that in a different case with fuller argument on the point the court might reach a different result.

Canadian law does not get a fair description in the UKSC decision. The court notes twice (para 21 and para 67) that Canada’s common law uses a broad meaning of damage for taking jurisdiction. Club Resorts, and the change to the law it represents on this very issue, is not mentioned. This is yet another illustration of the importance of being careful when engaging in comparative law analysis.

Conflicts – Between Domestic and Indigenous Legal Systems?

In Beaver v Hill, 2017 ONSC 7245 (available here) the applicant sought custody, spousal support and child support. All relevant facts happened in Ontario. (more…)

NIKI continued (now in Austria)

Written by Lukas Schmidt, Research Fellow at the Center for Transnational Commercial Dispute Resolution (TCDR) of the EBS Law School, Wiesbaden, Germany

The Regional Court Korneuburg has opened a main insolvency proceeding – not a secondary insolvency proceeding that the German provisional administrator has applied for – on the assets of NIKI Luftfahrt GmbH in Austria (see here). Therefore, it obviously shares the view of the Regional Court of Berlin that NIKI’s COMI is located in Austria and not Germany. (more…)


New Book: Blurry Boundaries of Public and Private International Law

A new book entitled Blurry Boundaries of Public and Private International Law: Towards Convergence or Divergent Still? and co-edited by Dr Poomintr Sooksripaisarnkit (of the University of Tasmania) and Dharmita Prasad (Jindal Global Law School, O.P Jindal Global University) has just been released by Springer.

The description states that the book examines interactions and discusses intersectionality between public international law and private international law. With contributions from scholars from the USA, Canada, Australia, India, and the EU, this book brings out truly international perspectives on the topic. The contributions are arranged in four themes — Public international law and private international law: historical and theoretical considerations of the boundary; Harmonisation of private international law by public international law instruments: evaluation of process, problems and effectiveness; Case studies of intersectionality between public international law and private international law; and Future trends in the relationship between public international law and private international law.

The Foreword by Ralf Michaels is followed by these chapters:

Chapter 1: Public International Law and Private International Law: Setting scene for intersectionality – Poomintr Sooksripaisarnkit and Dharmita Prasad
Chapter 2 – Private International Law’s origins as a branch of the universal law of nations – Marco Basile
Chapter 3 – Recognition – A story of how the two worlds meet – Dulce Lopes
Chapter 4 – Forum non conveniens in Australia – how much weight should be given to comity? – Poomintr Sooksripaisarnkit
Chapter 5 – International rule of law and its relation to harmonisation – Dharmita Prasad
Chapter 6 – A quest for the missing link in the resolution of international investment disputes affecting host states’ citizens under public and private international law – Richard Mlambe
Chapter 7 – Visualising the role of international rule of law in claim funding by third parties – Gautam Mohanty
Chapter 8 – Article 79 CISG: Testing the effectiveness of the CISG in international trade through the lens of the COVID-19 outbreak – Nevena Jevremovic
Chapter 9 – Determination of legal effects of COVID-19 related export bans and restrictions on international sale of goods contracts: Interplay between public and private international law – Burcu Yuksel Ripley and Ulku Halatci Ulusoy
Chapter 10 – Private International Law vs Public International Law: Competing complimentary intersectionality in CISG Article 79? Peter Mazzacano
Chapter 11 – Blocking Statutes: Private individuals finding themselves in interstate conflicts – Marcel Gernert
Chapter 12 – When public international law meets EU private international law: an insight on the European Court of Justice case law dealing with immunity vis-à-vis the application of the Brussels Regime – Maria Barral Martinez
Chapter 13 – Children’s rights law and private international law: What do referencing patterns reveal about their relation? – Tine Van Hof
Chapter 14 – Ringfencing data? – Perspectives on sovereignty and localisation from India – Sai Ramani Garimella and Parthiban B
Chapter 15 – Private international law and public international law – increasing convergence or divergence as usual? – Poomintr Sooksripaisarnkit and Dharmita Prasad

For further details of the book please refer to the respective Springer webpage.
It is worthy of mention that the editors are in the process of planning an online “book launch” event at some point within the second quarter of 2022. Details once finalised will also be announced in this portal.

The Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law is recruiting!

The Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law is currently recruiting. A fully-funded position as Research Fellow (PhD candidate) for the Department of European and Comparative Procedural Law, led by Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Burkhard Hess, is open:

   Fixed-term contract for 2 years; contract extension is possible; full-time based in Luxembourg

The successful candidate will conduct legal research (contribution to common research projects and own publications), particularly in the field of European and Comparative Procedural Law, while playing a central role in undertaking and developing team-driven projects within the Institute, in partnership with renowned international academics.

You may apply online until 20 March 2022 by submitting a detailed CV, including a list of publications (if applicable); copies of academic records; a PhD project description of no more than 1-2 pages with the name of the foreseen PhD supervisor and the name of the institution awarding the PhD certificate.

The Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law strives to ensure a workplace that embraces diversity and provides equal opportunities.

Sydney Centre for International Law Year in Review Conference/Panel 3: Developments in Private International Law in 2022

The Sydney Centre for International Law at Sydney Law School is delighted to present the 2022 International Law Year in Review Conference, to be held online on Friday 25 February 2022.

This annual ‘year in review’ conference brings together expert speakers from around the world to give participants insight into the latest developments in international law over the preceding year, especially those most salient for Australia.

Panel 3 will cover Developments in Private International Law in 2022.


Martin Jarrett (Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law and University of Heidelberg), “Payment of Australian judgment debts as unlawful European state aid: international legal options for Australia against the European Union”. 

Dr Aida Othman (ZICO Shariah and Messrs. Zaid Ibrahim & Co.), “Arbitration of Shariah and Islamic finance disputes: are the Asian International Arbitration Centre’s i-arbitration rules a game-changer?”

Dr Sarah McKibbin (University of Southern Queensland), “Implementation of the Singapore Convention on Mediation in Australian Law”

Chair: Associate Professor Dr. Jeanne Huang (Sydney Law School)

Date/Time: 25 February, 1:30pm – 3:00 pm AEDT

View the program here. Register to attend here.