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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.

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Webinar: Contextualising Insurance Contracts: Interactions with Various Fields of Law (Day 5)-Insurance Contracts: Intersections with Law of Obligations and International Law

International Max Planck Research School for Successful Dispute Resolution in International Law – Call for Applications 2021

The International Max Planck Research School for Successful Dispute Resolution in International Law (IMPRS-SDR) is accepting applications for PhD proposals within the research areas of the Department of International Law and Dispute Resolution and the Department of European and Comparative Procedural Law to fill a total of

5 funded PhD positions

at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law.

Series of seminars on Multilevel, Multiparty and Multisector Cross-Border Litigation in Europe – Jean Monnet Module – Università degli Studi – Milan

From March 3 to May 13, 2021, the University of Milan will host a series of webinars dealing with cross-border civil and commercial litigation in Europe, as part of the three-year project funded by the European Union and named “Jean Monnet Module on Multilevel, Multiparty and Multisector Cross-Border Litigation in Europe“.

The cycle of seminars will be divided into three modules, focusing, respectively, on relations and conflicts between national judges, European courts and international tribunals; on collective redress, addressed from a European, comparative and transnational perspective and in the context of different legal sectors; on the main procedural issues arising out of transnational litigation in financial law, IP law, labor law and family law disputes, as well as on the the current EU works on judicial cooperation and on the latter’s prospects after Brexit. A short module will provide participants with basic hints on written and oral legal advocacy.