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Shell litigation in the Dutch courts – milestones for private international law and the fight against climate change

by Xandra Kramer (Erasmus University Rotterdam/Utrecht Univeristy) and Ekaterina Pannebakker (Leiden University), editors

  1. Introduction

As was briefly announced earlier on this blog, on 29 January 2021, the Dutch Court of Appeal in The Hague gave a ruling in a long-standing litigation launched by four Nigerian farmers and the Dutch Milieudefensie. The Hague Court held Shell Nigeria liable for pollution caused by oil spills that took place in 2004-2007; the UK-Dutch parent company is ordered to install equipment to prevent damage in the future. Though decided almost four months ago, the case merits discussion of several private international law aspects that will perhaps become one of the milestones in the broader context of liability of parent companies for the actions of their foreign-based subsidiaries.

Climate change and related human rights litigation is undoubtedly of increasing importance in private international law. This is also on the radar of the European institutions as evidenced among others  by the ongoing review of the Rome II Regulation (point 6). Today, 26 May 2021, another milestone was reached, both for for private international law but for the fight against global climate change, with the historical judgment (English version, Dutch version) by the Hague District Court ordering Shell to reduce Co2 emissions (point 7). This latter case is discussed more at length in today’s blogpost by Matthias Weller.

  1. Oil spill in Nigeria and litigation in The Hague courts

The Role of the International Social Service in the History of Private International Law

Family Routes Blogby Roxana Banu

The ISS has been hiding in plain sight in the history of private international law since the 1920s. Anyone lucky enough to visit ISS-USA’s archives at the University of Minnesota would be astonished by ISS’s extensive engagement with virtually every aspect of transnational family law. During the first half of the 20th century the ISS left no stone untouched in an effort to devise an international socio-legal framework for cross-border family maintenance claims. It lobbied scholars, consuls, employers, national legislators and international organizations; its global network of social workers worked together to inform women living abroad when their husbands attempted to file divorce proceedings in the U.S.; it experimented with entirely new and imaginative legal arguments to convince U.S. courts to assume jurisdiction over foreign women’s maintenance claims against their husbands living in the U.S.; and it submitted expert evidence to the Child Welfare Committee of the League of Nations.

One Year of Pandemic-Driven Video Hearings at the German Federal Court of Justice in International Patent Matters: Interview with Federal Judge Hartmut Rensen, Member of the Tenth Panel in Civil Matters

Benedikt Windau, the editor of a fabulous German blog on civil procedural law, www.zpoblog.de, recently interviewed Federal Judge Dr Hartmut Rensen, Member of the Tenth Panel of the division for civil and commercial matters at the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) on the experiences with video hearings in national an international patent matters in the pandemic. I allow myself to pick up a few elements from this fascinating interview in the following for our international audience:

The Tenth Panel functions as a court of first appeal (Berufungsgericht) in patent nullity proceedings and as a court of second appeal for legal review only (Revisionsgericht) in patent infringement proceedings. In both functions, particularly in its function as court of first appeal, actors from all over the world may be involved, and indeed, Judge Rensen reported about parties and their respective representatives and teams from the USA, Japan, South Korea, the UK, France, Italy and Spain during the last year.

News

The European Commission consults on the topic of recognition of parenthood between the EU Member States

This information was provided by Ms Lenka Vysoka, European Commission 

In May 2021, the European Commission launched a public consultation on its initiative on recognition of parenthood between Member States.

This initiative aims to ensure that parenthood, as established in one EU Member State, will be recognised across the EU so that children maintain their rights in cross-border situations, in particular when their families travel or move within the EU. The initiative does not aim to harmonise national laws on the establishment of parenthood.

This survey should help to identify the problems that may currently arise in cross?border situations in the Union where the parenthood of a child established in a Member State is not recognised in another Member State. The survey should also provide an opportunity to all interested parties to give their views on the initiative and its scope.

 

HCCH Monthly Update: May 2021

Conventions & Instruments

On 24 May 2021, Niger deposited its instrument of accession to the HCCH 1993 Adoption Convention. With the accession of Niger, the Adoption Convention now has 104 Contracting Parties. It will enter into force for Niger on 1 September 2021. More information is available here.

Meetings & Events

On 4 May 2021, the HCCH participated in the virtual launch of the book Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts, published by Oxford University Press. The recording of the event is available here.

University of Bologna Summer School on Transnational Jurisdiction

The Department of Juridical Sciences of the University of Bologna, Ravenna Campus, has organized a Summer School on Transnational Jurisdiction: Current Issues In Civil And Commercial Matters, to be held in Ravenna (and online), on July 19-23, 2021.

The Faculty of the Summer School is composed of experts from different jurisdictions, focusing on several aspects of private international and procedural law. The Director of the School is Prof. Michele Angelo Lupoi, who teaches Civil Procedural Law and European Judicial Cooperation at the University of Bologna. The Summer School is aimed at law students as well as law graduates and law practitioners who want to obtain a specialised knowledge in this complex and fascinating area of International civil procedure. The lectures, if the conditions will make it possible, will be held in a blended way, both
in presence and online.