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Out now: Festschrift for Herbert Kronke on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday: „National, International, Transnational: Harmonischer Dreiklang im Recht“

On the occasion of the 70th birthday of Herbert Kronke, Professor emeritus of the University of Heidelberg, President of the German Institution of Arbitration and Arbitrator (Chairman, Chamber Three) at the Iran US Claims Tribunal at The Hague, Former Secretary-General of UNIDROIT, a large number of friends and colleagues gathered to honour a truly outstanding scholar with essays, edited by Christoph Benicke, Professor at the University of Gießen, Germany, and Stefan Huber, Professor at the University of Tübingen, in an impressive volume of nearly 2000 pages with more than 150 contributions from all over the world, many of them in English – highly recommended to browse through state of the art thinking and research on national, international and transnational law:


Private International Law and the outbreak of Covid-19: Some initial thoughts and lessons to face in daily life

Written by Inez Lopes (Universidade de Brasília) and Fabrício Polido (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)


Following the successful repercussion of the Webinar PIL & Covid-19: Mobility of Persons, Commerce and Challenges in the Global Order, which took place between 11 and 22nd May 2020, the Scientific Committee headed by Prof. Dr Inez Lopes (Universidade de Brasília), Prof. Dr Valesca R. Moschen (Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo), Prof. Dr Fabricio B. Pasquot Polido (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), Prof. Dr Thiago Paluma (Universidade Federal de Uberlandia) and Prof. Dr Renata Gaspar (Universidade Federal de Uberlandia) is pleased to announce that the Webinar´s videos are already available online (links below). The committee thanks all those professors, staff and students who enthusiastically joined the initiative. A special thank is also given to the University of Minas Gerais and the Brazilian Centre for Transnational and Comparative Studies for the online transmissions. The sessions were attainable to both participants and the audience.


Private international law requirements for the effective enforcement of human rights

Written by Tanja Domej, University of Zurich

Note: This blogpost is part of a series on „Corporate social responsibility and international law“ that presents the main findings of the contributions published in August Reinisch, Stephan Hobe, Eva-Maria Kieninger & Anne Peters (eds), Unternehmensverantwortung und Internationales Recht, C.F. Müller, 2020.

1. It is essential for the effective enforcement of human and workers’ rights to create effective local institutions and procedures. This encompasses functioning, trustworthy and accessible civil courts, but also other public, private and criminal institutions and mechanisms (e.g. permission, licencing or inspection procedures to ensure safety in the workplace; accident insurance; trade unions). Civil litigation cannot be a substitute for such mechanisms – particularly if it takes place far away from the place where the relevant events occurred.


The Volkswagen (VW) emissions scandal – The saga continues: Now it’s the turn of the Netherlands, France and Belgium

Thanks to the entering into force of the Dutch Collective Redress of Mass Damages Act (Wet afwikkeling massaschade in collectieve actie, WAMCA) on 1 January 2020, there has been an increase in prospective litigation against Volkswagen in the Netherlands and other countries in Europe involving the Volkswagen emissions scandal (also known as Dieselgate). We have previously reported on this law here and also on ongoing litigation against Volkswagen here (CJEU) and here (UK).

One of the institutes / organisations taking advantage of this opportunity is the Diesel Emissions Justice Foundation (DEJF), which was founded in the Netherlands, and which is seeking to be the exclusive representative in a collective redress action against Volkswagen. The DEJF is currently acting in the Netherlands, Belgium and France and has recently extended its activities to the rest of Europe provided that certain conditions are fulfilled (e.g. customers have not yet been compensated – one cannot be compensated twice and has to choose one representative – see more information here).

As indicated on its website, on 13 March 2020, DEJF summoned Volkswagen et al. to appear before the Amsterdam District Court under new WAMCA proceedings. DEJF requested to be appointed as the Exclusive Representative Organisation (“Lead Plaintiff”). A summary in English is available here and the full text in Dutch is available here. See a summary of the progress here.


The curious case of personal jurisdiction for cyber-based transnational transactions in India: Does one size fit all?

By Radhika Parthasarathy

The advent of the internet has led to mass-communication like no other. Everything one wants is at the tip of our fingers now, thanks to mobile phones, laptops, iPads and the likes. Mass consumerism has seen an exponential increase in the last ten years. If one needs to buy quirky stationery, we have the likes of Amazon and Chumbak online; if one wants to watch the latest episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Netflix does the needful; if we wish to read multiple newspapers, while also saving papers, multiple Apps such as InShorts exist.  Platforms such as these stream large quantities of data across the globe, thus bringing the world closer, but also leading to certain jurisdictional issues in case of litigations. Such activity requires a cross-cutting need and definition of personal jurisdiction.


JPIL 15 (2019), Issue 1

Issue 1 of the Journal of Private International Law is now available. It contains the following articles:

Rhona Schuz, Choice of law in relation to matrimonial property in the 21st century, pp. 1-49

Abstract: The traditional lack of consensus in relation to the choice of law rule/s governing matrimonial property has become topical and relevant over the last few years. The European Union, concerned about the impact of the disparities between the laws of Member States in this field, in the light of increasing divorce and migration, embarked on an initiative to harmonize private international law rules in relation to matrimonial property. However, the Regulation which it produced did not command universal support. Moreover, the recent demographic changes in Europe have added a new dimension to the problem. To date, relatively little attention has been paid to the choice of law implications of migration from non-Western States, in which religious or customary law governs the economic consequences of marriage and which typically have separate property systems which discriminate against women. The mass migration into Europe from such States over the past few years makes it imperative to consider the implications of the choice of law rules in relation to matrimonial property for migrants from non-Western States.


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.


Third Country Law in the CJEU’s Data Protection Judgments

This post by Prof. Christopher Kuner was published last week at the European Law Blog. I thought it worth reproducing it here, the same week of the hearing of case C-498/16 (Schrems again, but this time from a different perspective: private, and within the framework of Regulation Brussels I). 


Much discussion of foreign law in the work of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has focused on how it deals with the rules, principles, and traditions of the EU member states. However, in its data protection judgments a different type of situation involving foreign law is increasingly arising, namely cases where the Court needs to evaluate the law of third countries in order to answer questions of EU law.

This is illustrated by its judgment in Schrems (Case C-362/14previously discussed on this blog, as well as here), and by Opinion 1/15 (also discussed on this blog, part I and part II), a case currently before the CJEU in which the judgment is scheduled to be issued on 26 July. While these two cases deal with data protection law, the questions they raise are also relevant for other areas of EU law where issues of third country law may arise. The way the Court deals with third country law in the context of its data protection judgments illustrates how interpretation of EU law sometimes involves the evaluation of foreign legal systems, despite the Court’s reluctance to admit this.

The Schrems judgment

The Schrems case involved the validity of the EU-US Safe Harbour arrangement, a self-regulatory mechanism that US-based companies could join to protect personal data transferred from the EU to the US. Article 25(1) of the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC allows transfers of personal data from the EU to third countries only when they provide an ‘adequate level of data protection’ as determined by a formal decision of the European Commission. On 26 July 2000 the Commission issued such a decision finding that the Safe Harbour provided adequate protection.


Belgian Court Recognizes US Opt-Out Class Action Settlement

By Stefaan Voet, Leuven University

The Belgian Lernout & Hauspie (L&H) case was one of the largest corporate scandals in European history (for an empirical case study analysis see S. Voet, ‘The L&H Case: Belgium’s Internet Bubble Story’ in D. Hensler, C. Hodges & I. Tzankova (eds.), Class Actions in Context: How Economics, Politics and Culture Shape Collective Litigation, Edward Elgar (2016)).

It was a criminal case that was brought before the Criminal Court of Appeal in Ghent. Contrary to common law jurisdictions, the victim of a Belgian criminal case is not absent from the criminal trial. He or she is a formal party to the proceedings and has standing to plead.  Regarding his or her civil claim, the victim can piggyback on the evidence brought forward by the Public Prosecutor in order to prove a civil fault.  The victim only has to prove causation and his or her damages. Based on this technique, more than 15,000 duped shareholders filed their civil claim during the L&H criminal trial.


Suing TNCs in the English courts: the challenge of jurisdiction

By Ekaterina Aristova, PhD in Law Candidate, University of Cambridge

On 26 January 2017, Mr Justice Fraser, sitting as a judge in the Technology and Construction Court, ruled that a claim against Royal Dutch Shell plc, an English-domiciled parent company (“RDS”), and its Nigerian operating subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (“SPDC”) will not proceed in the English courts. These proceedings represent one of the many private claims brought by the foreign citizens in the courts of the Western states alleging direct liability of parent companies for the overseas human rights abuses. Despite an increased number of such foreign direct liability cases in the English courts, the issue of jurisdiction still remains one of the principle hurdles faced by the claimants and their lawyers in pursuing civil litigation against transnational corporations (“TNCs”) outside the territory of the state where main events leading to the alleged crime took place and damage was sustained.

Last year, Mr Justice Coulson allowed a legal claim against English-based mining corporation Vedanta Resources plc and its Zambian subsidiary to be tried in England. The overall analysis of the judgement in Lungowe v Vedanta Resources plc suggested that (i) the claims against the parent company in relation to the overseas operations of the foreign subsidiary can be heard in the English courts; and (ii) the existence of an arguable claim against the English-domiciled parent company also establishes jurisdiction of the English courts over the subsidiary even if the factual basis of the case occurs almost exclusively in the foreign state. Although Mr Justice Fraser has not questioned any of the conclusions reached by his colleague, he made it very clear that establishing an arguable claim on the liability of the English-domiciled parent company for the foreign operations of its overseas subsidiary is a challenging task.

The claimants in Okpabi v Shell were Nigerian citizens who commenced two sets of proceedings against RDS and SPDC. The first claim was brought on behalf of the Ogale community, while the second was initiated by the inhabitants of the Bille Kingdom in Nigeria. Both claims alleged serious and ongoing pollution and environmental damage caused by oil spills arising out of the Shell operations in and around the claimants’ communities. The claimants argued that RDS breached the duty of care it owed to them to ensure that SPDC’s operations in the Niger Delta did not cause harm to the environment and their communities. The claims against SPDC were brought on the basis that it was a necessary or proper party to the proceedings against RDS. The defendants argued that both claims have nothing to do with England and should proceed in Nigeria. They claimed that RDS was used as an “anchor defendant” and a device to ensure that the real claim against SPDC was also litigated in England.