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RCD Holdings Ltd v LT Game International (Australia) Ltd: Foreign jurisdiction clauses and COVID-19

By Jie (Jeanne) Huang, Associate Professor, University of Sydney Law School Australia

In 2013, the plaintiffs, ePayment Solutions Pty Ltd (EPS) and RCD Holdings Ltd (RCD) concluded a written contract with the defendant, LT Game International (Australia) Ltd (LT) about the development and installation of a computer betting game. LT is a company incorporated in the Virgin Islands and registered in Australia as a foreign company. The contract was signed in Australia. Its Clause 10 provides.

10. Governing Law

Any dispute or issue arising hereunder, including any alleged breach by any party, shall be heard, determined and resolved by an action commenced in Macau. The English language will be used in all documents.”

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.

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Out now: the Swiss IPRG in English

Information and text provided by Niklaus Meier, co-head of the Private International Law Unit at the Swiss Federal Office of Justice

The Swiss Federal Act on Private International Law (FAPIL), adopted in 1987, has had – and still has – a huge influence throughout the world. It is “possibly the most complete codification of private international law worldwide” (Kadner Graziano, Journal of Private International Law. 2015, vol. 11, no. 3, p. 585: “Codifying European Private International Law: The Swiss Private International Law Act – A Model for a Comprehensive European Private International Law Regulation?”) and has influenced PIL codifications in many countries (Kadner Graziano, p. 589-90).

The global relevance of the Swiss Federal Act on PIL led to numerous translations, testament of its international character. Complete translations have been published by Prof. Andreas Bucher (last updated 2021): www.andreasbucher-law.ch; Umbricht attorneys (2017): www.umbricht.ch/de/schweizerisches-internationales-privatrecht-iprg; Gehri/Walther (2010): www.schulthess.com/verlag/detail/ISBN-9783280072509/Gehri-Myriam-A.-Walther-Fridolin/Swiss-Laws-on-Civil-Procedure; the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce (2nd edition 2004, 1st edition 1989); and Karrer/Arnold/Patocchi (1994): Switzerland’s Private International Law (Schulthess/Kluwer). In addition, chapter 12 on arbitration has been translated by actors active in the field, such as the Swiss Arbitration Association (www.arbitration-ch.org/en/arbitration-in-switzerland/index.html).

Translation is a difficult task: “Mastery of the languages involved is necessary, but not sufficient, particularly where the user of a translation expects a literal translation, the legal systems of the starting languages and target language differ fundamentally and the subject matter is highly abstract.” (Walter König, 11 Mich. J. Int’. L. 1294 (1990), 1295, “Translation of Legal Texts: Three English Versions of the Swiss Federal Statute on Private International Law”). Indeed, a civil law codification usually “contains many legal terms which either do not exist in common law jurisdictions or have different connotations in the case of literal translations”.

In recent years, the importance of English versions of the Swiss legal texts has grown. To give just one example: Article 4.4 of the Swiss-Chinese Free Trade Agreement (page 23) explicitly states (under the heading “transparency”) that “Each Party shall promptly publish on the Internet, and as far as practicable in English, all laws, regulations and rules of general application relevant to trade in goods between China and Switzerland.” It goes without saying that the FAPIL is relevant for international trade.

CJEU judgment on jurisdiction for unpaid public parking ticket in Obala i lucice, C-307/19

Back in November 2020, we reported about the Opinion delivered by Advocate General Bobek in the case Obala i lucice, C-307/19, in which he revisited the case law built upon the judgment of the Court of Justice in Pula Parking, C-551/15. This Thursday, the Court rendered its judgment in the case in question.

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Book published: The Development and Perfection of Chinese Inter-Regional Conflict of Laws: From the Perspective of the Achievements of Hague Conference on Private International Law

Readers of this blog may be interested in the book (in Chinese) entitled, The Development and Perfection of Chinese Inter-Regional Conflict of Laws: From the Perspective of the Achievements of Hague Conference on Private International Law. click here (angle.com.tw), written by Meirong Zhang, associate professor at UCASS (University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) Law School, Beijing.  It should be noted that this book was published in early 2020.

The book has four Parts: 1. The development of Chinese inter-regional conflict of laws and HCCH achievements, 2. Inter-regional civil and commercial jurisdiction, 3. Interregional choice of law rules, and 4. Inter-regional judicial assistance in civil and commercial matters. From the preface (in English) by Hans van Loon (former Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH)):