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What will the Supreme Court do with the Alien Tort Statute?

What a strange day at the Supreme Court.  If you didn’t know you were before a court of law, you might have thought you were a fly on the wall at a legislative bill drafting commission.  Indeed, as the oral argument in the Kiobel case developed, it was pretty clear that the Court was focused on two choices.  First, it could hold that the ATS does not apply extraterritorially and thus encourage Congressional action—as the Court did in the Morrison v. National Australia Bank case.  Second, it could undertake some saving construction of the ATS and thus encourage another several years of ATS litigation and academic commentary.  Whatever the Court decides, it is likely to encourage what I am calling in a current work in process (which I hope to have done in the next month or so) a “brave new world of transnational litigation” where federal, state, and foreign courts compete through their courts and law to adjudicate transnational cases.


Proposal for a Spanish International Cooperation (Civil Matters) Act

The Spanish Civil Procedure Act (Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil), adopted in 2000, required the Government to send to Parliament a bill of international legal co-operation in civil matters. Soon after, the private international law Department of the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid (UAM) drafted a law proposal on the subject intending to provide guidance to the government. More than a decade later, the legal imperative contained in the Civil Procedure Act has not yet been fulfilled. The original proposal needed to be updated and adapted to the existing normative framework.  UAM Professors Miguel Virgós Soriano, Iván Heredia Cervantes, and Francisco José Garcimartín Alférez, together with the Spanish registrar and current president of the International Commission on Civil Status (CIEC) Spanish section Juan María Díaz Fraile, have undertaken the task with a twofold purpose: to be a point of reference in the development of a future law, and to promote a critical and public debate on the topic. The Spanish Boletín Oficial del Ministerio de Justicia has just published their work, reproducing the last version of the Proposal and including a detailed explanatory memorandum which exposes the draft’s essential features. The article can be downloaded from the website of the newly born Spanish Forum of Private International Law, the approval of a future International Legal Cooperation Act being one of the issues on which the Forum intends to focus its immediate activity.


Latest Issue of RabelsZ: Vol. 76, No. 1 (2012)

The latest issue of “Rabels Zeitschrift für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht – The Rabel Journal of Comparative and International Private Law (RabelsZ)” has just been released. It contains – among others – articles on the recent Chinese and Japanese Codifications on Private International Law. The table of contents reads as follows:


Knut Benjamin Pissler, The New Private International Law of the People’s Republic of China: Cross the River by Feeling the Stones, pp. 1-46



Journal of Private International Law Conference 2011 (Milan) – Programme and Registration

The editors of J.Priv.Int.L are very pleased to announce that the 4th Journal of Private International Law Conference will take place in the University of Milan from Thursday 14th April 2011 at 2pm until Saturday 16th April at 5pm. Over 50 early career papers are expected in parallel sessions on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning and 24 papers from experienced academics on Friday afternoon and Saturday.

  • The fees for the conference are:
  1. full price: 100 euros;
  2. academics: 50 euros
  3. students (undergraduate and postgraduate) and speakers: free
  • The price for the dinner on Friday evening is 60 euros
  • The price range for University accommodation per night is between 45-100 euros
  • The price range for hotel accommodation per night is between 125-220 euros.

Accommodation has been reserved until the end of February 2011 and will be allocated on a first come first service basis. For registration to the conference and for further details, as well as to book any University accommodation, please contact Dr Giuseppe Serranò and Paola Carminati at For any other accommodation, please directly contact the hotel at issue, quoting the participation in the JPIL 2011 conference.


Thursday 14 April 2011: 14.00-15.45

Group 1 – Treatment of Foreign Law, Preliminary Questions, PIL Treaties

  • C. Azcárraga Monzonís, The urgent need of harmonization of the application of foreign laws by national authorities in Europe
  • A. Gardella, Foreign law in member States’ courts and its relationship with European Union law
  • S. Gössl, The Preliminary Question in European Private International Law
  • S. Grossi, An international convention on conflict of laws: the path to Utopia?
  • T. Kyselovská, Bilateral (Multilateral) Treaties on Legal Aid as Sources of Law in the European Judicial Area



Issue 2010/3 Nederlands Internationaal Privaatrecht

The third issue of the Dutch journal on Private International Law, Nederlands Internationaal Privaatrecht is dedicated to the proposal for a new Dutch Act on Private International Law that will be incorporated in Book 10 of the Dutch Civil Code. It includes a critical general review, and contributions on private international law rules on marriages and the consequences for public policy and human rights; the regulation of overriding mandatory rules; the regulation of fait accompli; methods of interpretation in the light of Europeanization and internationalization; and party autonomy and the law of names.

  • A.P.M.J. Vonken, Boek 10 BW:  meer – incomplete – consolidatie dan codificatie van het Nederlandse internationaal privaatrecht. Een bekommernisvolle bespiegeling over een legislatieve IPR-surplace, p. 399-409. The English abstract reads:

In recent decades European private international law (PIL) has undoubtedly made progress. This is largely due to the fact that a number of legislators have either codified part or all of their national PIL rules or adopted treaties and regulations drawn up by, e.g., the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the European Union. Recently, the Dutch legislator has also introduced a codification or, more precisely, a ‘consolidation’ covering an incomplete set of topics on the field of choice of law. I will argue that this Dutch project should be amended and supplemented to include the areas of international civil procedure (e.g., jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments) and to cover a more complete ruling of all kinds of choice of law issues for the sake of legal practice. Finally, I will propose some amendments and refinements to specific rules contained in this consolidation project.


Dutch Articles on Rome I (updated)

The last issue of the Dutch review of private international law (NIPR Nederlands internationaal privaatrecht) includes several articles on the Rome I Regulation, including four in English.

Michael Bogdan (Lund University): The Rome I Regulation on the law applicable to contractual obligations and the choice of law by the parties

 The Rome Convention of 19 June 1980 on the Law Applicable to Contratual Obligations (in the following ‘the Rome Convention’) will be replaced on 17 December 2009, in all Member States of the European Union except Denmark, by the EC Regulation No 593/2008 on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (the Rome I Regulation) although only in relation to contracts concluded after that date. The Commission’s proposal of 2005 (in the following ‘The Commission’s proposal’), which led to the adoption of the Rome I Regulation after a number of amendments, stated that it did not set out to establish a new set of conflict rules but rather convert an existing convention into a Community law instrument. Nevertheless, the Regulation brings about several important changes in comparison with the Rome Convention.

Luc Strikwerda (Advocate-General, Dutch Supreme Court): Toepasselijk recht bij gebreke van rechtskeuze; Artikel 4 Rome I-Verordening

If contractual parties have not availed themselves of the possibility to choose the law applicable to their contract (Art. 3, Rome I), the applicable law will be determined according to rules laid down in Article 4, Rome I. Similar to the equivalent provision of the 1980 Rome Convention, Article 4, Rome I is based upon the doctrine of the characteristic performance. Nonetheless, a new structure with respect to the concretization of this doctrine has been adopted, ensuring that the characteristic performance no longer functions as a presumption. Instead, Article 4 lays down the law applicable in a number of pre-determined categories (Art. 4(1)(a)-(h), Rome I). For the majority of these categories the law of the habitual residence of the party who performs the characteristic performance will be applied. These pre-determined categories form the basic structure and content of this contribution. The obvious disadvantage that this new structure leads to issues of characterisation will also be discussed.

Teun Struycken (Utrecht University and Nauta Dutilh, Amsterdam) and Bart Bierman (Nauta Dutilh, Amsterdam): Rome I on contracts concluded in multilateral systems.

One of the novelties of the Rome I Regulation is the special provision in Article 4(1)(h) on the law applicable to a contract entered into within a regulated market or a multilateral trading facility in the absence of a choice of a law by the contracting parties.

The authors analyse the practical significance of this provision and the relevant contracts which come into existence within a trading system. In the authors’ view, the concept of contract used in Article 4(1)(h) of Rome I, encompasses transactions within a trading system that may not be true agreements under the substantive law of the Netherlands. Furthermore, many of the relevant contractual arrangements, in particular those relating to the clearing and the settlement of securities transactions on a regulated market or multilateral trading facility, fall within the scope of the special PIL provision for designated settlement finality systems pursuant to the Settlement Finality Directive.

According to the authors, legal certainty requires that all transactions on a particular trading system be subject to the same law, regardless of the nature of the parties involved. They take the view that there should be no room for a choice of a law other than the law governing the trading system. The rule in Article 4(1)(h) should in their view become applicable to each contract concluded within a multilateral trading system. The law designated by that provision should prevail over the law chosen by the parties to a transaction: such transactions should always be governed by the law governing the system.

Maarten Claringbould (Leiden University and Van Traa Advocaten, Rotterdam): Artikel 5 Rome I en vervoerovereenkomsten 



Brussels I Review – Loose Ends

The final question in the Commission’s Green Paper (which, incidentally, deserves praise for its concise and focussed presentation of the issues), covers other suggestions for reform of the Regulation’s rules not falling under any of the previous headings.  It is divided into three headings: Scope, Jurisdiction and Recognition and enforcement, as follows:

8.1. Scope

As far as scope is concerned, maintenance matters should be added to the list of exclusions, following the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 on maintenance. With respect to the operation of Article 71 on the relation between the Regulation and conventions on particular matters, it has been proposed to reduce its scope as far as possible.

8.2. Jurisdiction


Latest Issue of “Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts” (2/2009)

Recently, the March/April issue of the German legal journal “Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts” (IPRax) was released.

It contains the following articles/case notes (including the reviewed decisions):

  • Robert Freitag: “Die kollisionsrechtliche Behandlung ausländischer Eingriffsnormen nach Art.9 Abs. 3 Rom I-VO” – the English abstract reads as follows: