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Choice of Australian Aboriginal Customary Law

The relationship between the conflict of laws and constitutional law is close in many legal systems, and Australia is no exception. Leading Australian conflict of laws cases, including, for example, John Pfeiffer Pty Ltd v Rogerson (2000) 203 CLR 503, which adopted a lex loci delicti rule for intra-Australian torts, are premised on public law concepts essential to our federation. These cases illustrate how the conflict of laws bleeds into other disciplines.

Love v Commonwealth [2020] HCA 3 is a recent decision of the High Court of Australia that highlights the breadth and blurry edges of our discipline. Most legal commentators would characterise the case in terms of constitutional law and migration law. The Court considered a strange question: can an Aboriginal Australian be an ‘alien’?

Ontario Court Holds Law of Bangladesh Applies to Rana Plaza Collapse Claim

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has upheld a decision of the Superior Court of Justice dismissing a $2 billion claim against Loblaws relating to the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh.  In Das v George Weston Limited, 2018 ONCA 1053 (available here) the court concluded that the claims were governed by the law of Bangladesh (not Ontario).  It went on to conclude that most of the claims were statute barred under the Bangladeshi limitation period and that it was “plain and obvious” that the remaining claims would fail under Bangladeshi tort law.

Double Counting the Place of the Tort?

In common law Canada there is a clear separation between the question of a court having jurisdiction (jurisdiction simpliciter) and the question of a court choosing whether to exercise or stay its jurisdiction.  One issue discussed in the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) is the extent of that separation.  Does this separation mean that a particular fact cannot be used in both the analysis of jurisdiction and of forum non conveniens?  On its face that seems wrong.  A fact could play a role in two separate analyses, being relevant to each in different ways.

The Most Appropriate Forum: Assessing the Applicable Law

Another issue in the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Haaretz.com v Goldhar (available here) involves the applicable law as a factor in the forum non conveniens analysis.  It is clear that one of the factors in determining the most appropriate forum is the applicable law.  This is because it is quite easy for the forum to apply its own law and rather more difficult for it to apply the law of another jurisdiction.

So if the defendant can show that the forum would apply not its own law but rather the law of another jurisdiction, that points to a stay of proceedings in favour of that other jurisdiction.  In contrast, if the plaintiff can show that the forum would apply its own law, that points against a stay of proceedings.  In Haaretz.com the plaintiff was able to show that the Ontario court would apply Ontario law, not Israeli law.  So the applicable law factor favoured Ontario.

Conflicts – Between Domestic and Indigenous Legal Systems?

In Beaver v Hill, 2017 ONSC 7245 (available here) the applicant sought custody, spousal support and child support. All relevant facts happened in Ontario. Read more

Characterization of Unfunded Pension Liability Claims

In Re Walter Energy Canada Holdings, Inc, 2017 BCSC 709 (available here) the British Columbia Supreme Court had to consider the validity of a large claim (over $1 billion) filed in restructuring proceedings underway in the province under federal legislation.  The claim was for unfunded pension liabilities and was based on an American statute, the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001.  So the court had to consider whether that statute could apply to a claim in British Columbia against entities organized in Canada (mostly in British Columbia).

Private International Law in Commonwealth Africa

Published this week is Private International Law in Commonwealth Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2013) by Prof. Richard Oppong of Thompson Rivers University. 

From the book’s website:

The book won the 2013 American Society of International Law prize in Private International Law.  The prize ‘recognizes exceptional work in private international law’.  The Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi, observes in his foreword to the book that: ‘The publication of Private International Law in Commonwealth Africa marks a significant milestone in the history and development of private international law in Africa.  Its encyclopaedic analysis of fifteen national legal systems – which account for over 40 per cent of the continent’s population yet over 70 per cent of its economic output – will go a long way to filling a gap in knowledge in respect of this important region of the world’.

Rome III Regulation Adopted by Council

As a Christmas gift for European PIL scholars, the first enhanced cooperation in the history of the EU has been achieved in the field of conflict of laws (on the origin of the initiative see our previous post here).

The Council, in its meeting of 20 December 2010, adopted the Rome III regulation implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the law applicable to divorce and legal separation (for previous steps of the procedure, see here and here). As of mid-2012 (18 months after its adoption, pursuant to Art. 21), the Rome III reg. will apply in the 14 Member States which have been authorised to participate in the enhanced cooperation by Council decision no. 2010/405/EU: Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia. Further Member States which wish to participate may do so in accordance with the second or third subparagraph of Article 331(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

New Articles in Canadian Publications

Two recent publications contain several topical articles:

In the 2010 issue (volume 60) of the University of New Brunswick Law Journal are the following five articles: Catherine Walsh: “The Uses and Abuses of Party Autonomy in International Contracts”; Joshua Karton, “Party Autonomy and Choice of Law: Is International Arbitration Leading the Way or Marching to the Beat of its own Drummer?”; Stephen Pitel, “Reformulating a Real and Substantial Connection”; John McEvoy, “‘After the Storm: The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Private International Law’: Jurisdiction”; and Elizabeth Edinger, “The Problem of Parallel Actions: The Softer Alternative”.  This journal is available to subscribers, including through Westlaw.

Publication: Galgano & Marrella, Diritto e Prassi del Commercio Internazionale

Galgano-Marrella Diritto e Prassi del Commercio InternazionaleProf. Francesco Galgano (emeritus in the University of Bologna Law School
and founder of Galgano Law Firm) and Prof. Fabrizio Marrella (“Cà Foscari” University of Venice) have recently published “Diritto e Prassi del Commercio Internazionale” (CEDAM, 2010), vol. LIV of the “Trattato di Diritto Commerciale e di Diritto Pubblico dell’Economia“, one of the most authoritative Italian legal series, directed by Prof. Galgano.

A presentation has been kindly provided by the authors (the complete TOC is available on the publisher’s website):