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No reciprocity for Swiss and German judgments in Jordan

Two recent rulings of the Supreme Court of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan refused recognition and enforcement of  German and Swiss judgments on maintenance on grounds of no reciprocity.

I. First case: No reciprocity with Germany

  1. The facts

The applicant was the wife of the respondent, both Jordanian nationals. She filed several applications before German courts in Stuttgart, and obtained a number of final judgments ordering payments for alimony to her benefit. Due to non payment by the husband, she filed an application for the recognition and enforcement of the German judgments in Jordan.  The Court of first instance declared the judgments enforceable in Jordan in 2009. The husband appealed. The Amman Court of Appeal issued its decision January 2015, revoking the appealed decision. The wife filed a second appeal (cassation).

Canada’s Top Court to Hear Enforcement Dispute

By Stephen G.A. Pitel, Western University

The Supreme Court of Canada has granted leave in H.M.B. Holdings Limited v Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda.  Information about the appeal is available here. The decision being appealed, rendered by the Court of Appeal for Ontario, is available here.  In the usual course the appeal will be heard in the late spring or early fall of 2021.  The grant of leave is notable because Canada’s top court only hears a small handful of conflict of laws cases in any given year.

In 2014 the Privy Council rendered a judgment in favour of HMB against Antigua and Barbuda for over US$35 million including interest.  In 2016 HMB sued at common law to have the Privy Council judgment recognized and enforced in British Columbia.  Antigua and Barbuda did not defend and default judgment was granted in 2017.  HMB then sought to register the British Columbia decision (not the Privy Council decision) under Ontario’s statutory scheme for the registration of judgments of other Canadian common law provinces.  This required the Ontario courts to engage in a process of statutory interpretation, with one of the central issues being whether the scheme applied to the recognition and enforcement judgment or only to what have been called “original judgments”.

Commission publishes a revised notice to stakeholders in the field of civil justice and private international law in view of UK’s withdrawal from the EU

The DIRECTORATE-GENERAL JUSTICE AND CONSUMERS of the Commission has recently published a further notice on the EU-Brexit saga in the field of civil justice and private international law.

The notice covers core aspects, such as international jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement, specific European procedures (EPO, ESCP), judicial cooperation instruments (Service and Evidence Regulations), insolvency, ans other pertinent issues (public documents, legal aid, mediation).

The full text of the notice may be retrieved here.

Jurisdiction to Garnish Funds in Foreign Bank Account

By Stephen G.A. Pitel, Faculty of Law, Western University

Instrubel, N.V., a Dutch corporation, has been attempting in litigation in Quebec to garnish assets of the Republic of Iraq.  The difficult issue has been the nature of the assets sought to be garnished and where they are, as a matter of law, located.  The assets are funds in a bank account in Switzerland payable to the Republic of Iraq (through the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority) by IATA, a Montreal-based trade association.

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’?

Policy background

Australia’s disposition to migration is controversial to say the least. Our government’s migration policies, which often enjoy bi-partisan support, are a source of embarrassment for many Australians. One controversial migration policy involves New Zealanders. Australia and New Zealand enjoy a very close relationship on several fronts, including with respect to private international law: see the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 (Cth). New Zealanders often enjoy privileges in Australia that are not afforded to persons of other nationality.

Coronavirus, force majeure certificate and private international law

Coronavirus outbreak and force majeure certificate

Due to the outbreak, China has adopted a number of public health measures, including closing schools and workplaces, limiting public gatherings, restricting travel and movement of people, screening , quarantine and isolation. At least 48 cities were locked down by 14 Feb 2020. (here) More than two thirds of China’s migrant workers were unable to return to work, (see here) leaving those firms that have restarted operation running below capacity.  

Coronavirus and the emergency measures significantly affect economic activates in China. The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), a quasi-governmental entity, issued 3,325 force majeure certificates covering the combined contract value of $38.5bn to exempt Chinese companies from their contractual obligations.

Indigenous Claims to Foreign Land: Update from Canada

By Stephen G.A. Pitel, Faculty of Law, Western University

In 2013 two Innu First Nations sued, in the Superior Court of Quebec, two mining companies responsible for a mega-project consisting of multiple open-pit mines near Schefferville, Quebec and Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador. The Innu asserted a right to the exclusive use and occupation of the lands affected by the mega-project. They claimed to have occupied, since time immemorial, a traditional territory that straddles the border between the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.  They claimed a constitutional right to the land under s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Staying Proceedings under the Civil Code of Quebec

Written by Professor Stephen G.A. Pitel, Western University

The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R.S. v P.R., 2019 SCC 49 (available here) could be of interest to those who work with codified provisions on staying proceedings. It involves interpreting the language of several such provisions in the Civil Code of Quebec. Art. 3135 is the general provision for a stay of proceedings, but on its wording and as interpreted by the courts it is “exceptional” and so the hurdle for a stay is high. In contrast, Art. 3137 is a specific provision for a stay of proceedings based on lis pendens (proceedings underway elsewhere) and if it applies it does not have the same exceptional nature. This decision concerns Art. 3137 and how it should be interpreted. Read more

What Does it Mean to Submit to a Foreign Forum?

The meaning of submission was the central question, though by no means the only one, in the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Barer v Knight Brothers LLC, 2019 SCC 13 (available here).  Knight sought enforcement of a Utah default judgment against Barer in Quebec.  The issue was governed by Quebec’s law on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, which is set out in various provisions of the Civil Code of Quebec (so much statutory interpretation analysis ensued).  Aspects of the decision may be of interest to those in other countries that have similar provisions in their own codes.

The court held that the Utah decision was enforceable in Quebec.  Seven judges (Gascon J writing the majority decision) held that Barer had submitted to the Utah court’s jurisdiction.  Two judges held that he had not.  One of them (Brown J) held that the Utah court had jurisdiction on another basis, and so concurred in the result, while the other (Cote J) held it did not, and so dissented.

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.

Unlike some of the recent cases in this area, this was not a case about a Canadian parent corporation and the operations of its own foreign subsidiary.  It was a case about a contractual supply relationship.  Loblaws bought clothes (to sell in its Canadian retail stores) from corporations whose workers manufactured the clothes in Rana Plaza.