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A Legislative initiative procedure which started nearly a year ago, is coming now to the next level: The European Commission has recently stated its position on the European Parliament non-legislative resolution with recommendations to the Commission on expedited settlement of commercial disputes. The response is featured in a document titled ‘Follow-up to the European Parliament non-legislative resolution with recommendations to the Commission on expedited settlement of commercial disputes’. The main issues addressed may be summarized as follows:

Creation of a European Expedited Civil Procedure (EECP)

The Commission will take the resolution as further inspiration to analyse simplifications to cross-border litigation, but not necessarily by a specific European Expedited Civil Procedure.

Possible changes to the Rome I, the Rome II and the Brussels Ia Regulations

The Commission will, as appropriate, consider issues concerning choice of law agreements and choice of court agreements within the framework of the review of the relevant instruments (the Rome I and the Brussels Ia Regulations).

Other measures – building competence in commercial law in Member States

The Commission will continue to support training and research in commercial law and to facilitate access to information on foreign law in the framework of non-legislative actions, including financial programmes.

Other measures – analysing establishment of the European Commercial Court

At this stage, it does not seem appropriate to engage in preparatory action concerning the establishment of a European Commercial Court. However, the Commission will consider the question of the desirability of further studies in this field.

The full text of the doc. document is available here.

Once there, scroll down to Documentation gateway, and open the European Commission box.

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The two volumes of the Luxembourg Reports on European Procedural Law were published early this month. They are the fruits of an evaluation study of national procedural laws and practices in terms of their impact on the free circulation of judgments and on the equivalence and effectiveness of the procedural protection of consumers under EU consumer law.

The volumes present a comparative examination and empirical evaluation of national procedural rules and practices as regards mutual trust and the free circulation of judgments on the one hand, and consumer protection on the other, in light of relevant EU and national legislation and European Court of Justice and domestic case law.

The publication was edited by Burkhard Hess, Stephanie Law & Pietro Ortolani. The Report was prepared by a Consortium of European universities led by the MPI Luxembourg for Procedural Law as commissioned by the European Commission [JUST/2014/RCON/PR/CIVI/0082].

For more information, check here.

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The European Law Institute is calling for submissions for its 2019 ELI Young Lawyers Award. Candidates must be law students (undergraduate or postgraduate) at a European university. The call is for a unique and original paper which has not previ­ously been published and which deals with a European legal issue that is ripe for reform. Papers must be submitted by April 30, 2019, 20:00 CET in any of the EU official languages along with an English translation. Further details can be found here.

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To celebrate its 150th birthday, the Société de législation comparée is organizing a comparative law essay competition. It is open to all lawyers, of all nationalities, regardless of their speciality. Membership of the Society is not required to participate.

Entrants will compose, on a subject of their choice, an essay which is supported by comparative legal reasoning.

The submitted text must be unpublished, never formally examined and contain at least 100,000 characters. It can be written in French or English. Entrants must send a print and an electronic version of the text to the Société de législation comparée, 28 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris, France and emmanuelle.bouvier@legiscompare.com no later than October 15, 2019. The application form must be attached to the text.

The selection committee will present the results of its deliberations at the Society’s birthday colloquium in December 2019. First prize will be the publication of the text by the Society in the form of a book. Other awards may be given to distinguished candidates by the committee. Other forms of publications may also be proposed.

To download the application form, please click here.

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The Editors of the Melbourne Journal of International Law (‘MJIL’), Australia’s premier generalist international law journal, are now inviting submissions for volume 20(2). MJIL is a peer-reviewed academic journal, based at the University of Melbourne.

The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2019. Submissions and inquiries should be directed to law-mjil@unimelb.edu.au. For more information, please visit https://law.unimelb.edu.au/mjil#submissions.

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As previously reported on Conflicts of Laws, the ECtHR was requested an advisory opinion by the French Court of Cassation.

On April 10th, the ECtHR delivered its first advisory opinion. It held that:

“In a situation where a child was born abroad through a gestational surrogacy arrangement and was conceived using the gametes of the intended father and a third-party donor, and where the legal parent-child relationship with the intended father has been recognised in domestic law,

  1. the child’s right to respect for private life within the meaning of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires that domestic law provide a possibility of recognition of a legal parent-child relationship with the intended mother, designated in the birth certificate legally established abroad as the “legal mother”;
  2. the child’s right to respect for private life does not require such recognition to take the form of entry in the register of births, marriages and deaths of the details of the birth certificate legally established abroad; another means, such as adoption of the child by the intended mother, may be used”.

For a brief summary of the advisory opinion and the case background see the Press Release.

For further details see the Advisory Opinion.

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The fifth edition of the annual conference of the Carlos III University of Madrid devoted to private international law will take place on 25 and 26 April 2019. This year’s topic is surrogacy.

Speakers include Javier Carrascosa González (Univ. Murcia), Cristina González Beilfus (Univ. Barcelona), Iván Heredia Cervantes (Univ. Autónoma Madrid), Ilaria Pretelli (Swiss Institute of Comparative Law), and Fabrizio Marongiu Buonaiuti (Univ. Macerata).

See here for the full programme and further information.

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The e-Codex Plus project and the ERC project team Building EU Civil Justice of the Erasmus School of Law are jointly organising the conference ‘e’ meets justice: building bridges in cross-border procedures. On 2 and 3 May 2019, academics, IT and legal professionals will meet in Lisbon to discuss how to improve the collaboration between these communities in cross-border civil procedures. The aim of the conference is to offer a platform for different stakeholders to meet, engage in discussions and exchange ideas in order to find a meeting point between the legal world and the digital world, arriving at ‘e-justice’. Focusing on e-CODEX as a potential tool to improve the current situation, participants will be encouraged to propose ideas, engage in discussions and develop a mind-set to foster the future of e-Justice in the EU.

In recent years, cross-border (e-)commerce has increased rapidly. In particular, e-commerce enabled consumers to engage in online transactions with traders from outside their jurisdictions. This development resulted in a growing number of cross-border (online) disputes. While the number of disputes surges, there is a lack of suitable redress mechanisms for consumers, posing challenges to access justice. Consumers encounter obstacles to find a remedy for their cross-border claims, due to differences in language, increased costs, longer procedures, and various diverging legal procedures. It is important that justice embraces technology in order to support online and offline consumers. For a smooth functioning of the Internal Market, it is essential that the consumer has trust and confidence to make (online) cross-border purchases. Therefore, the European Union has been active in creating consumer protection legislation, both in substantive law and more recently in procedural law. Cross-border procedures exist, but their accurate functioning requires that infrastructure must be interlinked and coherent, and should enable more dialogue between stakeholders. In this regard, e-CODEX can be a valuable tool to provide the digital exchange of case related data, connecting parties and courts in a single interface.

You can find more information on the programme on: https://www.e-codex.eu/e-meets-justice-conference. Do you want to be part of this lively and thought-provoking dialogue? You can register now by sending an email to: aanmelden@minvenj.nl.

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On 15 April 2019 eleven international publishing will host an event on “Choice of Law in International Contracts” to honor the publication of Dr Gustavo Moser’s book Rethinking Choice of Law in Cross-Border Sales. The event will take place from 1 to 5 pm in the  Salon Franz Josef, Hotel Regina, Rooseveltplatz 15, 1090 Vienna, Austria. Topics will include:

  • Choice of Law and Brexit
  • Drafting Choice of Law Clauses
  • CISG Status and Prospects 

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm| Roundtable Lunch with the Stakeholders

Speakers: Professor Ingeborg Schwenzer; Louise Barrington; Dr Patricia Shaughnessy; Michael McIlwrath; Luca Castellani; Dr Florian Mohs; and Dr Sabrina Strassburger

Moderator: Dr Gustavo Moser

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm| Coffee & Tea Talk

Speakers: Professor Ingeborg Schwenzer; Professor Petra Butler; Professor Andrea Bjorklund; and Dr Lisa Spagnolo

Moderator: Dr Gustavo Moser

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Prof. Dr. Marc-Philippe Weller and Markus Lieberknecht, Heidelberg University, have kindly provided us with the following blog post which is a condensed abstract of the authors’ article in the Juristenzeitung (JZ) 2019, p. 317 et seqq. which explores the topic in greater detail and includes comprehensive references to the relevant case law and literature.

In one of the most controversial German judgments of 2018, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt held that the air carrier Kuwait Airways could refuse transportation to an Israeli citizen living in Germany because fulfilling the contract would violate an anti-Israel boycott statute enacted by Kuwait in 1964. The Israeli citizen had validly booked a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok with a layover in Kuwait City. However, Kuwait Airways hindered the Israeli passenger from boarding the aircraft in Frankfurt. According to the judgment of the Frankfurt Court, Kuwait Airways acted in line with the German legal framework: specific performance of the contract of carriage was deemed to be impossible because of the Kuwait boycott statute.

This judgment is wrong. Hence, it is not surprising that the decision sparked reactions in German media outlets which ranged from mere disbelief to sheer outrage.

The case demonstrates that the seemingly ‘neutral’ domain of Private International Law is not exempt from having to deal with delicate political matters such as the current global rise in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments. However, Private International Law is not as ill-equipped as the Frankfurt judgment seems to suggest. In fact, both Private International Law and (German) substantive law offer a wide range of instruments to respond to anti-Semitic discrimination.

First, the article explores the term anti-Semitism in order to carve out a workable definition for legal purposes. Based on this concept and on the available empirical data, we identify three scenarios which appear particularly relevant from a private law perspective: these include, first, encroachment on the personal honor and dignity of Jewish persons; second, attempts to alienate Jewish persons economically, one example being the Kuwait Airways case; third, physical attacks on Jewish persons or their property.

When addressing such behavior, private law operates under the influence of a superseding framework of anti-discriminatory provisions contained in international Law, European Law and constitutional law. We attempt to show that the protection of Jewish identity constitutes an overarching paradigm of Germany’s post-war legal order, a notion which finds support in the Jurisprudence of the German Federal Constitutional Court.

On a Private International Law level, this basic value of Germany’s post-war legal order shapes the domestic public policy (ordre public). Moreover, it translates into a twofold use of overriding mandatory provisions. First, under Art. 9(3) Rome I Regulation German courts are precluded from applying foreign overriding mandatory provisions with an anti-Semitic objective, such as Kuwait’s boycott statute. Although the ECJ’s reading of Art. 9(3) Rome I Regulation in Nikiforidis does leave room to take such provisions, or their effects, into account within the applicable substantive law as purely factual circumstances or as foreign data, we argue that the result of this process must not be that provisions which violate the ordre public are inadvertently given effect through the ‘back door’ of substantive law.

Applying our findings to the case, we conclude that Kuwait Airways lacked grounds to invoke both legal and factual impossibility. Whereas the former is precluded under Art. 9(3) Rome I Regulation for constituting a normative application of the Kuwaiti law, the latter requires a more intricate reasoning: We argue that the passenger’s right to specific performance had to be upheld under German contract law, while any purported intrusion of the Kuwaiti authorities into the performance is best dealt with at the enforcement stage. This approach is in line both with the result-driven desire to avoid granting the Kuwaiti law any effect within the German legal order and with the doctrinal structures of German law. One could reach the same conclusion by relying on a fact pointed out by Jan von Hein (Freiburg University): Kuwait Airways is a state enterprise owned by Kuwait, i.e. the very creator of the legal impediment (the boycott statute). Hence, it should not be allowed to rely on a self-created obstacle to refuse performance.

Conversely, overriding mandatory provisions contained in German law, e.g. anti-discrimination statutes, can be used to ward off or modify anti-Semitic effects of a foreign lex causae governing the legal relation in question. We then go on to discuss the necessity, or lack thereof, of adopting a Blocking Statute specifically designed to subvert the effectiveness of foreign legislation with an anti-Semitic agenda.

Lastly, we demonstrate that, in addition to securing the right to specific performance of Israeli citizens, the substantive law provides a host of legal grounds which can serve to empower victims of anti-Semitic discrimination. These instruments range from contractual damages to possible claims based on anti-discrimination law and the law of torts, addressing all of the relevant scenarios outlined above.

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