Case law

What Is On At the CJEU?

Private International Law kept the Court busy in 2019 (23 cases were decided only on the “Brussels system”, either by judgment or order of the Court).

2020 looks promising as well. Three hearings are already scheduled for January: case C-80/19, E.E., from Lithuania (several provisions of the Succession Regulation); case C-59/19, Wikingerhof, from Germany (on Article 7 of the Brussels I bis Regulation – once again, on the delimitation between point 1, on matters relating to a contract, and point 2, on matters relating to a tort); case C-73/19, Movic, from The Netherlands (on Article 1 of the Brussels I bis Regulation – on the meaning of civil and commercial matters).

In case C-80/19, the Supreme Court of Lithuania for civil and criminal matters raised some old questions, together with some new. The old ones concern the characterization as a “court” of the Lithuanian notaries requested to deliver a certificate of succession rights, and to carry out other actions necessary for the heir to assert his or her rights; a question on the characterization of the certificate follows. Case C-658/17, WB, has obviously not put an end to all doubts on this (tricky, for sure) issue; looking at the literature, one has the impression it has actually triggered more.

The Supreme Court asks the CJEU some new and interesting questions. Except for Recitals 7 and 67, nowhere in the Regulation it is stated that it applies exclusively to successions having cross-border implications; however, from its objectives, one could hardly conclude differently (and this has already been confirmed by case C-20/17, Oberle). But, when is a situation likely to deploy this kind of consequences? To what extent an interested party’s declaration could have an impact on the characterization if, in practice, its effect would be to remove the cross-border links of the succession (thus making the life of the remaining heir much easier)?

The Lithuanian Court is asking as well about Article 22 and an implicit choice of the applicable law, in a case where also Article 83 (transitional provisions) is at stake. In addition, the question of a choice of court by the interested parties arises.

Three cases to be followed – and, should you happen to be in Luxembourg, three hearings to attend. All three preliminary references can be found at the website of the Court: not just the question as it has been published in the Official Journal, but a summary of the facts and grounds for the references, in all official languages.

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