Case law Developments in PIL

May at the Court of Justice

Curia-1Due to the circumstances, all oral hearings at the CJEU scheduled until 25 May 2020 are postponed to a later date.

Regarding private international law, the judgment in C-641/18Rina, a request for a preliminary ruling referred by the District Court of Genoa (Italy), will be read on 7 May  2020. The case requires the Court to address the relationship between a customary principle of international law on international immunity and Regulation No 44/2001 (Brussels I). The Court should as well reflect on the extent the answer to that question may be influenced by the interest in ensuring access to the courts. In his opinion of 14 January 2020, AG Szpunar concluded that

Article 1(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters is to be interpreted as meaning that an action for damages brought against private-law bodies in respect of classification and certification activities carried out by those bodies as delegates of a third State, on behalf of that State and in its interests, falls within the concept of ‘civil and commercial matters’ within the meaning of that provision.

The principle of customary international law concerning the jurisdictional immunity of States does not preclude the application of Regulation No 44/2001 in proceedings relating to such an action.

Rina will be a 1st Chamber decision (Bonichot, Silva de Lapuerta, Safjan, Bay Larsen, Toader), with judge Camelia Toader as juge rapporteur.

Ms Toader is also the reporting judge in joined cases C-267/19 PARKING – C-323/19, Interplastics, to be released on the same day. The cases correspond to identical requests for a preliminary ruling and for interpretation of the grounds of the CJUE’s judgments of 9 March 2017, Zulfikarpašić (C-484/15) and Pula Parking (C-551/15). The referring court (Commercial Court, Zagreb, Croatia) explains that

Although the Court’s position is clear and unequivocal as to the fact that, in Croatia, notaries are not entitled to issue writs of execution based on an authentic document, that practice, which is at odds with Regulation No 1215/2012, continues. Following the decision of the Court of 9 March 2017, notaries have issued more than one million writs of execution.

Then, at the courts’ level, there is a divergent application of the CJUE’s decision in Pula Parking, in that

for the most part, [the courts and tribunals of the Republic of Croatia] consider that the decision relates exclusively to enforcement proceedings conducted by notaries in which the party against whom enforcement is sought is a natural person and national of another EU Member State.

Therefore, the Zagreb court had thought it necessary to submit a request for a preliminary ruling, in order to determine “whether natural and legal persons from Croatia, as citizens of the European Union, are on an equal footing with natural and legal persons from other EU Member States, and whether foreign legal persons are on an equal footing with foreign natural persons as regards the application of EU law in the Republic of Croatia.”

The case will be decided (without AG’s Opinion) by Judges Safjan, Toader, and Jääskinen, sitting as 6th Chamber.

Finally, the Opinion of AG Saugmandsgaard Øe in C-59/19, Wikingerhof, will be known on 28 May 2020. For the record, the requests comes from the German Bundesgerichtshof, and a hearing had taken place last January. The CJEU has been asked to address (again) the boundaries between Article 7(1) and Article 7(2) of the Brussels I bis Regulation, in the context of an action to stop commercial practices considered to be contrary to competition law, covered by contractual provisions resulting from an abuse of a dominant position. The judgment will be a Grand Chamber one.

Senior research fellow MPI Luxembourg (on leave) Legal secretary at the CJEU Full Professor PIL, University of La Laguna (Spain)