Case law

September at the CJEU

Holidays are over, it is time for all the services of the Court to resume full activity.

As regards private international law, September 2020 will start with the delivery, on Thursday 3, of the 1st Chamber (Bonichot, Safjan, Bay Larsen, Toader, Jääskinen) judgment in C-186/19, Supreme Site Services e.a.: a request for a preliminary ruling from the Netherlands on the
interpretation of Article 1(1), and Article 24(5) of the Brussels I bis Regulation.

The request was made in the course of an application brought by an international organisation for the adoption of interim measures to lift an interim garnishee order levied on an escrow account by his opponent. In support of its action, the organisation had relied on immunity from execution under international law. The referring court’s doubts on Article 1(1) of Brussels I bis stem from that fact.

AG Oe’s Opinion was delivered on 2 April 2020 (see here). He was asked to address only the questions on Article 1(1) of the Regulation.

On the same day, an order is expected in C-98/20, mBank, on Article 17(1)(c) and Article 18(2) of the same Brussels I bis Regulation. The request was referred by the Obvodní soud pro Prahu 8 (Czech Republic), who had doubts about the relevant date of domicile for the consumer section to apply.

On Thursday 10, AG Oe will deliver his Opinion on C-59/19,Wikingerhof. The request, from the Bundesgerichtshof, addresses the divide between Article 7(1) and (2) of the Brussels I bis Regulation. The question reads:

‘Is Article 7(2) … to be interpreted as meaning that jurisdiction for matters relating to tort or delict exists in respect of an action seeking an injunction against specific practices if it is possible that the conduct complained of is covered by contractual provisions, but the applicant asserts that those provisions are based on an abuse of a dominant position on the part of the defendant?’

It actually looks as a follow up to Brogsitter (C-548/12), except that this time the Grand Chamber will decide (Lenaerts, Silva de Lapuerta, Bonichot, Arabadjiev, Prechal, Safjan, Rodin, Xuereb, Rossi, von Danwitz, Toader, Šváby, Jürimäe, Lycourgos, Piçarra), and an AG’s Opinion has been deemed necessary.

On the same day, a hearing will take place on case C-709/19, Vereniging van Effectenbezitters: again a preliminary reference from the Netherlands, this time in relation to Article 7(2) of Brussels I bis, going to the core of the ‘holistic approach’. The Dutch referred four (de facto, five) questions to the CJEU:

‘1.   (a)   Should Article 7(2) … be interpreted as meaning that the direct occurrence of purely financial damage to an investment account in the Netherlands or to an investment account of a bank and/or investment firm established in the Netherlands, damage which is the result of investment decisions influenced by globally distributed but incorrect, incomplete and misleading information from an international listed company, constitutes a sufficient connecting factor for the international jurisdiction of the Netherlands courts by virtue of the location of the occurrence of the damage (‘Erfolgsort’)?

(b)   If not, are additional circumstances required to justify the jurisdiction of the Netherlands courts and what are those circumstances? Are the additional circumstances referred to [in point 4.2.2. of the request for a preliminary ruling] sufficient to found the jurisdiction of the Netherlands courts?

  1. Would the answer to Question 1 be different in the case of a claim brought under Article 3:305a of the BW (Burgerlijk Wetboek: Netherlands Civil Code) by an association the purpose of which is to defend, in its own right, the collective interests of investors who have suffered damage as referred to in Question 1, which means, among other things, that neither the places of domicile of the aforementioned investors, nor the special circumstances of individual purchase transactions or of individual decisions not to sell shares which were already held, have been established?
  2. If courts in the Netherlands have jurisdiction on the basis of Article 7(2) of the Brussels Ia Regulation to hear the claim brought under Article 3:305a of the BW, do those courts then, on the basis of Article 7(2) of the Brussels Ia Regulation, also have international and internal territorial jurisdiction to hear all subsequent individual claims for compensation brought by investors who have suffered damage as referred to in Question 1?
  3. If courts in the Netherlands as referred to in Question 3 above have international, but not internal, territorial jurisdiction to hear all individual claims for compensation brought by investors who have suffered damage as referred to in Question 1, will the internal territorial jurisdiction be determined on the basis of the place of domicile of the misled investor, the place of establishment of the bank in which that investor holds his or her personal bank account or the place of establishment of the bank in which the investment account is held, or on the basis of some other connecting factor?’

In the light of the facts of the case (summary here), some of them might be declared inadmissible, though. The reference has been assigned to the 1st Chamber (Bonichot, Safjan, Bay Larsen, Toader, Jääskinen), with Judge Safjan as reporting judge. Mr. Campos Sánchez-Bordona is the designated AG.

One week later the 1st Chamber will read the judgments in C-540/19, Landkreis Harburg (Subrogation d’un organisme public au créancier d’aliments), on the Maintenance Regulation. AG Sánchez-Bordona’s Opinion was published on 18 June 2020 (see here). The question referred reads

‘Can a public body which has provided a maintenance creditor with social assistance benefits in accordance with provisions of public law invoke the place of jurisdiction at the place of habitual residence of the maintenance creditor under Article 3(b) of the European Maintenance Regulation  in the case where it asserts the maintenance creditor’s maintenance claim under civil law, transferred to it on the basis of the granting of social assistance by way of statutory subrogation, against the maintenance debtor by way of recourse?’.

The judgment corresponds to the 3rd Chamber (Prechal, Lenaerts, Rossi, Biltgen, Wahl), with Ms. Rossi as reporting judge.

Albeit not directly on PIL issues: several hearings will take place in relation to the independence of the judiciary in Poland. AG Bobek will publish as well his Opinion on several cases regarding Romania, also connected to the independence of judges.

Recently, a (widely reported in the media) request for a PPU has been filed by the Rechtbank Amsterdam under Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA; thr underlying question is whether (all) Polish judges do still qualify as such for the purposes of the Framework Decision. If they don’t: should a similar conclusion apply to civil cooperation matters?

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