Developments in PIL Journals Scholarship

Assas International Law Review: Issue of 2020

AssasThe Assas International Law Review (Revue de droit international d’Assas) is an online journal published once a year by the doctoral school of the University. It features articles on public and private international law written by professors and doctoral students.

The main theme of the 2020 issue is climate change and international law. The issue features ten articles on this topic. It also includes short articles summarizing the doctoral theses recently defended at the University and three more articles on various topics.

Of particular note for private international law scholars is an article written by Eduardo Alvarez-Armas (Brunel Law School) on Climate change litigation and Article 17 Rome II (Le contentieux international privé en matière de changement climatique à l’épreuve de l’article 17 du règlement Rome II : enjeux et perspectives). The author has kindly provided the following abstract:

The article is the first instalment in a series of three pieces of work on the interplay between climate change matters and private international law. It sketches, as a first approximation, the role that the EU’s private international instruments may play in “private international” climate change litigation, which could be roughly defined as litigation: i) amongst private parties; ii) of a private-law (generally, tort-law) nature; iii) conducted on the basis of private-international-law foundations; iii) over damage threatened or caused by climate-change-derived phenomena.

After some general/introductory considerations, the article explores a selection of difficulties that may arise in climate change litigation from the interplay between Article 7 of the Rome II Regulation (the EU’s choice-of-law provision on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations arising from environmental damage) and Article 17 Rome II, a general provision on “Rules of safety and conduct”, which establishes that “[i]n assessing the conduct of the person claimed to be liable, account shall be taken, as a matter of fact and in so far as is appropriate, of the rules of safety and conduct which were in force at the place and time of the event giving rise to the liability”. In order to conduct its assessment, the article uses as an illustration Lliuya v. RWE (a case currently pending before German courts which, irrespective of its ultimate outcome, is prone to become a milestone) and builds a hypothetical model thereon. The model analyses the said Art. 7-Art. 17 interplay in practice, when further confronted with EU rules on international jurisdiction and domestic rules of public law and/or administrative authorizations/permits, depicting a concerning landscape in terms of climate action and environmental protection.

As this is a piece on “enjeux et perspectives”, it presents a first set of conclusions, amongst which, notably, that the “ordinary” use (literal interpretation and mandatory application) of Article 17 of the Rome II Regulation (which seems to be “pro-polluter”) is incompatible with the polluter-pays and favor laesi principles, and needs to be blocked in “private international” climate-change litigation (and possibly in all instances of “private international” environmental litigation).

This “introductory” article will be followed by two further pieces of work. The first one will take a “micro” perspective and provide a further analysis (in English) of the referred Art. 7-Art. 17 interplay. The second one (in English too) is a contribution to the collective research project “The Private Side of Transforming the World – UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the Role of Private International Law”, led by Ralf Michaels, Verónica Ruíz Abou-Nigm, and Hans van Loon. It will explore the overall intersection between private international law and climate change matters from a “macro” perspective, by addressing the contribution that private international law may make to the United Nation’s “Sustainable Development Goal” 13: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”.

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