Case law Developments in PIL

December 2021 at the Court of Justice of the European Union

As far as PIL is concerned, December 2021  at the CJEU starts with AG M. Campos Sánchez-Bordona’s opinion on C-645/20, VA and ZA, scheduled Thursday the 2nd. The request for a preliminary reference, from the French Cour de Cassation, focuses on the ex officio application of Article 10 of Regulation 650/2012:

“Must Article 10(1)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession be interpreted as meaning that, where the habitual residence of the deceased at the time of death is not located in a Member State, the court of a Member State in which the deceased had not established his habitual residence but which finds that the deceased had the nationality of that State and held assets in it must, of its own motion, examine whether it has subsidiary jurisdiction under that article?”

The appointed judges are  E. Regan, I. Jarukaitis, M. Ilešič, D. Gratsias, and Z. Csehi, with M. Ilešič acting as reporting judge.

An opinion on Regulation (CE) n° 261/2004 is expected one week later, this time by AG A. Rantos. The question in C-561/20, United Airlines, was referred by the Nederlandstalige Ondernemingsrechtbank Brussel (Belgium). In the case at hand, the applicant (on the merits) disputes the applicability of Regulation No 261/2004 in the event of a long delay to a flight departing from, and arriving in the territory of the United States of America, even where that flight is the last flight of two directly connecting flights, the first of which departs from an airport in the territory of a Member State. The questions read as follows:

“Should Article 3(1)(a) and Article 7 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91, as interpreted by the Court of Justice, be interpreted as meaning that passengers are entitled to financial compensation from a non-Community air carrier when they arrive at their final destination with a delay of more than three hours as a result of a delay of the last flight, the place of departure and the place of arrival of which are both situated in the territory of a third country, without a stopover in the territory of a Member State, in a series of connecting flights commencing at an airport situated in the territory of a Member State, all of which have been physically operated by that non-Community air carrier and all of which have been reserved in a single booking by the passengers with a Community air carrier which has not physically operated any of those flights?

If the first question is answered in the affirmative, does Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91, as interpreted in the first question, infringe international law and, in particular, the principle of the exclusive and complete sovereignty of a State over its territory and airspace, in making EU law applicable to a situation taking place within the territory of a third country?”

The deciding chamber is integrated by judges C. Lycourgos, S. Rodin, J.C. Bonichot, L.S. Rossi, and O. Spineanu-Matei. S. Rodin will act as reporting judge.

On the same day, a chamber of three judges, namely Jääskinen, Safjan (reporting), and Gavalec, will deliver its judgement on C-708/20, BT, a set of questions from the County Court at Birkenhead on Article 13 (3), of the Brussels Ibis Regulation. The referral was made on December 30, 2020.

  1. Is it a requirement of Article 13(3) of the Regulation (EC) No. 1215/2012 that the cause of action on which the injured party relies in asserting a claim against the policy holder/insured involves a matter relating to insurance?
  2. If the answer to (a) is “yes”, is the fact that the claim which the injured party seeks to bring against the policy holder/insured arises out of the same facts as, and is being brought in the same action as the direct claim brought against the insurer sufficient to justify a conclusion that the injured party’s claim  is a matter relating to insurance even though  the cause of action between the injured party and the policy holder/insured is unrelated to insurance?
  3. Further and alternatively, if the answer to (a) is “yes”, is the fact that there is a dispute between the insurer and injured party concerning the validity or effect  of the insurance policy sufficient to justify a conclusion that the injured party’s claim is a matter relating to insurance?
  4. If the answer to (a) is “no”, is it sufficient that the joining of the policy holder/insured to the direct action against the insurer is permitted by the law governing the direct action against the insurer?

No opinion precedes this judgement in spite of the novelty of the questions.

The decision on C-242/20, HRVATSKE ŠUME will be delivered as well on December 9, 2021. The request was referred by the Visoki trgovački sud Republike Hrvatske (cour d’appel de commerce, Croatie). The questions, still on the Brussels I Regulation, were asked in the context of a dispute between a company incorporated under Croatian law, and a company established in Hamburg (Germany), over a sum of money seized on the bank account of the first company and transferred to the assets of the second as part of an enforcement procedure. As this procedure was subsequently invalidated, the applicant in the main proceedings seeks restitution of the sum in question on the basis of unjust enrichment:

  1. Do actions for recovery of sums unduly paid by way of unjust enrichment fall within the basic jurisdiction established in Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 … in respect of ‘quasi-delicts’, since Article 5(3) thereof provides inter alia:: ‘A person domiciled in a Member State may, in another Member State, be sued … in matters relating to … quasi-delict, in the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur’?
  2. Since there is a time limit on seeking recovery of sums unduly paid in the same judicial enforcement proceedings, do civil proceedings which have been initiated fall within exclusive jurisdiction under Article 22(5) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 … which provides that in proceedings concerned with the enforcement of judgments, the courts of the Member State in which the judgment has been or is to be enforced is to have exclusive jurisdiction, regardless of domicile?

On September 8, 2021 Advocate general Saugmandsgaard Øe proposed to answer that Article 5 (1) and Article 5 (3) of the Regulation No 44/2001 must be interpreted as meaning that a claim for restitution based on unjust enrichment:

– does not fall within the “contractual matter”, within the meaning of the first provision, except when it is closely linked to a previous contractual relationship existing, or supposed to exist, between the parties to the dispute, and

– does not fall within the “tort or quasi-tort”, within the meaning of the second provision.

(NoA: the English translation of the opinion is not yet available).

The judges in charge are K. Jürimäe (reporting), S. Rodin and N. Piçarra

Next relevant date for the purposes of this blog will be Thursday 16th, with the publication of AG P. Pikamäe’s opinion on C-568/20, H Limited. The question was sent to the Court by the Oberster Gerichtshof (Austria), on a dispute related to the enforcement of an order based on a decision of the High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts of England & Wales, Commercial Court (QBD):

  1. Are the provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (‘Regulation No 1215/2012’), in particular Article 2(a) and Article 39, to be interpreted as meaning that a judgment that is to be enforced exists even if, in a Member State, the judgment debtor is obliged, after summary examination in adversarial proceedings, albeit relating only to the binding nature of the force of res judicata of a judgment given against him in a third State, to pay to the party who was successful in the third State proceedings the debt that was judicially recognised in the third State, when the subject matter of the proceedings in the Member State was limited to examination of the existence of a claim derived from the judicially recognised debt against the judgment debtor?
  2. If question 1 is answered in the negative: Are the provisions of Regulation No 1215/2012, in particular Articles 1, 2(a), 39, 45, 46 and 52, to be interpreted as meaning that, irrespective of the existence of one of the grounds set out in Article 45 of Regulation No 1215/2012, enforcement must be refused if the judgment under review is not a judgment within the meaning of Article 2(a) or Article 39 of Regulation No 1215/2012 or the application in the Member State of origin on which the judgment is based does not fall within the scope of Regulation No 1215/2012?
  1. If the first question is answered in the negative and the second question in the affirmative: Are the provisions of Regulation No 1215/2012, in particular Articles 1, 2(a), 39, 42(1)(b), 46 and 53, to be interpreted as meaning that, in proceedings concerning an application for refusal of enforcement, the court of the Member State addressed is compelled to assume, on the basis solely of the information provided by the court of origin in the certificate issued pursuant to Article 53 of Regulation No 1215/2012, that a judgment that falls within the scope of the regulation and is to be enforced exists?

The deciding chamber will be one of five judges: K. Jürimäe, N. Jääskinen, N. Piçarra, M: Gavalec, and M. Safjan in the role of reporting judge.

Just for the record: the decision on C-490/20, Stolichna obshtina, rayon „Pancharevo“, is expected on December 14th. AG J. Kokott’s opinion was published last April (for a summary click here).

Legal Secretary CJEU Full Professor PIL University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) Senior research fellow MPI Luxembourg (on leave)

1 comment on “December 2021 at the Court of Justice of the European Union

  1. Ľuboslav Sisák

    The question in C-645/20 looks tricky, but I dare to say that there is hardly any doubt that procedural EU PIL must be applied and examined ex officio, including all the rules of jurisdiction in ESR.
    The question in C-242/20 is wonderful. Hopefully we will get a quality decision on this matter, as it is e.g. in my Member State (Slovakia) rather contentious.

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