Case law Developments in PIL

April 2022 at the Court of Justice of the European Union

On 7 April 2022, the Court will deliver the judgment in C-568/20, H Limited. The request, with three questions, was lodged in November 2020 by the Oberster Gerichtshof (Austria); it concerns the interpretation of several provisions of Chapter III of the Brussels I bis Regulation, in addition to its Article 2(a). The dispute on the merits focuses on 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). AG Pikamäe’s opinion, published on December 16, 2021, proposed the following answers to the CJEU:

Articles 45 and 46 of [the Brussels I bis Regulation] should be interpreted as meaning that the court of the Member State addressed, to which an application for refusal of enforcement is made, may grant that application on the grounds that the judgment and the certificate, provided for in Article 53 of that regulation, adopted by the court of the Member State of origin breach the public policy of the Member State addressed, where the error of law relied upon constitutes a manifest breach of a rule of law regarded as essential in the legal order of the European Union and therefore in the legal order of that State. This is the case of an error affecting the application of Article 2(a) and Article 39 of that regulation requiring that the judgment of which enforcement is sought be given in a Member State.

When reviewing whether there has been a manifest breach of public policy in the Member State addressed through failure to comply with a substantive or procedural rule of EU law, the court of that State must take account of the fact that, save where specific circumstances make it too difficult or impossible to exercise the legal remedies in the Member State of origin, the individuals concerned must avail themselves of all the legal remedies available in that Member State with a view to preventing such a breach before it occurs.

The reporting judge is M. Safjan.

The decision on C-645/20, V A et Z A , is scheduled for the same day. The French Court of Cassation had addressed to the Court a single question on the interpretation of Article 10(1)(a) of the Succession Regulation, lodged in December 2020. AG M. Campos Sánchez-Bordona had suggested to reply as follows:

Article 10(1)(a) of [the Succession Regulation] must be interpreted as meaning that, in the case where the deceased did not have his last habitual residence in any Member State of the European Union, the court of a Member State in which a dispute in a matter of succession has arisen must declare of its own motion that it has jurisdiction to settle the succession as a whole if, in the light of facts alleged by the parties which are not in dispute, the deceased was a national of that State at the time of his death and was the owner of assets located there.

M. Ilešič was appointed reporting judge.

Easter vacation imposes a break on the publication of decisions and opinions. For PIL purposes, the next one will be the opinion of AG M. Richard de la Tour in C- 604/20 ROI Land Investments, a request from the Bundesarbeitsgericht (Germany), lodged on November 2020. The questions referred concern both jurisdiction and applicable law (the Rome I Regulation) in employment and (maybe, or) consumer matters:

  1. Is Article 6(1) read in conjunction with Article 21(2) and Article 21(1)(b) of [the Brussels I bis Regulation] to be interpreted as meaning that an employee can sue a legal person – which is not his employer and which is not domiciled in a Member State within the meaning of Article 63(1) of the [Regulation] but which, by virtue of a letter of comfort, is directly liable to the employee for claims arising from an individual contract of employment with a third party – in the courts for the place where or from where the employee habitually carries out his work in the employment relationship with the third party or in the courts for the last place where he did so, if the contract of employment with the third party would not have come into being in the absence of the letter of comfort?
  2. Is Article 6(1) of the [Brussels I bis Regulation] to be interpreted as meaning that the reservation in respect of Article 21(2) of the [the same Regulation] precludes the application of a rule of jurisdiction existing under the national law of the Member State which allows an employee to sue a legal person, which, in circumstances such as those described in the first question, is directly liable to him for claims arising from an individual contract of employment with a third party, as the ‘successor in title’ of the employer in the courts for the place where the employee habitually carries out his work, if no such jurisdiction exists under Article 21(2) read in conjunction with Article 21(1)(b)(i) of the [Regulation]?
  3. If the first question is answered in the negative and the second question in the affirmative:

(a) Is Article 17(1) of the [Brussels I bis Regulation] to be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘professional activities’ includes paid employment in an employment relationship?

(b) If so, is Article 17(1) of the [Brussels I bis Regulation] to be interpreted as meaning that a letter of comfort on the basis of which a legal person is directly liable for claims of an employee arising from an individual contract of employment with a third party constitutes a contract concluded by the employee for a purpose which can be regarded as being within the scope of his professional activities?

  1. If, in answer to the above questions, the referring court is deemed to have international jurisdiction to rule on the dispute:

(a) Is Article 6(1) of [the Rome I Regulation] to be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘professional activities’ includes paid employment in an employment relationship?

(b) If so, is Article 6(1) of the Rome I Regulation to be interpreted as meaning that a letter of comfort on the basis of which a legal person is directly liable to an employee for claims arising from an individual contract of employment with a third party constitutes a contract concluded by the employee for a purpose which can be regarded as being within the scope of his professional activities?

The delivery is expected on 28 April 2022. M. Safjan will be the reporting judge.

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

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