On 30 March 2023, just before the Easter holidays, the Court of Justice will deliver two judgments on the interpretation of private international law instruments.
Must Article 34(2) of the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters of 30 October 2007 (‘the Lugano Convention’) be interpreted as meaning that the statement of claim in an action seeking repayment of a debt, which was brought after a Swiss order for payment (Zahlungsbefehl) had been issued previously and which did not include an application for the annulment of the objection (Rechtsvorschlag) lodged against the order for payment, constitutes the document which instituted the proceedings?
The facts of the case can be summarized as follows. Upon application by the claimant, the Debt Enforcement Office of Geneva issued an order for payment in respect of claims for rent against the defendant, resident in Germany. The order was served on the defendant on 19 January 2013. On 28 January 2013, he lodged an objection (Rechtsvorschlag) against it in accordance with Swiss Law.
The claimant subsequently brought an action against the defendant before the Court for Lease and Tenancy Matters of the Canton of Geneva; he did not include an application for the annulment of the objection. The court attempted to serve the statement of claim, written in French, on the defendant at the address where he resides in Germany. The defendant refused to accept service because a German translation was not attached. In the further course of the procedure, the defendant did not receive any further information about the proceedings.
By a judgment of 30 January 2014, the court ordered the defendant to pay CHF 4 120.70 plus interest. The objection to the order for payment was not annulled. The judgment was served by public notice.
The claimant applied for a declaration of enforceability of the judgment in Germany in accordance with Articles 38 and 53 of the Lugano Convention. The Regional Court granted the application; the appeal brought by the defendant before the Higher Regional Court was dismissed. According to the Higher Regional Court, Article 34(2) of the Lugano Convention does not preclude recognition of the judgment: the defendant had been served in a manner that precluded the ground for refusal under Article 34(2) of the Lugano Convention. In this regard, the order for payment served on the defendant on 19 January 2013 is to be considered as the document instituting the proceedings. By virtue of that order, the defendant was informed about the claims for rent against him, and, as demonstrated by the objection of 28 January 2013, he was also able to participate in the proceedings in a manner that safeguarded his rights.
Moreover (always according to the Higher Regional Court) the recognition of the Swiss judgment does not infringe Article 34(1) of the Lugano Convention. A breach of public policy was ruled out in any event because the defendant did not assert the defences by means of which he would have defended himself against the claims asserted.
The Court of Justice will decide represented by a chamber of three judges, with M. Safjan reporting.
On the same day, the Court will publish its decision on case C-651/21 М. Ya. M. (Renonciation à la succession d’un cohéritier). I reported on the facts here. The Sofiyski rayonen sad (District Court, Sofia, Bulgaria) had referred these questions for a preliminary ruling on Regulation 650/2012:
(1) Is Article 13 of [Regulation No 650/2012], read in conjunction with the principle of the protection of legal certainty, to be interpreted as precluding, after an heir has already had registered with a court of the [Member] State in which he or she is habitually resident his or her acceptance or waiver of the succession of a deceased person who was habitually resident in another [Member] State of the European Union at the time of his or her death, a request to have that waiver or acceptance subsequently registered in the latter State?
(2) If the answer to the first question is that such registration is permissible, is Article 13 of [Regulation No 650/2012], read in conjunction with the principles of the protection of legal certainty and the effective implementation of EU law, and the obligation of cooperation between [Member] States under Article 4(3) TEU, to be interpreted as permitting a request for the registration of a waiver of the succession of a deceased person effected by an heir in the [Member] State in which he or she is habitually resident by another heir residing in the State in which the deceased was habitually resident at the time of his or her death, irrespective of the fact that the procedural law of the latter State does not provide for the possibility of having a waiver of a succession registered on behalf of another person?
In his opinion, delivered on 10 November 2022, Advocate General M. Szpunar had proposed that the Court answers:
(1) Article 13 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 does not preclude, after an heir has had registered with a court of the Member State in which he or she is habitually resident his or her acceptance or waiver of the succession of a deceased person who was habitually resident in another Member State at the time of death, another heir from subsequently requesting registration of that declaration in the latter Member State.
(2) Article 13 of Regulation No 650/2012 must be interpreted as not precluding a co-heir other than the person who made the declaration of waiver in the Member State of his or her habitual residence from informing the court dealing with the succession of the existence of that declaration.
Here, a chamber of three judges will decide with M. Ilešič acting as reporting judge.