The latest issue of the IPRax (Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts) has been published. The following abstracts have been kindly provided to us by the editor of the journal.
J. Oster, Provisional Measures Against Cross-Border Online Platforms
In its ruling of 15.2.2022 (Trustpilot A/S ./. Interreal Group B.V.), the Gerechtshof Amsterdam had to decide on provisional measures within the meaning of Article 35 Brussels Ibis Regulation against an online evaluation platform. The Court held that Article 35 Brussels Ibis Regulation applied independently of a jurisdiction clause concerning the proceedings on the merits of the case. However, according to the Court, Article 35 Brussels Ibis Regulation only covers measures having a provisional or protective character. The Court found that this applies to an obligation of an online platform to temporarily store user data available to the platform, but it excludes both obligations of that online platform to hand over user data to the applicant company and a forward-looking duty to store the data of prospective users.
M. Cremer, Golden Passports in Private International Law
A number of states grant citizenship by investment, which allows wealthy individuals to acquire a new nationality essentially through payment. The article analyzes the impact of so-called golden passports in private international law. It contends that from a theoretical standpoint, choice of law rules are not required to use nationality obtained through investment as a connecting factor. In practice, private international law avoids applying the corresponding law in most, but not all cases. However, in certain situations, European law imposes a different result for golden passports from EU Member States.
R.A. Schütze, Security for Costs of English and Swiss Plaintiffs in German Courts
The decision of the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) is a milestone in the German-British relations regarding the procedural position of English plaintiffs in German courts after the Brexit. The BGH – overruling an earlier judgment of the Regional Court of Appeal Frankfurt/Main – decided that plaintiffs residing in the UK are not obliged to provide security for costs under sect. 110 German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO). The Court applied the European Convention on Establishment (Art. 34, Sect. 4).
The Court further decided that Plaintiffs residing in Switzerland have no such obligation either under the Lugano Convention 2007.
The BGH finally decided that Respondent must request security for costs in the instance the event occurs that gives Respondent the right to claim security for cost.
C. Thole, The Distinction between Civil Matters and Acta Iure Imperii under Art. 1 Brussels Ibis Regulation
On 22 December 2022 the CJEU handed down a further judgment on the definition of civil and commercial matters within the meaning of Art. 1 Brussels Ibis Regulation and the distinction between civil matters and acta iure imperii. The short judgment denied the applicability of the regulation with regard to an action of a public authority of a Member State against companies established in another Member State seeking a declaration of the existence of restrictive practices, an order penalising those practices and an order on the cessation of those practices. Christoph Thole finds the judgment to be feasible, but parts of the Court’s line of reasoning remain doubtful.
T. Bens, The Bogus Entrepreneur, the Intermediating Life Companion and the Bona Fide Contractual Partner: Determination of Consumer Status under Art. 17(1) Brussel Ibis Regulation
The preliminary ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Wurth Automotive concerns the determination of whether a person has the status of consumer as defined by Art. 17 Brussels Ibis Regulation. According to settled case law of the Court of Justice, the national court must determine the aim for which the contract was concluded by the person who claims the consumer status. The referring Austrian court nonetheless seems to have had some issues with applying the case law of the Court on “mixed” contracts given the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case. The highly factual preliminary questions are all reformulated by the Court to rather abstract questions of interpretation, evaluation and evidence. The ruling confirms that a person who misleads their professional contractual partner as to the aims for which they sought to conclude the contract cannot invoke the protective jurisdictional rules for consumers, but also ties this defence to certain questionable evidentiary restrictions.
I. Bach and F. Burghardt, The Role of the Last Joint Habitual Residence on Post-Marital Maintenance Obligations
Art. 5 of the 2007 Hague Protocol on the law applicable to maintenance obligations holds an exemption to Art. 3’s general principle: Regarding post marriage maintenance, the law at the creditor’s habitual residence does not apply if the marriage is more closely connected to another state. The BGH now established a de minimis exception for Art. 5: The law of the other state only prevails if its connection to the marriage is a) closer than the connection of the creditor’s habitual residence and b) sufficiently close in absolute terms. Ivo Bach and Frederik Burghardt argue that such an additional threshold is neither in line with the wording of Art. 5 nor with the Drafters’ intention and the ratio legis. Unfortunately, the BGH has refused to refer the question to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling.
A. Botthof, Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction: State of Return and Best Interests of the Child After the Making of an Order for the Return of the Child
Two recent decisions shed new light on the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Court of Appeal of Berlin comments on the controversial question of whether a wrongfully removed child can be returned to a Contracting State other than that in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal. According to the Court of Appeal, this is possible if children return to their usual family ties and relationships. The Supreme Court of Justice of Austria was concerned with the best interests of the child in the return process. The current decision reaffirms the established jurisdiction, according to which the claim that the child’s best interests are endangered by the return can only be based on facts that occurred after the making of an order for the return of the child.
D. Wiedemann, European Account Preservation Order (EAPO) for Penalty Payments
Within the scope of application of the Brussels Ibis Regulation, creditors have two options when enforcing a judgment obliging a debtor to perform an action or to refrain from an action: On the one hand, creditors can enforce this judgment across borders by means of the enforcement methods available in another Member State. On the other hand, creditors may obtain an order levying a penalty payment and enforce that order in accordance with the enforcement measures for monetary claims in another Member State (Art. 55 Brussels Ibis Regulation). Thus, creditors are free to choose whether to enforce the judgment or to enforce an order levying a penalty payment across the border. The securing of penalty payments by means of a European Account Preservation Order (Regulation 655/2012) could be a third procedural option. In the first case, the Higher Regional Court of Cologne refused to allow this option. The court decided that creditors may not pursue a European Account Preservation because the penalty payment essentially concerns a claim to perform an action and not a pecuniary claim. In the second case, the CJEU implied that penalty payments should indeed be regarded as pecuniary claims. However, a penalty payment order that does not determine the final amount cannot justify the issuance of a European Account Preservation Order. In this case, the creditor has to satisfy the court that the claim is likely to succeed (Art. 7(2) Regulation 655/2012).
P. Hay, The Rise of General Jurisdiction Over Out-of-State Enterprises in the United States
In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court continued its revision of personal jurisdiction law, in this case by refining, thereby perhaps expanding, the law of when a court may exercise general personal jurisdiction – that is, jurisdiction over all claims – over a non-resident person or an out-of-state enterprise. In Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., it held in a 4+1:4 decision that, when a state requires a non-resident company to register to do business in the state and such registration constitutes consent to jurisdiction over all claims against it, such exercise is permitted. In reaching its conclusion, the Court applied a more than a century old (1917) precedent. The plurality of four Justices also compared the exercise of such jurisdiction to “tag jurisdiction” (general jurisdiction over persons present in the state at the time of service) and did not consider the Court’s much more recent cases on specific (claim-related) jurisdiction to be in contrast with (i.e., to overrule) the 1917 decision. The dissent disagreed and, in light of the majority’s new revision, considered specific jurisdiction now significantly deleted. Indeed, it does seem that the distinction between general and specific jurisdiction continues to become considerably blurred.
M. Reimann, The Renewed Threat of “Grasping” Jurisdiction over Corporations – and Its Limits
In its latest decision on personal jurisdiction, Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. (600 U.S. __, 2023), the US Supreme Court handed the states a new weapon against corporations that are not “at home” in the forum state. In a 5:4 decision, the Court found the requirement that a corporation consent to general in personam jurisdiction as a condition for obtaining a business license compatible with the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. In this manner, a state can circumvent the rule established in Daimler AG v. Bauman (2014) that corporations are subject to general in personam jurisdiction only where they are “at home” (i.e., typically in the state(s) of their incorporation or headquarters). Yet, the jeopardy for corporations is not quite as serious as it seems at first glance for three reasons. First, at least so far, very few states have used this form of “consent”, and there is reason to believe that it will not become the overwhelming practice. Second, at least if such consent is the only connection between the defendant and the forum state, the respective suits will often be dismissed under the forum non conveniens doctrine because the forum will not have any plausible interest or reason to entertain them. Third, requiring consent to general in personam jurisdiction as a condition for obtaining a business licence will almost surely be challenged under the so-called “dormant commerce clause”. That provision was not before the Court in Mallory; it imposes serious limits on what states can do to out-of-state corporations. The consent requirement likely violates these limits in cases in which the forum state has no legitimate interest in adjudicating the dispute. Thus, in the long run, the consent requirement will likely be effective only if the forum state has a reasonable connection with the litigation before its courts. Such a narrowed version would be a welcome correction of the overbroad protection that (especially foreign) corporations have enjoyed under Daimler. Foreign corporations should also consider that the consent requirement can kick in only if they need a business license from the forum state – which is not the case if they act there through subsidiaries or just occasionally. Still, foreign corporations have reason to worry about the future of personal jurisdiction because Mallory is another indication that the Court’s majority is not willing to protect them as broadly as in the past. It is, for example, quite possible that the Court will eventually allow personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state corporation on the basis of service of process on one of its officers in the forum state.
T. Kono, Punitive Damages and Proactive Application of Public Policy in the Context of Recognition of Foreign Judgments in Japan
The Californian judgment including punitive damages was partially enforced in California. The question of whether the enforced portion could be interpreted to include the portion that awarded punitive damages was raised as a precondition for the enforceability of the unpaid portion in Japan. The Supreme Court of Japan stated that the punitive damages portion in the Californian judgment does not meet the requirements of Article 118(3) of the Japanese Code of Civil Procedure and that the exequatur on the foreign judgment cannot be issued as if the payment was allocated to the claim for the punitive damages. The Supreme Court seems to have taken the position that Japan’s system of recognition of foreign judgments is a system that can proactively deny the effect of foreign judgments not only where the effect of the foreign judgment extends into Japanese territory, but also where the effect of the foreign judgment does not extend into Japan. The author of this article is of the view that the social function of punitive damages would not constitute public policy at state levels insofar as punitive damages are insurable. Hence, the proactive use of public policy by the Japanese Supreme Court would not cause direct tension with those states. In other states, where they are not insurable, however, under certain circumstances, public policy in Japanese law versus public policy in US law may arise as a debatable issue.
S. Noyer, Annual Conference of the Society for Arab and Islamic Law in honor of Omaia Elwan, October 7 and 8, Heidelberg, Germany