This is a short post for archival purposes: I have been looking in vain in the past few weeks for a copy of prof Nuyts’ 2007 study for the European Commission on ‘residual jurisdiction’ (Review of the Member States’ Rules concerning the “Residual Jurisdiction” of their courts in Civil and Commercial Matters pursuant to the Brussels I and II Regulations). It was no longer on the EC’s studies page and the url which many of us have been using in the past no longer works. So here it is. Courtesy of the European Commission and of prof Nuyts.
Enjoy. It has lost nothing of its topical nature.
C-500/18 AU v Reliantco was held by the CJEU on 2 April, in the early fog of the current pandemic. Reliantco is a company incorporated in Cyprus offering financial products and services through an online trading platform under the ‘UFX’ trade name – readers will recognise this from  EWHC 879 (Comm) Ang v Reliantco. Claimant AU is an individual. The litigation concerns limit orders speculating on a fall in the price of petrol, placed by AU on an online platform owned by the defendants in the main proceedings, following which AU lost the entire sum being held in the frozen trading account, that is, 1 919 720 US dollars (USD) (around EUR 1 804 345).
Choice of court and law was made pro Cyprus.
The case brings to the fore the more or less dense relationship between secondary EU consumer law such as in particular the unfair terms Directive 93/13 and, here, Directive 2004/39 on markets in financial instruments (particularly viz the notion of ‘retail client’ and ‘consumer’).
First up is the consumer title under Brussels Ia: Must A17(1) BIa be interpreted as meaning that a natural person who under a contract concluded with a financial company, carries out financial transactions through that company may be classified as a ‘consumer’ in particular whether it is appropriate, for the purposes of that classification, to take into consideration factors such as the fact that that person carried out a high volume of transactions within a relatively short period or that he or she invested significant sums in those transactions, or that that person is a ‘retail client’ within the meaning of A4(1) point 12 Directive 2004/39?
The Court had the benefit of course of C-208/18 Petruchová – which Baker J did not have in Ang v Reliantco. It is probably for that reason that the case went ahead without an Opinion of the AG. In Petruchová the Court had already held that factors such as
- the value of transactions carried out under contracts such as CFDs,
- the extent of the risks of financial loss associated with the conclusion of such contracts,
- any knowledge or expertise that person has in the field of financial instruments or his or her active conduct in the context of such transactions
- the fact that a person is classified as a ‘retail client’ within the meaning of Directive 2004/39 is, as such, in principle irrelevant for the purposes of classifying him or her as a ‘consumer’ within the meaning of BIa,
are, as such, in principle irrelevant to determine the qualification as a ‘consumer’. In Reliantco it now adds at 54 that ‘(t)he same is true of a situation in which the consumer carried out a high volume of transactions within a relatively short period or invested significant sums in those transactions.’
Next however comes the peculiarity that although AU claim jurisdiction for the Romanian courts against Reliantco Investments per the consumer title (which requires a ‘contract’ to be concluded), it bases its action on non-contractual liability, with applicable law to be determined by Rome II. (The action against the Cypriot subsidiary, with whom no contract has been concluded, must be one in tort. The Court does not go into analysis of the jurisdictional basis against that subsidiary, whose branch or independent basis or domicile is not entirely clear; anyone ready to clarify, please do).
At 68 the CJEU holds that the culpa in contrahendo action is indissociably linked to the contract concluded between the consumer and the seller or supplier, and at 71 that this conclusion is reinforced by A12(1) Rome II which makes the putative lex contractus, the lex causae for culpa in contrahendo. At 72 it emphasises the need for consistency between Rome II and Brussels IA in that both the law applicable to a non-contractual obligation arising out of dealings prior to the conclusion of a contract and the court having jurisdiction to hear an action concerning such an obligation, are determined by taking into consideration the proposed contract the conclusion of which is envisaged.
(Handbook of) EU private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 22.214.171.124.
I currently have a practice interest in all things Cypriot territory hence Local Authority B v X (Mother) & Ors  EWFC 37 caught my eye even more than had it just involved Brussels IIa.
The application concerns a child, T. He is now about 5 years old. He is a British national; both his parents are British nationals. He was born in Kyrenia in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (‘TRNC’), and lived there from his birth in early 2014 until late summer 2018 when he travelled with his mother to the Republic of Cyprus, the southern territory of the island, where he remained until 17 October 2018. On that day, he flew to London, again in the company of his mother. On each occasion on which T and his mother travelled, the mother was the subject of a formal deportation order from the relevant territory of the island of Cyprus. On her arrival in the UK the mother was arrested and taken into custody, where she has remained to date. A police protection order was made in relation to T on his arrival in England, and he was placed into foster care, where he, in turn, has remained.
At issue is whether the Family Court in England can properly exercise jurisdiction in relation to T. Cobb J notes that the legal issues in the case are complicated by the internal territorial and political division within Cyprus. The UK, in accordance with its obligations under international law, has not recognised, and does not recognise, the TRNC as a state, yet the Republic of Cyprus is a Member State of the EU. Further discussion of the territorial issues at 7 ff include references to Protocol 10 of Cyprus’ accession Treaty, and CJEU C-420/07 Apostolides v Orams. (Itself linked to  EWCA Civ 9).
The ensuing complicated jurisdictional questions are summarised at 33-34, with at 53 a resulting finding of lack of habitual residence of T in England, and an A13 BIIa jurisdiction. The mother, who argues for habitual residence in Cyprus, agues that BIA per CJEU Orams treats the TRNC as part of the Member State of the Republic of Cyprus, and so should BIIa. They further contend that given the many direct similarities between the language and the purpose of the two regulations, Brussels 1 and BIIa, Orams provides good authority for the argument that T, habitually resident in the TRNC (outside the Government’s effective control) was nonetheless, at the critical point, subject to the provisions of BIIa. At 68ff, Cobb J disagrees.
An interesting judgment for both BIIa and EU external relations law.
GFH Capital v Haigh. Enforcement of DIFC judgment puts spotlight on international commercial courts.
DIFC Courts, the Dubai International Financial Centre’s Courts, is one of the new generation of international commercial courts. Its rulings piggyback unto recognition and enforcement treaties which the UAE concludes with third countries (India being a recent example).
In GFH Capital Ltd v Haigh & Ors  EWHC 1269 (Comm) Henshaw J first of all notes that there is no such treaty between the UK and the UAE hence he considers recognition of the July 2018 DIFC judgment by Sir Jeremy Cooke under common law principles. Helpfully, these principles have been summarised in a January 2013 Memorandum of Guidance as to Enforcement between the DIFC Courts and the Commercial Court, Queen’s Bench Division, England and Wales. Under discussion in the case is mostly the condition that the foreign court be a court of competent jurisdiction; that the foreign judgment be not obtained fraudulently; and that its recognition be not incompatible with English ordre public.
The judgment is an extensive treatment of the relevant principles and therefore suited to comparative materials.
AB v EM  EWHC 549 (Fam) concerns for a large part the application of Brussels IIa’s traditional jurisdictional rules (habitual residence etc.) and I shall not comment on those.
Of interest to the blog are, first, at 37 ff the application of the Regulation’s forum non conveniens rules: in that respect, compare with my posts on V v M and W v L. Further, the question whether the order made by the Sunnite Sharia Court of Beirut on 6 February 2019 in proceedings commenced by the mother in Lebanon in November 2018, incorporating and approving an agreement between the parties to these proceedings regarding custody and access with respect to M, capable of recognition in the UK and, if so, what impact should this have on the UK courts’ welfare determination? The 2019 agreement established that the father would have custody of M and would reside with M in either the United Kingdom, Egypt or some other location of his choosing.
MacDonald J at 71-73, having referred to the spirit of comity, does not hold on what at 73 are briefly refered to as ‘wider criticisms’ of the February 2019 Order, or the allegations of durress in the coming to be of that order. He notes more as a matter of fact that circumstances in the child’s welfare have changed since the Order, and that the father did not at any rate honour elements of the agreement which the Order had confirmed.
No grand statement of principle, therefore. Rather, a measured practical approach.
Update 26 May 2020 Michael Douglas has abnalysis here.
Update 20 MAy 2020 see in the meantime also review by Jie (Jeanne) Huang, here.
Thank you Michael Douglas for alerting me to Bao v Qu; Tian (No 2)  NSWSC 588 at the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The judgment does not require an extensive post. I report it because it is a solid application of the recognition and enforcement principles of foreign judgments under the common law of Australia. Hence good material for the comparative conflicts folder.