In this post I, unusually, offer questions rather than tentative answers. I hope you’ll enjoy the pondering and of course I have ideas of my own on all of these issues. Thank you Michiel Poesen for alerting me to Carles Puigdemont et al’s case in the Belgian civil courts.
The case is not about trying to employ the Belgian courts to have a Spanish Supreme Court judge removed from the case. (Contrary to what De Standaard report in their title – in an otherwise informative piece). Pablo Llarena had commented on the case (specifically: rejecting an argument raised by the defence) at an academic conference. Rather, as I understand the case (public detail is scant), applicants suggest the alleged violation of impartiality infringes their right to such impartiality which in Belgium at least, is a civil right, constitutionally guaranteed.
The case therefore is one in tort. The exact request to the court is as yet unknown: provisional measures? damages? One assumes the very finding by a Belgian court of a finding of partiality and hence infringement of fundamental rights, will be employed in any future trials in Spain.
So far a little context. Here are the questions:
- What kind of law is engaged here?: is this private international law? Is it public international law? (see prof Hess’ contribution to the Recueil, on the private /public divide).
- Are the proceedings ‘international’ enough to trigger the application of private international law; are they simply ‘Spanish’ and what impact does that have on the jurisdiction of the Belgian courts;
- Are such proceedings ‘civil and commercial’ within the meaning of the Brussels regime; specifically, what is the impact of a Supreme Court judge spending much of their time engaging in what has to be considered a ‘public’ function, now speaking at an academic conference. (Think Kuhn, Fahnenbrock etc.).
- If the Brussels I regime is triggered, what type of provisional measures is possible?
- If the Brussels I regime is triggered, how does Article 7(2) apply; where is the locus delicti commissi and where the locus damni; how does e-Date apply if at all;
- Along similar lines: how does applicable law apply given that defamation is exempt from Rome II; (see Belgium’s regime in Articles 99-100 WIPR in particular); and
- What is the impact, if any, of chances of enforcement of the judgment in Spain.
These are the issues I suspect will be of some relevance in the conflicts field. Happy pondering.