Steinhoff: The court at Amsterdam may yet rule on ‘first seized’ in Article 33-34 Brussels Ia’s forum non-light rules.

In California Public Employees’ Retirement System et al v Steinhoff International Holdings NV et al, the Rechtbank Amsterdam stayed proceedings in The Netherlands on the basis of Article 30 Brussels Ia (related actions), in favour of proceedings, started earlier, in Germany.

Despite the nominal difference in applicable law (Dutch cq German), the Court held that at the end of the day, both the Dutch and German laws in the competing proceedings aimed to determine whether the corporations at issue were liable for having released misleading financial information.

Of note to the blog is also the potential for lis pendens with South African proceedings, under Article 33 or 34 Brussels Ia. The court announced that it would revisit these articles if and when the stay on the basis if lis pendens in Germany, were to be lifted. This includes the question whether, to decide whether a non-EU court has been seized first, A32 BIa ought to be followed . Under Dutch residual rules, the lex fori in the foreign proceedings determines  the timing of seizure.

Finally, the court also held it was staying the proceedings against other defendants, domiciled at California, until such time as the CJEU will have held in Vereniging van Effectenbezitters v BP, which will hopefully shed light on locus damni in cases of purely economic loss. (The court having rejected The Netherlands as locus delicti commissi.) Dutch residual rules on the issue are applied mutatis mutandis per the EU rules.

Geert.

(Handbook of) European Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 8.

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