Greenaway & Rocks v Covea Insurance. On applying the EU’s multilinguistic laws post Brexit.

In Greenaway v Parrish & Ors [2021] EWHC 1506 (QB) ( I signaled it a while ago but the case has only recently appeared on BAILII), Spencer J had to consider the practical implications of the impossibility of referrals to the Court of Justice of the EU, by UK judges. Plenty of pending cases were introduced before Brexit day. Moreover, an even larger number of cases will be subject to retained EU law.

In a specific conflict of laws sense, this raises the particular (procedural and substantive) issue of foreign law being fact and hence needing to be proven. Retained and /or previously applicable EU law, will not be foreign law as such, yet clearly it is law of a different nature than UK statutory and common law across the isles.

The practical implications of all this have now surfaced in Greenaway. Following CJEU CILFIT, EU law is (usually) equally authentic in 22 languages. In the case at hand, this centres upon the meaning of the word ‘stolen’, in the motor insurance Directive 2009/103. How should a judge inform her /himself of the meaning of the word in the 22 languages, and potentially also of the implementation of the Directive across the Member States. 12 King’s Bench Walk have analysis of the case here. As they note, Mr Justice Spencer granted permission to each party to adduce four foreign law experts reports in EU jurisdictions of their choosing, so that the relevant foreign language versions of the Directive could be understood. He also gave permission for those experts to give evidence as to the implementation of the Directive in those member states, that material being part of the context in which the point at issue had to be decided.

This is an important procedural point which no doubt will surface in a variety of shapes in years to come.

Geert.

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