Of business and human rights note. The French SC in Sherpa, Amis de Terre v Perenco on the law applicable to representative action.

Many thanks indeed Hélène Péroz for flagging Sherpa & Les Amis de la terre France v Perenco ECLI:FR:CCASS:2022:C100199. The issue concerns what law applies to the issue of standing of NGOs in making recourse to France’s action for preserving evidence, in this case evidence relating to a future claim that France’s Perenco is liable for environmental damage in Congo.

The Court of Appeal had held that the issue of standing is subject to lex causae, which under the Rome II Regulation it had identified as the laws of Congo (whether this judgment included discussion of Article 7 Rome II on environmental damage, I do not know) and had declared the claim inadmissible.

The SC correctly in my mind holds that the issue of standing falls under the evidence and procedure carve-out of Rome II and is subject to lex fori, French law. However seeing as that law in the case of public interest litigation such as here requires the claimant to have included the broad purpose of the sector at issue within its scope of activities under its by-laws, the SC also holds that whether a particular claim is within the NGO’s scope, needs to be determined in accordance with its lex societatis.  This leads to the interesting conclusion (of little relevance in casu) that a foreign NGO’s action remit will have to be determined by foreign lex societatis, and that those foreign laws which have a less broad view of corporate scope, may put a spanner in the works of cross-border business and human rights litigation. (Quite easily circumvented one assumes by involving NGOs of an ‘attractive’ jurisdiction).

The SC nota bene does not specify whether its views on corporate (here: NGO) action radius are a result of the corporate carve-out in Rome II.

Geert.

EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, para 4.79 ff.

 

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