The blog is back from summer recess with a post on Airbus Investors Recovery Limited v Airbus SE, where the first instance court at Amsterdam by way of preliminary judgment deals with the law applicable to an investor suit. Claimant has had the investment claims of a number of Airbus investors assigned to it. The core of the claim is that Airbus has tortiously caused damage to the investors in both the act, and in the correspondence leading to, and after, settlement with various financial authorities following allegations of corruption in securing aircraft orders.
Oddly, no reference at all is made to Petrobas, despite the issues there being similar – perhaps the court in Airbus rejected relevance of the Petrobas decision for that case was held prior to CJEU Vereniging voor Effectenbezitters (VVE v BP).
I flagged many of the issues at issue in the judgment, in my post on applicable law which followed the jurisdictional discussion by the CJEU in VVE v BP.
The judgment is in Dutch of course however non-Dutch speakers may refer to it anyway, for the extract of Airbus’ choice of law provisions in the 2019 annual accounts [2.6]. This is relevant with a view to the discussion on transparency obligations following CJEU VVE v BP.
The court, and one assumes parties were in agreement for the issue is not discussed, first of all assumes the liability is non-contractual. I continue to be of the view that this need not necessarily be the case. Focusing the discussion on Rome II therefore, the court also accepts readily that the lex societas carve-out of Rome II does not apply (reference is made [5.3] to CJEU Treuhand). Parties are in agreement [5.6] that for Dutch investors, Dutch law applies per Article 4(2) Rome I (shared habitual residence).
[5.10] Airbus absolutely correctly in my view insist that the CJEU’s Brussels Ia application in VVE must not simply be extrapolated to the applicable law issues at stake here. The court essentially disagrees ([5.10] in fine) and in my view it is wrong to do so.
It then [5.111], not entirely convincingly in my view, dismisses application of Article 4(1), holding that this Article in its view always leads to two applicable laws in each investor-Airbus relationship: that of the market in which the shares were bought (which will have subjected the sales to information requirements), always accompanied by Dutch law for that is where in any event listing information needed to be given.
Having ruled out A4(1), it settles for Dutch law under Article 4(3) as the law of the place of the seat of the corporation that issues financial instruments, largely citing predictability. I am not convinced.
Reference to the CJEU, requested by Airbus, is dismissed, as is [5.17] immediate appeal against the applicable law finding. Airbus will no doubt appeal the final judgment to review the issue of applicable law, too. I would suggest they have plenty of reason to do so.
EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, Chapters 2 and 4.