Geert van Calster
Geert is an independent legal practitioner and academic. An alumnus of the College of Europe, Bruges (promotion Stefan Zweig), Prof van Calster is the Head of Leuven Law's department of European and international law. Geert is a visiting professor at Monash University (Melbourne) and at the China-EU School of Law in Beijing, and a visiting lecturer at King's College, London. He was previously i.a. a visiting lecturer at Oxford University. He was called to the Bar in 1999 after having worked as of counsel to a City law firm since 1995, and practices in the areas of Private international law /Conflict of Laws; WTO law; (EU) environmental law; and EU economic law.
Pandya v Intersalonika. Plenty of (appealable?) things to chew on re limitation periods and Rome II.
Posted in Conflict of Laws /Private international law on 16/03/2020
Many thanks 2TG for initially flagging the judgment, and for Maura McIntosh and colleagues not just for further reviewing it but also for sending me copy: for the case has not yet appeared on the usual sites.
In Pandya v Intersalonika  EWHC 273 (QB), Tipples J held that proceedings were time-barred in accordance with Greek law as the lex causae, where the claim form was issued in the English courts before the expiry of the applicable Greek limitation period, but was not served until after that period had expired.
The claim arises out of a road traffic accident that happened in Kos, Greece on 29 July 2012. The claimant is a UK national and was on holiday in Kos with her family when she was struck by a motorcycle as she was crossing the road. The claimant suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and was then aged fifteen. Defendant is the Greek-registered insurance company which provided insurance to the motorcyclist or the motorcycle that he was riding.
That claimant is entitled to sue the insurer in England is not of course, contrary to Tipples J passing reference, a result of Rome II but rather of Brussels IA. Jurisdiction however at any rate was not under discussion.
Defendant then relies on A15(h) Rome II to argue a time bar under Greek law, the lex locus damni: service of the claim is a rule of Greek law in relation to limitation and a claim has to be issued and served to interrupt the limitation period. This means that the requirement of service cannot be severed, or downgraded, to a step which is simply governed by the rules of civil procedure under English law. Claimant by contrast argues that service of the claim is a point of pure procedure, which falls squarely within Article 1(3) and is governed by the rules of civil procedure under English law.
At 25 ff Tipples J discusses the issue (I highlight the most relevant arguments; compare nb with the situation under the Rome Convention in Mineworkers):
- starting with the principle of autonomous interpretation;
- further, a need for wide interpretation of A15 which she derives from its non-exhaustive character. I do not agree that non-exhaustive listings necessarily equate broad interpretations;
- thirdly the need, by contrast, to interpret A1(3) narrowly ‘because it is an exception’ to the general rule of lex locus damni in A4. This too I disagree with: A1(3) states it ‘it shall not apply to evidence and procedure, without prejudice to Articles 21 and 22’ (which concern formal validity and burden of proof). In my view A1(3) like A1(2) defines the scope of application, like A1(2). It is listed separately from the issues in A1(2) for unlike those issues, part of the excluded subject-matter is partially brought back into the scope of application. If anything therefore needs to be interpreted restrictively, it is the partial cover of evidence and procedure. Seemingly between parties however this was not disputed.
- Further support is found in Dicey & Morris 15th ed., which refers to Wall v Mutuelle de Poitiers a case which discusses the issues somewhat, yet if anything more in support of English law applying to the discussion in Pandya rather than the other way around. (A reference further on in Andrew Dickinson’s Rome II Volume with OUP in my mind, too, further underlines the opaqueness of the A1 /A15 distinction and does not clearly lend support pro the lex causae argument).
- Fifth, predictability and certainty are cited in support however how these gazump exclusions from the scope of application is not clear to me.
- Finally PJSC Tatneft v Bogolyubov is referred to but dismissed as irrelevant (which surprises me).
Held: the claim was time-barred and therefore dismissed.
I would suggest there is plenty of scope for appeal here.
(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 3.
Petrobas securities class action. Applicable law update: Dutch court holds under Rome II on lex causae in tort for purely economic loss. Place of listing wins the day (and leads to Mozaik).
Posted in Conflict of Laws /Private international law on 12/03/2020
Thank you Matthias Lehmann for flagging and reviewing the Rotterdam Court’s judgment late in January on applicable law in the Petrobas case. I had earlier reviewed the jurisdictional issues, particularly the application of Brussels Ia’s Article 33-34.
The case relates to a Brazilian criminal investigation into alleged bribery schemes within Petrobras, which took place between 2004 and 2014. The court first, and of less interest for the blog, deals with a representation issue, holding that Portuguese speakers cannot be represented in the class, for the Portuguese version of the relevant dispute settlement provisions, unlike the English translation, was not faulty.
Turning then to applicable law at 5.39 ff. Events occurring on or after 12 January 2009 are subject to the Rome II Regulation. For those before that date, Dutch residual PIL applies which the Court held make Brazilian law lex causae as lex loci delicti commissi: for that is where the alleged fraud, bribery and witholding of information happened.
For the events which are covered by Rome II, the court does not wait for the CJEU finding in VEB v BP and squarely takes inspiration from the CJEU case-law on purely financial damage and jurisdiction: Kronhofer, Kolassa, Universal Music. The court notes that the CJEU in these cases emphasised a more than passing or incidental contact with a State (such as: merely the presence of a bank account) as being required to establish jurisdiction as locus damni. At 5.47 it rejects the place of the investor’s account as relevant (for this may change rapidly and frequently over time and may also be easily manipulated) and it identifies the place of the market where the financial instruments are listed and traded as being such a place with a particular connection to the case: it is the place where the value of the instruments is impacted and manifests itself. It is also a place that meets with the requirements of predictability and legal certainty: neither buyer nor seller will be surprised that that location should provide lex causae.
Conclusion therefore is one of Mozaik: Brasil, Argentina, Germany, Luxembourg are lex causae as indeed may be other places where Petrobas financial instruments are listed. (At 5.49: Article 4(2)’s joint domicile exception may make Dutch law the lex causae depending on who sues whom).
(Handbook of) EU private international law, 2nd ed.2016, Chapter 4, Heading 4.4.
Parentnapping by children of their vulnerable father: The High Court in QD on the Hague Convention and habitual residence.
Posted in Conflict of Laws /Private international law on 06/03/2020
IN  EWCOP 56 QD, Cobb J in the Court of Protection applied the Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults to a removal from Spain by the children of his first marriage, of an adult father suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, a progressive neurodegenerative dementia, without consent of the new wife. Following the removal the children seek an order that he reside at a care home in England, that he not return to Spain, and that he have only supervised contact with his wife.
Cobb J decided that the English courts do not have jurisdiction given that in his judgment the father is habitually resident in Spain, with at 28-29 a list of the reasons leading to his conclusion (it includes a negative view on the removal ‘by stealth’, as well as particular emphasis on the father’s expressed will to live in Spain when he was not yet incapacitated). The common law doctrine of necessity does not alter this as alternative, less drastic measures could and should have been sought first (such as alerting Spanish social services; at 29).
The judge did make use of his limited urgency jurisdiction to issue a ‘protective measures’ order which provides for the father to remain at and be cared for at home he resides in, and to continue the authorisation of the deprivation of his liberty there only until such time as the national authorities in Spain have determined what should happen next. It is for the Spanish administrative or judicial authorities to determine the next step, which may of course be to confer jurisdiction on the English courts to make the relevant decision(s).
Kalma v African Minerals. Court of Appeal confirms absence of vicarious liability, no omissions with the mother holding.
Posted in Conflict of Laws /Private international law on 04/03/2020
I reviewed  EWHC 3506 (QB) Kalma v African Minerals et al in an earlier post. It essentially entails vicarious liability of UK-incorporated companies (jurisdiction firmly settled therefore) for human rights abuses committed by Sierra Leone police (SLP), who ensured security at the defendants’ mine. All claims were held to have failed and the Court of Appeal in  EWCA Civ 144 has confirmed same on 17 February (a little before the important SCC ruling in Nevsun).
The High Court’s discussion of the factual involvement of the companies with SLP activities, required to establish vicarious liability, as I noted at the time has echoes of the discussion on the level of oversight required for mother companies to be held liable for subsidiaries’ actions (such as e.g, in Apartheid, Shell (in The Netherlands) or of course in Vedanta). (The case otherwise does not raise the kind of jurisdictional or applicable law issues readers often find on this blog).
Of most relevance for the corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues are the grounds of appeal concerning the alleged duty of care owed, discussed at 110 ff: appellants say that the judge wrongly approached this case as a case of “pure omissions” and that, instead, he should have considered the existence of the duty by reference to first principles and, in particular, the three elements identified in Caparo v Dickman, namely foreseeability, proximity and whether or not such a duty was fair, just and reasonable (Ground 3). The appellants also have an alternative case that, if this was a case of pure omissions, the judge should have found that it was one of the recognised exceptions to the rule, namely that it involved the creation of the danger by the respondents themselves (Ground 4). Core factual consideration in all this are the money, vehicles and accommodation provided to the SLP, which the judge had found was common in Sierra Leone.
Coulson LJ reiterated with the judge that the duty of care tenet was one of omission: failure to protect the claimants (the respondents, arguendo, having failed to protect the claimants from the harm caused by the SLP). Extensive analysis of Turner J’s judgment at the High Court found no reason to reach a different conclusion than his.
(Handbook of) European Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 8, Heading 8.3.
Confédération Paysanne, precaution and GMOs. French High Court issues its final ruling taking CJEU findings to their logical conclusion.
A short post to flag the French Conseil d’Etat’s final ruling in which on 7 February it held that organisms obtained via in-vitro mutagenesis techniques should be subject to GMO regulation and that consequently as EurActiv summarise the French authorities must update regulation to include such crops within six months, which includes identifying the agricultural plant varieties which have been obtained by these techniques and subjecting them to the assessments applicable to GMOs.
The ruling follows the CJEU’s mutagenesis finding in C-528/16, reviewed at the time on Steve Peers’ blog here and subsequently by KJ Garnett in RECIEL here. The ruling put agro-bio industry narrators in a spin but in essence is an utterly logical consequence of EU law.