Bravo v Amerisur Resources (Putumayo Group Litigation). Claimants survive time-bar challenge despite questionable finding on Rome II’s evidence and procedure carve-out.

In Bravo & Ors v Amerisur Resources Ltd (Re The Amerisur plc Putumayo Group Litigation) [2023] EWHC 122 (KB) claimants, who live in remote rural communities in the Putumayo region of Colombia, seek damages from the defendant pursuant to the Colombian Civil Code, and in reliance on Colombia Decree 321/1999, in respect of environmental pollution caused by a spill (or spills) of crude oil on 11 June 2015. The claimants’ two causes of action are pleaded under the headings (i) guardianship of a dangerous activity and (ii) negligence. It is common ground between the parties that the oil spillage was the result of deliberate acts by terrorist organisation, FARC.

Steyn J yesterday held on preliminary issues, including statute of limitation. Defendant contends that the two year limitation period provided by relevant Colombian law re Colombian group actions (‘Law 472’), applies to the claim. Parties agree that in substance, Colombian law is lex causae per A4 and A7 Rome II.

Claimants rely on two points of English law and one of Colombian law. First, they contend that the relevant Article of Law 472 is a procedural provision within the meaning of A1(3) Rome II, and therefore it falls outside the scope of Rome II. I believe they are right but the judge did not. Secondly, they refute the defendant’s contention that this action should be treated as a group action under Law 472. Thirdly, even if they are wrong on both those points, they submit that application of the time limit of Law 472 would be inconsistent with English public policy, and so the court should refuse to apply it pursuant to A26 Rome II.

All but one links to case-law in this post refer to my discussion of same on the blog, with pieces of course further linking to the judgment. Apologies for the pat on my own back but it is nice to see that all but one (Vilca, where parties essentially agreed on the Rome II issue) of the cases referred to in the judgment all feature on the blog.

For claimants, Alexander Layton KC referred to Wall v Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurances and Actavis UK Ltd & ors v Eli Lilly and Co (where the issues were discussed obiter). Defendants rely on Vilca v Xstrata Ltd [2018] EWHC 27 (QB)KMG International NV v Chen [2019] EWHC 2389 (Comm), Pandya v Intersalonika General Insurance Co SA [2020] EWHC 273 (QB), [2020] ILPr 44 and Johnson v Berentzen [2021] EWHC 1042 (QB).

My reception of the High Court’s conclusions in KMG, Pandya, and Johnson was not enthusiastic, and in my review of Pandya in particular I also suggest that the same scholarship relied on in this case, did not actually lend support to the  defendant’s arguments, and I stand by that, too.

Hence Steyn J’s conclusion [102] that Article 15 Rome II

contains a list of matters which are ‘in particular’ to fall under the designated law, irrespective of whether they would be classified as matters of substance or procedure

and [106]

that the provisions of article 15 of Rome II should be construed widely

in my view is wrong. (Note the linguistic analysis in [110] will be of interest to readers interested in authentic interpretation of multi-lingual statutes).

 

[109] The key question then is which Colombian limitation period applies to these English proceedings, which brings the judge to discuss [115] ff ia Iraqi Civilians v Ministry of Defence (No.2). Here the judge, after discussing Colombian law evidence, holds [137]

that this action has not been brought under Law 472, and it does not fall to be treated as if it had been brought as a Colombian group action. Therefore, this action is not time-barred pursuant to article 47 of Law 472.

Hence claimants lost the argument on Rome II’s procedural exception but won the argument on application of Colombian law.

[139] ff whether the limitation rule should be disapplied pursuant to A26 Rome II is discussed obiter and summarily, with reference of course to Begum v Maran which I discuss here. The judge holds A26’s high threshold would not be met.

Both parties have reason to appeal, and one wonders on which parts of Rome II, permission to appeal will be sought.

Geert.

EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, ia para 4.80.

 

X v PayPal. Questionable Dutch compulsory settlement jurisdiction reignites discussion similar to English scheme of arrangement tourism. Also raises the question whether compulsory settlements are ‘contracts’ under Rome I.

The Dutch first instance judgment in Groningen  earlier this month, in X v PayPal (Europe) S.a.r.l. & Cie S.C.A., sees claimant debtor essentially seeking a compulsory settlement – CS. PayPal (established in Luxembourg) is the only debtor refusing the settlement proposed by claimant’s bank.

The CS is not listed in Annex I to the Insolvency Regulation 2015/848 (always check for the consolidated version, for the Annex is frequently updated by the Member States’ communication of proceedings to be included). This is where the discussion of scope of application could and should end.

Instead, the judge tests the CS against A1(1)’s abstract criteria. She decides there is neither divestment of assets, nor a temporary stay of individual enforcement proceedings.

This then raises the applicability of Brussels Ia. Seeing as the judge finds the action does not meet with the CJEU F-Tex criteria (Brussels Ia’s insolvency exception only applies to actions which derive directly from insolvency proceedings and are closely connected with them), she holds that Brussels Ia’s ‘insolvency’ exception is not triggered and that BIa applies.

The judge then cuts the corner which English courts in schemes of arrangement have often cut, namely to consider the willing debtors, domiciled in The Netherlands, as ‘defendants’ per Brussels Ia, hereby triggering Article 8(1) BIa’s anchor defendant mechanism. The judge justifies this by stating that the other creditors are interested parties and that it is in the interest of the sound administration of justice that the CS be discussed viz the interested parties as a whole. That may well be so, however in my view that is insufficient reason for A8(1) to be triggered. A8(1) requires ‘defendants’ in the forum state, not just ‘interested parties’. The suggestion that a co-ordinated approach with an eye for all interested parties, justifies jurisdiction, puts A8(1)‘s expediency cart before the A4 ‘defendant’-horse.

The judge then also cuts corners (at least in her stated reasons) on the applicable law issue, cataloguing this firmly in Rome I. She argues that even if the CS is a forced arrangement, replacing a proposed contract which party refused to enter into, it is still a contractual arrangement. That is far from convincing.

Equally not obvious is as the judge holds, that  per A4(2) Rome I, the party required to effect the ‘characteristic performance’ of a compulsory settlement, is the claimant-debtor of the underlying debt, leading to Dutch law being the lex causae.

The judgment at the very least highlights the continuing elephant in the restructuring tourism room, namely the exact nature of these proceedings under Brussels Ia, EIR and Rome I.

Geert.

Oxford University v Oxford Nanoimaging. On unfair trading terms in retained EU consumer law, the Brussels regime and substantive consumer law.

In Oxford University Innovation Ltd v Oxford Nanoimaging Ltd [2022] EWHC 3200 (Pat) Daniel Alexander KC in a lengthy judgment eventually held for the University in a dispute on the validity of the University’s contractual terms claiming intellectual property over research students’ work. The case is of interest to the blog in that it contrasts the consumer provisions in the ‘Brussels (conflict of laws) regime’ with those of substantive consumer law.

[8] The thrust of ONI’s case is that Oxford’s approach to allocation of the commercial fruits of research is unfair to DPhil students and, more particularly, unfair to Mr Jing, the young researcher, in the circumstances of the case. More specifically it is said that Oxford’s policies are unfairly weighted in favour of the University and senior academics, who may have contributed less to the detail of the work than more junior researchers or inventors.

Applicability or impact of consumer protection legislation on terms relating to intellectual property rights of students is core to the case. The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999/2083 – UTCCR are derived from the European Directive on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts 93/13, the ‘Unfair Consumers Terms Directive’ UCTD, which is retained EU law and the CJEU authority on same is retained EU case law [240] . They only apply to contracts between a “consumer” and a “seller or supplier”. Was Mr Jing such a ‘consumer’?

UK courts regularly made recourse to Brussels  Convention and later Brussels Ia cases in the absence of much CJEU UCTD authority. The judge correctly holds [242] that one must be cautious with such approach pro inspiratio, as indeed I have also pointed out on this blog before, and discusses ia CJEU Benincasa, Gruber, Schrems, Milivojevic, albeit not CJEU Reliantco, and the UK cases of Standard Bank v Apostolakis, AMT Futures v Marzillier and Ang v Reliantco. In the discussion on whether the Brussels case-law has an impact on the UCTD, he refers ia to Weco Projects. [288] he points out that when later CJEU authority did interpret the term ‘consumer’ in the UCTD directly (eg Karel de Grote), it made fairly little reference to Brussels authority. [306] he decides the UCTD approach to ‘consumer’ is ‘more expansive’ and ‘not as strictly’ as under the Brussels regime and [310] rejects Oxford’s submission that it is necessarily the right approach to this case under the UCTD to adopt the framework of analysis of dual-purpose contracts of the Brussels Convention/Regulation case law. This also includes [320] a different approach to the burden of proof.

[410] the final conclusion is that a ‘DPhil student is normally entitled to be treated as a consumer under the UCTD and that it does not matter for this purpose whether the student is undertaking that educational qualification with a view to her career, profession and/or professional advancement’  and [425] that ‘Oxford has not shown that Mr Jing’s circumstances were such that it would be wrong to treat him as a consumer in entering into the DPhil Contract he did.’ However eventually [639] the terms were not judged to be ‘unfair’.

Many of the issues raised are new and one imagine permission to appeal may have been sought.

Geert.

EU private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, 2.231 ff.

Cornwall Renewable Developments v Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie. A right rigmarole on forum contractus for legal advice.

Cornwall Renewable Developments Ltd v Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP [2022] EWHC 3259 (Ch) is the appeal against [2022] EWHC 441 (Ch) which I flagged here. The jurisdictional challenge concerns the allocation of jurisdiction within the UK. However by statutory instruction in the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 (CJJA), account must be taken of the Brussels Regime and CJEU authority on same.

The question is essentially what the ‘place of performance of the obligation in question’ is for legal advice, in this case provided by a Scottish law firm with no place of business yet near-inevitably some dual qualified Scots-E&W lawyers, introduced by an intermediary to an England (Cornwall in fact)-based client viz a development in Cornwall. I have before flagged the difficulty of the ‘obligation in question’ part of the question in light of the unclear, if any, remaining authority of CJEU De Bloos (an issue which unfortunately will not be entertained soon by the CJEU now that the Sao Paolo Panels case has been withdrawn).

Of note (as the judge also does [75] is that the CJJA does not in relevant section have the benefit of the additional clarification in Brussels Ia’s Article 7(1)b: ) ‘for the purpose of this provision and unless otherwise agreed, the place of performance of the obligation in question shall be:…in the case of the provision of services, the place in a Member State where, under the contract, the services were provided or should have been provided;’, although in the case of legal services essentially submitted by phone and e-mail, this might have created its own discussion as the judge’s discussion here also shows.

The result is exactly the kind of rigmarole which forum contractus often leads to, with the principles listed by Smith R [45] ff. The judge confirms [63] after consideration that the first judge was not wrong (this is an appeal, not a de novo assessment) to conclude that the principal “obligation in question” was to provide advice and agreements to the Claimant for negotiation and execution by parties in England, with the intention that they would satisfy Cornwall Council’s planning rules so that planning permission would be granted, and the development could proceed; and that the place where this obligation was to be performed, despite research etc being done from Scotland, was indeed England.

The judgment is (probably too, for a jurisdictional issue) lengthy and I am sure one can find fault with some of the applications of the authorities yet all of this emphasises the urgent need for law firms to include choice of court in their standard retainer agreements.

Best wishes for 2023!

Geert.

The CJEU yet again, and briefly, on ‘civil and commercial’ in Brussels Ia. Eurelec Trading: when do competition and fair trading authorities act acta iure imperii.

The Court of Justice yesterday held, without Opinion AG (justifiably in my view), in Case C-98/22 Eurelec Trading Sarl, on yet again the interpretation of ‘civil and commercial’ to determine the scope of application of Brussels Ia.

The dispute in the main proceedings is between the Ministre français de lʼÉconomie et des Finances and two Belgian companies: Eurelec, a pricing and purchasing negotiation centre founded by the French Leclerc group and the German Rewe group, and Scabel, which acts as an intermediary between Eurelec and the French and Portuguese regional purchasing centres of the Leclerc group. Two French undertakings are also parties to the dispute: the Leclerc groupʼ national purchasing centre which negotiates the annual framework contracts with the French suppliers (ʻGALECʼ) and the association of E Leclerc distribution centres (ʻACDLECʼ).

Following an investigation conducted between 2016 and 2018, the Economic Affairs and Finance Minister suspected that potentially restrictive practices were being implemented in Belgium by Eurelec in respect of suppliers established in France. The Minister brought an action against those four companies before the Paris courts,  seeking a declaration ia that the practices consisting in (i) requiring suppliers to accept Belgian law as lex contractus (said to circumvent French lois de police), and (ii) imposing seriously reduced returns, were abusive.

The French Government argue with reference to CJEU Movic that ʻacting in the general interest should not be confused with the exercise of public powersʼ, and that one should distinguish the inquiry stage from the judicial proceedings, in particular, that the criterion for applicability of the Brussels Ia Regulation is the use made of evidence and not the rules for collecting it.

The CJEU disagrees. [26] the claim is based on evidence procured during searches which an ordinary litigation party cannot make resort to, and [27] the procedure at issue involves ia an administrative (not a criminal) fine being sought, which is not a request than can be made by an ordinary civil party. [29] The procedure is one which follows from acta iure imperii, the exercise of public power. [29] CJEU Movic is distinguished for in that case no fine was being sought, merely an end to the restrictive practices as well as damages, which both are claims that can also be made by ordinary parties. The latter once again means that depending on what is included in a claim, BIa may or may not be engaged.

Geert.

European Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, paras 2.28 ff concluding at 2.65.

Teva UK v Novartis. Court of Appeal confirms restraint in abetting forum shopping in aid of German proceedings.

The Court of Appeal in Teva UK Ltd & Anor v Novartis AG [2022] EWCA Civ 1617 has reaffirmed the principle that while it is not as such unkosher to petition the English courts subsequently to use the spin-off value of that judgment in other jurisdictions (related in some way to using English courts for discovery purposes), it is not proper for E&W courts to make a declaration solely for the purpose of influencing a decision by a foreign court on an issue governed by the law of that very foreign court (here: Germany).

In the case at issue, the claim involves an Arrow declaration (a declaration that a product, process or use was lacking in novelty or obvious as at the priority date of a patent application) with respect to a German patent (admittedly subject to European law which is largely harmonised with the UK approach).

Per Arnold LJ [51-52]

It is not the function of the courts of England and Wales to provide advisory opinions to foreign courts seised of issues which fall to be determined in accordance with their own laws. The English courts have no special competence to determine such issues. If anything, it is likely that they have less competence than the local courts. It makes no difference that the English court and the foreign court are applying the same basic law. Furthermore, comity requires restraint on the part of the English courts, not (to adopt Floyd LJ’s graphic phrase) jurisdictional imperialism. Otherwise the English courts would be enabling forum shopping.

In saying this, I am assuming that the parties have full and unimpeded access to the foreign court. I recognise that the position might possibly be different if that were not the position; but it is not necessary to consider this further for the purposes of the present case, since there is no suggestion that either of these parties lacks full and unimpeded access to the courts of Germany or Country A.

Geert.

Quite the song and dance. Dutch TikTok class action passes jurisdictional hurdle at first instance, cutting many a((n) appealable) corner in the process.

I reported earlier on the ongoing collective claim against TikTok here. Thank you Xandra Kramer and Eduardo Silva de Freitas for signalling and discussing the first instance jurisdictional finding. I note already that the Court [5.28] has refused interim permission to appeal on the jurisdictional finding (as in i.a. the applicable law issue in Airbus). [5.22] it also refused a preliminary reference o the CJEU even though my concise discussion below already shows that more is at play here than the court has made out. TikTok will now first have to argue the case on the merits to then (presumably) appealing both substance and jurisdictional finding.

As I flagged earlier and as Xandra and Eduardo discuss, the issue here is firstly the relationship between GDPR and Brussels Ia at the jurisdictional level: I discuss that in this paper. Against TikTok Ireland, jurisdiction is established on the basis of A80 GDPR, with no further discussion of A79 (even if A80 partially refers to A79 for the action it establishes).

In my view the court quite carelessly muddles the various concepts used in A79-80, all too easily dismisses ia CJEU Schrems, does not clearly distinguish between assignment, subrogation, mandate etc., and certainly does not correctly delineates the authority which the collective organisations might have under the GDPR: for it is not at all clear that this authority, beyond injunctive relief,  includes a (collective) claim for damages.

[5.13] the court already announces that it may not in fact have jurisdiction for all individuals who are no longer habitually resident in The Netherlands, a concession which in my view in fact goes towards undermining its own reasoning.

[5.14] ff the court then reviews A4 and 7(2) BIa, as a supplementary jurisdictional ground for the GDPR related claims and as a stand-alone ground for the non-GDPR related claims. The court’s decision to apply CJEU Wikingerhof as leading to forum delicti and not forum contractus is in my view optimistic, and surely if A7(2) is at play then the CJEU’s authority ia in Schrems is, too. Yet the court [5.17] quite happily assimilates the harmed individuals’ COMI etc. with the collective organisation.

[5.19-20] the court summarily accepts jurisdiction against the other (non-EU) TikTok entities on the basis of Dutch residual rules for related cases.

Jurisdictional issues will most definitely return upon eventual appeal.

Geert.

(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2, Heading 2.2.8.2.5.

 

 

Dooley v Castle: Court of Appeal overturns jurisdictional objections, claims over alleged offshore pension scam can continue.

Dooley & Ors v Castle Trust & Management Services Ltd [2022] EWCA Civ 1569  is the successful appeal against Russen HHJ’s first instance judgment which I discussed here – readers best consult that post for context, before reading on. For reasons I explain in that post, judicial relations between the UK and Gibraltar pre-Brexit engaged the Brussels 1968  Convention.

Carr LJ wrote the reasons for overruling the judgment, and the Court of Appeal does find there is jurisdiction in E&W. [35] she reminds us of the evidentiary burden at the jurisdictional stage

For the purpose of the evidential analysis, the standard lies between proof on the balance of probabilities and the mere raising of an issue. On contentious factual issues, the court takes a view on the material available if it can reliably do so; if a reliable assessment is not possible, there is a good arguable case for the application of the gateway if there is a plausible (albeit contested) evidential basis for it. The test is context-specific and flexible, and if there is an issue of fact the court must use judicial common sense and pragmatism, making due allowance for the limitations of the material available at an early point in the proceedings.

[41] ff the judge is held to have wrongly treated the relationship between Article 5 (mostly known for forum contractus and forum delicti reasons but also including a trust forum: A5(6) concerning trust-related claims in the courts of the trust’s domicile) and Article 13 (the forum consumptoris). [43] Articles 13 to 15 make up an entirely separate and self-contained section and there is no need or indeed allowance to first check whether Article 5’s conditions apply (including on the conditions for a ‘contract’ to exist), subsequently to check whether A13 ff (including the conditions for a ‘consumer contract’ to exist) apply with a consequence of disapplying A5. Both Opinion AG and judgment in CJEU C-96/00 Gabriel are called upon in solid support.

[48] Jurisdiction under Article 13 is thus a self-standing lex specialis and derogation from the general rule in Article 2. If jurisdiction is not established under Article 13, it may nevertheless arise under Article 5(1). But it is not necessary to establish jurisdiction under Article 5(1) in order to make it out under Article 13.

[49] The Judge’s error on this issue was material, in the light of his conclusion that any claim against Castle would fall within Article 5(6) (and so could not fall within Article 5(1)).

Continuing then on A13, the contentious issue is whether the Judge was wrong to conclude that the pensioners did not have the better of the argument for the purpose of A13:  i) that the proceedings were “proceedings concerning” contracts between the pensioners and Castle for the supply of services; and, if so, ii) that in England and Wales the conclusion of the contracts was preceded by specific invitations addressed to the pensioners.

Re i), [55] the Judge appears to have concluded that there was no contract, by reference to the lack of clarity as to the services to be provided by Castle beyond the contents of the Welcome Letter. On appeal Castle concede that a contract for services did exist between each pensioner and Castle, however that the services to be provided by Castle under each contract were limited to the technical execution of the relevant Deed of Adherence in each case and that therefore the proceedings, which made no complaint about the technical execution of the Deeds, were not “proceedings concerning a contract”.

Carr LJ [57ff] insists that the existence of a trustee-beneficiary relationship does not preclude the co-existence of a contract between the same parties, and, referring to language with strong ‘contract’ echo in the marketing, holds that there was indeed a contract between each of the pensioners and Castle, a relationship that went beyond mere technical execution of the deeds.

[61] ff then deals with ii), with the Court holding there is a good arguable case that each pensioner received (in the State of their domicile) a specific invitation addressed to them, such invitation crystallising at the moment that Management Services sent or handed them an application form. Carr LJ suggest that such an invitation might be sufficient for A13(3) purposes without more: A13 does not contain any express requirement for a connection between the invitation and the trader; the focus is on the existence of a sufficiently strong connection between the contract and the country of domicile of the consumer. However the claimants concede that there was a further requirement, namely that the invitation had to be made on behalf of the trader, here Castle. Arguendo, [66] Carr LJ holds 

there is a plausible evidential basis for the proposition that there was some sufficient connection between MS and Castle, including the possibility that MS was acting for Castle as a “middleman” of the type envisaged in the Schlosser Report (by cross-reference to the Giuliano/Lagarde Report). It is, for example, not in dispute that MS obtained Castle’s application forms and provided them to the pensioners. It appears that MS procured or facilitated production of all the complex documentation and declarations as required by Castle from the pensioners in the build-up to the application forms and transfers themselves.

[68] ff are the proceedings then “proceedings concerning” the contracts in question? The Court holds they are, at a general level for the proceedings are not about mismanagement of the trusts once established, but rather that the pensioners should never have entered the Schemes in the first place, and at a more specific level for the claims to relate to specific issues in the services agreement.

The claims can now proceed to trial where, as I noted before, applicable law will be one of the contested issues.

Geert.

EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, Heading 2.2.9.2.1 and 2.2.9.2.2.

 

Tilman v Unilever. CJEU supports choice of court in GTCs even if no possibility of click-wrap is offered.

Update 22 December 2022 see additional comment by Marion Ho-Dac here.

Update 29 November 2022 see here for questions between Marco Farina and myself re the CJEU’s discussion 28-31 of the applicability at all of Lugano, in light of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The CJEU last week held in C-358/21 Tilman v Unilever, the context of which I reviewed here. Krzysztof Pacula has initial analysis here and also refers to the application of the consent for choice of court issues in Ebury Partners.

One of the parties’ (Unilever’s) GTCs  are contained on a website, and their existence is ‘flagged’ in the written main contrac, without there bring a tickable box that click-wraps the agreement. Does that suffice to bind the parties as to the GTC’s choice of court (in favour of the English courts)? Note the courts were seized pre-Brexit; the UK’s Lugano troubles are not engaged.

The CJEU answers exactly along the lines I suggested in my earlier post: no impeding of commercial practice; need for the contracting party relying on the clause to have drawn the attention to the GTCs; need for that clause to be durably consultable and storable; finally it is the national court’s task to verify  the formation of consent in these factual circumstances. That there is no box that can be ‘ticked’ is not conclusive [52].

All in all a welcome support for commercial choice of court.

Geert.

EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, Heading 2.2.10.

Sedgwick v Mapfre Espana. On subrogation in Rome II, and yet again on its procedural carve-out (re: interest rates).

Sedgwick v Mapfre Espana Compania De Seguros Y Reaseguros Sa [2022] EWHC 2704 (KB) discusses the application of Article 19 Rome II on direct actions against insurers, and the procedural carve-out of the Regulation.

Claimant lives in Wales. At the time of the accident she was on her honeymoon, staying at the Hotel Blue Sea Callao Garden in Santa Cruz which was owned and operated by a company registered and incorporated in Spain. She was descending an inadequately lit concrete staircase when she fell and sustained severe fracture injuries to her left knee and to her right heel.

Spanish law is the governing law of the insurance contract/policy which provides the tortfeasor with the right of indemnity within the terms of the policy and that the claimant has, under Spanish law, a direct right of action against the insurer. Parties also agree that Spanish law applies per A4(1) Rome II.

The scope of the law applicable is set out in A15 Rome II, which reads in relevant part: “…the law applicable to non-contractual obligations under this Regulation shall govern in particular: (a) the basis and extent of liability including the determination of persons who may be held liable for acts performed by them; (b) the grounds for exemption from liability, any limitation of liability and any division of liability; (c) the existence, the nature and the assessment of damage or the remedy claimed;…

A1(3) Rome II carves out all matters of procedure and evidence to the law of the forum court: “This Regulation shall not apply to evidence and procedure “. I have reported on the carve-out frequently (see eg here and linked postings there, or use search tag ‘evidence and procedure’).

On a technical side-note, Matthew Hoyle here (he also has a general excellent note on proving foreign law here) correctly notes a confusion with the judge [11] on the issue of proving foreign law, seeing as she conflates assumption of English law as the lex causae when the content of a suggested foreign law is not proven and pleaded (it was so in the case at issue), and assumption in certain circumstances, of the foreign law as being identical to English law.

Issues for determination, are:

i) the resolution of a series of questions relevant to the award of general damages (for non-pecuniary loss) under Spanish law; these are purely issues of Spanish law and of no interest to the blog.

ii) whether the claimant is able to pursue a claim for subrogated losses on behalf of her travel insurer. The contentious issue is whether the claimant herself is able to bring a claim for subrogated losses or whether the claim must be brought in a separate action by the insurer.

[60] if the claim is to be brought separately, it can no longer so be brought because it is now time-barred.

Defendant submits that the claim for those losses incurred by the travel insurer must be brought in accordance with Spanish law and that the proper person entitled to bring a claim against the defendant insurer under A43 Spanish Insurance Contract Act 50/1980 is the third party insurer, not the claimant, as those subrogated losses are losses of the third party payer.

Claimant submits that Spanish law is relevant only to the extent that, as the applicable law of the tort, it provides for recovery of expenses. Spanish law does not govern the relationship between the claimant and the travel insurer, nor the travel insurer’s rights of subrogation by means of the claimant’s claim under those policies. Those matters are regulated, it is argued, by the law governing the insurance policy, in this case, English law, consequential to A19 Rome II (“where a person (the creditor) has a non-contractual claim upon another (the debtor) and a third person has a duty to satisfy the creditor, or has in fact satisfied the creditor in discharge of that duty, the law which governs the third person’s duty to satisfy the creditor shall determine whether and the extent to which the third person is entitled to exercise against the debtor the rights which the creditor had against the debtor under the law governing their relationship.”)

The issue therefore is whether the question of whether the insurer may bring a claim in the name of the insured (rather than by other means) a question of “whether, and the extent to which” the insurer is entitled to exercise the rights of the insured against the third party? Lambert J [73] says it is, as a matter of language and construction, and she also expresses it (less immediately convincing to my mind) as an issue of common sense:

‘Putting the matter another way, it would be distinctly odd if English law determined the right of subrogation and limits upon that right (e.g. the legal principle that there must be full indemnity before subrogated rights attach) but an important aspect of the English law of subrogation (namely that the claim may and must be brought in the name of the insured) may not apply depending on where loss is caused which is to be indemnified.’

Finally, iii) the appropriate rate of interest to apply to the damages award, whether the Spanish (penalty) rate of interest applies or a rate applied under s 35A [E&W] Senior Courts Act 1981. Clearly the issue is whether penalty interest rules are substantive rather than procedural: in the latter case, they are carved out from Rome II, and English law as the lex causae applies.

Troke v Amgen is referred to, and the judge in Swedgwick decides [101]

Whether the decision in Troke is binding upon me or not, I agree with its conclusion and the underlying reasoning which I endorse and follow.

and [102]

the penalty interest provisions are discretionary; they may be excluded if there is a good reason to do so and they are procedural in character.

In my review of Troke I noted its reasoning was unconvincing. Lambert J [101] adds more arguments here, and I find these more convincing, if not conclusive.

Geert.

EU Private International Law, 3rd ed. 2021, Heading 4.8.

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