Troke v Amgen. On lex causae for interest and the procedural exception of Rome II.

Troke & Anor v Amgen Seguros Generales Compania De Seguros Y Reaseguros SAU (Formerly RACC Seguros Compania De Seguros Y Resaseguros SA) [2020] EWHC 2976 (QB) is an appeal against a decision of the country court at Plymouth. It has a case-name almost as long as the name of some Welsh villages (that’s an observation, I mean no disrespect. I live in a country which has villages names such as Erps-Kwerps; but I stray).

For brevity’s sake I suspect it is best shortened to Troke v Amgen. The case involves only the rate of interest awarded on what were otherwise agreed awards of damages against the defendant insurer  to the  claimant, victims of a road traffic accident in Spain.

Spanish law is lex causae. Rome II like Rome I excludes “evidence and procedure…”. The extent of this exception is not settled as I have discussed before. Of particular recurring interest is its relation with Article 15 ‘scope of the law applicable’ which reads in relevant part for the case

 “15. The law applicable to non-contractual obligations under this Regulation shall govern in particular: (a) the basis and extent of liability… (…) (c) the existence, the nature and the assessment of damage or the remedy claimed; (d) within the limits of powers conferred on the court by its procedural law, the measures which a court may take to prevent or terminate injury or damage or to ensure the provision of compensation;”

Griffiths J refers in particular to Actavis v Ely Lilly and to KMG v Chen, and at 45 holds obiter that were the interest a contractual right, it would clearly not be covered by Rome I’s exclusion for procedural issues seeing as it would then clearly amount to a substantive right under the contract.

At play here however is Rome II. Griffiths J first refers to a number of inconclusive precedent on the interest issue under various foreign applicable laws, to then note at 65 ff that the judge in the county court whose findings are being appealed, was informed in the expert reports that the interest sought under Spanish law were not mandatory ones but rather discretionary ones: the terminology used in the expert report which determined that decision was ‘contemplates’.

This leads Griffiths J to conclude ‘I reject the argument that the Expert Report was describing a substantive as opposed to a procedural right to interest. It follows that the Judge was right not to apply the Spanish rates as a matter of substantive right to be governed by the lex causae.’

This is most odd. It could surely be argued that a discretionary substantive right is still a substantive right, and not a procedural incident. Whether the right is mandatory or discretionary does not in my view impact on its qualification as being substance or procedure.

The judge’s findings

It follows that I agree with the Judge that the award of interest in this case was a procedural matter excluded from Rome II by Article 1(3); that there was no substantive right to interest at Spanish rates to be awarded to the Claimants under the lex causae; that interest could be awarded under section 69 of the County Courts Act 1984 as a procedural matter in accordance with the law of England and Wales as the lex fori; and that he was entitled to award interest at English and not Spanish rates accordingly.

in my view surely therefore most be appealable.

Geert.

(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 4, Heading 4.8.

Third edition forthcoming February 2021.

Actavis v Eli Lilly. On the extent to which patent DNIs (Declarations of non-Infringement) are covered by Rome II’s exception for procedure.

Update 14 July 2017 the judgment was overturned by the Supreme Court [2017] UKSC 48, albeit not on the issues discussed here.

Actavis UK Ltd & Ors v Eli Lilly & Company [2015] EWCA Civ 555 discusses ia, at 100 ff, the question whether under Rome II the English court must apply the corresponding foreign laws governing the conditions for applying for patent ‘declarations of non-infringement’ (DNIs) in each of the foreign jurisdictions, or whether English law, as the lex fori, applies. English law takes  a more relaxed attitude amongst the EU Member States re what must be shown before a party can apply to the court for a DNI.

Are the rules for obtaining DNIs matters of procedure, falling outside the scope of Rome II per Article 1(3)? The judge whose findings were being appealed had held that DNI standing rules are not concerned with the substantive rights and obligations of the parties with regard to infringement of the patent in suit: they fall under the procedural exception. Viz the argument that Article 15(c) (A15 deals with the ‘scope of the law applicable’) he had held that there is a distinction to be drawn between the availability in principle of a remedy and the steps which must be taken in order to obtain that remedy. It was in his judgment only the former which was caught by Article 15 and made subject to the lex causae.

Longmore LJ at 138 referred to Wall v Mutelle de Poitiers Assurances and agreed with the first instance judge that the rules with which the case is concerned are conditions of admissibility of actions, rather than rules concerned with the substance or content of parties’ rights. They are covered by the exception for procedure and hence subject to the lex fori, English law. At 144 ff he rejects the applicability of specific parts of Article 15 to the various conditions relating to DNIs.

Interesting and relevant.

Geert.

(Handbook of) EU Private International Law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 4.