Posts Tagged lindner

Gray v Hurley [2019] EWHC 1636 (QB). Engages big chunks of Brussels Ia and eventually relies on Lindner to uphold Article 4 jurisdiction.

Thank you Jan Jakob Bornheim for flagging Gray v Hurley [2019] EWHC 1636 (QB), in which as he puts it, ‘there is a lot going on’. Judgment is best referred to for facts of the case. On 25 March 2019 Mr Hurley commenced proceedings against Ms Gray in New Zealand. On 26 March 2019 Ms Gray issued the claim form in the present action and obtained an order for alternative service.

Of interest to the blog is first of all the matrimonial exception of Brussels Ia, nota bene recently applied by the CJEU in C-361/18 WeilArticle 1(2)(a) Brussels Ia (Lavender J using the English judges’ shorthand ‘Judgments Regulation’) provides that it does not apply to matters relating to: “…rights in property arising out of a matrimonial relationship or out of a relationship deemed by the law applicable to such relationship to have comparable effects to marriage.”

There is no EU-wide harmonisation of the conflict of law rules for matrimonial property. The UK is not party to the enhanced co-operation rules in the area and Lavender J did not consider any role these rules might play in same. Rome I and Rome II have a similar exception as Brussels Ia and at 111 Lavender J takes inspiration from Recital 10 Rome II which states that this exception “should be interpreted in accordance with the law of the Member State in which the court is seised.” Discussion ensues whether this is a reference to the substantive law of the court seized (Ms Gray’s position; English law does not deem their relationship to have comparable effects to marriage) or the private international law rules of same (Mr Hurley’s position; with in his view residual English private international law pointing to the laws of New Zealand, which does deem their relationship to have comparable effects to marriage). Lavender J does not say so expresses verbis but seems to side with the exclusion of renvoi: at 115: ‘I do not consider that the relationship between Ms Gray and Mr Hurley was a relationship deemed by the law applicable to such relationship to have comparable effects to marriage.’ Brussels Ia’s matrimonial exception therefore is not engaged.

Next, the application of the exclusive jurisdictional rule of Article 24(1) is considered. Ms Gray’s claim here essentially aims to establish her full ownership of the ‘San Martino’ property in Italy. Webb v Webb is considered, as are Weber v Weber and Komu v Komu (readers of the blog are aware that A24(1) cases often involve feuds between family members). Lavender J concludes that Ms Gray’s claim essentially is like Webb Sr’s in Webb v Webb: Ms Gray is not seeking an order for the sale of San Martino (and it does not appear that the right of pre-emption would be triggered by a judgment in her favour, as it would be by an order for sale). Nor is she seeking to give effect to her existing interest in San Martino. Rather, she claims that Mr Hurley holds his interest in San Martino on trust for her.

Application of Article 25 choice of court is summarily dismissed at 131 ff: there was choice of court and law (pro: Italy) in the preliminary sales and purchase agreement between the seller and Ms Gray. However, this clearly does not extend to the current dispute.

Next comes the application of Article 4’s domicile rule. Was Mr Hurley domiciled in England on 26 March 2019, when the court was seized?  Article 62(1) Brussels Ia refers to the internal law. Application is made by Lavender J of inter alia [2018] EWHC 160 (Ch), Shulman v Kolomoisky which I also included here; he also considers the implications of CJEU C-327/10 Lindner, and eventually decides that Mr Hurley was not domiciled in England, however that Lindner should be read as extending to the defendant’s last known domicile in a case where the Court: (1) is unable to identify the defendant’s place of domicile; and (2) has no firm evidence to support the conclusion that the defendant is in fact domiciled outside the European Union. This is a very relevant and interesting reading of Lindner, extending the reach of Brussels Ia as had been kickstarted by Owusu, with due deference to potential New Zealand jurisdiction (New Zealand domicile not having been established).

Final conclusion, therefore, is that Ms Hurley may rely on Article 4 Brussels Ia. Quite what impact this has on the New Zealand proceedings is not discussed.

Interesting judgment on many counts.


(Handbook of) EU Private international law, 2nd ed. 2016, Chapter 2 practically in its entirety.


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SMD v Banco Santander: the CJEU will either boost or bust European private international law.

Update 2 April 2017. The case unfortunately was removed from the register on 10 March last, for the SC has withdrawn its questions.

The title exaggerates. However the CJEU will have an opportunity in C-136/16 SMD v Banco Santander (referred by the Portuguese Supreme Court) to hold how ‘international’ a case has to be to trigger application of the European private international law Regulations. In both Owusu and Lindner the Court suggested a flexible approach to the ‘international’ character of a case (hence to the Regulations being easily engaged). The case referred is reminiscent of Banco Santander Totta at the High Court. In that case, however, jurisdiction was not contested and analysis focused on the reach of Article 3(3) Rome I (relating to ‘purely domestic contracts’).

I have copy/pasted the questions referred below. No doubt the CJEU will not entertain them all.

Crucial questions, are: is choice of court ex the country enough for the  case to be considered ‘international’; if it is, can forum non conveniens-type considerations lead to the (national) Court seized ignoring choice of court; if it is not, what other international elements need to be present and does choice of law play a role in this assessment.

Exciting. Once private international law engaged, literally the whole world opens up to contracting parties. If it is not, one is stuck with national law.


(Handbook of) European Private International Law Chapter 2, Heading


In a dispute between two national undertakings of a Member State concerning agreements, does the fact that such agreements contain clauses conferring jurisdiction to another Member State constitute a sufficient international element to give rise to the application of Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 1 and Regulation No 1215/2012 to determine international jurisdiction, or must there be other international elements?

May application of the jurisdiction agreement be waived where the choice of the courts of a Member State other than that of the nationality of the parties causes serious inconvenience for one of those parties and the other party has no good reason to justify such choice?

In the event that it is held that other international elements are necessary in addition to the jurisdiction agreement:

Do the swap agreements concluded between [Sociedade Metropolitana de Desenvolvimento, S.A.] (‘SMD’) and Banco Santander Totta have sufficient international elements to give rise to the application of Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 and Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 in order to determine which courts have international jurisdiction to settle disputes relating to them where:

(a)    Those entities are nationals of a Member State, Portugal, that concluded two swap agreements in Portugal consisting of an ISDA Master Agreement and two confirmations, negotiated by the Autonomous Region of Madeira on behalf of SMD;

(b)    In that negotiation, the Autonomous Region of Madeira, assisted by Banco BPI, S.A., and by a law firm, invited more than one international bank to submit proposals, one of those invited banks being JP Morgan;

(c)    Banco Santander Totta is wholly owned by Banco Santander, with domicile in Spain;

(d)    Banco Santander Totta acted in its capacity as an international bank with subsidiaries in various Member States and under the single brand Santander;

(e)    Banco Santander Totta was considered in the ISDA Master Agreement as a Multibranch Party, able to make and receive payments in any transaction through its subsidiaries in London or Luxemburg;

(f)    Under the terms of the ISDA Master Agreement concluded, the parties may, in certain cases, transfer their rights and obligations to other representative offices or subsidiaries;

(g)    The parties to the swap agreements specified that English law was applicable and concluded jurisdiction agreements that confer exclusive jurisdiction on the English courts;

(h)    The agreements were drafted in English and the terminology and concepts used are Anglo-Saxon;

(i)    The swap agreements were concluded with the objective of covering the risk of variation in the interest rates of two financing agreements, both drafted in English and concluded with foreign entities (one based in the Netherlands and the other in Italy), and in one of the financing agreements it is provided that borrowers’ payments must be made to the HSBC Bank Plc account in London, on dates defined by reference to the London time zone and subject to English law and the English courts;

(j)    Banco Santander Totta acted as an intermediary of the international market, having concluded hedging agreements in the context of the international market?


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