Regular readers will be aware that disciplining the use of the anchor defendant mechanism is not an easy task for a court to undertake (I have linked to one post yet the search tag ‘anchor’ will take you to plenty). The CJEU takes a restrictive view. Although in the case at issue Article 8(1) Brussels Ia does not formally apply (the mechanism does not apply to defendants domiciled outside the EU), instruction in Dutch residual rules is that they be applied as A8(1) would.
In Stichting Claim Gran Petro v Shell Netherlands, Shell Brasil and Raizen ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2023:7099, the Hague court of first instance did though refuse jurisdiction against the one Brazilian defendant (Raisen), anchored unto two Dutch Shell entities (Shell now having moved domicile exclusively to England was held [5.2] not to have relevance on account of the perpetuatio fori principle), citing abuse of the anchor defendant mechanism.
Shell have a majority share in Raisen. The claimants in essence called upon the corporate structure of Shell and, pro inspiratio, hoped to convince the court that the presumption of involvement of mother corporations in their daughter’s anti-competitive shenanigans might be enough to justify the relatedness of the claims. Such assumption exists in EU competition law (see eg CJEU ENI) however the court finds that claimants have not been able to prove a Brazilian equivalent.
The court refers ia to CJEU CDC v Azo Nobel et al to emphasize the condition that the anchor mechanism must not be intended merely to remove the defendant at issue from its natural domicile forum. [6.7] the court reports that the claimants acknowledge that Dutch jurisdiction is sought for reasons of general tardiness of Brazilian proceedings. There is no suggestion that Raizen will not be willing to meet any future damages. Seeing as no presumption under Brazilian law of mother corporation involvement exists, and seeing as no proof of factual involvement of the Shell mother entities was furnished, [6.16] the court concludes that the anchor mechanism at issue is an abusive application and must not lead to jurisdiction.