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international litigation blog

Proposal for Directive on Collective Representation Actions Enters Interinstitutional Negotiations

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On 9 January 2020, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (the EP) decided to open interinstitutional negotiations with representatives of the Council of the European Union (the Council of the EU) and of the European Commission in order to reach a compromise on the conclusion of a Directive repealing Directive 2009/22/EC as regards representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers (the Directive Proposal). As discussed before (here and here), the Directive Proposal aims to facilitate redress for consumers if there are widespread infringements of their rights in more than one EU Member State.

The Directive Proposal was initially approved in first reading by the EP in March 2019. On 28 November 2019, the Council also agreed on a general approach as regards to the Directive Proposal.

Following the decision of the Legal Affairs Committee of the EP’s, the EU institutions will now cooperate with a view to reconcile their positions in order to adopt the Directive Proposal without having to enter into a second reading process.

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ISDS Reform: Designing Permanent Institutions at Working Group III

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Last week, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III (WGIII) turned squarely to designing permanent adjudicative institutions for the resolution of investment disputes. As readers of this blog may be aware, WGIII is charged with developing multilateral reforms to the current ad hoc system of investor-state dispute resolution (ISDS). This government-led process involves delegations from around a hundred States, with active participation by dozens of observer delegations from international organizations, arbitral institutions, NGOs, business associations, and learned societies. Beginning in WGIII’s 34th Session in 2017, this work has continued through biannual sessions in Vienna and New York. From 2017 to 2018, delegations registered substantial concerns with ISDS, relating to fragmented arbitral outcomes; arbitrator independence, impartiality, and diversity; duration and cost; multiple proceedings; and third-party funding (Phase 1). In the fall of 2018, WGIII decided to work multilaterally to reform such concerns within UNCITRAL (Phase 2). As of its 37th Session in 2019, WGIII has moved firmly into working on concrete reform options (Phase 3) (discussed here).

WGIII’s 38th Session in Vienna marked a key transition into detailed discussion of reform options. Meeting initially in October 2019, the WGIII held discussions on a series of reform options according to a pre-determined project schedule. This work was grounded in proposals by over forty-five governments, across twenty-three submissions (here); complemented by several Secretariat papers; submissions by observer delegations (here); and concept papers by the Academic Forum on ISDS Reform (here). In this initial meeting, WGIII focused on (i) developing a multilateral advisory center; (ii) a code of conduct; and (iii) reforms to third-party funding (discussed here). Discussions centered on high level values, trade-offs and prioritization, with the goal of guiding the Secretariat as it turns to developing more concrete reform options.

Resuming its 38th Session in Vienna last week (January 2020), WGIII turned squarely to designing permanent institutions: (iv) a standing appellate mechanism; and (v) a multilateral investment court (MIC); as well as the cross-cutting question of (vi) selecting and appointing adjudicators. As with the discussions last fall, the goal was to discuss each reform option at a high level, to provide guidance to the Secretariat. The Working Group is not yet taking firm decisions on the desirability or ultimate form of any reforms, although some States are already revealing their preferences. Later this year, WGIII will develop a new project schedule and begin circling back to each topic, seriatim, with the benefit of new responsive work by the Secretariat, the Academic Forum, and other organizations (such as the OECD, ICSID, the PCA, and several NGOs).READ MORE

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French Court Issues Anti-Anti-Suit Injunction Claim in FRAND Dispute

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Article drafted by Steve Ross, Associate at Van Bael & Bellis

On 8 November 2019, the Paris Court of First Instance (Tribunal de Grande Instance) (the French Court) issued a judgment (in case RG 19/59311) for a preliminary injunction in a case pitting IPCOM GmbH & Co. KG (IPCom), an intellectual property rights licensing and technology R&D company, against Lenovo/Motorola (Lenovo), a telecommunications company. The French Court held that it had jurisdiction over the case with regard to a patent infringement claim and ordered Lenovo to withdraw the motion for an anti-suit injunction which that company had brought before the US District Court of the Northern District of California (the US Court) in so far as it concerns the French part of the patent.READ MORE

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EU Council Revises and Approves Proposal for Directive on Collective Representative Actions

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On 28 November 2019, the Council of the European Union (the Council) revised and approved the proposal for a Directive (the Draft Directive) on collective representation actions for the protection of collective interests of consumers.

The Draft Directive was initially proposed by the European Commission in April 2018 and was then examined, in first reading, by the European Parliament (the EP).

The Draft Directive aims to empower qualified entities, such as consumer organisations, to seek, in addition to injunctions, redress measures, including compensation or replacement, on behalf of a group of consumers that has been harmed by a trader in areas such as data protection, financial services, travel and tourism, energy or telecommunications.READ MORE

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Cross-Border Debt Recovery: CJEU Rules on European Account Preservation Order Procedure

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On 7 November 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) handed down a judgment in which it ruled that if a creditor wishes to rely on an order for payment in order to benefit from the European Account Preservation Order (EAPO) procedure against a debtor, this order for payment must be enforceable under the relevant domestic law.READ MORE

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CJEU Expected to Rule on Notion of “Investment” in Energy Charter Treaty

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On 24 September 2019, the Paris Court of Appeal handed down a judgment in which it decided to refer three questions for preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) regarding the definition of an “investment” in the Energy Charter Treaty (the ECT).

The upcoming decision of the CJEU is likely to have a great impact on the scope of future ECT based investment arbitration proceedings, which require, pursuant to Article 26(1) of the ECT, that the dispute relate to “an investment“.READ MORE

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EU Commission Presents Proposals for Investment Court System in CETA and Announces Plurilateral Treaty to Terminate Intra-EU BITs

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A couple of days before Working Group III of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) held its 38th session on the reform of investment arbitration, the European Commission (the Commission) presented four proposals (the Proposal(s)) to the Council of the European Union (the EU) for specific rules to put into place the Investment Court System (the ICS) provisions in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (the Agreement or CETA).

The ICS included in CETA represents a new approach by the EU in relation to investment-related disputes and is the same approach taken in the agreements the EU has negotiated with Singapore, Viet Nam and Mexico, while also being on the table in all on-going investment negotiations.

The foundation of the ICS is already established in CETA (as discussed here, here and here), however it remains to be applied pending ratification of the Agreement by all of the EU Member States. The Joint Interpretative Instrument on CETA agreed by the EU and Canada in October 2016 includes a commitment to make the system operational as soon as the Agreement enters into force. The Proposals are thus necessary to deliver on this commitment and these rules complete the putting together of the reformed approach to investment dispute settlement under CETA.READ MORE

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