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Jurisdictional issues

New York Court Rules on Proper Venue for Claims Brought Against Foreign Sovereigns

On 30 March 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (the Court) handed down an interesting opinion on the issue of proper venue in relation to suing a foreign sovereign in a U.S. court.

The question of proper venue is distinct from that of jurisdiction which focuses on whether a particular court has authority to hear the case. Venue, however, deals with geographical location. Therefore, a court may have jurisdiction over a certain matter, yet be considered as an improper venue.

Choosing the proper venue is crucial in any action as a finding of improper venue can lead to burdensome and adverse consequences for the parties involved. For instance, the time spent on litigating the venue issue may render the claim time-barred due to the expiration of the statute of limitations and it will therefore be unable to move forward I  another forum. At best, improper venue will lead to additional costs for the parties as a party will need to re-file and re-serve the defendant.

The case at hand concerned an action taken against the Government of Ukraine by a group of plaintiffs consisting of a Ukrainian automobile business, Luxexpress-II Ltd; its founders, Mr. and Mrs. Ivaneko; a U.S. supplier, Alamo Group Inc.; and the U.S. corporation Luxexpress 2016 Corp. (the Plaintiffs).  The claims arose from Ukraine’s seizure of land and demolition of the Plaintiffs’ business equipment and property and the subsequent refusal to compensate the Plaintiffs. In response, the Plaintiffs filed claims for racketeering, fraud, abuse of process, theft, conversion, unjust enrichment and unlawful takings and wrongful expropriation before the Court. Ukraine sought to dismiss the claims, arguing, inter alia, that New York was not the proper venue.READ MORE


U.S. Supreme Court Excludes Foreign Companies From Alien Tort Statute

On 24 April 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Supreme Court) handed down its judgment in Jesner v. Arab Bank, holding that foreign (i.e. non-U.S.) companies cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute (the ATS). The case builds on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell, in which the Supreme Court held that U.S. federal courts did not have jurisdiction under the ATS to hear claims for violations of international law that took place wholly outside the territory of the United States. After Kiobel, however, the question of whether the ATS also applied to corporations remained open. This question has now been settled in the present case.READ MORE


English Court of Appeal Rules on Claims Brought by Foreign Plaintiffs, Against Foreign Defendants, for Conduct Outside the U.K.

Two recent judgments of the English Court of Appeal (the Court of Appeal) have shed light on the approach of the U.K. courts towards civil actions taken against parent companies for wrongs allegedly committed by foreign subsidiaries abroad.

Both cases concerned the responsibility of parent companies for actions of their subsidiaries and the jurisdictional rules for taking claims in the U.K. arising from facts occurring in other countries. They provide interesting perspectives on the traditional doctrine of separate corporate personality and the principle of forum non conveniens  in common law. Both cases are consistent with one another, and the second case sheds more light on the factual links between a parent and subsidiary which may give rise to a duty of care vis-à-vis third parties who are affected by the actions of the subsidiary.READ MORE


CJEU Clarifies Consumer Jurisdictional Privilege in Personal and Assigned Claims for Breach of Data Rights

On 25 January 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) rendered its decision in Maximilian Schrems v. Facebook Ireland Limited.

The CJEU followed the opinion of Advocate General Bobek (the Advocate General) – that we previously discussed – and clarified the extent of the consumer jurisdictional privilege.

As we already discussed, Maximilian Schrems is a well-known Austrian activist in the field of technology and electronic privacy. Previously, Mr. Schrems had successfully challenged the transfer of data from the EU to the U.S. through the Safe Harbour regime.

In the present case, Mr Schrems sued Facebook Ireland Limited (Facebook), the European subsidiary of Facebook Inc., for alleged violations of his privacy and data protection rights, as well as those of seven other Facebook users who had assigned their claims to him. These seven co-claimants were domiciled in the EU as well as in India.

Mr Schrems initiated proceedings in the Austrian courts, relying on the consumer jurisdictional privilege provided for in Article 16(1) of the now repealed Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Brussels I Regulation). This provision allows consumers (i.e., non-commercial parties) to sue the other party to a contract in the courts of the EU Member State in which the consumer is domiciled. Article 18(1) of the currently applicable Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Brussels Ibis Regulation) contains similar terms. Article 15(1) of the Brussels I Regulation (reproduced in Article 17(1) of the Brussels Ibis Regulation) limits this jurisdictional privilege to “matters relating to a contract concluded by a person, the consumer, for a purpose which can be regarded as being outside his trade or profession“.READ MORE


U.K. Supreme Court Considers Jurisdictional Tests for Service of Claims Outside Jurisdiction

On 19 December 2017, the U.K. Supreme Court (the Supreme Court) rendered a judgment providing interesting food for thought with respect to jurisdictional tests for service of claims outside the U.K.

The case was taken by the widow (Lady Brownlie) of Sir Ian Brownlie QC, a distinguished English scholar and practitioner of international law, who died (together with his daughter) in a car accident while on holiday in Cairo in January 2010. Lady Brownlie and two of their grandchildren were also injured in the accident.

Lady Brownlie brought a series of claims, before U.K. courts, under contract law and in tort (for her own injuries and for her husband’s death) against Four Seasons Holdings Inc. (FS Holdings), the Canadian-based owner of the Egyptian hotel to whom she had booked the excursion.READ MORE


CJEU Rules on Issues of Lis Pendens and Jurisdiction Under Lugano Convention

Dear Readers – Happy New Year!

For a fresh start to the year, I wanted to highlight a recent judgment (dated 20 December 2017) of the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) which interprets the jurisdictional and lis pendens requirements contained in the Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Lugano Convention). As most of you know, the Lugano Convention aims at extending the Brussels I Regulation’s regime on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters within the EU to Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.READ MORE