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

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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

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U.S.’s Withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Deal: Consequences on Transnational Litigation

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President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal (also called JCPOA) is likely to have repercussions on U.S.-EU cross-border litigation. In this short article, I wanted to highlight the EU’s most likely response towards the re-instatement of U.S. sanctions: the expansion of the EU’s blocking statute.READ MORE

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Council of the EU Adopts New Approach on Negotiating and Concluding EU Trade and Investment Agreements

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Yesterday (22 May 2018), the Council of the European Union adopted its conclusions to the new approach on the negotiation of EU trade and investment agreements.

The adoption of this new approach is a direct consequence of Opinion 2/15 of the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) on the division of competences between the EU and its Member States.READ MORE

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Draft Bill to Establish Brussels International Business Court

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On 15 May 2018, the Belgian government submitted to Parliament a draft bill (the Bill) for the creation of a Brussels International Business Court (the BIBC). As you may remember, we have already discussed the BIBC a couple of months ago after the Belgian government approved the Bill in October 2017. Since then (and before its submission to the Parliament), the Bill has been reviewed by both the High Council of Justice and the Belgian Council of State.READ MORE

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

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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

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New EU Commission Proposal for a Directive on Collective Representative Actions

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On 11 April 2018, the EU Commission published a new legislative proposal on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC (the Proposal). In light of increasing cross-border trade and EU-wide commercial strategies, the Proposal aims to facilitate redress for consumers where there are widespread infringements of their rights in more than one EU Member State.READ MORE

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EU Commission Holds Second Stakeholder Meeting on Multilateral Investment Court

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As you certainly know, international discussions are being held within UNCITRAL Working Group III (Working Group III) regarding the establishment of a multilateral investment court (Multilateral Investment Court).

As discussed before (here, here, here, here and here) the establishment of such a Multilateral Investment Court aims to address the numerous criticisms concerning existing investor-State dispute resolution (ISDS) mechanisms.

The first round of discussions took place in November 2017 in Vienna and the second round is scheduled to take place next week in New York City (23-27 April 2018).

As it did prior to the first round of negotiations in November 2017 (see our report), the European Commission (the Commission) held, on 13 April 2018, its second stakeholder meeting in order to discuss and share with civil society the key aspects of the negotiations  and the expectations regarding next week’s discussions in New York.

I was unfortunately not able to attend this stakeholder meeting. However, my colleague Benedict Blunnie has taken part in those discussions and has provided us with a summary of the points which have being raised.READ MORE

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