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Burkhard Hess, Koen Lenaerts (Ed.)

The 50th Anniversary of the European Law of Civil Procedure

1. Edition 2020, ISBN print: 978-3-8487-6944-5, ISBN online: 978-3-7489-1061-9, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783748910619

Series: Studies of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law, vol. 22

Bibliographic information
The 50th Anniversary of the European Law of Civil Procedure Burkhard Hess | Koen Lenaerts (eds.) Studies of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law 22 Nomos Studies of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law edited by Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Burkhard Hess Prof. Dr. Hélène Ruiz Fabri Volume 22 BUT_Hess_6944-5.indd 2 06.08.20 08:15 Burkhard Hess | Koen Lenaerts (eds.) The 50th Anniversary of the European Law of Civil Procedure Co-Editor Vincent Richard Nomos BUT_Hess_6944-5.indd 3 06.08.20 08:15 The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de ISBN: HB (Nomos) 978-3-8487-6944-5 ePDF (Nomos) 978-3-7489-1061-9 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: HB (Hart) 978-1-5099-4592-4 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hess, Burkhard / Lenaerts, Koen The 50th Anniversary of the European Law of Civil Procedure Burkhard Hess / Koen Lenaerts (eds.) 558 pp. Includes bibliographic references and index. ISBN 978-1-5099-4592-4 (hardcover Hart) 1st Edition 2020 © Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden, Germany 2020. Printed and bound in Germany. This work is subject to copyright. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Under § 54 of the German Copyright Law where copies are made for other than private use a fee is payable to “Verwertungsgesellschaft Wort”, Munich. No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organization acting on or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by Nomos or the editors. Onlineversion Nomos eLibrary Coverpicture: © European Union, 1968 Signing of the Brussels Convention on 27 September 1968 Top line, from left to right: Pierre Harmel, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Belgium; Willy Brandt, Vice-Chancellor, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Germany; Michel Debré, Minister for Foreign Affairs, France Bottom line, from left to right: Giuseppe Medici, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Italy; Pierre Grégoire, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luxembourg; J.M.A.H. Luns, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Netherlands. BUT_Hess_6944-5.indd 4 06.08.20 08:15 Foreword On 27 September 1968, the six foreign ministers of the European Economic Community convened in Brussels to sign the Brussels Convention on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters. In what would later prove to be a truly historic moment, they signed one of the most successful instruments of the European Communities to come. Fifty years later, on 27–28 September 2018, an international conference organised by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law took place in the Grande Salle d’Audience of the Court. Prominent academics from different EU Member States and distinguished members of the Court discussed the impact of the case law of the Court of Justice on the development of the “Brussels Regime” during the last decades. The discussions held within the conference demonstrated the impact and acceptance of the Brussels Regime and the case law of the Court in the legal practice of the EU Member States. However, the conference did not only assess the former and the present state of the Brussels Regime as it transpires from the case law of the Court of Justice. It also took a critical view to the dialogue between the Luxembourg Court and the judges of the EU Member States. Moreover, in a preconference colloquium, young scholars met at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law to discuss the wider perspective of the current regime, especially in the context of the crises that the European Union is currently facing. The present volume comprises the presentations delivered during both the conference and the pre-conference colloquium. The joint organisation of this event by the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law and the Court of Justice of the European Union exemplifies the mutually fruitful exchanges between the Court and the academia in Luxembourg. As this volume demonstrates, this cooperation includes critical debates on the current and future regime on EU judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters. The editors are grateful to their respective collaborators for their support in the organisation of the conference and the publication of this volume. They also wish to express their gratitude to all the speakers of the conference who submitted their manuscripts for this publication. 5 Finally, they would like to thank Dr. Vincent Richard, Senior Research Fellow at the MPI Luxembourg, for editing this publication. Luxembourg, 10 June 2020 Koen Lenaerts Burkhard Hess Foreword 6 Table of Contents Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 11 Burkhard Hess La confiance mutuelle, fondement et témoignage de la valeur de l’Union européenne 47 Camelia Toader De l’encadrement de l’ordre public procédural des États membres à l’ordre procédural autonome de l’Union 59 Marek Safjan et Dominik Düsterhaus EU Private International Law: Consistency of the Scopes of Application and/or of the Solutions 71 Maciej Szpunar Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 81 Marta Requejo Isidro The Shift from a Choice of Law-Centred Approach to a Civil Procedure Standpoint 107 Sabine Corneloup The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration: a True Trailblazer for the Europeanization and Constitutionalization of Private International Law 121 Johan Meeusen The Application of the European Law of Civil Procedure in the Dialogue Between the CJEU and the National Judges 147 Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe 7 The Dialogue on the European Law of Civil Procedure between the Court of Justice and National Courts from a German Perspective 161 Wolfgang Hau European Civil Procedure and the Dialogue between National Courts and the European Court of Justice 175 Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne – Réflexions naïves d’un Huron au Palais du Kirchberg 203 Loïc Cadiet La Charte des droits fondamentaux et les nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie procédurale des États membres L’exemple du droit européen de la procédure civile 235 Michail Vilaras The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration 249 Fausto Pocar Delendum est Forum Delicti? Towards the Jurisdictional Protection of the Alleged Victim in Cross-Border Torts 259 Etienne Farnoux CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 285 Lucilla Galanti Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime: Horizontal vs Sectoral Approach 317 Cinzia Peraro Your Place? Mine? Or Theirs? A Legal and Policy-orientated Analysis of Jurisdiction in Cross-Border Collective Redress 349 Stephanie Law Table of Contents 8 Representative (Consumer) Collective Redress Decisions in the EU: Free Movement or Public Policy Obstacles? 393 Janek Tomasz Nowak Casting the Net: Has the Court of Justice’s Approach to Online Torts Made the Brussels Framework Fit for the Internet Age? 451 Tobias Lutzi Encoding Justice: A Quest for Facilitating Access to Justice by e- Handling of Cross-Border Litigation. The Example of the European Uniform Procedures 473 Elena Alina Onţanu Trust, but Verify. Loss of Mutual Trust as a Ground for Non- Recognition in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Example of the Judiciary Crisis in Poland 507 Zuzanna Witek Table of cases 547 Index 551 Table of Contents 9 Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice Burkhard Hess* Table of Contents Introduction1. 12 Different Phases of the Legal Evolution2. 14 The Brussels Convention (1973–1980)2.1. 14 Cross-border Proceedings in the Internal Market (1980–1998)2.2. 14 Judicial Co-operation under the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999–2009)2.3. 15 Consolidation and Challenges under the Lisbon Treaty (2009 until today)2.4. 16 The Systemic Interpretation of the Brussels Regime by the Court of Justice3. 17 Autonomous Interpretation3.1. 17 Jurisdiction: Access to Justice and Legal Certainty3.2. 19 Protection of the Rights of Defence3.3. 22 Free Movement of Judgments3.4. 23 The Wider Context4. 25 Mutual Trust – a Transversal Principle of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice 4.1. 25 The Growing Role of the Charter of Fundamental Rights4.2. 29 The Interplay of the Instruments on Civil Co-operation4.3. 32 EU Procedural Law and National Procedures4.4. 35 Assessment: European Procedural Law as Interpreted by the ECJ5. 37 Interaction between Rules and Principles5.1. 38 Comparative Law in the Brussels Regime5.2. 40 Complementary Roles of the Court and the EU Lawmaker5.3. 43 Conclusion6. 45 * Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Burkhard Hess is the director of the Department of European and Comparative Civil Procedural Law, MPI Luxembourg. 11 Introduction When the foreign ministers of the (then) six EEC Member States met on 27 September 1968 in Brussels, they were certainly not aware that they were signing one of the most successful and popular instruments of EU law for the years to come. The Convention they signed was conceived as an international treaty concluded among the EEC Member States in the framework of Article 220 of the Rome Treaty. From the perspective of European Law, the Brussels Convention had only a complementary role, as it should alleviate cross-border debt recovery in the wider framework of the Rome Treaty.1 However, from a perspective of private international law, the Convention was one of the most modern instruments of its time: it took up experiences of the Hague Conference and provided for a double convention. It addressed not only the recognition of judgments but also established a uniform system of jurisdiction applicable to civil litigation within the European Economic Community.2 The most important innovation introduced with the Brussels Convention was the 1971 Protocol on its interpretation by the European Court of Justice. This Protocol made a vast difference to all existing instruments in private international law as it provided for a supranational instance to interpret the Convention in a uniform way. Of course, the ECJ at that time was not familiar with instruments on private international and procedural law. However, there was a positive attitude within the Court to address these issues. Since the mid-1970s, the ECJ decided almost 4 to 5 cases on 1. 1 In its first judgment on the interpretation of the Convention, the ECJ explicitly stressed this relation. “… The Convention was established to implement Article 220 [of the EEC Treaty] and was intended according to the express terms of its preamble to implement the provisions of that article on the simplification of formalities governing the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments of courts or tribunals and to strengthen in the Community the legal protection of persons therein established. In order to eliminate obstacles to legal relations and to settle disputes within the sphere of intra-Community relations in civil and commercial matters the Convention contains, inter alia, rules enabling the jurisdiction in these matters of courts of Member States to be determined and facilitating the recognition and execution of courts' judgments. Accordingly the Convention must be interpreted having regard both to its principles and objectives and to its relationship with the Treaty”, ECJ, 6.10.1976, case C-12/76, Tessili, EU:C:1976:133, para 9 (emphasis added by B.H.). 2 The function of coordinating the autonomous judicial systems of the EU-Member States by uniform rules on jurisdiction, pendency and recognition and enforcement still applies today. Burkhard Hess 12 the Brussels Convention per year.3 Overall, this case law was well received in the EC Member States,4 and it paved the way for a uniform and more and more expansive competence of the Union in matters of private international law.5 The title of this presentation borrows from the French legal culture of “les grands arrêts” insofar as it intends to present the development of EU procedural law by referring to important judgments of the ECJ.6 Similar to the presentation of “les grands arrêts” I would like to address judgments that marked the development of this area of law or even changed the preexisting situation.7 The underlying assumption is that the case law of the Court is as influential as the legal texts of European procedural law. As this presentation addresses seminal judgments of the ECJ regarding the Brussels system that were rendered in the course of the last 50 years, I will first briefly address different phases of the development of European procedural law (2). These were mainly marked by law-making activities the Union and by the general development of European integration. The following part (3) shall address the case law of the Court on the guiding principles of the Brussels I system (internal view) before I address the wider context, especially the relationship of the Brussels I system with general 3 Kutscher, Abschied vom Gerichtshof der Europäischen Gemeinschaften, EuR 1981, 1, 4. At present, the Court decides around 30 cases on civil co-operation per year (around 4 % of all incoming cases), Düsterhaus, Konstitutionalisiert der EuGH das Internationale Privat- und Vefahrensrecht der EU?, ZEuP 2018, 10, 30. 4 Cf. Hess/Pfeiffer/Schlosser, The Heidelberg Report on the Application of the Brussels I Regulation (2008), para 1, fn. 2. According to the statement of a presiding judge of the Landgericht Traunstein, the Brussels I Regulation was “the best piece of legislation we ever got from Brussels.” 5 This development ended in a generic competence of the Union: in Art. 65 of the 1998 Treaty of Amsterdam, Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2010), § 2, paras 20 et seq. 6 Gonod, A propos des Grands arrêts de la jurisprudence administrative, Mél. Labetoulle (2007), p. 441 et seq. The first “recueil des grands arrêts de la jurisprudence civile” was just published in 1934. 7 According to French authors: “On appelle un arrêt de principe celui dans lequel le juge, à propos d'une question nouvelle, ou à la suite du renouvellement d'une question ancienne, énonce la règle qu'il entend appliquer à cette espèce, et à toutes celles qui poseront le même problème. L'arrêt de principe ne se distingue par aucun signe extérieur, sinon parfois par l'autorité de la formation de jugement dont il émane; c'est sa rédaction, éclairée par les conclusions du commissaire du gouvernement et les commentaires de la doctrine qui le rend reconnaissable”, Jean Rivero et Jean Waline, Droit administratif; Précis Dalloz, 15ème édition, 1994, p. 66; Cossalter, Les grands arrêts de la jurisprudence administrative (thèse Paris II 1999), p. 6. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 13 Union law (4) with conflict of laws rules, with the procedural laws of the EU Member States and the international dimension. Finally, I will assess the interpretation of the Brussels regime by the Court of Justice (5). Different Phases of the Legal Evolution The Brussels Convention (1973–1980) After 1973, when the Convention entered into force, its interpretation (and explanation) by the Court of Justice was most important. The Court started in a homogenous environment, as the procedural laws of the six original EEC-Member States were structurally similar (all belonging to continental law).8 The starting phase was marked by the first decisions of the ECJ where the Court became familiar with the new topic (private international and procedural law): such decisions were instrumental in bringing the Convention in line with general EU law9. However, in the starting period, the Convention was mainly regarded as an instrument of private international law and the case law of the ECJ was discussed from this perspective.10 Cross-border Proceedings in the Internal Market (1980–1998) From its very beginning, the Brussels Convention was conceived as an instrument to strengthen the judicial protection in the Common Market.11 When the concept of the Internal Market was implemented, the ECJ trans- 2. 2.1. 2.2. 8 However, it must be mentioned that the Court looked from the very beginning at the different solutions in the United Kingdom – and Her Majesty’s Government took actively part in the proceedings on the BC before the ECJ. Example: Opinion of AG Capetorti in case C-21/76, Bier, EU:C:1976:147, of 10 November 1976, No. 5. 9 ECJ, 6.10.1976, case C-12/76 Tessili, EU:C:1976:133. 10 Schlosser, Gedächtnisschrift Bruns (1980), p. 45; Report Droz summarizing the discussion during the Colloquium on the Brussels Convention at the ECJ, in: EuGH (Hrsg.), Internationale Zuständigkeit und Urteilsanerkennung in Europa (1992), p. 235, 237 et seq. 11 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2010), § 1, paras 1 and 2 quoting the Letter of the EC Commission to the EC Member States of 22.10.1959, Droz, Compétence judiciaire et effets des jugements dans le marché commun (1972), No. 11. Burkhard Hess 14 ferred the approach to procedural law and applied the principle of non-discrimination to the national civil procedures.12 This case law of the Court considerably affected the national procedures which were mostly based on a model distinguishing between domestic (national) and foreign parties (by discriminating the latter). A second development related to the growing competences of the Union in private international and procedural law under Article K.1 (6) of the Maastricht Treaty.13 Judicial co-operation in civil matters was the new keyword of this development. At this stage, the close relationship between international procedural law and EU law became evident.14 Judicial Co-operation under the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999–2009) The most important step was the establishment in the Amsterdam Treaty of a full competence of the Union to institute an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). The Tampere program of 1999 immediately implemented the new competence for judicial co-operation in civil matters.15 Between 2001 and 2009 eleven new instruments on procedural law were adopted: some of these enlarged the Brussels regime, while others regulated family matters and insolvency.16 Eventually, secondary law instruments covered the whole range of the competence on civil justice established with the Amsterdam Treaty. This enlargement changed the area of law considerably: The ECJ decides on issues including insolvency, child abduction, divorce, maintenance, succession, payment orders, mediation. In 2002, Regulation No. 44/2001 replaced and reformed the Brussels Convention. From its side, the ECJ made clear that the communitarization of 2.3. 12 ECJ, 1.7.1993, case C-20/92, Hubbard./.Hamburger, EU:C:1993:280. In this judgment, the Court argued that the Brussels Convention had established a framework for cross-border litigation away the EC-Member Status and, therefore, the provision of German law (former Section 917 (2) ZPO) which permitted an arrest order in all situation where enforcement measure would be necessary abroad amounted to an (indirect) discrimination based on nationality. 13 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2010), § 2, para 4. 14 Although it was strongly contested by the legal literature, cf. Schack, Rechtsangleichung mit der Brechstange des EuGH, ZZP 108 (1995), 47 ff. 15 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2010), § 2, para 38. 16 The complexity and the legal fragmentation of civil procedural law is criticized by the legal doctrine, see Frackowiak-Adamska, CMLR 2015, 191, 193. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 15 the area of law reinforced the (autonomous) interpretation of the Brussels regime and adopted a more comprehensive and systematic approach.17 Consolidation and Challenges under the Lisbon Treaty (2009 until today) The latest developments coincided with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. While, per se, the Lisbon Treaty did not amend the competences of the Union regarding the cross-border co-operation in civil and commercial matters, the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) influences more and more the case law of the CJEU. Article 47 CFR has become important for the interpretation of EU-procedural law.18 On the other hand, the present crises of the European Union also affect the judicial co-operation.19 Eventually, the law making processes have slowed down considerably.20 During the recast of the Brussels I Regulation, the EU Commission had to give up its ambitious endeavour of abolishing the public policy exception.21 At present, no major law-making project is envisaged; the Commission is mainly working on the consolidation and improvement of the existing instruments.22 Finally, Brexit confronts European procedural law with a perspective of a Member State leaving the system – a situation which has never been addressed before.23 2.4. 17 ECJ, 8.11.2005, case C-443/03 Leffler, EU:C:2005:665, paras 43 et seq.; Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2010), § 4, para 73. 18 See infra at. Current example: ECJ, 9.6.2018, case C-21/17, Catlin Europe SE, EU:C:2018:341, para 33, stressing the right of defence in civil proceedings as protected by Article 47 of the CFR. 19 Hess, Le droit international privé européen en temps de crise, Travaux du Comité Français du Droit International Privé 2016-2018 (2019), 329 et seq. 20 More important law-making activities relate to data protection (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) and to collective redress, cf. COM (2018) 184 final. 21 Dickinson, in: Dickinson / Lein (ed.), The Brussels I Regulation Recast (2015), paras 1.23–1.35. 22 Current reforms relate to the amendment of the Service Regulation (Reg. 1393/2007) and of the Evidence Regulation (Reg. 1206/2001), Proposals of the EU Commission of 5/31/2018, COM(2018) 378 and 379 final. 23 Sonnentag, Die Konsequenzen des Brexit für das Internationale Privat- und Verfahrensrecht (2017); Requejo Isidro/Dutta/de Miguel, The future relationship between the UK and the EU following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in family law (study for the European Parliament, October 2018). Burkhard Hess 16 The Systemic Interpretation of the Brussels Regime by the Court of Justice If one looks at the most influential, seminal judgments of the ECJ regarding the Brussels Convention and Regulations, a basic distinction must be drawn: firstly, there are judgments which are important for the “inner” understanding of the EU instruments. Secondly, there are judgments which place these instruments in the larger context of European Union law, in the context of the national procedures and, finally, in the international context. The next parts will address both circumstances. Autonomous Interpretation According to the constant case law of the ECJ, the terms of the Brussels Ibis Regulation are to be interpreted autonomously, according to its system and objectives.24 This case law was established in the judgment C-29/76 LTU./.Eurocontrol of October 14, 1976.25 In this case, Eurocontrol, an International Organization for the air safety navigation in Europe, had obtained a judgment against the air carrier LTU before the Commercial Court in Brussels for unpaid route charges. When Eurocontrol sought the enforcement of the judgment, the Court of Appeals of Düsseldorf asked the ECJ whether the interpretation of the term “civil and commercial matters” in Article 1(1) of the Convention should be based on the law of the court of origin or on the law of the court of enforcement. While Advocate General Reischl proposed to apply the law of the court of origin,26 the ECJ held that Article 1 of the Brussels Convention (BC) defines its scope and that rights and obligations of the parties under the Convention should be equally and uniformly determined and applied. A reference to the internal laws of the Contracting States would not be in line with this objective. The Court stated: 3. 3.1. 24 Rösler, Autonomous Interpretation, in EPIL (2018), p. 1006, 1008 f. stressing the (thin) differences between uniform and autonomous interpretation. 25 ECJ, 14.10.1976, case C-29/76 LTU./.Eurocontrol, EU:C:1976:137. 26 Opinion Reischl, case C-29/76, EU:C:1976:121, referring to the divergent delineations of public and private law in the EU Member States. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 17 “The concept in question must therefore be regarded as independent and must be interpreted by reference, first, to the objectives and scheme of the Convention and, secondly, to the general principles which stem from the corpus of the national legal systems.”27 This statement triggered the constant jurisprudence of the Court on the autonomous interpretation of the Brussels’ instruments although the term “autonomous” was not yet used in Eurocontrol.28 However, it is interesting to see that the Court did not refer to general Community law but based the judgment mainly on considerations related to the proper functioning of the Convention.29 The first judgments used the term “independent interpretation”, the term autonomous interpretation appeared for the first time in the judgment in case C-125/92, Mulox.30 Under the Amsterdam Treaty, the scope of application of this concept was further enlarged. In case C-443/03, Leffler31, the Grand Chamber stated that, since the entry of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the autonomous interpretation of the EU instruments generally prevails. The Court held: “The objective pursued by the Treaty of Amsterdam of creating an area of freedom, security and justice, thereby giving the Community a new dimension, and the transfer from the EU Treaty to the EC Treaty of 27 ECJ, 14.10.1976, case C-29/76, LTU./.Eurocontrol, EU:C:1976:137, para 9; ECJ, 14.7.1977, joint cases C-9 and 10/77, Bavaria Fluggesellschaft u.a../.Eurocontrol, EU:C:1977:132, para 4 stressing the “independent concept of civil matter” and the need of a uniform application of the Convention providing for legal certainty and equal objects of the parties. 28 According to the elder case-law the convention had to be interpreted “independently, in order to ensure that it is applied uniformly in all Contracting States, cf. ECJ, 21.6.1978, case C-150/77, Ott, EU:C:1978:137, ECJ, 19.1.1993, case C-89/91, Shearson Lehman Hutton./.TVB, EU:C:1993:15, para 13. 29 In this respect, the argument comes very close to “effet utile”, Lenaerts & Stapper, RabelsZ 78 (2014), 252, 254, and to the primacy of EU law, Rösler, Autonomous Interpretation, in EPIL (2018), p. 1006, 1008. 30 The Court did not make this change explicitly. It simply stated: “It is settled caselaw that, as far as possible, the Court of Justice will interpret the terms of the Convention autonomously so as to ensure that it is fully effective having regard to the objectives of Article 220 of the EEC Treaty, for the implementation of which it was adopted.” ECJ, 13.7.1993, case C-125/92, Mulox, para 10. AG Tesauro used the term in his opinion of 20.11.1991, case C-214/89, Powell Duffryn, para 4. It seems that the use of the term in other language versions started earlier, especially in the French language versions. 31 ECJ, 8.11.2005, case C-443/03, Leffler, EU:C:2005:665, paras 39 et seq. On substance, Leffler mainly addressed the interpretation of Article 8 of the Service Regulation (Reg. no 1346/2000). Burkhard Hess 18 the body of rules enabling measures in the field of judicial co-operation in civil matters having cross-border implications to be adopted testify to the will of the Member States to establish such measures firmly in the Community legal order and thus to lay down the principle that they are to be interpreted autonomously”. Consequently, the Court held that a text adopted before 1998 could not overcome the result of an autonomous interpretation by a historic argument.32 This was a fundamental change: The autonomy and the prevalence of EU law were fully applied to the Brussels regime. Today, the autonomous interpretation permeates European procedural law and permits the implementation of effet utile and the integrative function of European procedural law within the Internal Market and in the Area of Security, Freedom and Justice.33 Jurisdiction: Access to Justice and Legal Certainty As a double convention, the Brussels Convention (BC) provided not only for rules on recognition, but also for a set of heads of jurisdiction. In the early case law, the interpretation of Article 5 of the Convention (now Article 7 of the Regulation) was of great importance.34 The Court developed a jurisprudence according to which predictability and legal certainty were of great importance for the interpretation of the heads of jurisdiction.35 Therefore, the Court considered the specific heads of jurisdiction as exceptions from the general rule (Article 4 Judgments Regulation (JR)) that the defendant shall be sued at his or her domicile.36 In Owusu, the Court held that national procedural law could not restrict the general jurisdiction 3.2. 32 ECJ, 8.11.2005, case C-443/03, Leffler, EU:C:2005:665, para 45; cf. para 47: “It follows that although the comments in the explanatory report on the Convention, an instrument adopted before the Treaty of Amsterdam entered into force, are useful, they cannot be relied upon to contest an autonomous interpretation of the Regulation”. 33 Recently, ECJ, 16.6.2016, case C-511/14, Pebros Servizi, EU:C:2016:448, paras 35 et seq.: the term “uncontested claim” (Article 3 (b) of Regulation No. 805/2004) must be interpreted autonomously, not by reference to national (Italian) law. 34 One must be aware that the ECJ was the first international body competent to develop its own and self-standing case law in this regard. 35 See Pontier/Burg, EU Principles on Jurisdiction and Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (2004), p. 69 et seq. 36 ECJ, 27.9.1988, case C-189/87, Kalfelis, EU:C:1988:459, para 19. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 19 under the Convention. Consequently, forum non conveniens was not applicable,37 legal certainty prevailed.38 Conversely, the Court has stated constantly that the specific heads of jurisdiction should be narrowly construed as they are exceptions from the general rule of (now) article 4 JR.39 In practice, however, the ECJ never applied this principle without exceptions as it limits, to some extent, the right of the plaintiff to get effective access to justice.40 The most pertinent example of a structurally broad interpretation relates to jurisdiction based on tort. Already in 1976, in the seminal case C-21/76, Bier v. Mines de potasse d’Alsace, the Court had to the “place where the harmful event occurred”.41 In the case at hand, Dutch nursery gardeners brought an action for damages they had sustained because the French defendants, producers of Kali salt, discharged 10.000 tons of chloride every day into the river Rhine. The river transported the wasted chlorides to the Netherlands where, eventually, the salted water damaged the crops of the gardeners. Seen from the factual background, Bier was an easy case as the casual link between the harmful event and the place of damage was clearly established. In Bier, the Court construed Article 5 no. 3 BC broadly and held that the place where the harmful event occurred should be considered to cover both: the place of the event giving raise to the damage and the place where the damage occurred. Furthermore, the Court held that the plaintiff could choose between the two heads of jurisdiction. As a result, Article 5 no. 3 BC (today: 7 no. 2 JR) opened up alternative different heads of jurisdiction.42 20 years later, Shevill enlarged the scope of the provision even further when the ECJ stated that, in the case of infringements of personality rights 37 Owusu had broad implications on the scope of the Brussels regime: On the one hand, the ECJ clarified that the Convention applied to lawsuits brought by plaintiffs from third states against defendants domiciled within the EU Member States. On the other hand, discretionary powers under national procedural law were discarded from the regime. The English doctrine criticized the judgment harshly. 38 ECJ, 1.3.2005, case C-281/02 Owusu, EU:C:2005:120. 39 ECJ, 27.9.1988, case C-189/87, Kalfelis, EU:C:1988:459, para 19; ECJ, 15.2.1989, case C-32/88, Societé Six Constructions./.Humbert, EU:C:1989:68, para 18 – constant jurisprudence. 40 In cases of tortious liability, the procedural situation of the plaintiff is structurally weak as a contractual designation of the competent court (by a jurisdiction clause) is impossible: according to the case-law of the ECJ, jurisdiction based on tort presupposes that there is no contractual relationship among the parties, ECJ, 13.3.2014, Rs. C-548/12, Brogsitter, EU:C:2014:148. 41 ECJ, 30.11.1976, case C-21/76, Bier, EU:C:1976:166, paras 20/23. 42 ECJ, 30.11.1976, case C-21/76, Bier, EU:C:1976:166, paras 24 and 25. It must be noted that the legal literature largely supported this judgment. Burkhard Hess 20 by the press, the affected person can bring an action either at the publisher’s domicile (being the place of conduct) or (alternatively) at all places where the article had been distributed. However, aware that this interpretation would entail a multitude of heads of jurisdiction, the court limited jurisdiction at the place of the harm to the partial harm, which occurred at the different places.43 Bier and Shevill are interesting in the sense that they demonstrate how the context of a case influences the interpretation of the instrument. When deciding Bier, the court was certainly not aware of the possibility of a libel suit brought in many different jurisdictions. The mosaic theory of Shevill was a judicial innovation. However, Shevill was not the end of the case law of the Court of Justice. As you all know, in eDate advertising44 and in Bolagsupplysniggen45 the Court expanded this case law further to internet infringements and held that the (potential) victim of a violation of privacy can bring his or her claim either at the place where content was placed on the internet (place of conduct) or at the place where the harm was sustained. In the two later judgments, the Court nevertheless limited the jurisdiction at the place of the harm to the court of the plaintiff’s main centre of interest. This place corresponds to the place where his or her reputation is mainly affected.46 Here, the case law of the Court demonstrates a willingness to balance the interests of the parties and to limit forum shopping.47 However, eDate Advertising48 and Bolagsupplysniggen49 also demonstrate the Court’s reluctance to change its former case law: although both judgments clearly deviate from the mosaic approach, they still refer to Shevill. Therefore, it is still 43 ECJ, 7.3.1995, case C-68/93, Fiona Shevill, EU:C:1995:61, esp. paras 29–31, 33. 44 ECJ, 25.10.2011, joined cases C-509/09 and C-161/10, eDate Advertising and Martinez, EU:C:2011:685, commented by Hess, in: Hess & Mariottini, Protection of Privacy (2016), p. 81 et seq. 45 ECJ, 17.10.2017, case C-194/16, Bolagsupplysningen, EU:C:2017:766. 46 ECJ, 25.10.2011, joined cases C-509/09 and C-161/10, eDate Advertising and Martinez, EU:C:2011:685, para 52; ECJ, 17.10.2017, Case C-194/16, Bolagsupplysningen, EU:C:2017:766, paras 41 et seq. 47 Hau, Klagemöglichkeiten juristischer Personen nach Persönlichkeitsrechtsverletzungen im Internet, GRUR 2018, 163 et seq. 48 ECJ, 25.10.2011, joined cases C-509/09 and C-161/10, eDate Advertising and Martinez, EU:C:2011:685, para 52. 49 ECJ, 17.10.2017, case C-194/16, Bolagsupplysningen, EU:C:2017:766, para 31. In his Opinion of 13.7.2017, AG Bobek had proposed to discard the mosaic principle, EU:C:2017:554, paras 73–90. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 21 unclear whether the mosaic has been given up or whether it still exists in some instances.50 Protection of the Rights of Defence The protection of the rights of defence belongs to the most significant principles of European procedural law. The ECJ stated the importance of fair proceedings in case C-125/79, Denilauler, where it said: “All the provisions of the Convention, both those contained in Title II on jurisdiction and those contained in Title III on recognition and enforcement, express the intention to ensure that, within the scope of the objectives of the Convention, proceedings leading to the delivery of judicial decisions take place in such a way that the rights of the defence are observed. It is because of the guarantees given to the defendant in the original proceedings that the Convention, in Title III, is very liberal in regard to recognition and enforcement.”51 Denilauler was about the recognition of a French saisie conservatoire (an arrest order) rendered without any hearing of the defendant. The ECJ held that the recognition of an ex parte order was not possible under the Convention and that the protection of the rights of the defendant had to prevail.52 Functionally, the Court balanced the need of protecting the defendant against the objective of the Convention to provide for the efficient recognition of judgments.53 At the same time, it avoided a one-sided interpretation of the instrument permitting the creditor a direct attachment of 3.3. 50 In both cases, the AG proposed to give up the mosaic principle, Opinion Cruz Villalón, 25.10.2011, case C-509/09, eDate Advertising, EU:C:2011:192, paras 49 et seq.; Opinion Bobek, 13.07.2017, case C-194/16, Bolagsupplysningen, EU:C:2017:554, paras 73 et seq. 51 ECJ, 21.5.1980, case C-125/79, Denilauler, EU:C:1980:130, para 13 (taking up the foundation of the conclusions). It must be noted that neither the AG nor the Court referred to the fair trial guarantee of Article 6 of the ECHR. 52 Today, this situation has been remedied by Regulation (EU) No. 655/2014 establishing a European Account Preservation Order procedure to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters, which permits the direct enforcement of bank accounts in other EU Member States but provides for rules, which protect the defendant’s rights. 53 ECJ, 21.5.1980, case C-125/79, Denilauler, EU:C:1980:130, para 14. Burkhard Hess 22 the debtor’s assets in other EU Member States without any prior hearing.54 In Denilauler, the Court set a strict limit to the unilateral enforcement of the creditor’s rights without a sufficient protection of the debtor. Denilauler also implied that the free movement of judgments requires a set of procedural norms guaranteeing this protection.55 The respect of the rights of the defence has become an overarching principle of European cross-border procedural law. The Court invoked it in different instances of cross-border litigation, especially in the context of the service of documents,56 regarding the translation of documents,57 necessary information of the defendant about remedies against the decision58 and the right of the defendant to be represented by a lawyer.59 Free Movement of Judgments The main objective of the Brussels regime is the establishment of a system guaranteeing the free movement of judgments.60 Already stated in the Preamble of the Brussels Convention, the Court took this objective up in Hoffmann v. Krieg61 and reinforced it in the following case law as “one of 3.4. 54 Obviously, the Court was concerned by ex parte provisional measures of English procedural law, and especially the “Mareva injunction”, cf. Opinion AG Mayras of 26.3.1980 (at p. 1580). 55 In 2012, the EU legislator explicitly endorsed this concept in Articles 2 a) and 41 (2) of the Brussels Ibis Regulation, Hess, in: Schlosser/Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (Commentary, 4th ed. 2015), Article 42 EuGVVO, para 5; Wiedemann, Vollstreckbarkeit (2017), p. 74–75. 56 In this context, the case law on the Service Regulations completes the case law on the ground of non-recognition regarding the proper information of the defendant in the court of origin, cf. ECJ, 2.3.2017, case C-354/15, Henderson, EU:C:2017:157, paras 50 et seq. 57 ECJ, 8.5.2008, case C-14/07, Weiss & Partner, EU:C:2008:264. 58 ECJ, 14.12.2006, case C-283/05, ASML, EU:C:2006:787, paras 26 et seq.; ECJ, 16.9.2015, case C-519/13, para 49; ECJ, 2.3.2017, case C-354/15, Henderson, EU:C: 2017:157, para 55; ECJ, 6.9.2018, Case C-21/17, Catlin Europe, EU:C: 2018:675, paras 32 et seq. 59 ECJ, 19.12.2012, case C-325/11, Alder, EU:C:2012:824; Mayr, in: Mayr (ed), Europäisches Zivilverfahrensrecht, paras 14, 34 et seq. 60 Pontier/Burg, EU Principles (2004), p. 27 et seq.; Dickinson, in Dickinson / Lein (ed), The Brussels I Regulation Recast (2015), para 1.59. 61 ECJ, 4.2.1988, case C-145/86, Hoffmann./.Krieg, EU:C:1988:61, para 10: “In that regard it should be recalled that the Convention 'seeks to facilitate as far as possible the free movement of judgments, and should be interpreted in this spirit'. Recognition must therefore 'have the result of conferring on judgments the Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 23 the fundamental principles of the Brussels Convention.”62 Later judgments made the free movement of judgments a cornerstone of the Convention, similar to the other freedoms of the EU Treaty on the free movement of goods, capitals, persons and services.63 The free movement of judgments was impacted by the development of the Brussels instruments themselves as the EU lawmaker reinforced and streamlined the regime of cross-border enforcement by different reforms.64 The Court clarified the regime on several occasions, especially with regard to Courts of new EU Member States. In this regard, Trade Agency appears as a seminal decision65 where the Court summarized the existing regime, explained the different tasks of the court of origin and the requested court in the recognition process66 and put the Regulation in context with the overarching principles of the free movement of judgments and the protection of the rights of defence. Judging by its results, Trade Agency is not innovative but it assesses and explains the state of affairs, including the relationship of the Brussels I Regulation to the Charter of Fundamental Rights.67 Finally, it reinforced the importance of the free movement of judgments by limiting and fine-tuning the control of the foreign judgment by the requested courts in the Member State of enforcement.68 authority and effectiveness accorded to them in the State in which they were given'” (referring to the Jenard Report). 62 ECJ, 4.10.1991, case C-183/90, Van Dalfsen./.Van Loon, EU:C:1991:379, para 21; ECJ, 2.6.1994, case C-414/92, Solo Kleinmotoren./.Boch, EU:C:1994:221, para 20; ECJ, 17.6.1999, Unibank./.Christensen, EU:C:1999:312, para 16. 63 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2010), § 3, paras 13 et seq. 64 For a short summary of the development, cf. Wiedemann, Vollstreckbarkeit (2017), p. 42 et seq. and p. 118 et seq.; Frackowiak-Adamska, CMLR 52 (2015), 191, 194 et seq., distinguishing three different models of recognition and enforcement in the current EU-instruments. 65 ECJ, 6.9.2012, case C-619/10, Trade Agency, EU:C:2012:531, cf. Lenaerts/Stapper, RabelsZ 78 (2014), 252, 272 et seq. This judgment was given in a preliminary reference coming from the Latvian Supreme Court. It concerned the recognition and enforcement of an English default judgment given without grounds. 66 ECJ, 6.9.2012, case C-619/10, Trade Agency, EU:C:2012:531, paras 26 et seq. 67 ECJ, 6.9.2012, case C-619/10, Trade Agency, EU:C:2012:531, paras 49 et seq. The judgment is a good example of the dialogue between the ECJ and the national judge about the interpretation of the Brussels regime. 68 Lenaerts/Stapper, RabelsZ 78 (2014), 252, 274. Burkhard Hess 24 The Wider Context The Brussels regime has never operated in a vacuum. Closely embedded in the general law of the Union, developments of the European integration directly influence its expansion. In this respect, two interfaces can be distinguished: On the one hand, vertical impacts coming from superior principles like the principle of mutual trust (4.1) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (4.2). On the other hand, the Brussels regime has been aligned by several EU-instruments enacted under Article 81 TFEU (4.3). Finally, the interfaces with the autonomous laws of the EU Member States (4.4) need to be addressed. Mutual Trust – a Transversal Principle of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice The embeddedness of EU procedural law in the general law of the Union is best demonstrated by the principle of mutual trust. According to recitals 16 and 17 of the Brussels I Regulation and recital 26 of the Brussels Ibis Regulation, the principle is the basis of judicial co-operation.69 Despite these evocations in the non-operational texts, the ECJ developed mutual trust as a foundational principle of judicial co-operation, not only in civil matters, but in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice and in general EU law.70 The starting point in procedural law was a much-discussed case, C-116/02, Gasser./.Misat.71 An Austrian salesperson had entered into an exclusive jurisdiction clause with his Italian commercial partner, designating the Austrian courts. When the Italian partner failed to pay the price of the goods, the Austrian intended to initiate proceedings in Austria (as agreed) but learned that the other party had already launched proceedings for a negative declaration in Italian courts (in breach of the jurisdiction 4. 4.1. 69 Articles 67 (4) and 81 (1) TFEU only mention mutual recognition (not trust), the same wording is found in Article 82 TFEU regarding the judicial co-operation in criminal matters. 70 Prechal, Mutual Trust Before the Court of Justice of the European Union, European Papers 2 (2017), 75 et seq.; Lenaerts, La vie après l’avis: exploring the principle of mutual but not blind trust, CMLR 54 (2017), 805 et seq. 71 ECJ, 9.12.2003, case C-116/02, Gasser, EU:C:2003:657, for a summary of the doctrinal debate of Schmidt, Rechtssicherheit im europäischen Zivilverfahrensrecht (2015), p. 186–202. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 25 clause). As Gasser had filed his claim six months after the start of the Italian proceedings, the Austrian court asked whether, relying on Article 6 ECHR, it could decide the case despite the pendency in Italy. The Court of Justice decided that the rules of pendency literally did not foresee any exception.72 It noted that the respect of the priority rule should avoid a later non-recognition of the foreign judgment according to Article 27 No. 3 BC/45 I lit c) JR. It stated: “…it must be borne in mind that the Brussels Convention is necessarily based on the trust which the Contracting States accord to each other's legal systems and judicial institutions. It is that mutual trust which has enabled a compulsory system of jurisdiction to be established, which all the courts within the purview of the Convention are required to respect, and as a corollary the waiver by those States of the right to apply their internal rules on recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in favour of a simplified mechanism for the recognition and enforcement of judgments.”73 The ECJ noted that Article 6 of the ECHR imposed a duty on the national courts to proceed in an efficient way. However, the Convention had established a system of close co-operation, which was based on mutual trust in the proper functioning of the court systems of the Member States. Providing for an exception in case of lengthy proceedings would not be compatible with the system.74 As a result, the ECJ established a strict principle of mutual trust prevailing over concerns on the efficiency of the court systems not meeting the requirements of Article 6 ECHR. One might argue that the case at hand was not severe enough to raise fundamental concerns regarding an abuse of the system.75 Eventually, Gasser clearly rejected any 72 ECJ, 9.12.2003, case C-116/02, Gasser, EU:C:2003:657, paras 41 et seq. Since 2015, Article 31 (2) of Regulation No. 1215/2012 provides for an exception from pendency in case of a mandatory jurisdiction clause: The designated court shall decide on the validity of the clause and on its jurisdiction; all other courts must stay the proceedings until the designated court has made its decision. 73 ECJ, 9.12.2003, case C-116/02, Gasser, EU:C:2003:657, para 72. 74 ECJ, 9.12.2003, case C-116/02, Gasser, EU:C:2003:657, para 72, Düsterhaus, ZEuP 2018, 10, 22. The Jenard Report (OJ 1979 C 59/1, 46) has already referred to mutual trust as a reason to reduce the control of foreign decisions at the recognition stage. 75 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2010), § 4, para 4.75. Burkhard Hess 26 idea of an exception within the system based on mutual trust.76 In a similar way, Turner77 and Allianz (West Tankers) clearly limited the powers of English courts under national law to issue anti-suit injunctions against parties litigating in the courts of other Member States.78 Mutual trust implies that courts can expect that the courts of other Member States fully apply EU law. In the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, mutual trust has become an overarching (“constitutional”) principle of judicial (and administrative) co-operation.79 Seminal judgments were not only given in civil co-operation, but in criminal matters and in asylum cases.80 Co-operation has become the genuine concept of Union law of cross-border collaboration. It aims at avoiding parallel controls and proceedings in several Member States. A judicial decision made in one Member State shall be recognized by the others without further control. Consequently, recognition requires trust in the handling of the proceedings in the Member State of origin. Judicial co-operation in the Union is based on the presumption that all EU Member States share the same values and comply, in particular, with fundamental human rights. However, mutual trust is not blind trust and the presumption can be rebutted in extreme cases. As a result, the public policy exception appears as an inherent limitation of mutual trust. In case C-681/13, Diageo Brands,81 the ECJ clarified the operation of mutual trust in the framework of the Brussels regime. In this case, the Dutch party contested the recognition of a Bulgarian judgment in the Netherlands by asserting that the court of origin had misapplied the EU trademark directive without referring the legal issues to the ECJ under 76 Different opinion Lenaerts/Stapper, RabelsZ 78 (2014), 252, 276: The Court decided that Article 21 BC had to be interpreted in a way that it did not provide for an exception when court proceedings in an EU Member State were generally (“allgemein”) too slow (highlighted by B.H.). Yet, Gasser does not make this differentiation. 77 ECJ, 27.4.2004, case C-159/02, Turner, EU:C:2004:228; Fentiman, International Commercial Litigation (2nd ed 2015), paras 16.131 et seq. 78 ECJ, 10.2.2009, case C-185/07, Allianz, EU:C:2009:69, paras 29 and 30. 79 Prechal, European Papers 2 (2017), 75, 84 et seq.; Lenaerts, La vie après l’avis: exploring the principle of mutual but not blind trust, CMLR 54 (2017), 805 et seq. 80 ECJ, 21.12.2011, joint cases C-411/10 and 493/10, N.S., EU:C:2011:865, and to ECJ, 25.11.2017, joint cases C-404/15 and 659/15 PPU, Aranyosi and Căldăraru, EU:C:2016:198 and, especially ECJ, 18.12.2014, Opinion 2/13 Adhésion de l’Union à la CEDH, EU:C:2014:2454, paras 163, 192–193. 81 ECJ, 16.7.2015, case C-681/13, Diageo Brands, EU:C:2015:471. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 27 Article 267 TFEU. The Dutch party had not lodged an appeal against the Bulgarian judgment that had become final. The Court said: “[63] (…) the rules on recognition and enforcement laid down by Regulation No 44/2001 are based on mutual trust in the administration of justice in the European Union. It is that trust which the Member States accord to one another’s legal systems and judicial institutions which permits the inference that, in the event of the misapplication of national law or EU law, the system of legal remedies in each Member State, together with the preliminary ruling procedure provided for in Article 267 TFEU, affords a sufficient guarantee to individuals (…). [64] It follows that Regulation No 44/2001 must be interpreted as being based on the fundamental idea that individuals are required, in principle, to use all the legal remedies made available by the law of the Member State of origin.” Under the current Brussels regime, parties cannot simply avoid proceedings in the Member State where the original action was brought and invoke at the enforcement stage severe deficiencies of the process before the court of origin under the public policy exception.82 To the contrary, they must use the remedies in the Member State of origin in order to prevent a breach of public policy.83 Otherwise, there is no “manifest” breach of public policy.84 The principle of mutual trust does not only impose procedural obligations upon the parties. In addition, the Member States are required to provide for judicial systems protecting effectively the individual rights of litigants.85 As a result, mutual trust as the overarching principle of the judicial co-operation has reshaped the interplay between the court of origin and 82 According to recent judgments, courts in the Member States must thoroughly apply the minimum standards in the Brussels instruments of the 2nd generation in order to protect the right of defence as these instruments do not provide for a review in the Member State of enforcement. ECJ, 28.2.2018, case C-289/17, Collect Inkasso OÜ, EU:C:2018:133, paras 36–37; ECJ, 9.3.2017, case C-484/15, Zulfikarpašić, EU:C:2017:199, para 48; ECJ, 16.6.2016, Pebros Servizi, C-511/14, EU:C:2016:448, para 44. 83 ECJ, 6.9.2012, case C-619/10, Trade Agency, EU:C:2012:531, para 64; ECJ, 16.7.2015, case C-681/13, Diageo Brands, EU:C:2015:471, para 63. The Court decided that public policy (Article 34 No 1 JR) was not infringed as the applicant had not exhausted the available remedies in Bulgaria. 84 Prechal, European Papers 2 (2017), 75, 81 et seq. 85 The first judgment was ECJ, 14.12.2006, case C-283/05, ASML, EU:C:2006:787, paras 31–32. Article 19 (1)(2) TEU imposes on EU Member States a duty to pro- Burkhard Hess 28 the court of enforcement and the role of the parties in cross border disputes.86 Finally, mutual trust also encourages the dialogue among justices in cross border circumstances.87 In extreme cases, mutual trust permits exceptions from recognition.88 The Growing Role of the Charter of Fundamental Rights The development of mutual trust already showed the impact of fundamental rights on the Brussels regime. In the early stage of the development, fundamental rights were not explicitly mentioned. They became mostly visible in the context of public policy, especially in cases C-7/98, Krombach89, C-394/07, Gambazzi90, C-420/07, Apostolides and C-681/13, Diageo Brands.91 The seminal decision was Krombach where the Court explicitly held that the right to a fair trial as enshrined by Article 6 ECHR directly impacted the Brussels regime.92 By this jurisprudence, the Court of Justice developed a specific concept of public policy (Article 27 no. 1 BC, 34 no. 1/45 I lit. a) JR) consisting of two different layers: At its core, public 4.2. vide effective legal remedies, Safjan/Düsterhaus, A Union of Effective Judicial Protection: Addressing a Multi-level Challenge through the lens of Article 47 CFREU, Yb EuL 33 (2014), 3, 4. 86 Prechal, European Papers 2 (2017), 75, 82 et seq.; different opinion Düsterhaus, ZEuP 2018, 10, 23 (arguing that the protection of legitimate expectation is only of minimal importance within the detailed rules on recognition provided by the Brussels Ibis Regulation). 87 Lenaerts, CMLR 54 (2017), 805, 836 (referring to judicial co-operation in criminal matters). Article 29 (2) JR requires direct information among different courts seized in the same case. 88 Example: ECJ, 26.4.2018, case C-34/17, Donnellan, EU:C:2018:282, see Hess, Travaux du Comité Français du Droit International Privé 2016-2018, (2019), p. 329, 345 et seq. 89 In case C-7/98, Krombach, EU:C:2000:164, paras 24–26, 38–39, 42, the Court stated that public policy could, in exceptional circumstances, cover the fundamental right to a fair hearing, cf. Magnus/Mankowski/Franq, Article 45 Brussels Ibis Regulation (Commentary 2015), paras 13 and 29. 90 ECJ, 2.4.2009, case C-394/07, Gambazzi, EU:C:2009:219. 91 ECJ, 16.7.2015, case C-681/13, Diageo Brands, EU:C:2015:471, described supra in fn 83. 92 ECJ, 28.3.2000, case C-7/98, Krombach, EU:C:2000:164, paras 24–27. In Krombach, the Court stressed that the Convention was part of the legal order of the European Community and that human rights were recognized as general principles of EU law. At para 39, the ECJ directly referred to the case law of the ECtHR regarding “contumace” proceedings. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 29 policy refers to the fundamental values of the requested EU Member State – and it is up to the Member States to determine these core values. However, it is up to the Court to review the limits of public policy which, finally, bars the free movement of judgments. In addition, EU law provides for a threshold of human rights protection which is found in the common constitutional values of the EU Member States, the ECHR and – since 2009 – in Article 47 of the CFR. These European standards93 have expanded continuously as they overlap national standards.94 As a result, they have limited the “national core” of public policy.95 According to the current case law of the Court, Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights reshapes the Brussels regime in the sense that almost all provisions of the procedural instruments have to be interpreted according to the fundamental right of a fair trial.96 In case C-112/13 A v B and others the Court stated: “…the provisions of EU law, such as those of Regulation No. 44/2001, must be interpreted in the light of fundamental rights which, according to settled case-law, form an integral part of the general principles of law whose observance the Court ensures and which are now set out in the Charter (…)97. In that respect, it must be borne in mind that all the provisions of Regulation No. 44/2001 express the intention to 93 Lenaerts, CMLR 54 (2017), 805, 824 et seq. distinguishes national and European public policy. 94 The interplay of the public policy exception of the Brussels regime and the application of the Charter seems to be unsettled: The Brussels regime is an area of full harmonized Union law where the fundamental rights of the Charter are fully applicable according to article 53 CFR, cf. ECJ, 26.2.2013, case C-399/11, Melloni, EU:C:2013:107, para 60; Opinion Bobek, 25.7.2018, case C-310/16, Dzivev, EU:C:2018:623, paras 85–90. However, the public policy exception in Article 45 (1) (a) of Reg. 1215/2012 refers back to the public policy of the Member States and brings national constitutional law into play again. 95 As a result, it is difficult to find decisions where national courts apply the national public policy exception in a convincing way. A telling example is a decision of the German Federal Court of 7/19/2018, where the 11th Senate refused to recognise a Polish judgment ordering a German television agency to publish the text of a statement on its front website. The Federal Court held that the publication of the pre-formulated text would infringe the freedom of speech under Article 5 of the German Constitution. However, the Court did not consider adapting the foreign decision in a way that would have conformed to German constitutional law. 96 This follows from Article 51 CFR, ECJ, 26.2.2013, case C-617/10, Åkerberg Fransson, EU:C:2013:105. 97 The Court referred to Google Spain and Google, C‑131/12, EU:C:2014:317, para 68 and the case-law cited. Burkhard Hess 30 ensure that, within the scope of the objectives of that regulation, proceedings leading to the delivery of judicial decisions take place in such a way that the rights of the defence enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter are observed”.98 This corresponds to a general development.99 In this sense, the Court has held that Article 47 CFR is to be engaged when the jurisdiction is based on EU rules100, service is effected under the Service Regulation101 and evidence is gathered under the Evidence Regulation.102 In addition, the Court has decided that the right to effective judicial protection (Article 19 TEU) requires the implication of a judge when a title is certified to be enforced cross-border.103 Although there are not many judgments addressing Article 47 CFR,104 there is a growing corpus of jurisprudence that finally entails a constitutionalization as the EU instruments on procedural law are interpreted according to the standards of the Charter.105 The interplay of the principle of mutual trust and the respect of fundamental rights enshrined in the CFR demonstrates the specific nature of judicial co-operation in the integration process within the AFSJ, which is based on common values shared by the EU Member States.106 98 ECJ, 11.9.2014, case C-112/13, A v B and others, EU:C:2014:2195, para 51; equally ECJ, 25.5.2016, case C-559/14, Meroni, EU:C:2016:349, paras 42–45. 99 According to Lenaerts, CMLR 54 (2017), 805, 812: “secondary EU legislation that seeks to facilitate the mutual recognition in criminal and civil matters must indeed respect the fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter.” 100 ECJ, 11.9.2014, case C-112/13, A v B and others, EU:C:2014:2195, paras 51 and 58 et seq.; In para 58, the Court referred to ECJ, 17.11.2011, case C-327/10, Hypoteční banka, EU:C:2011:745, paras 48–49; ECJ, 15.3.2012, case C-292/10, G, EU:C:2012:142, paras 47–48, where Article 47 CFR had not been mentioned. 101 ECJ, 2.3.2017, case C-354/15, Henderson, EU:C:2017:157, para 51 – regarding the service of documents the Court has recognized its objective to preserve the right of defence. Cf. ECJ, 16.9.2015, case C-519/13, Alpha Bank, EU:C:2015:603, para 49; 28.4.2016, case C-384/14, Alta Realitat, EU:C:2016:316; 6.9.2018, case C-21/17, Catlin Europe, EU:C:2018:675, para 33. 102 ECJ, 17.12.2015, case C-300/14, Imtech Marine Belgium, EU:C:2015:825, para 50. 103 ECJ, 9.3.2017, case C-551/15, Pula Parking, EU:C:2017:193, paras 42 et seq.; ECJ, 17.12.2015, case C-300/14, Imtech Marine Belgium, EU:C:2015:825, para 50. 104 Düsterhaus, ZEuP 2018, 10, 19 et seq. 105 Prechal, European Papers 2 (2017), 75, 81 et seq. 106 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2nd ed. 2020, forthcoming), § 4, paras 4.1 et seq.; Lenaerts, CMLR 54 (2017), 805, 824 et seq. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 31 The Interplay of the Instruments on Civil Co-operation The expansion of the Brussels regime since 2000 has considerably impacted its interpretation. The first area of their interplay relates to the scope of the instruments. Initially, Article 1 (2) BC excluded specific matters which remained subject to the national laws of the Member States.107 Today, the provisions on the scope of the instruments mainly address the delineation among the different EU-instruments, the delimitation from the laws of EU Member States has become an exception. In Seagon,108 the Court addressed the changed legal scenario: it had been asked whether an action for avoidance falls under the Insolvency Regulation and whether it can be brought before the court of the debtor’s main interest (Article 3 Regulation No. 1346/2000).109 The Court confirmed that jurisdiction for an action to set aside a transaction could be based on Article 3 of the Insolvency Regulation. Referring to its former case-law,110 the Court held that the purpose of the Insolvency Regulation is to concentrate all insolvency-related proceedings in one Member State and that the proper functioning of the Internal Market (as stated in Recital 4 to the EIR) required to avoid incentives for parties to transfer assets from one Member State to another in order to obtain a more favourable legal protection.111 In later decisions, the Court stressed the need to align the instruments which implies a uniform interpretation of the criteria defining the scope.112 Similar issues of uniform interpretation also arise with regard to the socalled Brussels instruments of the 2nd generation.113 As these instruments are closely linked to the Brussels I Regulation, a coherent interpretation is needed. In case C-508/12, Vapenik,114 the Court was asked whether the provisions of the EEO-Regulation protecting consumers could be applied to 4.3. 107 Example: Art. 1(2) BC exempted divorce proceedings from the scope of the Convention, national law applied, cf. ECJ, 4.2.1988, case C-145/86, Hoffmann./.Krieg, EU:C:1988:61. Since 2001, the Brussels II Regulation applies to divorce. 108 ECJ, 12.2.2009, case C-339/07, Seagon, EU:C:2009:83. 109 OJ 2000 L 160/1; in the recast, the issue is addressed by Articles 6–8 of Regulation No. 848/2015. 110 ECJ, 22.2.1979, case C-133/78, Gourdain./.Nadler, EU:C:1979:49, para 4. 111 ECJ, 12.2.2009, case C-339/07, Seagon, EU:C:2009:83, paras 19, 23 and 24. 112 ECJ, 4.9.2014, Case C-157/13, Nickel, EU:C:2014:2145, para 21: Both regulations “must be interpreted in such a way as to avoid any overlap between the rules of law that those texts lay down and any legal vacuum.” 113 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2nd ed. 2020, forthcoming), § 10, paras 10.1 et seq. 114 ECJ, 5.12.2013, case C-508/12, Vapenik, EU:C:2013:790. Burkhard Hess 32 proceedings where both private parties had acted for non-professional purposes. If this was the case, each consumer could start proceedings at his or her domicile.115 The Court referred to the definition of Article 6(1)(d) of Regulation No. 805/2004, requiring a dispute between a consumer and a person acting in the scope of an economic activity (trade, business, craft, liberal profession). It held that the objective of the provision is to protect the consumer as the structurally weaker party in a situation of imbalance. This was not the case when two private parties conclude a contract for the sale of goods or services. The Court compared the enforcement regimes of the Brussels I Regulation and the EEO-Regulation and concluded that the extension of the definition of consumer – as proposed by the referring court – would not only run counter to the objective of protecting a weaker party but would also lead to inconsistencies in the application of the two instruments.116 As a result, the ECJ refrained from extending the concept of consumer: general provisions of jurisdiction were applicable and the Austrian court was competent to issue the enforcement order. Similar problems arise with regard to the EU instruments of conflict of laws.117 The alignment of both areas of law goes back to the 1980 Rome Convention on the law applicable to contractual obligations.118 Accordingly, recitals 7 of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations state that the scope and the substantive provisions of the Regulation shall be consistently 115 See Articles 17 and 18 (2) Brussels 1bis Regulation. 116 See ECJ, 5.12.2013, case C-508/12, Vapenik, EU:C:2013:790, para 37: “If, in the context of Regulation No. 805/2004, a definition were to be adopted, which is wider than that in Regulation No. 44/2001, that might lead to inconsistencies in the application of those two regulations. The derogation laid down by Regulation No. 805/2004 might lead to refusal of certification as a European enforcement order of a judgment, whereas it could still be enforced under the general scheme laid down by Regulation No. 44/2001 since the circumstances in which that scheme allows the defendant to challenge the issue of an enforcement order, on the ground that the jurisdiction of the courts for the State in which the consumer is domiciled has not been respected, would not be satisfied.” 117 The complementarity is specifically evident in EU instruments addressing both areas like the Succession Regulation. Here, the alignment goes even further since the Regulation establishes a parallelism between the competent forum and the applicable law, cf. Articles 4 and 21. 118 This convention should reduce forum shopping: when the same conflict of laws rules apply throughout the European Union there is no incentive to go to a specific court in order to get a more promising law on the substance applied. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 33 applied with the Brussels regime.119 As a matter of principle, the Court of Justice strives for a consistent and coherent interpretation of the terms of these instruments120 but it also regards the specific objectives of the instrument at hand.121 It interprets the Regulations according to the classical methods,122 but gives specific consideration to the objectives of each instrument. A prominent case in this regard was case C-45/13 Kainz./.Pantherwerke where the Court decided that the interpretation of (now) Article 7 no. 2 of the Brussels Ibis Regulation could not be aligned with the conflict of norms rule in Article 5 of the Rome II Regulation addressing product liability.123 The Court said: “[recital 7] does not mean, however, that the provisions of Regulation No. 44/2001 must for that reason be interpreted in the light of the provisions of Regulation No. 864/2007. The objective of consistency cannot, in any event, lead to the provisions of Regulation No. 44/2001 being interpreted in a manner which is unconnected to the scheme and objectives pursued by that regulation.”124 119 Recital 7 of the Rome II Regulation reads as follows: “The substantive scope and the provisions of this Regulation should be consistent with Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels I) and the instruments dealing with the law applicable to contractual obligations.” 120 Especially the German doctrine addresses a more comprehensive approach in the context of a so-called “O-Regulation” which shall provide for a “general part” or a set of common rules and principles, see Leible, Die Zukunft des Europäischen Zivilprozessrechts, Festschrift Gottwald (2014), p. 381, 390 et seq. 121 Examples: ECJ, 19.9.2018, cases C-325/18 PPU and C-375/18 PPU, C.E. and N.E., EU:C:2018:739, para 55 (on the autonomous interpretation of article 1 (2) of the Brussels IIbis Regulation; ECJ, 26.4.2012, case C-92/12 PPU, Health Service Executive, EU:C:2012:255, para 59. 122 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2nd ed.2020, forthcoming), para 4.54 et seq. 123 ECJ, 16.1.2014, case C-45/13, Kainz, EU:C:2014:7. In Kainz, the Austrian plaintiff had bought a bicycle in Austria produced by a German manufacturer. The bicycle broke down when the plaintiff made an excursion in Germany. Nevertheless, the plaintiff brought his claim against the manufacturer before the Austrian courts where he had acquired the bike and where it had been marketed, cf. Article 5 (2)(b) of Regulation No. 864/2006. He argued to expand the place of the tort under Article 7 no. 2 JR to the place where the product was acquired and marketed. 124 ECJ, 16.1.2014, case C-45/13 Kainz, EU:C:2014:7, para 20, cf. Requejo Isidro, Reflection on the Preambles to EU Private International Law Regulations, in: Festschrift Kohler (2018), p. 425, 435 et seq. Burkhard Hess 34 In order to strengthen predictability, the ECJ interpreted Article 7 no. 2 JR narrowly since it is an exception to Article 4 of the same Regulation.125 In product liability cases, the Court located the place of the event giving rise to the damage at the place where the product was manufactured.126 The multitude of different connecting factors of Article 5 (1) Rome II Regulation was not transferred to the Brussels regime. EU Procedural Law and National Procedures Another “neighbouring area” relates to the delineation from and the interfaces with the procedural laws of the Member States. Regarding the interfaces, the point of departure is clear: According to the constant case law of the Court, the Brussels regime does not harmonize national procedures, unless there is a clear provision addressing procedural issues.127 On the other hand, national procedures cannot impact the self-standing Brussels regime.128 On balance, the Court has shown self-restraint in favour of the procedural autonomy of the Member States. However, when applying their national procedures in the frame of the Brussels regime, the courts in the EU Member States are bound by the principles of equivalence and effectiveness.129 However, the case law of the ECJ sometimes affects indirectly the autonomous laws of the Member States. An important example relates to pendency and to the interpretation of the subject matter of the case. In Gubisch,130 the Court held that the concept of the “same cause of action” (now found in Article 29 of the Recast) was to be determined autonomously according to the “le même objet et cause” (to be broadly defined). According to this case law, an action for payment and an action for the declaration that no obligation of payment exists relate to the same 4.4. 125 Cf. Recital 11 of Regulation No. 44/2001, now Recital 15 of Regulation No. 1215/2012. 126 It still remains to be seen whether this rule also applies in cases of a defectual design. 127 Some authors argue that expanding the scope of the Brussels instruments by analogy is not possible because of the limited competences of the Union. Yet, this argument is not convincing as Article 81 TFEU itself permits the harmonization of procedural law in cross-border cases. 128 ECJ, 1.3.2005, case C-281/02, Owusu, EU:C:2005:120. 129 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2nd ed.2020, forthcoming), § 11, paras 4 et seq. 130 ECJ, 8.12.1987, case C-144/86, Gubisch, EU:C:1987:528, paras 7–8. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 35 cause of action.131 The same applies between the action to enforce a contract and another for rescission.132 Legal doctrine criticised this case law: either in Member States where a more limited approach to the scope of pendency (and res judicata) prevails and in others where the action for a negative declaration was unknown. In the long run, it seems that critics are no longer so strongly expressed and that the approach of the ECJ has gained more and more support in the legal doctrine.133 However, the courts in the Member States are more reluctant, especially as the equal treatment of the action for a negative declaration and the action for performance encourages a rush to the court.134 In Folien Fischer135, a competition case, the German Federal Civil Court explicitly asked the ECJ whether (now) Article 7 no. 2 JR applies to an action for a declaration as to the non-existence of civil liability for a tort or delict allegedly committed.136 This reference gave the ECJ the opportunity to review its case law on the equal treatment of both types of the actions. In his Opinion, AG Jääskinen analysed (now) Article 7 no. 2 JR according to the wording of the provision, its objective and the system of the Regulation. He argued that the objective of the provision was to protect the victim of an (alleged) infringement by establishing jurisdiction at the place where either the infringement was committed or the damage sustained.137 The AG also argued that the other objectives of the provision – and, notably, proximity to the facts of the dispute, foreseeability and the proximity to the case – favoured a restrictive interpretation of the specific head of jurisdiction. As a result, the AG proposed to change the current case law. In its judgment, the Court did not follow the proposal made by the 131 ECJ, 25.10.2012, case C-133/11, Folien Fischer, EU:C:2012:664. 132 ECJ, 8.12.1987, case C-144/86, Gubisch, EU:C:1987:528. 133 Gottwald in: Münchener Kommentar zur ZPO (5th ed. 2018), Article 29 Brussels Ibis Regulation, paras 13 and 14 with references of the German doctrine. The Working Group on Pendency of the ELI/Unidroit Project on Transnational Rules of Civil Procedure took up the approach of the Brussels regime as developed by the Court as a model for a European approach. However, German courts have not changed their traditional approach to pendency and res judicata in domestic settings. 134 The divergent practice of courts in the Member States is documented in the Opinion AG Jääskinen, 19.4.2012, case C-133/11, Folien Fischer, EU:C:2012:226, footnotes 15–17. 135 ECJ, 25.10.2012, case C-133/11, Folien Fischer, EU:C:2012:664. 136 Opinion AG Jääskinen, 19.4.2012, case C-133/11, Folien Fischer, EU:C:2012:226, para 19. 137 However, the Court had never openly taken up this position which had often been advanced by legal doctrine. Burkhard Hess 36 AG. The Court acknowledged that the action for a negative declaration reversed the role of the parties. However, it held that, different to the “protective heads of jurisdiction in chapter II of the Regulation”, jurisdiction based on tort was not one-sided and that the wording of the provision does not distinguish the different roles of the parties.138 Therefore, the Court held that the action for a negative declaration could not be excluded from the scope of (now) Article 7 no. 2 JR.139 Folien Fischer is a decision, which stands for the continuity of the case law of the Court, although the critique of the AG was well founded. The judgment may prompt Member States to introduce (or to reinforce) the action for a negative declaration in their domestic procedural laws in order to preserve the equal treatment of (domestic) parties in international settings. Assessment: European Procedural Law as Interpreted by the ECJ Where is the Brussels regime standing today, after almost 50 years of practice in the Member States and in the Court of Justice? Any assessment of the practice must be aware of the different perspectives adopted: From the perspective of the Court, the Brussels regime (and private international law in general) only amounts to 4 % of all of its cases.140 This statistical figure entails that the main perspective of the Court comes from general Union law (and the AFSJ). On the other hand, the perspective of those commenting the case law is different as it usually comes from the specific area in which the commentator is a specialist: private (international) law, civil procedural law or both. However, the different perspectives do not exclude that the ECJ takes into account the specific needs of the instrument it is construing and the academic commentator might take into account the context of EU law. Thus, both approaches can be combined and it appears that a kind of untechnical specialisation regarding the Brussels regime is also present within the ECJ.141 5. 138 ECJ, 25.10.2012, case C-133/11, Folien Fischer, EU:C:2012:664, paras 42 et seq. 139 ECJ, 25.10.2012, case C-133/11, Folien Fischer, EU:C:2012:664, para 51. 140 Düsterhaus, ZEuP 2018, 10, 30. 141 Schmidt, Rechtssicherheit (2015), p. 266 et seq. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 37 Interaction between Rules and Principles The review of the cases demonstrates that the Court closely follows the text of the respective instruments: preliminary references in procedural law usually address the interpretation of specific rules of the regime.142 The literal text of the instrument is the starting point,143 but the objective and the scheme of the instrument are equally taken into account.144 Legal certainty and predictability are important arguments in the textual interpretation of the regime,145 decisions against the wording of the instruments usually do not take place.146 Generally, the Court understands the rules of the Brussels regime in a way that they strike a fair balance between the rights of the plaintiff to access the courts in order to effectively enforce the rights claimed and the right of the defendant to bring his defence.147 This approach equally reinforces the importance of the rules set by the lawmaker: the objective of ensuring a fair balance is primarily found in the provisions of the respective instrument itself. In addition, general principles of procedural law, Union law and the constitutional guarantees of the Charter play an important (and growing) role in the case law of the Court. Initially, it developed these principles 5.1. 142 Dickinson, in: Dickinson/Lein, The Brussels I Regulation Recast (2015), paras 1.45 and 1.49. 143 The different language versions of the instruments may yield to uncertainty about the precise meaning of a provision, cf. Streinz, in: Riesenhuber (ed.), European Legal Methodology (2017), p. 151, 159 et seq. 144 With regard to the systemic interpretation, it is to note that the Court usually refers to the instrument itself and not so often to parallel instruments. 145 Dickinson, in: Dickinson/Lein, para 1.63: “The principle of legal certainty is … anything but certain in its meaning and application.” 146 Different opinion Schmidt, Rechtssicherheit, p. 249 et seq., who does not distinguish between decisions reducing the scope and wording of the instruments and cases where parties tried to enlarge the system. 147 Example: ECJ, 7.7.2016, case C-70/15, Lebek, EU:C:2016:524, para 37: “In that connection, it is apparent from recitals 16 to 18 to the Brussels I Regulation that the system of appeals for which it provides against the recognition or enforcement of a judgment aims to establish a fair balance between, on the one hand, mutual trust in the administration of justice in the Union, which justifies judgments given in a Member State being, as a rule, recognised and declared enforceable automatically in another Member State and, on the other hand, respect for the rights of the defence, which means that the defendant should, where necessary, be able to appeal in an adversarial procedure against the declaration of enforceability if he considers one of the grounds for non-enforcement to be present (judgment of 28.4.2009 in Apostolides, C-420/07, EU:C:2009:271, para 73).” Burkhard Hess 38 within the text of the Brussels Convention; but the Court always considered the Convention also as an integral part of the EC law.148 The Amsterdam Treaty fully integrated judicial co-operation into the Treaty and aligned it with other policies of the Union. The replacement of the Brussels Convention by secondary EU law implied an important change as the recitals of the regulations refer to the guiding principles149 (and, since 2009, to the Charter).150 The style of the judgments of the Court151 reflects this perspective: At present, judgments start by quoting the applicable provisions according to their hierarchy: The introductory part often enounces primary Union law – therefore the Charter is quoted in the first place. Secondary Union law appears in the second place; and again, the judgments place the recitals of the regulations before the operative provisions.152 This legal context is usually taken up in the operative parts of the judgments: Here, the Court sometimes starts by quoting the overarching principles and objectives of the provisions to be applied.153 This style of the judgments opens up a perception where the overarching principles and constitutional guarantees support and reinforce the interpretation of the rules.154 On the other hand, the practical impacts of the principles remain limited due to their open formulation and their character as values (to be bal- 148 See supra text at fn. 24 et seq. 149 Example: Recitals 16 and 17 of Regulation No. 44/2001 referred to mutual trust, recital 18 evoked the right of defence. Similarly: Regulation 1215/2012, recital 26 (mutual trust) and 38 (Charter of Fundamental Rights). It must be noted that the recitals of the Brussels Ibis Regulation are less explicit than those of its predecessor. 150 Example: Recital 38 of the Brussels Ibis Regulation; different opinion Dickinson, in Dickinson/Lein, The Brussels I Regulation Recast (2015), para 1.117, who regards the evocation of the Charter in the recital as “superfluous”. 151 Cf. Lenaerts/Maselis/Gutman/Nowak, EU Procedural Law (2014), para 23.88, describing the content and the formal requirements of the judgments of the ECJ. 152 Example: ECJ, 25.6.2016, case C-559/14, Meroni, EU:C:2016:349: paras 3 and 4 refer to articles 47 and 51 of the Charter, para 5 quotes recital 16 to 18 of Regulation 44/01, paras 6 et seq. quote operative provision of the Regulation. 153 Example: ECJ, 7.7.2016, case C-70/15, Lebek, EU:C:2016:524, paras 32 and 33: free movement of judgments, para 34: rights of defence. 154 Example: ECJ, case C-354/15, Henderson, EU:C:2017:157, paras 48 et seq., addressing Article 8 of the Service Regulation. The right to refuse the acceptance of an (untranslated) document stems from the need to protect the right of defence (Article 47 of the Charter). Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 39 anced).155 They do not impose a specific solution but, rather, reinforce the weight and the objective of specific provisions of the legal instrument at hand.156 As principles do not impose a specific solution, they do not overcome the text of the instruments. In this respect, Gasser157 was a typical decision when the Court refused to deviate from the wording of (now) Article 29 JR by referring to Article 6 of the ECHR.158 Similarly, the constitutional principle of mutual trust operates on the basis of the existing instruments. It is interesting to see that, in the context of public policy (Article 34 No. 1 JR), the ECJ (de facto) aligned the obligation of the party to first seek redress in the court of origin with the parallel text of the Brussels I Regulation (Article 34 no. 2 JR).159 Finally, the reference to principles (like mutual trust) permits the Court to place the interpretation of a specific provision in the broader context of Union law – for instance, to relate it to mutual trust as it is applied to judicial co-operation in criminal matters.160 However, explicit cross-references are rare exceptions in the case law on the Brussels regime.161 Comparative Law in the Brussels Regime The first decisions on the Brussels Convention were based on a comparative review: This was mainly found in the opinion of the Advocates General and in the arguments of the parties.162 The situation has progressively 5.2. 155 Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht (2nd ed 2020, forthcoming) § 4, para 4.81 et seq.; Dickinson, in: Dickinson/Lein, The Brussels I Regulation Recast (2015), para 1.56 (stressing the non-binding nature of recitals). 156 Mak, Rights and Remedies, in: Micklitz (ed.), Constitutionalization of European Private Law (2014), p. 236, 239 et seq. 157 Supra at fn. 69 et seq. 158 Article 6 ECHR does not prescribe the length of the proceedings and it was not up to the ECJ to make such a decision. 159 This provision (now Article 45 (1) (b) JR) states: “unless the defendant failed to commence proceeding to challenge the judgement when it was possible for him to do so.” The ECJ developed this line of argument in case C-283/05, ASML, paras 38 and 39, it was finally (but not explicitly) taken up in case C-681/13, Diageo Brands, para 63. However, there is no explicit reference to Art. 34 No. 2 JR in this judgment. 160 ECJ, 26.4.2018, case C-34/17, Donnellan, EU:C:2018:282, paras 45 and 50. 161 They are found in the opinions of the Court, see Opinion 2/13 of the Union (Accession to the ECHR), EU:C:2014:2454, para 191. 162 At that time, the judgments of the Court briefly summarized the arguments raised in the hearings. Burkhard Hess 40 changed and today the autonomous and the systemic interpretation dominate the current practice. In addition, the Court largely refers to its former case law.163 Legal doctrine has criticized the shift from the comparative approach,164 but one must acknowledge that comparing 27 different national legal orders is practically more or less impossible.165 However, this does not exclude that the Court takes note of the different practices in the Member States – often based on comparative notes provided by its scientific service. Still, there are cases where comparative law plays a visible role – in this regard, Folien Fischer is a good example.166 Here, a comparative analysis was not given by the Court in its judgment, but by the Advocate General instead.167 However, increasing the visibility of the comparative background would certainly improve the acceptance of the Court’s judgment in the (other) EU Member States. Thus, it must be regretted that more and more recent AG opinions on the Brussels regime only quote the case law of the Court and do not refer to legal doctrine at all.168 This 163 In this respect, the case law regarding the Service Regulation shows a high degree of consistency, Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht, § 8, paras 8.15 et seq. 164 Rühl, Rechtsvergleichung und europäisches Kollisionsrecht: Die vergessene Dimension, in: Zimmermann, Zukunft der Rechtsvergleichung (2016), p. 103, 126 et seq. 165 The Reports on the Brussels Convention (especially the Jenard Report of 1976 and the Schlosser Report of 1978) provide considerable information on comparative law. This is the reason why the Court refers to those Reports until today; cf. Schwarze, Comparative Law, in: Riesenhuber (ed.), European Legal Methodology (2017), p. 61, 70. 166 ECJ, 25.10.2012, case C-133/11, Folien Fischer, EU:C:2012:664, supra at fn. 135 et seq. Another positive example (there are many more) is the Opinion Szpunar, 3.5.2017, case C-231/16, Merck, EU:C:2017:330 (quoting case law in the Member States and doctrinal opinions). 167 The ECJ does usually not quote case law of the EU-Member States (a rare exception: ECJ, 2.4.2009, case C-394/07, Gambazzi, EU:C:2009:219, paras 35–36). Usually, the ECJ does not even refer to the case law of the Swiss Federal Tribunal despite Protocol No 2 of the Lugano Convention, Hess, Das Lugano Übereinkommen und der Brexit, Festschrift Kohler (2018), p. 179, 184. 168 Examples: Conclusion Bot, 26.4.2017, case C-249/16, Kareda, EU:C:2016:305; Opinion Wathelet, 29.5.2018, case C-21/17 Catlin Europe, EU:C:2018:341 and Opinion 16.11.2017, case C-560/16, E.O.N. Czech Holding (quoting as sole doctrinal reference P. Paschalidis, a referendaire at the Court); Opinion Tanchev, 10.4.2018, case C-88/17, Zurich Insurance, EU:C:2018224; Opinion Øe, 13.7.2017, Hanssen Beleggingen BV, EU:C:2017:551. An additional distance between the practice in the Member States and the case law of the Court appears when judgments are given without Opinion of the AG as the Court never quotes the doctrine in the Member States. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 41 enlarges the gap between the jurisprudence in Luxembourg and the legal practice in the EU Member States. However, it must be noted that there are still judgments taking up a genuine comparative approach. In this respect, case C-379/17169 and the Conclusions of AG Szpunar170 are a positive example. In his Conclusions, the AG largely referred to the different practices and legal opinions in the EU Member States. Ultimately, however, the ECJ did not follow his Conclusions. Another aspect where comparative law plays an important role relates to the relationship between the civil and the common law of civil procedure. To some extent, the Brussels regime has operated as a bridge builder.171 From the very beginning, the different approaches of the common law were openly and largely discussed in the hearings.172 Again, the judgments of the Court (and the opinion) did not explicitly refer to the specific situation in the United Kingdom173 unless the reference came directly from English courts.174 On substance, the Court did not take up the more flexible and discretionary approach of English law regarding jurisdiction and pendency, and stressed the need for a uniform and predictable application of the instruments.175 Therefore, some of its judgments were harshly criti- 169 ECJ, 4.10.2018, case C-379/17, Società Immobiliare Al Bosco Srl, EU:C:2018:806. 170 Conclusions Szpunar, 20.6.2018, case C-379/17, EU:C:2018:472, para 48 and footnote 16 addressing the legal situation in Germany, Poland, France and Italy. 171 The Schlosser Report of 1978 (OJ 1979 C 59/71) gives large explanations of procedural specificities of the common law and their impacts on the interpretation of the Brussels Convention. 172 Example: ECJ, 14.10.1976, case C-29/76, LTU./.Eurocontrol, EU:C:1976:137, supra at fn. 26 et seq.; Rühl, in: Zimmermann, Zukunft der Rechtsvergleichung (2016), p. 103, 127–129. 173 In Denilauler, different provisional remedies of the civil and the common law were discussed during the hearing. Finally, the Court restricted the free movement of preliminary measures in order to protect the right of defence, see supra at fn. 51. 174 ECJ, 2.4.2009, case C-394/07, Gambazzi, EU:C:2009:219, paras 29 et seq.; Opinion Kokott, 18.12.2008, EU:C:2008:748, paras 20 et seq. (debarment, freezing order). 175 ECJ, 1.3.2005, case C-281/02, Owusu, EU:C:2005:120, para 41. The EU lawmaker was more receptive, especially in family matters and insolvency law. Furthermore, the idea of direct communication between judges largely borrows from practices of the common law. Burkhard Hess 42 cized by the English legal doctrine176 but the judicial practice in England follows the case law of the Court of Justice.177 Complementary Roles of the Court and the EU Lawmaker Looking at the development of the ECJ’s case law during the last 50 years, one must state that the Court has mainly kept its practice within the wording and the scheme of the specific instrument of the Brussels system. This practice has been described as a “black letter approach” of the Court;178 but it also stands for judicial self-restraint in the field of civil co-operation. Often, the Court hesitated to engage in judicial activism or to transgress the wording of specific provisions. Striking examples are Gasser and Folien Fischer, where the Court demonstrated a stance to maintain its case law even when it faced strong criticism coming from the referring court and the Advocate General. General consideration as to the uniform application of the regime in all Member States and the implementation of effet utile prevented the ECJ from adopting innovative solutions.179 This caution does not exclude that the solutions adopted by the ECJ do not correspond to the established practices in some of the Member States.180 On the other hand, there is an interesting interplay between the ECJ and the European lawmaker. All instruments of the Brussels regime are permanently reviewed and reformed by the EU lawmaker. The Brussels Convention was reformed in 1978, in 1982 and in 1989; the 2001 Regulation was reformed in 2012 – the next report of the Commission is due for 2022.181 All instruments of European private international and proce- 5.3. 176 Cf. Hartley, “The European Union and the Systematic Dismantling of the Common Law of Conflict of Laws”, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, volume 54 (2005), pp. 813 et seq. 177 On 6.6.2018, the Commercial Court confirmed that EU law does not permit English judges to issue anti-suit injunctions in support of arbitration within the Union, Nori Holdings Ltd v. Bank Financial Corp [2018] EWHC 1343 (Comm) per Justice Males. 178 Harris, The Brussels I Regulation, the ECJ and the Rule Book, LQR 124 (2008), 523 commenting very critically the judgment of the ECJ, 22.5.2008, case C-462/06, Glaxosmithkline und Laboratoires Glaxosmithkline, EU:C:2008:299. 179 Lenaerts & Stapper, RabelsZ 78 (2014), 252, 279 et seq.; Dickinson, in Dickinson/ Lein, The Regulation Brussels I Recast (2015), para 1.52. 180 Example: ECJ, 15.11.2012, case C-456/11, Gothaer Allgemeine Versicherung, EU:C:2012:719. 181 Article 79 Brussels Ibis Regulation. Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 43 dural law are subject to permanent review and (hopefully) improvement. Quite often, the EU lawmaker stepped in to fill gaps of the Brussels regime, which the Court had been unwilling (or too cautious) to close. The most prominent examples relate to the autonomous definition of contract in Article 5 no. 1 BC/7 no. 1 JR, the definition of the moment of pendency in Article 32 JR182 and the new provision on pendency in case of choice of court agreements (Article 31 (2)–(4) JR).183 Another example is Article 26 (2) of the Brussels Ibis Regulation according to which the court must inform the weaker party about the consequences of a submission by appearance.184 However, one should not overstate these interventions of the EU lawmaker, who eventually maintained the basic structure of the Brussels regime as interpreted by the Court. From the perspective of this interplay it comes as no surprise that the Court was unwilling to change its case law in areas where political compromise had been difficult to achieve in the law-making process. One example can be found in Gazprom185 where the ECJ declined to change the dividing line between the Regulation and arbitration. Another example is offered by Schrems II186 where the Court followed the opinion of AG Bobek not to extend (now) Articles 17 and 18 JR to assigned claims of consumers. The AG clearly stated that the interpretation of the Regulation as proposed by the plaintiff would amount to the introduction of a new form of collective redress – a decision to be made by the lawmaker.187 In the judgment, the Court did not refer to the opinion of the AG, and it simply declined to extend Articles 18 and 18 JR to assigned claims.188 182 Rectifying ECJ, 7.6.1984, case C-129/83, Zelger./.Salinitri, EU:C:1984:215; ECJ, 6.10.1976, case C-12/76, Tessili, EU:C:1976:133. 183 Rectifying ECJ, 9.12.2003, case C-116/02, Gasser, EU:C:2003:657, supra at fn 71 et seq. 184 Rectifying ECJ, 20.5.2010, case C-111/09, Vienna Insurance, EU:C:2010:290, para 32. 185 ECJ, 13.5.2015, case C-536/13, Gazprom, EU:C:2015:316; in his opinion of 4.12.2014, AG Wathelet had proposed to generally permit anti-suit injunctions supporting arbitration, case C-536/13, Gazprom, EU:C:2015:2414, paras 124 et seq. 186 ECJ, 25.1.2018, case C-498/16, Schrems II, EU:C:2018:37. 187 AG Bobek, Conclusion of 14.11.2017, ECJ, 25.1.2018, case C-498/16, Schrems II, EU:C:2018:37, paras 119 et seq. (123). 188 ECJ, 25.1.2018, case C-498/16, Schrems II, EU:C:2018:37, para 48. However, the Court made it clear that the notion of “consumer” includes persons who organize the defence of consumer rights vis-à-vis traders, case C-498/16, paras 39–40. Burkhard Hess 44 Conclusion Looking back after this tour d’horizon, one impression appears to be cogent: The pivotal role of the case law of the Court of Justice for the development of the Brussels regime and for the successful judicial co-operation in civil matters in the European Union cannot be underestimated. The case law of the Court has been criticised, especially for its reluctance with regard to concepts originating in the common law. However, one should not forget that the basic structure of the Brussels regime was elaborated at a time when the United Kingdom was not yet a Member State of the European Union. Nevertheless, the common law solutions have influenced the development of the European procedural law.189 On the other hand, one must acknowledge that London has become an important judicial centre (maybe even the most important one to date) within Europe. After Brexit is completed, judicial co-operation with the United Kingdom will change dramatically – and this will be a cultural loss for European procedural law.190 Finally, one question endures: Can we really speak of seminal judgments of the Court of Justice in the field of civil justice? One shouldn’t be hesitant to put judgments like Eurocontrol, Krombach, Denilauler and Leffler in the same line as Costa Enel, Simmenthal, and Les Verts. However, there are only few landmark decisions that really changed the scene: most clarified the state of affairs. Landmark decisions are found in the founding phase of the Convention (and after the communitarization: Leffler; and, under article 47 CFR: Diageo Brands). This is not surprising: The case law of the ECJ endeavours for continuity, predictability, literal interpretation.191 Innovations are sometimes hidden in quotations of former case law, which might not entirely support the move the Court is making in its current decision.192 Finally, one only finds a few seminal judgments, but a 6. 189 The most prominent examples are found in family and in insolvency law. 190 The Lugano Convention is not a suitable instrument for the post-Brexit period, cf. Hess, MPI Working Papers 2/2018, at: https://www.mpi.lu/research/working-p aper-series/2018/wp-2018-2/. 191 The “Cartesian Style” of the Court has often been criticized by legal doctrine, see Weiler, Epilogue: The Judicial Area Après Nice, in: de Burca and Weiler (eds.), The European Court of Justice (2001), p. 215; contra Lenaerts, The Court’s Outer and Inner Selves: Exploring the External and Internal Legitimacy of the ECJ, in: Adams et al (eds.), Judging Europe’s Judges (2015), p. 1, 45 et seq. 192 Example: ECJ, 25.5.2016, case C-559/14, Meroni, EU:C:2016:349, para 48, where the Court evokes “the fundamental idea that individuals are required, as a matter of principle, to use all the legal remedies in the Member State of origin” by Seminal Judgments (les Grands Arrêts) in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice 45 line of judgments developing and building up the direction of the jurisprudence. This result might not be wrong for a Court which strives for stability and uniformity in a Union of (still) 28 different Member States. referring to Diageo Brands, para 64 (where this requirement was not formulated as a “fundamental idea”). Burkhard Hess 46 La confiance mutuelle, fondement et témoignage de la valeur de l’Union européenne Camelia Toader* Table of Contents Introduction1. 47 Évolution du principe de confiance mutuelle : de sa naissance dans la logique d’un marché commun à sa consolidation avec l’abolition de l’exequatur 2. 49 Le principe de confiance mutuelle illustré dans la jurisprudence de la Cour3. 52 Le principe de confiance mutuelle et la reconnaissance des décisions3.1. 53 Le principe de confiance mutuelle dans l’administration de la justice et la notion de « juridiction » 3.2. 55 Conclusion4. 58 Introduction L’an de la signature de la Convention de Bruxelles, à laquelle cet ouvrage rend hommage, 1968, fût aussi, du point de vue politico-militaire un tournant de l’humanité du siècle dernier, d’après l’historien britannique Ben Pimlott : c’était la décision de l’Union Soviétique de ne pas attaquer la Roumanie, seul pays du bloc de l’Est à ne pas participer à l’invasion de la Tchécoslovaquie. Cette dernière abstention a ouvert, hélas pour quelques années seulement, une porte de confiance vers mon pays d’origine. Dans cette contribution, je souhaite réfléchir sur la portée juridique du principe de confiance mutuelle dans le cadre du système Bruxelles et sur son importance dans la jurisprudence de la Cour. Il me semble intéressant de rappeler que, dans le langage commun, la notion de « confiance » peut être définie comme « le courage qui vient de 1. * Prof. Dr. Camelia Toader est professeur à l’Université de Bucharest et juge à la Cour de Justice de l’Union européenne 47 la conscience que l’on a de sa valeur »1. De surcroît, le sociologue allemand Niklas Luhmann définit cette notion comme la confiance dans les attentes vis-à-vis du comportement des autres personnes2. Dans le processus évolutif de l’Union européenne, une telle confiance doit être « mutuelle », « réciproque », entre les États membres de l’Union. À cet égard, pour citer mon ancien collègue, le regretté avocat général Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, « la construction d’une Europe sans frontières et le rapprochement des différents ordres juridiques nationaux impliquent que les États concernés s’inspirent des mêmes valeurs »3. Le principe de confiance mutuelle témoigne, ainsi qu’il a été rappelé par la Cour en plénière dans l’avis 2/13, du 18 décembre 2014, de la valeur de l’Union européenne en tant que construction juridique reposant sur la prémisse fondamentale selon laquelle chaque État membre partage avec tous les autres États membres, et reconnaît que ceux-ci partagent avec lui, une série de valeurs communes sur lesquelles l’Union est fondée, comme il est précisé à l’article 2 TUE4. Cette prémisse implique et justifie l’existence de la confiance mutuelle entre les États membres dans la reconnaissance de ces valeurs et, donc, dans le respect du droit de l’Union qui les met en œuvre. Dans le domaine du droit procédural et international privé de l’Union européenne, le principe de confiance mutuelle constitue l’une des pierres angulaires de la coopération judiciaire en matière civile et commerciale. Ce principe sous-tend l’application des dispositions concernant la reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions rendues dans un État membre autre que celui du for dans le système du règlement Bruxelles. Il repose sur l’idée que, quand bien même les États membres ne traitent pas une affaire donnée de manière identique, les décisions adoptées dans un État membre sont à considérer comme équivalentes, puisqu’elles répondent aux mêmes principes et valeurs et, par conséquent, elles peuvent être acceptées en tant que telles par les autorités nationales des autres États membres5. 1 Dictionnaire Larousse. 2 N. Luhmann, Vertrauen, 4th ed., 2000, cité par M. Weller, « Mutual Trust: in search of the future of European Union private international law », Journal of Private International Law, 2015, p. 68. 3 Conclusions de l’avocat général Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer dans l’affaire Gözütok et Brügge, C‑187/01, point 55. 4 CJUE, avis 2/13 (Adhésion de l'Union à la CEDH), du 18 décembre 2014, EU:C: 2014:2454, point 168. 5 V., en ce sens, B. Nascimbene, « Le traité de Lisbonne et l’espace judiciaire européen : le principe de confiance réciproque et de reconnaissance mutuelle », Intervention auprès du conseil national des avocats, p. 7, disponible sous le lien Camelia Toader 48 Évolution du principe de confiance mutuelle : de sa naissance dans la logique d’un marché commun à sa consolidation avec l’abolition de l’exequatur Dans son évolution historique, la libre circulation des décisions de justice a été initialement conçue comme un outil pour la construction du marché intérieur, dont le bon fonctionnement impliquait la circulation transfrontalière des décisions judiciaires tranchant les litiges liés à la libre circulation des marchandises, des capitaux et des services6. Par la suite, la libre circulation des décisions a acquis son autonomie en tant qu’élément fondamental pour la création d’un espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice dans l’Union européenne. Néanmoins, elle a été marquée, dans un premier temps, par une certaine méfiance des États membres quant à la possibilité que les décisions étrangères déploient leurs effets sur leur territoire sans aucun contrôle de leur part7. La procédure d’exequatur illustre cette méfiance. Il y a 50 ans, le 27 septembre 1968, la Convention (inter-gouvernementale) signée à Bruxelles a mis en place un système uniforme de l’exequatur et, à travers le protocole du 3 juin 1971, la Cour de justice a reçu la compétence pour l’interpréter par voie de décisions préjudicielles, ce qui a été l’un des moteurs du développement d’un espace européen de justice8. Dans cette évolution, le principe de confiance mutuelle entre les États membres a joué un rôle croissant9, qui a comporté, dans le passage de la Convention au règlement n° 44/2001, dit Bruxelles I, l’automatisme de la concession de l’exequatur10 et, ensuite, son abolition lors de la refonte du 2. suivant : http://proxy.siteo.com.s3.amazonaws.com/www.cna-avocats.fr/file/interve ntionnascimbenecongresdecome.pdf. 6 F. Gascón-Inchausti, « La reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions dans le règlement Bruxelles I bis », Le nouveau règlement Bruxelles I bis, E. Guinchard (ed.), 2014, pp. 206 – 207. 7 M. Weller, « Mutual Trust: in search of the future of European Union private international law », Journal of Private International Law, 2015, pp. 69 à 71. 8 Protocole du 3 juin 1971 concernant l'interprétation par la Cour de justice de la convention du 27 septembre 1968 concernant la compétence judiciaire et l'exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale. 9 M. Tulibacka, « Europeanization of Civil Procedures: In search of a coherent approach », Common Market Law Review, 2009, 46, p. 1540; M. Möstl, « Preconditions and limits of mutual recognition », Common Market Law Review, 2010, 47, p. 404. 10 Pour une analyse des changements suite au passage de la Convention de Bruxelles au règlement n° 44/2001 : A. Stadler, « From the Brussels Convention to Regulation 44/2001 : Cornestones of a European Law of Civil Procedure », Common Market Law Review, 42, 2005, en particulier pp. 1639 à 1644. La confiance mutuelle, fondement et témoignage de la valeur de l’Union européenne 49 règlement Bruxelles I, avec l’adoption du règlement n° 1215/2012, dit Bruxelles I bis11. Il s’agit d’un pas fondamental dans le processus de reconnaissance mutuelle des décisions : celles adoptées dans l’État membre d’origine sont désormais directement exécutées dans l’État membre requis. Conformément au considérant 26 du règlement Bruxelles I bis, les décisions prises dans un autre État membre, sur présentation d’un certificat attestant leur origine et leur teneur, doivent être traitées comme si elles avaient été rendues dans l’État membre requis. Le principe de confiance mutuelle n’implique toutefois pas, ainsi que M. le professeur Hess l’a rappelé, une confiance « aveugle »12. La confiance mutuelle entre les différents États membres suppose l’existence d’une garantie a priori, relative au respect des droits fondamentaux dans l’Union, ainsi qu’une vérification a posteriori13. Ainsi, la suppression de la procédure d’exequatur dans le cadre du règlement Bruxelles I bis a été palliée par l’instauration d’un dispositif permettant de refuser la reconnaissance ou l’exécution transfrontalière d’une décision14. En effet, aux termes de l’article 45 du règlement Bruxelles I bis, à la demande de toute partie intéressée, la reconnaissance d’une décision est refusée : a) si elle est manifestement contraire à l’ordre public de l’État membre requis; b) si elle est susceptible de porter atteinte au droit de défense du défendeur; si elle est inconciliable c) avec une décision rendue entre les mêmes parties dans l’État membre requis; ou d) avec une décision rendue antérieurement dans un autre État membre ou dans un État tiers entre les mêmes parties dans un litige ayant le même objet et la même cause, lorsque la décision rendue antérieure- 11 M. Zilinky, « Mutual Trust and Cross-Border Enforcement of Judgments in Civil Matters in the EU: Does the Step-by-Step Approach Work? », Neth Int Law Rev, 64, 2017, pp. 119 à 121. 12 B. Hess, Seminal judgments (les grands arrêts) in the case law of the European Court of Justice, dans ce même ouvrage. V. également K. Lenaerts, « La vie après l’avis: exploring the principle of mutual (yet not blind) trust », Common Market Law Review, 2017, Vol. 54, 3, pp. 805 à 840. 13 À cet égard, pour une réflexion sur l’interaction entre le principe de confiance mutuelle et le droit à un procès équitable, v. X. Kramer, « Cross-border Enforcement in the EU : Mutual Trust versus Fair Trial? Towards Principles of European Civil Procedure », International Journal of Procedural Law, 2011, 2, pp. 202 à 230. 14 En ce sens, M. Mankowski, European Commentaries on Private International Law, Commentary Brussels Ibis Regulation, 2016, p. 877. V. également F. Marchadier, « La suppression de l’exequatur affaiblit-elle la protection des droits fondamentaux dans l’espace judiciaire européen? », Journal européen des droits de l’homme, 2013, 3, pp. 348 à 380. Camelia Toader 50 ment réunit les conditions nécessaires à sa reconnaissance dans l’État membre requis; ou e) dans des cas spécifiques de contrariété avec certaines dispositions du règlement. De même, selon l’article 46, l’exécution d’une telle décision est refusée, à la demande de la personne contre laquelle l’exécution est demandée, en cas d’existence, constatée, de l’un de ces mêmes motifs. S’agissant du refus de la reconnaissance d’une décision au motif qu’elle est contraire à l’ordre public de l’État membre requis15, il est intéressant de rappeler deux décisions nationales récentes dont la teneur peut poser quelques signes d’interrogation concernant la (non) confiance mutuelle. La première décision, rendue par la Cour suprême de Lettonie, le 20 octobre 2015, concerne le refus de reconnaître et exécuter une décision d’une cour de Lituanie. Tout d’abord, il convient de mentionner brièvement les antécédents. Interrogée sur plusieurs questions préjudicielles, posées par la Cour suprême de Lettonie, dans l’affaire flyLAL Lithuanian Airlines16, la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne avait établi, en ce qui concerne la non reconnaissance des décisions étrangères pour des raisons d’ordre public, au sens de l’article 34, point 1, du règlement Bruxelles I, que cette disposition doit être interprétée en ce sens que ni les modalités de détermination du montant des sommes, sur lesquelles portent les mesures provisoires et conservatoires prononcées par une décision dont la reconnaissance et l’exécution sont demandées, lorsqu’il est possible de suivre le cheminement du raisonnement ayant conduit à la détermination du montant desdites sommes, et alors même que des voies de recours étaient ouvertes et ont été exercées pour contester de telles modalités de calcul, ni la simple invocation de conséquences économiques graves ne constituent des motifs établissant la violation de l’ordre public de l’État membre requis permettant de refuser la reconnaissance et l’exécution, dans cet État membre, d’une telle décision rendue dans un autre État membre. La Cour suprême de Lettonie a, toutefois, jugé que les motifs d’ordre public, aux termes de l’article 34, point 1, du règlement Bruxelles I, justifient le refus de reconnaissance et exécution d’une décision des juridictions de Lituanie17. En particulier, la Cour suprême de Lettonie a considéré, en 15 Pour une analyse des motifs d’ordre public pour ne pas reconnaître une décision étrangère, cf. M. Weller, « Mutual Trust : in search of the future of European Union private international law », Journal of Private International Law, 2015, pp. 97 et 98; ainsi que E.-A. Oprea, Droit de l’Union européenne et lois de police, 2015, pp. 428 à 434. 16 Arrêt du 23 octobre 2014, flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines, C‑302/13, EU:C:2014:2319. 17 Affaire n° SKC 5/2015. La confiance mutuelle, fondement et témoignage de la valeur de l’Union européenne 51 premier lieu, que la sécurité de l’État, aux termes de l’article 1 de la Constitution de la République de Lettonie constitue une importante raison pour soulever une exception d’ordre public. En second lieu, cette Cour a reconnu que les droit fondamentaux, proclamés par la Constitution, et notamment ceux établis sur les articles 91 et 105, font partie de l’ordre public letton. La seconde décision, que j’aimerais mentionner, rendue le 19 juillet 2018, concerne le refus du Bundesgerichtshof de reconnaître une décision de justice polonaise pour violation de l’ordre public, en s’appuyant en particulier sur les droits à la liberté d’expression et à la liberté de la presse18. Dans l’affaire au principal, suite à la publication par la chaîne publique d’information allemande, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (« ZDF »), d’un documentaire concernant les camps d’extermination de Majdanek et Auschwitz, dans lequel ceux-ci étaient définis comme les « camps polonais », la ZDF a été condamnée par la Cour d’appel de Cracovie à s’excuser et corriger une telle affirmation par publication sur son site internet d’un texte prédéterminé. La demande de reconnaissance de la décision de la juridiction polonaise en Allemagne a été, toutefois, rejetée au motif qu’elle violait l’article 5 de la loi fondamentale relatif au droit constitutionnel à la liberté d’expression et à la liberté de la presse ainsi que le principe constitutionnel de proportionnalité. Le principe de confiance mutuelle illustré dans la jurisprudence de la Cour En se rapprochant du fil conducteur de la riche contribution du directeur du Max Planck Institute Luxembourg, M. le professeur Hess, et en ligne avec les remarques de M. le professeur Labayle, dans sa contribution récente à l’honneur de M. l’ancien vice-président de la Cour de justice Tizzano, qui disait que « le principe de confiance mutuelle a acquis ses lettres de noblesse grâce à la jurisprudence de la Cour »19, force est de constater 3. 18 IX ZB 1O/18, du 19 juillet 2018, disponible sous le lien suivant : http://juris.bund esgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/document.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=en&sid =97febcf2a2b66c60d9b9cbd50b35a6a4&nr=86838&pos=0&anz=2. 19 H. Labayle, « Faut-il faire confiance à la confiance mutuelle? », Liber amicorum Antonio Tizzano, De la Cour CECA à la Cour de l’Union : le long parcours de la justice européenne, G. Giappichelli Editore, 2018, p.472. Camelia Toader 52 que la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice a fait, pendant toutes ces années, corps avec les textes législatifs20. À cet égard, je souhaite rappeler les arrêts Prism Investment21, Diageo Brands22 ainsi que Lebek23, en ce qui concerne la portée du principe de confiance mutuelle et l’interprétation stricte des motifs de refus de reconnaissance des décisions dans le cadre du règlement Bruxelles I, ainsi que les deux arrêts du 9 mars 2017, Pula Parking24 et Zulfikarpašić25, illustrant la mesure dans laquelle le principe de confiance entre les juridictions des États membres a fondé l’interprétation des divers instruments de la coopération judiciaire en matière civile. Le principe de confiance mutuelle et la reconnaissance des décisions D’une part, l’affaire Prism Investment offre un exemple intéressant de l’interprétation restrictive que la Cour de justice a donné aux motifs de refus de la reconnaissance des décisions dans le cadre du règlement Bruxelles I. Cela s’inscrit dans la logique du contrôle restreint mis en place par ce règlement, qui repose sur le principe de confiance mutuelle26. Le Hoge Raad der Nederlanden avait interrogé la Cour sur le point de savoir si le juge de l’État membre requis pouvait refuser ou révoquer la déclaration constatant la force exécutoire d’une décision adoptée dans l’État membre d’origine (ici, la Belgique) pour des motifs autres que ceux prévus aux articles 34 et 35 du règlement n° 44/2001 (actuellement, 44 et 45 du règlement Bruxelles I bis). La Cour a jugé que le refus d’accorder la reconnaissance des décisions ne peut être fondé que sur les motifs limitativement énumérés aux articles 34 et 35 du règlement Bruxelles I, afin de consentir, sur la base d’une confiance mutuelle dans la justice des États membres, à ce que la décision émise par une juridiction d’un État membre 3.1. 20 B. Ancel, « Les cinquante ans de la Convention de Bruxelles du 27 septembre 1968 concernant la compétence judiciaire et l’exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale », REDI, vol. 70, 2018, p. 19. 21 Arrêt du 13 octobre 2011, Prism Investments, C‑139/10, EU:C:2011:653. 22 Arrêt du 16 juillet 2015, Diageo Brands, C‑681/13, EU:C:2015:471. 23 Arrêt du 7 juillet 2016, Lebek, C‑70/15, EU:C:2016:524. 24 Arrêt du 9 mars 2017, Pula Parking, C‑551/15, EU:C:2017:193. 25 Arrêt du 9 mars 2017, Zulfikarpašić, C‑484/15, EU:C:2017:199. 26 Cf. L. Idot, « Étendue du contrôle de l’exequatur », Revue Europe, n° 12, Décembre 2011, comm. 500; B. Hess, « The Brussels I Regulation : Recent Case Law of the Court of Justice and the Commission Common’s Proposed Recast », Common Market Law Review, 49, 2012, pp. 1094 et 1095. La confiance mutuelle, fondement et témoignage de la valeur de l’Union européenne 53 autre que l’État membre requis soit exécutée dans ce dernier au moyen de son insertion dans l’ordre juridique de celui-ci27. D’autre part, les arrêts Diageo Brands et Lebek, mentionnés par M. le Professeur Hess, mettent en exergue la nécessité d’assurer un juste équilibre entre le principe de confiance réciproque et le droit à une protection juridictionnelle effective. Dans Diageo Brands, une société néerlandaise invoquait l’article 34, point 1, du règlement n° 44/2001 (contrariété à l’ordre public néerlandais) afin de s’opposer à la reconnaissance au Pays-Bas d’une décision de justice bulgare. Cette société soutenait que la juridiction d’origine avait fait une application manifestement erronée du droit de l’Union, en se fondant sur une décision de la Cour suprême de cassation bulgare qui aurait été adoptée en méconnaissance de l’obligation de poser à la Cour de justice une question préjudicielle. Saisie dans ce contexte, le Hoge Raad a interrogé la Cour sur le point de savoir, en premier lieu, si l’article 34, point 1, du règlement n° 44/2001, qui prévoit l’ordre publique de l’État requis comme motif de refus de la reconnaissance, vise aussi le cas où la décision judiciaire d’origine aurait été manifestement contraire au droit de l’Union et; en second lieu, si le juge de l’État membre requis doit tenir compte du fait que la personne qui s’oppose à cette reconnaissance n’a pas exercé les voies de recours prévues par la législation de l’État membre d’origine. La Cour a commencé son raisonnement en rappelant que le principe de la confiance mutuelle entre les États membres, qui a, dans le droit de l’Union, une importance fondamentale, impose, notamment en ce qui concerne l’espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice, à chacun de ces États de considérer, sauf dans des circonstances exceptionnelles, que tous les autres États membres respectent le droit de l’Union et, tout particulièrement, les droits fondamentaux reconnus par ce droit28. Elle retient ensuite, en se référant à l’arrêt flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines29, qu’un recours à la clause de l’ordre public, figurant à l’article 34, point 1, du règlement nº 44/2001, n’est concevable que dans l’hypothèse où la reconnaissance de la décision rendue dans un autre État membre heurterait de manière inacceptable l’ordre juridique de l’État requis, en tant qu’elle porterait atteinte à un principe fondamental. Afin de respecter la prohibition de la révision au fond de la décision rendue dans un autre État membre, l’atteinte devrait constituer une violation manifeste d’une 27 Arrêt du 13 octobre 2011, Prism Investments, C‑139/10, EU:C:2011:653. 28 Arrêt du 16 juillet 2015, Diageo Brands, C‑681/13, EU:C:2015:471, point 40. 29 Arrêt du 23 octobre 2014, flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines, C‑302/13, EU:C:2014:2319. Camelia Toader 54 règle de droit considérée comme essentielle dans l’ordre juridique de l’État requis ou d’un droit reconnu comme fondamental dans cet ordre juridique30 ou encore, que « le juge de l’État requis ne saurait, sous peine de remettre en cause la finalité du règlement nº 44/2001, refuser la reconnaissance d’une décision émanant d’un autre État membre au seul motif qu’il estime que, dans cette décision, le droit national ou le droit de l’Union a été mal appliqué. Il importe, au contraire, de considérer que, dans de tels cas, le système des voies de recours mis en place dans chaque État membre, complété par le mécanisme du renvoi préjudiciel prévu à l’article 267 TFUE, fournit aux justiciables une garantie suffisante »31. Le bémol nécessaire a été retrouvé dans le litige ayant donné lieu à l’arrêt Lebek, où un juste équilibre entre la confiance réciproque dans la justice au sein de l’Union et le respect du droit de la défense a été posé. Ainsi, en renvoyant à l’arrêt Trade Agency32, la Cour a jugé que l’article 34, point 2, du règlement Bruxelles I vise à assurer le respect des droits du défendeur défaillant au cours de la procédure ouverte dans l’État membre d’origine, à travers un système de double contrôle33. En vertu de ce système, le juge de l’État membre requis est tenu de refuser ou de révoquer, en cas de recours, l’exécution d’une décision étrangère rendue par défaut, si l’acte introductif d’instance ou un acte équivalent n’a pas été signifié ou notifié au défendeur défaillant en temps utile et de telle manière que celui-ci puisse se défendre, à moins qu’il n’ait pas exercé un recours contre cette décision devant les juridictions de l’État membre d’origine, alors qu’il était en mesure de le faire. Le principe de confiance mutuelle dans l’administration de la justice et la notion de « juridiction » Deux arrêts récents, rendus le même jour par la Cour de justice, le 9 mars 2017, Pula Parking et Zulfikarpašić, illustrent l’importance du principe de confiance mutuelle dans le cadre de la coopération en matière civile et commerciale. Les deux affaires concernent la même procédure croate d’obtention d’un titre exécutoire mais au regard d’instruments juridiques distincts, à savoir le règlement Bruxelles I bis et le règlement n° 805/2004, 3.2. 30 Arrêt du 16 juillet 2015, Diageo Brands, C‑681/13, EU:C:2015:471, point 44. 31 Id., point 49 et jurisprudence citée. 32 Arrêt du 6 septembre 2012, Trade Agency, C-619/10, EU:C:2012:531, point 32. 33 Arrêt du 7 juillet 2016, Lebek, C‑70/15, EU:C:2016:524, point 39. La confiance mutuelle, fondement et témoignage de la valeur de l’Union européenne 55 portant création d’un titre exécutoire européen pour les créances incontestées. La problématique centrale commune dans ces deux affaires concernait la question de savoir si les notaires croates relevaient de la notion de « juridiction ». Les débats sur cette notion étaient nés de l’absence d’une définition de la « juridiction » dans les deux règlements, ainsi que de leur structure qui assimile, dans les procédures concernant les injonctions de payer, d’autres autorités, à savoir les notaires hongrois et les autorités chargées du recouvrement forcé en Suède. La Cour a décidé que les notaires, en Croatie, agissant dans le cadre des compétences qui leur sont dévolues par le droit national dans les procédures d’exécution forcée sur le fondement d’un « document faisant foi », ne relèvent pas de la notion de « juridiction » au sens desdits règlements. Son raisonnement a été principalement fondé sur les principes de confiance mutuelle entre les États membres et de reconnaissance mutuelle des décisions judiciaires, qui ont été identifiés comme étant d’une importance fondamentale puisqu’ils permettent la création et le maintien d’un espace sans frontières intérieures34. En appliquant ces principes dans le contexte spécifique du règlement Bruxelles I bis, la Cour a indiqué que ceux-ci « se traduisent par le traitement et l’exécution des décisions judiciaires des juridictions d’un État membre comme si celles-ci avaient été rendues dans l’État membre dans lequel l’exécution est demandée »35. Elle a jugé que le règlement Bruxelles I bis, « dont la base juridique est l’article 67, paragraphe 4, TFUE visant à faciliter l’accès à la justice, notamment par le principe de reconnaissance mutuelle des décisions judiciaires, tend ainsi […] à renforcer le système simplifié et efficace des règles de conflit, de reconnaissance et d’exécution des décisions judiciaires […] afin de faciliter la coopération judiciaire en vue de contribuer à réaliser l’objectif assigné à l’Union de devenir un espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice, en se fondant sur le degré de confiance élevé qui doit exister entre les États membres »36. Le principe de la confiance mutuelle a également fondé l’interprétation de la notion de « juridiction » dans le contexte du règlement n° 805/200437. 34 Arrêt du 9 mars 2017, Pula Parking, C‑551/15, EU:C:2017:193, point 51. 35 Id., point 52. 36 Id., point 53. 37 Arrêt du 9 mars 2017, Zulfikarpašić, C‑484/15, EU:C:2017:199, point 43. Pour un commentaire, v. inter alia : F. Mélin, « Notion de juridiction au sens du règlement sur le titre exécutoire européen », Dalloz actualité 22 mars 2017. Camelia Toader 56 La Cour a précisé, ainsi qu’il ressort du considérant 3 du règlement n° 805/2004, que le principe de la reconnaissance mutuelle des décisions judiciaires, qui repose notamment sur la confiance mutuelle dans l’administration de la justice dans les États membres, constitue la pierre angulaire de la création d’un véritable espace judiciaire européen38. En effet, le principe de confiance mutuelle présuppose que les décisions dont l’exécution est demandée dans un État membre autre que celui d’origine ont été rendues dans une procédure judiciaire offrant des garanties d’indépendance et d’impartialité ainsi que le respect du principe du contradictoire39. La reconnaissance en tant que « juridiction » des seules autorités nationales qui respectent ces critères, découlant notamment de l’article 47 de la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne, semble être essentielle pour le maintien de la confiance entre les juridictions nationales dans l’espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice40. Autrement dit, les tribunaux de l’État membre requis reconnaissent une décision étrangère sur la base de la confiance dans le fait que les tribunaux de l’État membre d’origine respectent le droit à une protection juridictionnelle effective. Si la Cour est arrivée à une définition de la notion de « juridiction » pouvant être qualifiée de restrictive41, en excluant de son champ d’application les notaires en Croatie, par ces deux arrêts, elle a redonné à la confiance mutuelle son véritable sens. 38 Id., point 40. 39 Arrêt du 9 mars 2017, Zulfikarpašić, C‑484/15, EU:C:2017:199, point 44. 40 V., en ce sens, arrêt du 25 juillet 2018, Minister for Justice and Equality (Défaillances du système judiciaire), C‑216/18 PPU, EU:C:2018:586, p. 48. 41 L. Pailler, « "Juridiction" en droit international privé de l’Union européenne », Revue critique de droit international privé, 2017, p. 472. La confiance mutuelle, fondement et témoignage de la valeur de l’Union européenne 57 Conclusion Il y a 50 ans, la Convention de Bruxelles a été signée. L’ancienneté des débats sur le principe de confiance mutuelle dans le cadre de la coopération en matière civile et commerciale n’a pas préjugé la contemporanéité des réflexions à ce sujet. Dans une Union européenne qui doit faire face aux défis actuels42, le principe de confiance mutuelle acquit une importance croissante, tout en constituant la prémisse de l’unité d’un espace de droit commun, issu de la diversité des systèmes juridiques des États membres. Luxembourg, the 12th of October 2018 4. 42 Pour une analyse sur les défis dans la coopération judiciaire en matière civile après le Brexit, v. E. Crawford et J. Carruthers, « Brexit : The impact on judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications – A British perspective », European Papers, vol. 3, n° 1, 2018, pp. 183–202. Camelia Toader 58 De l’encadrement de l’ordre public procédural des États membres à l’ordre procédural autonome de l’Union Marek Safjan* et Dominik Düsterhaus** Table of Contents Introduction1. 59 Confiance mutuelle et double contrôle de la régularité procédurale2. 60 L’ordre public (procédural)2.1. 61 Les défauts de notification2.2. 63 Procéduralisation du refus d’exécution sous les auspices de la CJUE3. 64 Vers un contrôle strict des conditions du procès équitable?4. 68 Introduction Dans cette petite contribution, nous souhaitons exposer comment le régime de reconnaissance et d’exécution sous la convention et le règlement de Bruxelles, tel qu’interprété par la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne (CJUE), s’insère dans une optique plus large qui est la protection juridictionnelle effective au sein de l’Union. Plus particulièrement, s’agissant du régime commun de reconnaissance et d’exécution, nous allons retracer l’évolution de l’appréciation, au titre de l’ordre public, de la régularité procédurale d’une décision émanant d’un autre État membre. Alors que, dans un premier temps, cette appréciation a été encadrée de manière souple par la CJUE, elle est désormais soumise à des conditions procédurales plus strictes. Fondée sur l’idée de la confiance mutuelle et la compétence primordiale de l’État membre d’origine pour une protection juridictionnelle effective et équitable, cette formalisation du régime de reconnaissance et d’exécution est une belle illustration tant de l’architecture que de la philosophie juridictionnelle dans l’Union européenne. Là où les conceptions nationales divergentes de l’ordre public 1. * Jugex à la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne. ** Référendaire à la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne. Les auteurs s’expriment à titre strictement personnel et tiennent à remercier Mme Rachel Bernardi pour son aide précieuse dans l’élaboration du manuscrit. 59 pourraient freiner la libre circulation des décisions, le droit de l’Union impose une obligation procédurale dont les contours sont sujets à l’interprétation de la CJUE. L’on pourrait néanmoins considérer, au vu des compétences limitées de l’Union en ce qui concerne l’organisation et la qualité de la justice dans les États membres, que la régularité procédurale d’une décision émanant d’un autre État membre ne devrait jamais être soustraite au regard des juridictions de l’État membre d’exécution, susceptibles de relever d’éventuels défauts procéduraux dans l’État membre d’émission. À cet égard, on soulignera le rôle fondamental que l’article 19 TUE a vocation à jouer pour garantir la qualité de la justice dans tous les États membres, permettant ainsi l’émergence éventuelle d’un ordre procédural autonome de l’Union européenne. Confiance mutuelle et double contrôle de la régularité procédurale Le principe « constitutionnel » de la confiance mutuelle1 est devenu un leitmotiv de la coopération judiciaire au sein de l’Union européenne. Inscrit dans le considérant 16 du règlement Bruxelles I en 2001, ce principe fut valorisé pour la première fois dans l’arrêt Gasser2 dans lequel la Cour releva que la confiance mutuelle inspirait déjà la convention de Bruxelles. C’est ce principe de confiance mutuelle qui a permis l’établissement d’un système obligatoire d’attribution de compétence en matière civile et commerciale au sein de l’Union européenne. Corollairement, la confiance mutuelle a facilité la renonciation par les États membres au droit d’appliquer leurs règles internes sur la reconnaissance et l’exécution des jugements étrangers en faveur d’un mécanisme simplifié de reconnaissance et d’exécution des jugements. Cependant, ni les Traités ni le droit dérivé ne définissent le principe de confiance mutuelle qui imprègne aujourd’hui l’espace européen de liberté, sécurité et justice (ELSJ). Selon l’avis 2/13, la confiance mutuelle requiert que les États membres se considèrent entre eux, à l’exception de circonstances exceptionnelles, comme appliquant le droit de l’Union européenne et en particulier les droits fondamentaux reconnus par ce droit. Ainsi, les 2. 1 D. Düsterhaus, In the Court(s) We Trust – A Procedural Solution to the Mutual Trust Dilemma [2017] Freedom, Security and Justice: European Legal Studies, 26 – 44. 2 Aff. C-116/02 Erich Gasser GmbH v MISAT Srl [EU:C:2010:430] point 72. Marek Safjan et Dominik Düsterhaus 60 États membres peuvent être tenus, en vertu de ce même droit, de présumer le respect des droits fondamentaux par les autres États membres, de sorte qu’il ne leur est pas possible, non seulement d’exiger d’un autre État membre un niveau national de protection des droits fondamentaux plus élevé que celui assuré par le droit de l’Union, mais également, sauf dans des cas exceptionnels, de vérifier si cet autre État membre a effectivement respecté, dans un cas concret, les droits fondamentaux garantis par l’Union3. Certes, dans le domaine de la coopération judiciaire en matière civile, la confiance mutuelle est à la base d’une pluralité de régimes de reconnaissance et d’exécution des jugements4. Or, pour ce qui nous intéresse à présent, le plus ancien et plus commun de ces régimes, à savoir celui issu de la convention de Bruxelles, permet de refuser la reconnaissance et l’exécution d’une décision judiciaire étrangère dans des cas restreints, lesquels étaient prévus aux articles 34 et 35 du règlement Bruxelles I et le sont toujours à l’article 45 du règlement refondu n° 1215/2012 (Bruxelles Ibis)5. S’agissant des motifs de refus tirés d’une violation du droit à un procès équitable, un régime binaire a été instauré. Le premier (article 45(1)(a) de Bruxelles Ibis) soumet les conceptions nationales de l’ordre public, dont l’équité procédurale, à un contrôle restreint de la CJUE. Le second volet (article 45(1)(b) de Bruxelles Ibis) établit un standard autonome, propre au droit de l’Union, pour ce qui concerne les défauts de notification. L’ordre public (procédural) La clause d’ordre public de l’article 45(1)(a) de Bruxelles Ibis, qui ne vise pas expressément les irrégularités procédurales, et qui s’efface6 derrière l’article 45(1)(b) en matière de défaut de notification, permet aux juges de fonder leur refus de reconnaissance ou d’exécution d’un jugement sur la violation manifeste d’un principe fondamental de leur ordre juridique. Il a 2.1. 3 Avis 2/13, EU:C:2014:2454, points 191–192. 4 D. Düsterhaus, Judicial Coherence in the AFSJ – Squaring Mutual Trust with Effective Judicial Protection, [2015] Review of European Administrative Law, n. 2, pp. 151 – 182. 5 À noter que la nécessité d’obtenir une déclaration constatant la force exécutoire qui soit attaquable par le débiteur au jugement, a été abandonnée sous Bruxelles Ibis. Le débiteur doit désormais formuler une demande de refus d’exécution. 6 Le contrôle au titre des deux clauses peut cependant occasionnellement converger. Voir aff. C-619/10 Trade Agency [EU:C:2012:531]. De l’encadrement de l’ordre public procédural des États membres 61 été constaté que la plupart des rares applications de l’exception d’ordre public dans le cadre des procédures judiciaires sont liées à des aspects procéduraux7. Tandis que les États membres sont en principe libres de déterminer selon leurs conceptions nationales les exigences de leur ordre public, les limites imposées par ces exigences sur la reconnaissance ou l’exécution d’une décision peuvent être contrôlées par la CJUE8. Dans l’arrêt Krombach9, la CJUE a établi un standard de recours à la clause de l’ordre public selon lequel le recours à cette clause doit être possible lorsque le défendeur n’a pas été protégé d’une violation manifeste du droit à se faire défendre devant la cour d’origine de la décision. Dans l’arrêt Gambazzi10, la CJUE insiste sur le contrôle, au regard des droits de la défense, d’une mesure procédurale d’exclusion (‘debarment order’) qui résulte en un jugement sur les prétentions du requérant, sans que le défendeur ne soit entendu. Dans la même tendance, la CJUE a relevé dans son arrêt Trade Agency que la clause d’ordre public autorise une juridiction à refuser l’exécution d’un jugement par défaut qui ne contient aucune appréciation ni sur l’objet ni sur le fondement du recours et qui est dépourvue de tout argument sur le bien-fondé de celui-ci. Il en est de même lorsqu’il apparait au juge national après une appréciation globale de la procédure et au regard de toutes les circonstances pertinentes, que la décision est une violation manifeste et disproportionnée du droit du défendeur à un procès équitable, du fait de l’impossibilité de former un recours effectif et approprié contre celui-ci11. Notons que, dans l’ensemble de ces cas, le droit de l’Union européenne n’avait pas encadré les procédures dans l’État membre d’émission, menées selon les règles procédurales nationales. Or, à l’étape de l’exécution, la clause d’ordre public a pu autoriser, sous le contrôle de la CJUE, le blocage de l’exécution des décisions issues de ces procédures, en raison de garanties procédurales fondamentales reconnues dans l’État membre d’exécution. À ce titre, il est intéressant de s’interroger sur le point de savoir si le droit européen inspire un standard commun en matière d’ordre public procédu- 7 Voir B. Hess, T. Pfeiffer, Interprétation of the Public Policy Exception in EU Instruments of Private International and Procedural Law, Commissioned by the European Parliament [2011] PE 453.189, 58. 8 Aff. C-420/07 Apostolides [EU:C:2009:271] point 57. 9 Aff. C-7/98 Krombach [EU:C:2000:164]. 10 Aff. C-394/07 Gambazzi [EU:C:2009:219] points 28 – 32 and 48. 11 Aff. C-619/10 Trade Agency [EU:C:2012:531]. Marek Safjan et Dominik Düsterhaus 62 ral, qui pourrait être la première étape vers un ordre procédural autonome de l’Union.12 Les défauts de notification Selon l’article 45(1)(b) de Bruxelles 1(bis), une décision ne doit pas être reconnue lorsqu’elle a été rendue par défaut, si l’acte introductif d’instance ou un acte équivalent n’a pas été notifié au défendeur en temps utile et de telle manière qu’il puisse se défendre, à moins13 qu’il n’ait pas exercé de recours à l’encontre de la décision alors qu’il était en mesure de le faire. Ces conditions ont déjà été interprétées par la CJUE, notamment dans l’arrêt ASML Netherlands14, qui concernait la possibilité d’attaquer un jugement dans son État membre d’origine. Le juge de l’État requis doit, selon cet arrêt, déterminer si le défendeur avait pu prendre connaissance du contenu de l’acte introductif d’instance, celui-ci lui ayant été transmis dans un délai suffisant pour lui permettre de préparer sa défense devant les juges nationaux. La particularité de l’article 45(1)(b) de Bruxelles Ibis est qu’il requiert dans certaines situations une seconde appréciation du standard européen du procès équitable, car l’article 28 du règlement Bruxelles Ibis et le règlement n°1393/200715, dans leurs champs d’application respectifs, protègent les défendeurs qui ne sont pas domiciliés dans l’État membre d’origine, d’une décision rendue par défaut à leur encontre sans qu’ils aient été correctement notifiés de la procédure. Précisons néanmoins que, sous l’empire du règlement Bruxelles Ibis, il est tout de même possible de rendre un jugement par défaut, tant que cela apparait proportionnel au regard des droits procéduraux de chacune des parties. C’est la leçon des arrêts Hypotečni Banka16 et G17. Aux deux étapes d’appréciation du standard du procès équitable ainsi requises, par la juridiction d’émission puis 2.2. 12 Voir, J. Basedow, Die Verselbständigung des europäischen ordre public in M. Coester e.a. (éd.), Privatrecht in Europa. Vielfalt, Kollision, Kooperation; Festschrift Sonnenberger (2004) p. 291. 13 Cette condition distingue le régime en vigueur au titre du règlement Bruxelles I de celui en vigueur au titre de la Convention de Bruxelles de 1968. 14 Aff. C-283/05 ASML Netherlands BV [EU:C:2006:787] point 49. 15 Voir sur ce point Aff. C-70/15 Lebek, [EU:C:2016:524]. 16 Aff. C-327/10 Hypotečni Banka [EU:C:2011:745] points 49 – 54. 17 Aff. C-292/10 G [EU:C:2012:142]. De l’encadrement de l’ordre public procédural des États membres 63 par celle statuant sur un refus d’exécution, l’article 47 de la Charte constitue la référence18. Procéduralisation du refus d’exécution sous les auspices de la CJUE Depuis l’arrêt Diageo Brands19, les conditions de refus dans ces deux hypothèses, de défaut de notification, d’une part, et de considérations d’ordre public, d’autre part, ont convergé. Ainsi, la CJUE requiert à présent également dans le contexte des considérations d’ordre public que les individus concernés usent de toute voie de recours dans le but de prévenir toute violation de l’ordre public, à l’exception des circonstances dans lesquelles il est trop difficile voire impossible d’utiliser les voies de recours de l’État membre d’origine. Cette avancée de la CJUE peut paraître audacieuse. En effet, peu de temps après le refus du législateur d’abandonner l’exception d’ordre public sous le règlement Bruxelles Ibis20, la CJUE rapproche davantage le régime d’exécution de ce dernier des régimes spécifiques établis par les règlements relatifs à la création d’un Titre exécutoire européen21, au règlement des petits litiges22, à la procédure européenne d’injonction de payer23 et aux obligations alimentaires24. Ceux-ci prévoient des voies de recours exclusivement dans l’État membre d’origine, une idée que la Cour a également sou- 3. 18 Voir en détail, D. Düsterhaus, Procedural Primacy and Effective Judicial Protection : A Trilogue, Case C-112/13 A v B and Others EU:C:2014:2195 [2016] MJECL, 317. 19 Aff. C-681/13 Diageo Brands [EU:C:2015:471] point 64. 20 Voir en detail, X. Kramer, Cross-Border Enforcement and the Brussels I-Bis Regulation: Towards a New Balance between Mutual Trust and National Control over Fundamental Rights, Netherlands International Law Review 2013, p. 347. 21 Règlement (CE) n° 805/2004 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 21 avril 2004 portant création d'un titre exécutoire européen pour les créances incontestées (OJ 2004 L 143, p. 15) (ci-après le « règlement TEE »). 22 Règlement (CE) n° 861/2007 du Parlement Européen et du Conseil du 11 juillet 2007 instituant une procédure européenne de règlement des petits litiges (OJ 2007 L 199, p. 1). 23 Règlement (CE) n° 1896/2006 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 12 décembre 2006 instituant une procédure européenne d'injonction de payer (OJ 2006 L 399, p. 1). 24 Règlement (CE) n° 4/2009 du Conseil du 18 décembre 2008 relatif à la compétence, la loi applicable, la reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions et la coopération en matière d’obligations alimentaires (OJ 2009 L 7, p. 1). Marek Safjan et Dominik Düsterhaus 64 lignée dans le contexte du règlement Bruxelles IIbis25,26. Ainsi, bien qu’ayant auparavant loué les vertus du contrôle par l’État membre requis27, la Cour semble aujourd’hui évoluer vers une approche plus cohérente de l’exécution transfrontalière parmi les différents instruments de coopération judiciaire, ce qui a été fortement conseillé par la doctrine28. Il peut en effet sembler pertinent de laisser l’État membre d’origine assurer le respect de la CEDH et de la Charte par la décision en cause29. L’obligation inconditionnelle d’épuiser toutes les voies de recours peut cependant être problématique en ce qu’elle peut, dans certaines circonstances, faire peser une charge trop lourde sur le débiteur. Bien que portant spécifiquement sur l’hypothèse d’un défaut de notification (article 34, paragraphe 2, du règlement Bruxelles I), l’affaire Lebek30 est très instructive à cet égard. M. Lebek voulait faire exécuter, en Pologne, un jugement français à l’encontre de M. Domino, auquel l’acte introductif d’instance n’avait pas été signifié et qui n’a eu connaissance du jugement à son encontre que plus d’un an après le prononcé. Au vu de l’impossibilité pour M. Domino de se défendre dans la procédure initiale, le tribunal régional de Jelenia Góra (Pologne) n’a pas reconnu la force exécutoire de ce jugement. Ultérieurement, M. Lebek a introduit une seconde requête, en soulevant que la signification du jugement français à M. Domino a entre-temps été effectuée conformément aux dispositions du règlement no 1393/2007, accompagnée d’une instruction selon laquelle M. Domino pouvait demander le relevé de la forclusion résultant de l’expiration du délai, dans les deux mois suivant la signification du jugement concerné. Le tribunal régional de Jelenia Góra a donc déclaré exécutoire en Pologne le jugement français, en considérant que le respect du droit de se défendre avait été garanti. Saisie de l’affaire, la Cour suprême polonaise a finalement interrogé la CJUE sur le point de savoir si l’article 34, point 2, du règlement Bruxelles I, en tant qu’il mentionne le fait d’être en mesure d’exercer un recours, vise également la situa- 25 Règlement (CE) n° 2201/2003 du Conseil du 27 novembre 2003 relatif à la compétence, la reconnaissance et l'exécution des décisions en matière matrimoniale et en matière de responsabilité parentale abrogeant le règlement (CE) n° 1347/2000 (OJ 2003 L 338, p. 1). 26 Aff. C-491/10 Aguirre Zarraga [EU:C:2010:828]. 27 Aff. C-327/10 Hypotečni Banka [EU:C:2011:745] point 54. 28 Voir A. Frąnckowiak-Adamska, Time for a European ‘full faith and credit clause’ [2015] CMLR 191. 29 Voir en détail, D. Düsterhaus, The ECtHR, the CJEU and the AFSJ: A Matter of Mutual Trust, ELRev [2017] 338. 30 Aff. C-70/15 Lebek, [EU:C:2016:524]. De l’encadrement de l’ordre public procédural des États membres 65 tion dans laquelle un tel recours présuppose d’obtenir un relevé de la forclusion. Alors que l’avocat général Kokott avait considéré que la possibilité d’exercer un recours contre un jugement doit être interprétée de façon stricte et notamment ne pas couvrir les situations dans lesquelles, les délais étant dépassés, il est toutefois possible de présenter une demande tendant au relevé de la forclusion, puis, de former un recours une fois cette demande accueillie31, la Cour s’est montrée plus exigeante en posant l’obligation d’introduire une demande tendant au relevé de la forclusion32. Malgré ses mérites incontestables, il semblerait que l’approche de l’épuisement des voies de recours ne fournisse pas de protection effective dans le cas d’un système judiciaire structurellement défaillant dans l’État membre d’émission du jugement33. Une partie au litige serait-elle obligée de former un recours contre une décision inéquitable même lorsque son échec est certain, notamment au vu d’un manque d’indépendance et d’impartialité au sein des juridictions civiles? Qui plus est, la nécessité d’épuiser les voies de recours avant de pouvoir s’opposer à l’exécution d’un jugement pourrait réduire davantage les opportunités pour la CJUE d’exercer son contrôle sur les limites de l’utilisation de la clause d’ordre public. Dès lors que, en raison de cette exigence procédurale, moins de juridictions auront à apprécier le respect du droit au procès équitable dans l’État membre d’émission, une éventuelle divergence des standards parmi les États membres risque de subsister34. Ajoutons que ce danger est également présent dans le champ d’application des instruments d’exécution automatique dont il a été fait mention plus haut, qui permettent des voies de recours exclusivement dans l’État membre d’émission. Certes, ces instruments, au contraire de l’article 45(1) (a) du règlement Bruxelles qui illustre parfaitement l’absence d’harmonisation, prévoient des exigences minimales en matière de notification, de garanties procédurales et de voies de recours. Cependant, le respect de ces 31 Conclusions du 7 Avril 2016 dans l’affaire C-70/15 [EU:C:2016:226]. 32 Voir le point 49 de l’arrêt C-70/15 Lebek, [EU:C:2016:524]. 33 D. Düsterhaus, Effective remedies and fair trial in civil matters: How to Promote Justice within the Confines of EU Powers, in: S. Iglesias Sánchez et M. Pascual, Fundamental Rights in the AFSJ (à paraître). 34 Voir D. Düsterhaus, Constitutionalisation of European Civil Procedure as a Starting Point for Harmonisation? in F. Gascón Inchausti et B. Hess, The Future of the European Law of Civil Procedure, Coordination or Harmonisation (2020) pp. 69 ss. Marek Safjan et Dominik Düsterhaus 66 exigences est contrôlé uniquement par les juges de l’État membre d’origine, qui ne sont pas toujours enclins à impliquer la CJUE35. Cela étant, il faut souligner que l’approche visant à limiter le contrôle de la régularité procédurale d’une décision au stade de son exécution est en soi viable et sensée dans une Union composée d’États ayant souscrit à la CEDH, et que la Cour de Strasbourg vient d’avaliser l’exigence d’épuisement des voies de recours dans l’État membre d’origine36. Au vu de l’objectif commun de ces États de réaliser un espace de libre circulation non seulement de tous les facteurs économiques mais également des décisions judiciaires, le contrôle desdites décisions au regard de l’ordre public semble quelque peu anachronique et est peu utilisé en pratique37. Les clauses d’ordre public ne semblent pas favoriser l’émergence d’un espace judiciaire commun, d’autant moins que le bon fonctionnement du régime originellement mis en place par la Convention de Bruxelles et largement38 conservé par le règlement Bruxelles I dépend de la supervision par la CJUE des limites à l’imposition par l’État requis de son ordre public à l’État d’origine et aux parties au litige. Or, la plupart des quelques décisions de la CJUE dans lesquelles elle a exercé un tel contrôle n’ont donné que des instructions assez générales39 au lieu d’élaborer un standard uniforme40. À cet égard, l’approche visant à faire de l’épuisement des voies de recours dans l’État membre d’émission une condition nécessaire d’un éventuel refus d’exécution pourrait se révéler bénéfique. En se donnant un droit de regard sur l’organisation et le déroulement des voies de recours, la CJUE pourrait largement contribuer à une protection juridictionnelle effective et équitable dans les États membres. C’est dans ce sens qu’il faut comprendre le rappel que 35 Voir, pour un cas d’exception l’aff. C-300/14 Imtech Marine Belgium [EU:C:2015:825]. 36 Cour EDH (GC) Avotiņš v Latvia, Appl. No. 17502/07. 37 Voir B. Hess / T. Pfeiffer, Interpretation of the Public Policy Exception in EU Instruments of Private International and Procedural Law, Commissioned by the European Parliament [2011] PE 453.189, 58. 38 Article 34(1) du règlement Bruxelles I a en effet introduit l’exigence selon laquelle un refus pour défaut de notification est soumis à la formation de tous les recours possibles dans l’État membre d’origine. 39 Voir, par exemple, Aff. C-619/10 Trade Agency [EU:C:2012:531]. 40 Voir cependant M. Safjan et D. Düsterhaus, A Union of Effective Judicial Protection : Addressing a Multi-level Challenge through the Lens of Article 47 CFREU [2014] Oxford Yearbook of European Law, pp. 3 – 40 pour un exposé de la méthode inductive et transversale d’élaboration d’un standard autonome. De l’encadrement de l’ordre public procédural des États membres 67 « tout État membre doit assurer que les instances relevant, en tant que "juridiction", au sens défini par le droit de l’Union, de son système de voies de recours dans les domaines couverts par le droit de l’Union satisfont aux exigences d’une protection juridictionnelle effective »41? Vers un contrôle strict des conditions du procès équitable? Que le droit procédural des États membres soit loin d’être harmonisé42 est une chose. Une autre est que, en raison de son champ d’application limité, l’article 47 de la Charte ne permet pas souvent à la CJUE de procéder à un contrôle de la qualité des systèmes judiciaires nationaux en tant que garantie d’une protection juridictionnelle effective et équitable. En effet, en l’absence d’application de règles spécifiques du droit de l’Union43, une grande partie des procédures civiles devant les juridictions nationales ne se prête pas à une saisine de la CJUE au titre de l’article 267 TFUE44. Aussi, comme nous l’avons vu plus haut, le nombre d’occasions pour cette Cour de se pencher, au titre de l’ordre public, sur les exigences du droit au procès équitable dans le cadre du règlement de Bruxelles pourrait encore diminuer. Par ailleurs, les initiatives législatives de la Commission européenne ainsi que ses activités de supervision ne sont pas non plus, du fait de son manque de compétence et, parfois, de détermination, à même d’entraîner les États membres vers l’élévation de leur standard de protection judiciaire. Or il existe sans nul doute des problèmes dans ce domaine, comme le soulignent de nombreux rapports sur la qualité, l’indépendance et l’impartialité de la justice, notamment dans les États membres de l’Union européenne45. 4. 41 Aff. C-216/18 PPU LM (défaillances du système judiciaire) [EU:C:2018:586], point 52. 42 Voir B. Hess, Procedural Harmonisation in a European Context, in X. Kramer et C.H. van Rhee (éds.), Civil Litigation in a Globalising World (T.M.C. Asser Press, 2012) pp. 159 – 173. 43 Voir en détail, M. Safjan, D. Düsterhaus et A. Guérin, « La Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne et les ordres juridiques nationaux, de la mise en œuvre à la mise en balance », RTD Eur., 2016, p. 219 à 247. 44 Nombreuses affaires préjudicielles infructueuses témoignent de cette circonstance. Pour ne citer que quelques-unes : aff. C-457/09 Chartry, C-483/11 Boncea, C-258/13 Sociedade Agrícola e Imobiliária da Quinta de S. Paio. 45 Il est possible de se référer à ce titre à la Commission européenne pour l’efficacité de la justice (Conseil de l’Europe), au “Rule of Law Project” (World Justice Pro- Marek Safjan et Dominik Düsterhaus 68 L’on notera spécifiquement, s’agissant de la Pologne, la proposition motivée de la Commission européenne au titre de l’article 7 TUE46, qui expose certaines défaillances structurelles dans cet État membre, susceptibles d’affecter l’organisation et le déroulement équitables des procédures juridictionnelles. Néanmoins, alors que le manque d’indépendance d’une juridiction semble permettre de refuser, au titre de l’article 45(1)(a) de Bruxelles Ibis, l’exécution dans un autre État membre du jugement qu’elle a prononcé, ce manque d’indépendance reste normalement à l’abri du regard de la CJUE tant qu’il se manifeste exclusivement dans un cadre purement interne au premier État membre. Cela étant, la Cour vient d’ouvrir une nouvelle voie en matière de contrôle des systèmes judiciaires internes en acceptant de prendre, comme base de l’appréciation de l’indépendance judiciaire, l’article 19(1)(2) TUE. La Cour relève que cette disposition s’applique « dans les domaines couverts par le droit de l’Union européenne47 », sans qu’il ne soit nécessaire d’établir que l’État membre met en œuvre le droit de l’Union européenne au sens de l’article 5 de la Charte. Selon l’article 2 TUE, l’Union européenne est fondée sur des valeurs, telles que l’état de droit, lesquelles sont communes aux États membres dans une société où, inter alia, la justice prévaut. À ce titre, il convient de souligner que la confiance mutuelle entre les États membres et en particulier entre leurs juridictions est basée sur la présomption fondamentale selon laquelle les États membres partagent un ensemble de valeurs communes sur lequel l’Union européenne est fondée. Si l’article 2 TUE reconnait l’existence de l’État de droit en tant que valeur, l’article 19 TUE confère une expression concrète à cette notion en donnant à la fois à la CJUE et aux juridictions nationales la responsabilité d’assurer un contrôle juridictionnel dans l’ordre juridique européen. L’existence même d’un contrôle juridictionnel effectif, dont l’objectif est d’assurer le respect du droit de l’Union européenne, est essentielle à l’existence de l’état de droit. Chaque État membre doit assurer que les juridictions, au sens du droit de l’Union européenne, qui font partie de son système judiciaire dans les domaines couverts par ce droit, sont conformes aux exigences de la protection juridictionnelle effective. ject), au tableau de bord de la justice dans l’Union européenne et au rapport anticorruption de la Commission européenne (qui exprime des inquiétudes sur les nominations et réformes judiciaires en Bulgarie et en Hongrie en 2014) et, enfin, à l’opinion de la Commission de Venise du Conseil de l’Europe sur les récentes réformes judiciaires en Pologne. 46 Du 20 décembre 2017, COM(2017) 835 final. 47 Aff. C-64/16 Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses [EU:C:2018:117]. De l’encadrement de l’ordre public procédural des États membres 69 Lorsqu’elle rappelle ces exigences, la Cour utilise à la fois sa jurisprudence relative à l’article 267 TFUE et à l’article 47 de la Charte, plaçant ainsi l’article 19 TUE en tant que base légale et référence en matière de garantie institutionnelle du caractère indépendant, équitable et effectif de la justice. Dans son arrêt, la Cour souligne que l’indépendance des juridictions nationales est indispensable notamment au bon fonctionnement du système de coopération juridictionnelle mis en place par le mécanisme de recours préjudiciel prévu à l’article 267 TFUE, en ce que ce mécanisme ne peut être utilisé que par un organe compétent pour appliquer le droit de l’Union européenne et satisfaisant, inter alia, le critère d’indépendance. Si la Cour accepte, en fin de compte, une coupe limitée dans les salaires, effectuée au nom de l’intérêt général et n’affectant pas exclusivement les juges, elle signale clairement qu’une mesure spécifiquement dirigée à l’encontre des juges n’aurait pas été tolérée. Bien que l’article 19 TUE ne porte pas sur les exigences procédurales spécifiques, l’indépendance des juridictions constitue en effet une garantie primordiale du procès équitable dans chaque espèce48. Qui plus est, en combinaison avec l’article 47 de la Charte, la voie de l’article 19(1)(2) TUE semble permettre, en fin de compte, un contrôle transversal, par les institutions européennes, des règles et pratiques procédurales dans les États membres. Une telle approche a le mérite de combler les lacunes de protection résultant des limitations tant du champ d’application de la Charte que de la compétence de la Cour pour interpréter celle-ci. Cette voie permet également de passer outre le fait de ne pouvoir garantir le respect du droit à un procès équitable dans l’Union européenne qu’au moyen d’un contrôle concret et individualisé. Enfin, l’article 19(1)(2) TUE permet à la Commission européenne d’introduire des actions en manquement49 sur une base légale solide. Nous pouvons donc espérer que, en vertu d’efforts législatifs, exécutifs et judiciaires en faveur d’une justice indépendante, effective et de qualité, la libre circulation de décisions juridictionnelles au sein de l’Union européenne, promue depuis 1968 par les règles issues de la convention de Bruxelles, suscitera de moins en moins de doutes quant au respect de l’ordre public procédural. Une telle perspective peut paraître surprenante aux fidèles du droit international privé. Du point de vue de l’ordre juridique intégré de l’Union européenne, elle est pourtant la seule voie à suivre. 48 Aff. C-216/18 PPU LM (défaillances du système judiciaire) [EU:C:2018:586], point 53. 49 Voir, à cet égard, les affaires C-192/18 Commission/Pologne [EU:C:2019:924] et C-619/18 Commission/Pologne [EU:C:2019:531]. Marek Safjan et Dominik Düsterhaus 70 EU Private International Law: Consistency of the Scopes of Application and/or of the Solutions Maciej Szpunar* Table of Contents Introduction1. 71 The consistency of the scopes of application2. 73 The consistency of the solutions3. 78 Introduction The Rome I1 and Rome II2 Regulations as well as the Brussels I Regulation3, replaced by the Brussels I bis Regulation4, constitute the core of EU private international law. Several indications seem to point to the fact that, by adapting these regulations, the EU legislature intended to establish a single and generally uniform system of rules addressing the issues that arise in cross-border situations. In particular, recitals 7 of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations provide that the substantive scope and the provisions 1. * First Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union; Professor at the University of Silesia in Katowice (Poland). 1 Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) (OJ 2008 L 177, p. 6, and corrigendum at OJ 2009 L 309, p. 87; ‘Rome I Regulation’). 2 Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (‘Rome II’) (OJ 2007 L 199, p. 40; ‘Rome II Regulation’). 3 Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ 2001 L 12, p. 1; ‘Brussels I Regulation’). 4 Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ 2012 L 351, p. 1; ‘Brussels I bis Regulation’). 71 of these regulations should be consistent with each other and with the Brussels I Regulation (Brussels I bis). However, a brief analysis of the literature reveals divergent opinions as to the relevance of the consistency concept set out in these recitals5. In fact, the doctrinal debate on the consistency between the instruments of private international law dates back to the beginnings of the Brussels6 and Rome7 Conventions. In my view, the question that recitals 7 of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations are addressing must not be confused with the question of the extent to which the solutions adopted on the basis of those regulations should be consistent with each other. It seems to me that such a distinction is also reflected, at least implicitly, in legal literature to the extent that some authors have argued that ‘the goal of consistency between the Brussels I bis and the Rome I / II Regulations’ should not be confused with strict parallelism between the determination of the competent court and the designation of the applicable law8. Traces of this distinction can also be found in the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), in particular the Kainz judgment9. This judgment gave the Court the opportunity to clarify the scope of the concept set out in recital 7 of the Rome II Regulation in the context of the relationship between that regulation and the Brussels I Regulation. As a reminder, the facts that led to the Kainz judgment concerned a dispute based on liability for defective products brought before an Austrian court. The claim was brought following an accident suffered by the applicant in Germany with a bicycle manufactured in that Member State by the 5 Some authors seem to favour the consistency between these regulation (see T. Azzi, Bruxelles I, Rome I, Rome II : regard sur la qualification en droit international, D. 2009. 1622; E. Lein, The New Rome I / Rome II/ Brussels I Synergy, Yearbook of Private International Law 2008, t. 10, p. 197–198), while others propose a more reserved approach in this regard (see, i.e., B. Haftel, Entre « Rome II » et « Bruxelles I » : l'interprétation communautaire uniforme du règlement « Rome I », Journal du droit international n° 3, 2010, p. 763). 6 Convention of 27 September 1968 on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ 1978 L 304, p. 36; ‘Brussels Convention’). 7 Convention on the law applicable to contractual obligations, opened for signature in Rome on 19 June 1980 (OJ 1980 L 266, p. 1; ‘the Rome Convention’). 8 See G. Rühl, J. von Hein, Towards a European Code on Private International Law?, vol. 79, n° 4 (2015), p. 720 See also, to that effect, T. Azzi, Bruxelles I, Rome I, Rome II : regard sur la qualification en droit international, D. 2009. 1624. 9 Judgment of 16 January 2014, Kainz (C‑45/13, EU:C:2014:7; ‘Kainz judgment’). Maciej Szpunar 72 defendant – whose head office was also located in Germany – but purchased by the applicant from a retailer in Austria. The applicant relied on Article 5 (3) Brussels I Regulation to justify the jurisdiction of the court seised. That provision concerns jurisdiction in matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict of the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur. The applicant took the view that the place of the event that gave rise to the damage was in Austria because the bicycle had been made available there to the end user. This reasoning could have been inspired by the wording of Article 5 (1) (a) to (c) Rome II Regulation under which the law applicable to a non-contractual obligation arising from damage caused by a product is, in essence, the law of the country in which the product was marketed. Consequently, in the Kainz judgment, the desire to guarantee that consistent solutions be adopted on the basis of the Brussels I and Rome II Regulations could have led to the conclusion that the Member State where the event giving rise to the damage was located is the Member State in which the product was marketed. However, in paragraph 20 of the Kainz judgment, the CJEU considered that although it appears from recital 7 of the Rome II Regulation that the EU legislature sought to ensure consistency between the Brussels I Regulation and the substantive scope and provisions of the Rome II Regulation, it does not follow that the Brussels I Regulation should be interpreted in light of the Rome II Regulation. According to the CJEU, any attempts to achieve consistency cannot, in any event, lead to the provisions of Brussels I Regulation being interpreted in a manner which is unconnected to the scheme and objectives pursued by that Regulation. The consistency of the scopes of application Recitals 7 of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations express the idea that the notions used by the EU legislator to designate the scopes of application of the Rome Regulations, of the Brussels I Regulation (Brussels I bis Regulation) and of their provisions should be interpreted in a consistent manner. This idea ultimately boils down to a postulate of consistency between the scopes of EU private international law regulations and their provisions. The scopes of these regulations and of their provisions are determined by means of the legal notions used for that specific purpose by the legislator. With that in mind, the postulate that seeks to ascertain that these scopes will be interpreted consistently is closely linked to the issue of ‘char- 2. EU Private International Law 73 acterization’ (‘classification’) in the traditional conflict-of-laws sense of this notion10. Admittedly, it is true that, unlike, in particular, the Succession Regulation11 or the Maintenance Regulation12 accompanied by the Hague Protocol13, the Rome I and Rome II Regulations as well as the Brussels I Regulation (Brussels I bis Regulation), taken separately, were not conceived as complementary instruments containing conflict-of-laws rules and rules on international jurisdiction. In fact, the Rome I and Rome II Regulations and the Brussels I (Brussels I bis) Regulation have their origins in international conventions, namely the Rome and Brussels Conventions14, which addressed separately the applicable law and jurisdiction. Against this background, it is important to note that the postulate of consistency between these two conventions was not, at least explicitly, put forward when the Rome Convention was drafted, with the exception of questions related to determination of the scope of application of this Convention15. However, I do not consider that the idea set out in recitals 7 of the Rome I and Rome II regulations has been jeopardized by the legacy of original sin dating back to the early development of the Brussels and Rome Conventions. This is not the case. Firstly, I think that autonomous 10 M. Szpunar, Wykładnia autonomiczna europejskiego prawa prywatnego, in M. Jagielska, E. Rott-Pietrzyk, M. Szpunar (eds.), Rozprawy z prawa prywatnego. Księga jubileuszowa dedykowana Profesorowi Wojciechowi Popiołkowi, Warsaw, 2017, p. 188. 11 Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (OJ 2012 L 201, p. 107, ‘Succession Regulation’). 12 Council Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 of 18 December 2008 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations (OJ 2009 L 7, p. 1, ‘Maintenance Regulation’). 13 Hague Protocol of 23 November 2007 on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations, approved on behalf of the European Community by Council Decision 2009/941/EC of 30 November 2009 (OJ 2009 L 331, p. 17, ‘the Hague Protocol’). 14 It is important to note in this context that the Brussels Convention was adopted on the basis of Article 220 of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, this provision became Article 220 of the EC Treaty, and now Article 293 EC). This was not the case for the Rome Convention. 15 Report on the Convention on the law applicable to contractual obligations by Mario Giuliano, Professor, University of Milan, and Paul Lagarde, Professor, University of Paris I (OJ 1980 C 282, p. 10–11). Maciej Szpunar 74 interpretation, which does not necessarily have to follow the lines of interpretation adopted under national law16 and which, therefore, facilitates the search for concordance between all EU private international law regulations, has in fact been developed by Luxembourg judges in preliminary rulings concerning the interpretation of the provisions of the Brussels Convention. Secondly, notwithstanding that several provisions of the Brussels I (Brussels I bis) and Rome regulations were clearly inspired by the Brussels and Rome Conventions, an analysis of the explanatory memoranda accompanying the proposals for the Rome I and Rome II Regulations shows that the EU legislator wanted to reconcile the scopes of application of some of the provisions contained in these regulations and in the Brussels I Regulation17. That said, the fact that the postulate of consistency of the scopes of application and of the provisions is laid down in in the Rome I and II regulations with an explicit reference to the Brussels I (Brussels I bis) Regulation does not imply that this consistency must be attained without any exception in all cases. It is in the nature of the postulates (guiding principles) merely to indicate the directions to be followed in the interpretation of legislative texts. As such, the postulate of consistency of the scopes of application serves as a principle guiding the interpretation of EU private international law instruments. In that regard, it is necessary to emphasize the fundamental differences between the conflict-of-laws rules and the rules on jurisdiction. Firstly, the conflict-of-laws rules identify the set of provisions that will govern a specific aspect of a factual situation, while when it comes to the rules on jurisdiction, it is the legal action as a whole that is subject to this rule18. Thus, in principle, the number of conflict-of-laws rules being 16 On autonomous interpretation in EU private international law see M. Audit, ‘L'interprétation autonome du droit international privé communautaire’, Journal du droit international, 2004, p. 789–816. 17 A desire to align the Rome I Regulation with the Brussels I Regulation was invoked in the contexts of Article 1 (scope) and of the provision relating to the law applicable to consumer contracts. In addition, other references, concerning the qualification of the pre-contractual obligations and the connecting factor used in order to designate the law applicable to employment contracts, refer to the jurisprudence relating to the Brussels I Regulation. Similar references appear in the explanatory memorandum accompanying the proposal for a Rome II Regulation. 18 See B. Haftel, Entre « Rome II » et « Bruxelles I » : l'interprétation communautaire uniforme du règlement « Rome I », Journal du droit international n° 3, 2010, p. 764. EU Private International Law 75 applied (effectively and quite often even potentially) in a particular case is often greater than the number of jurisdiction rules that are being applied to this case. To illustrate, let us consider a dispute concerning reimbursement of payments transferred to the defendant notwithstanding that, according to the claimant, the contract was void. In such circumstances, several conflictof-laws rules should be effectively applied in order to designate the laws applicable to the matters related, in particular, to the legal capacity of the parties or to the existence of this contract. However, a single rule on jurisdiction is sufficient to effectively allocate jurisdiction among the national courts for all aspects of this dispute. Let us now turn to the illustration of the potential application of multiple conflict-of-laws rules. A claim seeks the annulment of company decisions. This claim may be based on a defect of consent, the lack of legal capacity of a body which adopted the contested decision or on a serious breach of the articles of association. From the conflict-of-laws perspective, three laws may be applicable, namely the law applicable to contract, to the personal status of the natural person or the personal status of the legal person. From the perspective of rules on jurisdiction, such an application will likely fall within the scope of Article 24 (2) Brussels I bis Regulation or – when the validity of the decisions of the organs of a company constitutes a preliminary or secondary question – within the scope of other provisions of this regulation19. In the second place, each legal relationship must be subject to an applicable law, even when there is no dispute pending before the national courts. The need to identify competent courts manifests itself when a legal action is brought or at least intended by a plaintiff. In this context I observe that the striving to maintain consistency between the rules of conflict of laws and the rules on jurisdiction concerns, for example, the articulation between, on the one hand, the fields of application of the Rome I Regulation – which concerns contractual obligations – and the Rome II Regulation – which concerns non-contractual obligations – and, on the other hand, the rules of the Brussels I Regulation (Brussels I bis) designating the courts also competent to settle disputes in contractual matters and in tort or quasi-tort matters. 19 See, to that effect, L. de Lima Pinheiro, in U. Magnus, P. Mankowski (dirs.), Brussels I bis Regulation, Cologne 2016, p. 573. See also order of 26 January 2011 of the Polish Supreme Court, IV CSK 284/10, https://goo.gl/QEgJjk. Maciej Szpunar 76 The fields of application of the Rome I and Rome II regulations do not overlap. Consequently, as the Court pointed out in Matoušková20 with regard to the interplay between the Succession Regulation and the Brussels IIa Regulation21, questions falling within the scope of the Rome I Regulation are excluded from the scope of the Rome II Regulation and vice versa. The same applies to the interplay between Article 7 (1) Brussels I bis Regulation and Article 7 (2) of that Regulation, which establish specific and additional grounds of jurisdiction in relation to, respectively, contractual matters and tort or quasi-tort matters. A single request, relating to an obligation, brought before national courts has either a contractual or a non-contractual qualification, double qualification being, in my view, excluded. Thus, it could be presumed that, in certain cases, the fact of applying the provisions of the Rome I Regulation in order to designate the law applicable to a situation in question indicates that claims linked to this situation could also be brought before the courts competent in contractual matters within the meaning of Article 7 (1) Brussels I bis Regulation. However, while it is always necessary to identify a conflict-of-laws rule that will designate the law governing an aspect of the factual situation, it is not in all cases necessary to grant an applicant the right to lodge his application before the courts referred to in Article 7 (1) and (2) Brussels I bis Regulation. In any event, the general provision that enshrines the actor sequitur forum rei rule remains applicable. It seems to me that those observations are consistent with the position expressed by Advocate General Bobek in his Opinion in the Feniks case on the classification of actio pauliana, as provided for in Polish law, in the context of the Brussels I bis Regulation22, even though he was not followed by the Court on that particular point. 20 Judgment of 6 October 2015, Matoušková (C‑404/14, EU:C:2015:653, point 34). 21 Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 (OJ 2003 L 338, p. 1. ‘Brussels II Regulation’). 22 Opinion of Advocate General Bobek in Feniks (C‑337/17, EU:C:2018:487, point 98). EU Private International Law 77 The consistency of the solutions It should be at this stage quite clear that the postulate of consistency of scopes of application is not to be confused with the postulate of consistency of solutions. The latter, although also concerning the (autonomous) interpretation of provisions of private international law, cannot intervene in the process of identifying the provisions which should be applied to designate a competent court or applicable law. Indeed, it does not appear, at least explicitly, from recitals 7 that the EU legislature intended to ensure, concerning the results achieved by the application of conflict-of-laws rules and rules on jurisdiction, that what is true for the Rome I and Rome II Regulations is also automatically true for the Brussels I and Brussels I bis regulations. To illustrate my point23, I refer to the striving for consistency between the applicable law and the court having jurisdiction to hear the case, expressly referred to by certain acts of the Union in matters of civil cooperation, in particular by the Succession Regulation24. To a lesser extent, the same is true in relation to the Maintenance Regulation and the Hague Protocol. The Protocol indeed contains certain provisions which reflect the desire to avoid situations in which the authority ruling on maintenance obligations should (would be required to) apply a foreign law25. However, in the first place, even under the Succession Regulation, the consistency of ius and forum does not have to be observed in all instances. Furthermore, as I have explained above, the Rome I and Rome II Regulations, as well as the Brussels (Brussels I bis) I Regulation, taken separately, 3. 23 Another example could be drawn from the desire to align the scope of the parties’ autonomy as regards the choice of applicable law and of forum as well as from the desire to align the modalities according to which these choices are made. On this issue, see. J.J. Kuipers, "Party Autonomy in the Brussels I Regulation and Rome I Regulation and the European Court of Justice", German Law Journal 2009, vol. 10, no. 11, p. 1508–1513. In addition, certain authors seek to fill alleged gaps in the Rome II regulation by having recourse to the solutions adopted within the framework of the Rome I regulation. With regard, for example, to the partial choice of the applicable law, which is not explicitly provided for in Article 14 Rome II Regulation, c. A. Junker in H.J. Sonnenberger (dir.), Münchener Kommentar zum Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuch. Band 10, München 2010, p. 1291. Furthermore, as regards the application of Article 16, § 2, Rome I Regulation in the context of Article 20 Rome II Regulation, c. D. Baetge, Article 20 Rome II, in G.P. Calliess (red.), Rome Regulations. Commentary on the European Rules of the Conflict of Laws, Alphen an den Rijn 2011, p. 598. 24 See my Opinion in Oberle (C‑20/17, EU:C:2018:89, points 104 and 112). 25 See my Opinion in Mölk (C‑214/17, EU:C:2018:297, point 53). Maciej Szpunar 78 were not created as a legislative whole containing conflict-of-law rules and rules on jurisdiction. In the second place, it should be borne in mind that the functions of the conflict-of-laws rules and the functions of the rules on jurisdiction are very different. The rules on jurisdiction are limited to designating the court competent to deal with a dispute. Consequently, they are not intended to guarantee that, on the substantive level, the interests of the parties will be satisfied26. In this vein, it follows from the case-law relating to the principles of mutual trust between Member States and mutual recognition27 that the question of which court has jurisdiction to settle a dispute should not be significant for the parties’ substantive interests. That being said, the rules designating the applicable law address issues that arise due to the cross-border nature of the situation on which a dispute is based. The determination of the law applicable to this situation or some of its aspects should make it possible to resolve these issues in a final and lasting manner, even in the absence of pending litigation before a national court28. Differences in the functions of conflict-of-laws rules and rules on jurisdiction may have an impact on the results achieved by their applications. Furthermore, these differences also explain the reasons why rules on jurisdiction lend themselves more to a flexible interpretation29. In certain cases, this flexibility is likely to render the results of the interpretation of the conflict of laws rules and the rules on jurisdiction even more divergent, so that certain effects of their applications would not be comparable. To conclude, the meticulous exercise of achieving balance between, on the one hand, consistency of the scopes of application and of the solutions of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations and of the Brussels I (Brussels I 26 See, to that effect, O. Feraci, Party Autonomy and Conflict of Jurisdiction in the EU Private International Law on Family and Succession Matters, YPIL 2014/2015, vol. 16, p. 108. 27 See judgment of 9 March 2017, Pula Parking (C‑551/15, EU:C:2017:193, points 51 to 53). 28 See, to that effect, J. von Hein, Protecting victims of Cross-border Torts under Article 7 n°. 2 Brussels I bis : Towards a More Differentiated and Balanced Approach, YPIL 2014/2015, vol. 16, p. 249, qui fait dans ce contexte référence à la position de la Commission présentée dans l'affaire ayant donné lieu à l'arrêt Bier (CJCE 30 nov. 1976, 21/76, EU:C:1976:166). E. Lein, The New Rome I / Rome II / Brussels I Synergy, Yearbook of Private International Law 2008, t. 10, p. 196. 29 See C. Marenghi, The Law Applicable to Product Liability in Context: Article 5 of the Rome II Regulation and its Interaction with Other EU Instruments, YPIL 2014/2015, vol. 16, p. 531. EU Private International Law 79 bis) Regulation and, on the other hand, their independence and their specificity is decisive for the functioning of the EU system of private international law. Also, within the framework of its mission aimed at ensuring unity of interpretation of EU law, it is up to the CJEU to ensure that the postulates presented above are respected to the extent of allowing this goal to be achieved. In this respect, the CJEU benefits from a heritage which has its roots in the Brussels Convention, namely the autonomous interpretation of the notions of international law. Maciej Szpunar 80 Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile Marta Requejo Isidro* Table of Contents Introduction1. 82 Le régime Bruxelles et le système : conception et littéralité des instruments.2. 85 Le régime Bruxelles dans l’application et l’interprétation du reste des instruments 3. 86 Absence d’impératif de cohérence?3.1. 86 Le régime Bruxelles : droit commun, point de repère3.2. 88 Argument décisif (et à suivre)3.2.1. 88 Argument décisif (pour en dévier)3.2.2. 90 Vers l’absence de préférence3.3. 93 Une « fausse » mention?3.3.1. 93 Le régime Bruxelles, un argument parmi d’autres3.3.2. 94 Le cumul d’arguments3.3.2.1. 94 Les références « de basse intensité »3.3.2.2. 96 Au-delà : le raisonnement (en apparence ?) indépendant3.3.3. 97 Pas de (p)référence, mais prise en compte toute de même?3.4. 102 Les précédents3.4.1. 103 Le régime Bruxelles à travers les avocats généraux3.4.2. 104 Conclusions4. 105 * Senior Research Fellow, MPI Luxembourg. Professeur de droit international privé à l’Université de La Laguna (Tenerife). 81 Introduction Voici quelques réflexions complémentaires à celles de mes collègues, cette fois à propos de l’impact du régime Bruxelles sur le reste des instruments européens du droit procédural1: pour rappel, le règlement 2201/2003, Bruxelles IIbis2; le règlement 4/2009 sur les obligations alimentaires3; le règlement 650/2012 sur les successions4; les règlements en matière de régimes matrimoniaux5 et sur les effets patrimoniaux des partenariats enregistrés6, les règlements de « deuxième génération »7, le règlement insolvabi- 1. 1 Par « régime Bruxelles » on entend désigner la Convention de Bruxelles de 1968 concernant la compétence judiciaire et l'exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale, JO L 299/32, 31.12.1972, le règlement (CE) n° 44/2001 du 22 décembre 2000 concernant la compétence judiciaire, la reconnaissance et l'exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale, JO L 012/1, 16.01.2001, et le règlement (UE) 1215/2012 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 12 décembre 2012 concernant la compétence judiciaire, la reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale, OJ L 351/1, 20.12.2012. 2 Règlement (CE) n° 2201/2003 du Conseil du 27 novembre 2003 relatif à la compétence, la reconnaissance et l'exécution des décisions en matière matrimoniale et en matière de responsabilité parentale abrogeant le règlement (CE) n° 1347/2000, OJ L 338/1, 23.12.2003. 3 Règlement (CE) 4/2009 du Conseil du 18 décembre 2008 relatif à la compétence, la loi applicable, la reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions et la coopération en matière d’obligations alimentaires, JO, L 7/1, 10.1.2009. 4 Règlement (UE) 650/2012 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 4 juillet 2012 relatif à la compétence, la loi applicable, la reconnaissance et l'exécution des décisions, et l'acceptation et l'exécution des actes authentiques en matière de successions et à la création d'un certificat successoral européen, JO L 201/107, 27.7.2012. 5 Règlement (UE) 2016/1103 du Conseil du 24 juin 2016 mettant en œuvre une coopération renforcée dans le domaine de la compétence, de la loi applicable, de la reconnaissance et de l'exécution des décisions en matière de régimes matrimoniaux, OJ L/1 183, 8.7.2016. 6 Règlement (UE) 2016/1104 du Conseil du 24 juin 2016 mettant en œuvre une coopération renforcée dans le domaine de la compétence, de la loi applicable, de la reconnaissance et de l'exécution des décisions en matière d'effets patrimoniaux des partenariats enregistrés, JO L 183/30, 8.7.2016. 7 Règlement (CE) 805/2004 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 21 avril 2004 portant création d'un titre exécutoire européen pour les créances incontestées, JO L 143/15, 30.4.2004, règlement (CE) 1896/2006 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 12 décembre 2006 instituant une procédure européenne d'injonction de payer, JO L 399/1, 30.12.2006, règlement (CE) 861/2007 du Parlement Européen et du Conseil du 11 juillet 2007 instituant une procédure européenne de règlement des petits litiges, JO L 199/1, 31.7.2007; règlement (UE) 655/2014 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 15 mai 2014 portant création d’une procédure d’ordonnance européenne de saisie conservatoire des comptes bancaires, destinée à faciliter Marta Requejo Isidro 82 lité8, ainsi que les dispositions relatives à la juridiction, la reconnaissance et l’exécution dans les règlements sur la propriété intellectuelle,9 ou la protection des données10. Les règlements sur la notification et l’obtention de preuves, ainsi que quelques directives, en particulier, mais pas seulement, celle sur l’aide judiciaire dans les affaires transfrontalières, doivent aussi être mentionnés11. Cette étude entamée en vue du 50ème anniversaire de la Convention de Bruxelles tient pour acquis que le langage de la Cour, ses énoncés et ses expressions, ne sont pas neutres ; la Cour choisit délibérément ce qu’elle dit, et comment le dire. L’examen ne prétend pas à l’exhaustivité ; le nombre de décisions rendues par la Cour ne le permettrait pas. En outre, pour bien cerner les relations entre le régime Bruxelles et les autres instruments dans toutes leurs nuances, il faudrait séparer ceux qui sont instrumentaux – le règlement sur la notification, par exemple – de ceux qui servent à la distribution de la compétence juridictionnelle entre les États le recouvrement transfrontière de créances en matière civile et commerciale, JO L 189/59., 27.6.2014. 8 Règlement (UE) 2015/848 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 20 mai 2015 relatif aux procédures d'insolvabilité, JO L 141/19, 5.6.2015. 9 Règlement (CE) 6/2002 du Conseil du 12 décembre 2001 sur les dessins ou modèles communautaires, JO, L 3/1, 5.01.2202, Art. 79. Règlement (UE) 2017/1001 du Parlement Européen et du Conseil du 14 juin 2017 sur la marque de l'Union européenne, JO, L 154/1, 16.06.2017, Préambule para. 32 ; arts. 122, 125, 131. Le règlement Bruxelles Ibis a dû être modifié : voir Règlement (UE) 542/2014 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 15 mai 2014 ; P.A. de Miguel Asensio, « Tribunal unificado de patentes : competencia judicial y reconocimiento de resoluciones », Anuario Español de Derecho Internacional Privado, vol. XIII, 2013, pp. 73–99. 10 Règlement (UE) 2016/679 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 27 avril 2016 relatif à la protection des personnes physiques à l'égard du traitement des données à caractère personnel et à la libre circulation de ces données, et abrogeant la directive 95/46/CE, JO L 119/1, 4.5.2016. 11 Règlement (CE) 1393/2007 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 13 novembre 2007 relatif à la signification et à la notification dans les États membres des actes judiciaires et extrajudiciaires en matière civile ou commerciale (signification ou notification des actes), et abrogeant le règlement (CE) 1348/2000 du Conseil, OJ L 324/79, 10.12.2007; règlement (CE) 1206/2001 du Conseil du 28 mai 2001 relatif à la coopération entre les juridictions des États membres dans le domaine de l'obtention des preuves en matière civile ou commerciale, JO L 174/1, 27.6.2001. Directive 2002/8/CE du Conseil du 27 janvier 2003 visant à améliorer l'accès à la justice dans les affaires transfrontalières par l'établissement de règles minimales communes relatives à l'aide judiciaire accordée dans le cadre de telles affaires, JO L 26/41, 31.1.2003. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 83 membres de l’Union Européenne, et à la libre circulation des décisions. Toutefois, la recherche menée soutient suffisamment les conclusions12; en même temps, elle soulève de nouvelles questions, en particulier celles des relations entre la Cour et les avocats généraux. La réserve étant faite, permettez-moi de commencer avec les mots de quelques professeurs célèbres : « The Brussels I regulation represents a backbone and a model for all subsequent regulations in Europe »13. « Its [of the CJEU] finding may be distinguishable, in that it emphasises (at 40 and 44 in particular) that for the service of documents Regulation, things need to move fast indeed and hence interpretation even of core concepts of the Regulation needs to proceed swiftly (…) However in the remainder of the judgment it does refer to precedent in particular under the Brussels I Regulation, hence presumably making current interpretation de rigueur for European civil procedure generally. »14 Ces affirmations reflètent une ’opinion très répandue parmi les universitaires à propos du caractère de « droit commun » du régime Bruxelles ; un état d’esprit qui est par ailleurs confirmé par les plans d’études des universités où le droit international privé est une matière obligatoire : le règlement Bruxelles Ibis (auparavant, la Convention ou le règlement Bruxelles I) est l’instrument clé censé ouvrir les portes du droit judiciaire européen aux étudiants de troisième ou quatrième année. 12 Le choix des décisions a été fait sur la base indiquée au point III.1, in fine, sans préférence particulière pour aucun des règlements ; si le règlement Bruxelles IIbis est plus souvent mentionné c’est tout simplement parce que les demandes de décision préjudicielle sont plus nombreuses. L’échantillon comprend tant les décisions de la Cour que les conclusions ou les opinions des avocats généraux. 13 B. Hess, V. Richard, « Brussels I (Convention and Regulation) », Encyclopedia of Private International Law, 2017, 226. 14 G. van Calster, “Fahnenbrock: ‘Civil and commercial’ viz bearers of Greek bonds. ECJ puts forward ‘direct and immediate effect’, March 2016, at https://gavclaw.co m/2015/06/15/fahnenbrock-civil-and-commercial-viz-bearers-of-greek-bonds-ecj-pu ts-forward-direct-and-immediate-effect/ (dernière visite 24.09.2018). Marta Requejo Isidro 84 Le régime Bruxelles et le système : conception et littéralité des instruments. À la question du rôle du régime Bruxelles dans la création d’un système, il faut sans aucun doute répondre qu’il a ouvert la voie et préparé le terrain à des développements ultérieurs. Quelques illustrations : – La Convention de Bruxelles de 1968 est le premier instrument en droit judiciaire concernant les cas transfrontaliers, adopté en vertu du traité instituant la Communauté économique européenne. – La Convention, puis les règlements Bruxelles I et Ibis, ont créé un modèle de structure de base repris dans les instruments adoptés par la suite (bien qu’ils se démarquent du prototype dans une plus ou moins grande mesure en ce qu’ils introduisent des chapitres sur la coopération administrative et/ou la loi applicable). – Le régime Bruxelles apporte des solutions paradigmatiques à des problèmes communs, comme par exemple, celui de la litispendance ou de la connexité. – Les critères de juridiction et/ou les règles sur la reconnaissance et l’exécution du régime Bruxelles ont été adoptés dans les règlements sur des matières civiles et commerciales spécifiques (obligations alimentaires ; marques, dessins, protection de données); ou créant des procédures spécifiques (procédure européenne d'injonction de payer; petits litiges). – Le régime Bruxelles a été aussi un modèle pour le “outer world”, l’exemple classique étant la Convention de Lugano15. De plus, certaines de ses solutions caractéristiques furent exportées bien au-delà de l’espace judiciaire européen (voir, par exemple, l’art. 71 règlement Brussels Ibis). Ceci étant dit, on ne peut pas ignorer que chaque instrument européen présente ses particularités et s’éloigne plus ou moins de ce que nous allons appeler, pour le moment, le « tronc » commun (un tronc commun qui par ailleurs évolue de son côté, à sa façon). Le législateur lui-même souligne les différences et les clivages entre les instruments : – Au para. 9 du préambule du règlement portant création d’un titre européen pour les créances non-contestées : « Une telle procédure devrait présenter des avantages importants par rapport à la procédure d'exequatur prévue par le règlement (CE) n° 44/2001 ». 2. 15 Convention concernant la compétence judiciaire et l'exécution des décisions en matières civile et commerciale – Faite à Lugano le 16 septembre 1988, JO L 319/9, 25.11.1988. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 85 – Au para. 15 du préambule du règlement sur les obligations alimentaires : « Afin de préserver les intérêts des créanciers d’aliments et de favoriser une bonne administration de la justice au sein de l’Union européenne, les règles relatives à la compétence telles qu’elles résultent du règlement (CE) nº 44/2001 devraient être adaptées ». – Au para. 32 du préambule du règlement sur la marque de l’Union Européenne : « Ce sont les dispositions du règlement (UE) no 1215/2012 du Parlement européen et du Conseil qui devraient s'appliquer à toutes les actions en justice relatives aux marques de l'Union européenne, sauf si le présent règlement y déroge ». Les arts. 122, 125, 126 fournissent des exemples de dérogation et d’adaptation. – Au para. 147 du préambule du règlement sur la protection des données : « Lorsque le présent règlement prévoit des règles de compétence spécifiques (…) les règles de compétence générales, telles que celles prévues dans le règlement (UE) no 1215/2012 du Parlement européen et du Conseil, ne devraient pas porter préjudice à l'application de telles règles juridictionnelles spécifiques. » – Au para. 7 du préambule du règlement sur l’insolvabilité le législateur a établi une relation de complémentarité avec le régime Bruxelles ; aucun des instruments ne prévaut sur l’autre : « L'interprétation du présent règlement devrait, autant que possible, combler les lacunes réglementaires entre les deux instruments. » Les règlements sur les successions, les régimes matrimoniaux et en matière d'effets patrimoniaux des partenariats enregistrés ne font aucune mention explicite au régime Bruxelles. Au point 59 du préambule du premier, ainsi qu’au para. 56 du préambule des deux autres, on trouve une référence générale aux instruments de l’Union Européenne : « À la lumière de son objectif général, (…) le présent règlement devrait fixer des règles relatives à la reconnaissance (…) qui soient semblables à celles d'autres instruments de l'Union adoptés dans le domaine de la coopération judiciaire en matière civile. » Le régime Bruxelles dans l’application et l’interprétation du reste des instruments Absence d’impératif de cohérence? Voyons maintenant l’impact du régime Bruxelles sur le reste des instruments du droit européen de la procédure dans une perspective dynamique, 3. 3.1. Marta Requejo Isidro 86 c’est-à-dire, du point de vue de l’application et de l’interprétation de ces instruments. En d’autres termes, nous allons aborder le sujet de la cohérence des instruments, en essayant d’y déceler le poids du régime Bruxelles16. En vérité, la cohérence n’est pas imposée par la norme au-delà des règlements Rome I et Rome II17, (et, évidemment, en ce qui concerne les instruments du régime Bruxelles eux-mêmes). Pour le reste, s’il est possible d’identifier quelques renvois ou des références croisées, elles ne sont que ponctuelles. Par exemple : – Dans le règlement 1896/2006, sur l’injonction de payer, l’art. 3.2 renvoie au règlement 44/2001 pour la détermination du “domicile” des parties ; – Au règlement 861/2007, « petits litiges », l’art. 3.2 reprend aussi la notion de domicile. En plus, la notion de « demande reconventionnelle est importée expressément du règlement 44/2001 : « La notion de demande reconventionnelle devrait s’entendre au sens de l’article 6, paragraphe 3, du règlement (CE) no 44/2001, à savoir une demande dérivant du contrat ou du fait sur lequel est fondée la demande initiale. Il y a lieu d’appliquer les articles 2 et 4, l’article 5, paragraphes 3, 4 et 5, mutatis mutandis aux demandes reconventionnelles. » (para. 16 du préambule); – Le règlement 655/2014, portant création d’une procédure d’ordonnance européenne de saisie conservatoire des comptes bancaires, renvoie aussi au régime Bruxelles pour la détermination du domicile (art. 4.4.15). Quelle importance accorder à l’absence d’impératif de cohérence ? À mon avis, elle n’en a aucune. Le principe selon lequel un système juridique doit être interprété de façon à assurer sa cohérence va de soi et il va aussi de soi que la cohérence ne constitue pas le seul critère d’interprétation. Nous ver- 16 Il est bien entendu impossible de donner une réponse finale à la question de la cohérence dans cette brève contribution. De plus, elle ne devrait pas être abordée seulement par référence à la CJEU, car si elle a certainement le dernier mot, le gros des affaires est traité par les tribunaux nationaux, qui travaillent quotidiennement avec les instruments européens. 17 Règlement (CE) 593/2008 du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 17 juin 2008 sur la loi applicable aux obligations contractuelles (Rome I), JO L/6 177, 4.7.2008, point 7 du Préambule ; règlement (CE) 864/2007 du Parlement Européen et du Conseil du 11 juillet 2007 sur la loi applicable aux obligations non contractuelles (Rome II), JO L 199/40, 31.7.2007, point 7 du Préambule. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 87 rons dans un instant que le mot « cohérence » ne figure pas souvent dans le discours de la CJUE à propos des instruments de droit procédural18, mais qu’elle utilise d’autres formules du même sens : « (la jurisprudence) demeure pertinente » ; « voir, par analogie » ; « voir, en ce sens ». De plus, la cohérence globale peut résulter de la continuité dans l’interprétation mais aussi des particularisations ou des distinctions, pour autant qu’elles soient justifiées. Reprenons alors la question de l’impact du régime Bruxelles sur le reste des instruments européens en examinant trois cas de figure dans lesquels la Cour a été saisie. Dans le premier cas, les termes dont l’interprétation était demandée à la Cour étaient les mêmes dans le règlement en cause et dans le régime Bruxelles. Dans un deuxième ensemble d’affaires, les règles à la base de la demande préjudicielle étaient les mêmes dans le règlement en cause et dans le régime Bruxelles. Dans la troisième situation, des dispositions pour aborder un problème manquaient dans le règlement applicable tandis qu’elles existaient dans le régime Bruxelles. L’examen de la jurisprudence aboutit aux résultats qui suivent. Le régime Bruxelles : droit commun, point de repère Argument décisif (et à suivre) Le régime Bruxelles est utilisé directement et constitue l’argument central de la solution proposée par la CJUE dans plusieurs cas. L’arrêt C-296/10, Purrucker19, relatif aux notions d’ “objet” et de “cause” dans le cadre de l’art. 19.2 du règlement Brussels IIbis, fournit un bon exemple : « La Cour a déjà jugé, dans le cadre de la convention de Bruxelles, que l’objet du litige consiste dans le but de la demande (voir arrêt du 6 décembre 1994, Tatry, C‑406/92, Rec. p. I‑5439, point 41). Pour vérifier si deux demandes présentent le même objet, il convient de tenir compte des prétentions respectives des demandeurs dans chacun des litiges (arrêt du 8 mai 2003, Gantner Electronic, C‑111/01, Rec. p. I‑4207, point 26). Par ailleurs, la Cour a interprété la notion de 3.2. 3.2.1. 18 Voir néanmoins l’arrêt (neuvième chambre) C-508/12, Vapenik, 5 décembre 2013, à propos du titre exécutoire européen pour les créances incontestées, ECLI:EU:C:2013:790, para. 25 et 37. 19 Arrêt de la Cour (deuxième chambre) du 9 novembre 2010, ECLI:EU:C:2010:665. Prise de position de l’avocat général M. Niilo Jääskinen, ECLI:EU:C:2010:578. Marta Requejo Isidro 88 « cause » comme comprenant les faits et la règle juridique invoqués comme fondement de la demande (voir arrêt Tatry, précité, point 39) ». (para. 68) Dans sa décision C-92/12, Health Service Executive20, toujours dans le cadre du règlement Bruxelles IIbis, à propos des effets d’une décision de placement d’un enfant dans un établissement d’un autre État membre, la Cour rappelle au para. 142 que : « À cet égard, dans le contexte du règlement (CE) nº 44/2001 du Conseil (…), la Cour a dit pour droit qu’il n’y a aucune raison d’accorder à un jugement, lors de son exécution, des droits qui ne lui appartiennent pas dans l’État membre d’origine ou des effets qu’un jugement du même type rendu directement dans l’État membre requis ne produirait pas (arrêts du 28 avril 2009, Apostolides, C‑420/07, Rec. p. I‑3571, point 66, et du 13 octobre 2011, Prism Investments, C‑139/10, Rec. p. I‑9511, point 38) ». L’arrêt C-215/15, Gogova21, soulevait des questions sur la prorogation de compétence de l’art. 12 du règlement Bruxelles IIbis. La Cour répond, aux para. 42 et 43 : « À cet égard, il convient de relever que, d’une part, une telle acceptation suppose a minima que le défendeur ait connaissance de la procédure se déroulant devant ces juridictions. En effet, si cette connaissance ne vaut pas, à elle seule, acceptation de la compétence des juridictions saisies, le défendeur absent auquel la requête introductive d’instance n’a pas été notifiée et qui ignore la procédure entamée ne peut pas, en tout état de cause, être considéré comme acceptant cette compétence (voir, par analogie, s’agissant de l’article 24 du règlement nº 44/2001, arrêt A, C‑112/13, EU:C:2014:2195, point 54) ». « D’autre part, la volonté du défendeur au principal ne saurait être déduite du comportement d’un mandataire ad litem désigné par lesdites juridictions en l’absence de ce défendeur. Ce mandataire n’ayant pas de contacts avec le défendeur, il ne peut obtenir de ce dernier les informations nécessaires pour accepter ou contester la compétence de 20 Arrêt de la Cour (deuxième chambre) du 26 avril 2012, ECLI:EU:C:2012:255. Prise de position de l’avocat général Julianne Kokott, ECLI:EU:C:2012:177. 21 Arrêt de la Cour (quatrième chambre) 21 octobre 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:710. Prise de position de l’avocat général M. Paolo Mengozzi, ECLI:EU:C:2015:725. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 89 ces mêmes juridictions en connaissance de cause (voir, en ce sens, arrêt A, C‑112/13, EU:C:2014:2195, point 55) ». Dans le domaine de la notification à l’étranger, l’arrêt C-14/07, Weiss und Partner22, encore sur le règlement 1348/2000, la Cour raisonne sur la base de la relation particulièrement étroite entre celui-ci et le régime Bruxelles : « L’interprétation du règlement n° 1348/2000 ne saurait, cependant, être dissociée du contexte de développement dans le domaine de la coopération judiciaire en matière civile dans lequel ce règlement s’inscrit et, plus particulièrement, du règlement n° 44/2001, qui, à son article 26, paragraphes 3 et 4, fait expressément référence au règlement n° 1348/2000. » (para. 50 ; voir aussi les para. qui suivent) Argument décisif (pour en dévier) Parfois, le régime Bruxelles est évoqué dans le sens contraire, c’est-à-dire pour justifier une solution différente de celle qui l’aurait emporté en vertu de la Convention de 1968 ou du règlement Bruxelles I ou I bis. Le régime est ici le point de départ et la Cour tire ses conclusions du contraste avec l’instrument en cause. C’est ainsi que la CJEU arrive à sa décision dans l’affaire C-489/14, A23, sur le règlement Bruxelles IIbis, art. 19.1, au para. 33 : « Pour déterminer ensuite si une situation de litispendance existe, il ressort des termes de l’article 19, paragraphe 1, du règlement nº 2201/2003 que, contrairement aux règles de l’article 27, paragraphe 1, du règlement nº 44/2001, applicables aux matières civile et commerciale, en matière matrimoniale, une identité de cause et d’objet des demandes formées devant des juridictions d’États membres différents n’est pas requise. (…) s’il importe que les demandes concernent les mêmes parties, celles‑ci peuvent avoir un objet distinct, pourvu 3.2.2. 22 Arrêt de la Cour (troisième chambre), 8 mai 2008, ECLI:EU:C:2008:264. Conclusions de l’avocat général Mme Verica Trstenjak, ECLI:EU:C:2007:737. À la différence de la Cour, l’avocat général ne fait pas allusion au régime Bruxelles dans son texte, sauf pour deux mentions « cachées » en note de bas de page. 23 Arrêt de la Cour (troisième chambre), 6 octobre 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:654. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Pedro Cruz Villalón, ECLI:EU:C:2015:559. Marta Requejo Isidro 90 qu’elles portent sur une séparation de corps, un divorce ou une annulation de mariage (…) »24. Dans l’arrêt C-455/15, P25, sur le règlement Bruxelles IIbis et l’ordre public, la Cour commence en disant, au para. 34, que : « S’il n’appartient pas à la Cour de définir le contenu de l’ordre public d’un État membre, il lui incombe néanmoins de contrôler les limites dans le cadre desquelles le juge d’un État membre peut avoir recours à cette notion pour ne pas reconnaître une décision émanant d’un autre État membre (voir, par analogie, arrêt Diageo Brands, C‑681/13, EU:C:2015:471, point 42) ». Et continue ensuite, au para 38 : « (…) à la différence de la clause d’ordre public figurant à l’article 34, point 1, du règlement (CE) nº 44/2001 du Conseil (…), l’article 23, sous a), du règlement nº 2201/2003 exige que la décision sur un éventuel refus de reconnaissance soit prise eu égard aux intérêts supérieurs de l’enfant ». Les affaires jointes C‑400/13 et C‑408/13, Sanders et Huber26, à propos du règlement sur les obligations alimentaires donnent un autre exemple : la Cour s'appuie sur le régime Bruxelles au départ, puis s’en distingue et propose une interprétation propre à l'instrument en jeu (para. 23 et para. 27) : « À titre liminaire, il convient de préciser que, comme l’a relevé M. l’avocat général au point 33 de ses conclusions, dans la mesure où les dispositions du règlement n° 4/2009 relatives aux règles de compétence ont remplacé celles du règlement nº 44/2001, la jurisprudence de la Cour portant sur les dispositions relatives à la compétence en matière d’obligations alimentaires figurant dans la convention du 27 sep- 24 Tandis qu’au para. 34 la Cour rappelle : « Dans de telles circonstances et en cas d’identité de parties, conformément aux termes de l’article 19, paragraphe 1, dudit règlement, la juridiction saisie en second lieu sursoit d’office à statuer jusqu’à ce que la compétence de la juridiction première saisie soit établie. À cet égard, il y a lieu de considérer que l’interprétation par la Cour de l’article 27 du règlement no 44/2001 vaut également pour l’article 19, paragraphe 1, du règlement no 2201/2003. ». 25 Arrêt de la Cour (quatrième chambre), 19 novembre 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:763. Prise de position de l’avocat général Melchior Wathelet présentée le 29 octobre 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:770. 26 Arrêt de la Cour (troisième chambre) 18 décembre 2014 : ECLI:EU:C:2014:2461. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Niilo Jääskinen : ECLI:EU:C:2014:2171. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 91 tembre 1968 ainsi que dans le règlement nº 44/2001, lequel s’inscrit dans le prolongement de la convention de Bruxelles, demeure pertinente pour analyser les dispositions correspondantes du règlement nº 4/2009. » « (…) le considérant 15 dudit règlement [règlement 4/2009] énonce que les règles relatives à la compétence telles qu’elles résultent du règlement nº 44/2001 doivent être adaptées afin de préserver les intérêts des créanciers d’aliments et de favoriser une bonne administration de la justice au sein de l’Union ». Dans l’affaire C‑144/12, Goldbet27, la Cour, saisie de l’interprétation de l’art. 17 du règlement 1896/2006 et de sa relation avec l’art. 24 du règlement 44/2201, témoigne de la même idée dans le contexte des règlements « de deuxième génération ». Afin de savoir si une opposition à l’injonction de payer européenne, dans laquelle la compétence de la juridiction de l’État membre d’origine n’est pas contestée, vaut comparution, au sens de l’article 24 du règlement nº 44/2001, lorsque cette opposition n’est pas assortie d’un exposé de moyens de fond, la Cour répond en évoquant en premier lieu l’instrumentalité des chefs de compétence du règlement Bruxelles I lors de l’application du règlement 1896/2006. Néanmoins, la Cour ajoute : « Or, lorsque le défendeur ne conteste pas, dans son opposition à l’injonction de payer européenne, la compétence de la juridiction de l’État membre d’origine, cette opposition ne saurait produire, à l’égard de ce défendeur, des effets autres que ceux qui ressortent de l’article 17, paragraphe 1, du règlement nº 1896/2006. Ces effets consistent à mettre fin à la procédure européenne d’injonction de payer et à entraîner, sauf si le demandeur a expressément demandé qu’il soit mis un terme à la procédure dans ce cas, le passage automatique du litige à la procédure civile ordinaire. » (para. 31) Et cela, au regard de la nature non contradictoire de la procédure simplifiée créée par le règlement, des effets de l’opposition d’après le même règlement, et du fait que les formulaires, prévus à l’annexe VI pour former opposition à l’injonction de payer européenne, n’offrent aucune possibilité de contester la compétence des juridictions de l’État membre d’origine. Pour finir avec les exemples, tournons-nous maintenant vers la notion d’« établissement » dans le règlement 207/2009 sur la marque de l’Union 27 Arrêt de la Cour (troisième chambre), 13 juin 2013, ECLI:EU:C:2013:393. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Yves Bot, ECLI:EU:C:2013:136. Marta Requejo Isidro 92 européenne, qui est définie dans l’affaire C-617/15, Hummel Holding A/S28. La Cour, après avoir rappelé que : « À cet égard, bien que certaines dispositions du règlement n° 44/2001, tels son article 5, paragraphe 5, et son article 18, paragraphe 2, se réfèrent elles aussi à la notion d’« établissement », de telle sorte qu’il n’est pas à exclure que les enseignements découlant de la jurisprudence de la Cour afférente à ces deux dispositions puissent, dans une certaine mesure, être pertinents aux fins d’interpréter la notion d’« établissement » au sens du règlement n° 207/2009, il ne saurait toutefois être considéré que ladite notion devrait nécessairement revêtir la même portée, selon qu’elle est utilisée dans le cadre de l’un ou de l’autre de ces deux règlements ». (para. 25) conclut avec une définition ad hoc, par un raisonnement qui privilégie le contexte et les objectifs propres au règlement 207/2009 sur ceux du régime Bruxelles (voir para. 26–29). Vers l’absence de préférence À côté des exemples que nous venons de voir, on constate à plusieurs reprises que la Cour ne montre pas une préférence formelle pour le régime Bruxelles, que ce soit pour produire un continuum dans l’interprétation ou pour s’en séparer. Par ailleurs, le manque de faveur sur la forme indique l’autonomie des raisonnements sur le fond. Une « fausse » mention? Le régime Bruxelles est un élément du cadre juridique, mais, une fois mentionné en tête du document, il ne réapparaît plus. C’est le cas dans l’arrêt C-300/14, Imtech Marine Belgium NV29, à propos du règlement 805/2004, l’art. 34.2 du règlement Bruxelles I préside le cadre juridique, mais il n’est plus mentionné par la suite. Il en est de même pour l’affaire C-184/14, A30, 3.3. 3.3.1. 28 Arrêt de la Cour (deuxième chambre), 18 mai 2017, ECLI:EU:C:2017:390. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Evgeni Tanchev, ECLI:EU:C:2017:13. 29 Arrêt de la Cour (quatrième chambre), 17 décembre 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:825. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Pedro Cruz Villalón, ECLI:EU:C:2015:557. 30 Arrêt de la Cour (troisième chambre), 16 juillet 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:479. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Yves Bot, ECLI:EU:C:2015:244. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 93 à propos des arts. 3.c et 3.d du règlement 4/2009. La Convention de Bruxelles, ainsi que le règlement 44/2001, sont indiqués au début de l’arrêt, faisant partie du cadre juridique, même avant le règlement sur les obligations alimentaires. Pourtant, aucune mention de l’art. 5.2 de la Convention de Bruxelles ni du règlement 44/2001 n’est faite au sein du raisonnement. Dans la décision C-4/14, Christophe Bohez31, sur le règlement 4/2009, le règlement Bruxelles I est le premier texte mentionné dans le cadre juridique mais, une fois de plus, aucun renvoi n’y ai fait dans la motivation de l’arrêt. Le régime Bruxelles, un argument parmi d’autres Le cumul d’arguments Dans ce groupe d’affaires la Cour fait allusion au régime Bruxelles comme un argument parmi d’autres, sans pertinence particulière dans l’ensemble32. C’est ainsi que dans son arrêt C-256/09, Purrucker33, sur l’art. 20 du règlement Bruxelles IIbis et en particulier sur la question des effets extraterritoriaux des mesures provisoires ou conservatoires, la Cour revient sur l’origine de l’article 20 (l’article 12 du règlement 1347/2000) et s’en remet au rapport Borrás, qui distingue l’article 12 de la Convention de Bruxelles II et l’article 24 de la Convention de Bruxelles de 1968, para. 85 : « Le rapport Borrás souligne à cet égard la différence de rédaction existant entre l’article 12 de la convention de Bruxelles II et l’article 24 de la convention de Bruxelles en ce que “les mesures visées à l’article 24 de cette dernière [...] sont limitées aux matières entrant dans le champ d’application de la convention, et [...] ont en revanche, des effets extraterritoriaux”. Il ressort de cette comparaison avec la convention de Bruxelles que les rédacteurs de la convention de Bruxelles II entendaient établir un lien entre les matières sur lesquelles pouvaient porter les mesures provisoires et l’effet territorial de ces mesures ». 3.3.2. 3.3.2.1. 31 Arrêt de la Cour (première chambre), 9 septembre 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:563. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Maciej Szpunar, ECLI:EU:C:2015:233. 32 Voir M. Requejo Isidro, « El DIPr. y el Derecho Procesal Civil Europeo en la jurisprudencia del TJUE », Anuario Español de Derecho Internacional Privado, vol. XV (2015), pp. 55–89. 33 Arrêt de la Cour (deuxième chambre), 15 juillet 2010, ECLI:EU:C:2010:437. Conclusions de l’avocat général Mme Eleanor Sharpston, ECLI:EU:C:2010:296. Marta Requejo Isidro 94 La Cour poursuit au para 87 : « Le texte du règlement n° 2201/2003 n’atteste en aucune manière d’une volonté de rejeter les explications contenues dans ces travaux préparatoires quant aux effets de mesures relevant de l’article 20 de ce règlement (…) » Dans l’arrêt C-508/12, Vapenik34, la notion de « consommateur » dans le règlement 805/2004 est interprétée à la lumière du règlement 44/2001, mais aussi par rapport à la Directive 93/13/CEE du Conseil, du 5 avril 1993, et au règlement Rome I : « À cet égard, et pour assurer le respect des objectifs poursuivis par le législateur européen dans le domaine des contrats conclus par les consommateurs ainsi que la cohérence du droit de l’Union, il y a lieu, en particulier, de tenir compte de la notion de “consommateur” contenue dans d’autres réglementations du droit de l’Union. Eu égard au caractère complémentaire des règles instaurées par le règlement nº 805/2004 par rapport à celles que comporte le règlement nº 44/2001, les dispositions de ce dernier s’avèrent particulièrement pertinentes ». (para. 25; voir aussi les para. 27 et 28) « Ainsi, il y a lieu de rappeler d’emblée que le système de protection des consommateurs mis en œuvre, notamment, par la directive 93/13/CEE du Conseil, du 5 avril 1993, concernant les clauses abusives dans les contrats conclus avec les consommateurs (…) repose sur l’idée que le consommateur se trouve dans une situation d’infériorité à l’égard du professionnel en ce qui concerne tant le pouvoir de négociation que le niveau d’information (voir, notamment, arrêts du 14 juin 2012, Banco Español de Crédito, C‑618/10, point 39; du 21 mars 2013, RWE Vertrieb, C‑92/11, point 41, ainsi que du 30 mai 2013, Asbeek Brusse et de Man Garabito, C‑488/11, point 31) ». (para. 26) « Enfin, ainsi que cela ressort des considérants 23 et 24 du règlement nº 593/2008, l’exigence de protection, dans le cadre contractuel, des parties plus faibles, dont les consommateurs, est également reconnue lorsqu’il s’agit de déterminer le droit applicable aux contrats de consommation (…) » (para. 29). 34 Supra note 18. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 95 Dans l’arrêt sur les affaires jointes C‑226/13, C‑245/13, C‑247/13 and C‑578/13, Fahnenbrock35, à propos de l’interprétation de “matière civile ou commerciale” dans le cadre du règlement 1393/2007, la Cour utilise comme points de repère tant le régime Bruxelles que le règlement Bruxelles IIbis, pour prendre ses distances par rapport aux deux, aux para. 43 et 44 : « (…) la solution à cette question aux fins de l’applicabilité d’autres règlements ou conventions, tels que ceux mentionnés aux points 34 à 36 du présent arrêt [la convention du 27 septembre 1968, le règlement 44/2001, le règlement 2201/2003] n’est normalement décidée qu’après avoir mis toutes les parties au litige en cause en mesure de s’exprimer sur la question afin que la juridiction saisie dispose de tous les éléments nécessaires pour rendre sa décision ». « Toutefois, il en va autrement en ce qui concerne la question de savoir si un acte introductif d’instance concerne la matière civile et commerciale au sens du règlement nº 1393/2007 ». Les références « de basse intensité » Nous regardons ici les situations où les arguments de la Cour lors de l’interprétation d’un instrument se bornent à celui-ci et son contexte, confinant la mention au régime Bruxelles à un point du texte, ad abundantiam, précédé par la formule « d’ailleurs » ou similaire. C’est le cas de l’affaire C-384/14, Alta Realitat SL.36, para. 86, à propos du règlement « notification ». « Dans un cas tel que celui en cause au principal, où le défendeur ne comparaît pas, le règlement no 1393/2007 exige (…) qu’il soit assuré que l’intéressé a réellement et effectivement reçu l’acte introductif d’instance (voir, en ce sens, arrêt Alder, C‑325/11, EU:C:2012:824, points 36 et 41), lui permettant ainsi de prendre connaissance de la procédure judiciaire engagée contre lui ainsi que d’identifier l’objet et la cause de la demande (voir, en ce sens, arrêt Weiss und Partner, C‑14/07, EU:C:2008:264, points 73 et 75), et qu’il a disposé de suffi- 3.3.2.2. 35 Arrêt de la Cour (première chambre), 11 juin 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:383. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Yves Bot présentées le 9 décembre 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2424. 36 Ordonnance de la Cour (dixième chambre), 28 avril 2016, ECLI:EU:C:2016:316. Marta Requejo Isidro 96 samment de temps pour se défendre (voir, en ce sens, arrêt Leffler, C‑443/03, EU:C:2005:665, point 52). Une telle obligation concorde d’ailleurs avec les prescriptions de l’article 34, point 2, du règlement no 44/2001 (voir, en ce sens, arrêts Leffler, C‑443/03, EU:C:2005:665, point 68, et Weiss und Partner, C‑14/07, EU:C:2008:264, point 51). » Pareillement, dans l’affaire C‑354/15, Henderson37 : « Une telle protection des droits du défendeur défaillant, plus particulièrement visée à l’article 19, paragraphe 1, du règlement n° 1393/2007, répond d’ailleurs au but poursuivi par les prescriptions d’autres actes de l’Union relatifs à la coopération judiciaire en matière civile et commerciale, tels que le règlement n° 44/2001, dont l’article 34, point 2, présuppose également que l’acte en cause a été préalablement signifié ou notifié à un tel défendeur (voir, en ce sens, ordonnance du 28 avril 2016, Alta Realitat, C‑384/14, EU:C:2016:316, point 86 et jurisprudence citée, ainsi que arrêt du 7 juillet 2016, Lebek, C‑70/15, EU:C:2016:524, point 41 et jurisprudence citée) » (para. 91). Au-delà : le raisonnement (en apparence ?) indépendant Il arrive aussi que le régime Bruxelles ne soit pas très présent, voire inexistant, dans le raisonnement de la Cour, même s’il était déterminant dans celui de l’avocat général et que la Cour ne s’en écarte pas dans sa décision. La situation est des plus frappantes lorsque la Cour est appelée à se prononcer sur des termes ou des règles communes aux instruments. 3.3.3. 37 Arrêt de la Cour (dixième chambre), 2 mars 2017, ECLI:EU:C:2017:157. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Michal Bobek, ECLI:EU:C:2016:650. Dans son arrêt (grande chambre) du 8 novembre 2005, dans l’affaire C-443/03, ECLI:EU: C:2005:665, la Cour établit une relation plus étroite entre les instruments lors qu’elle dit, au para. 68 : « (…) le juge doit surseoir à statuer aussi longtemps qu’il n’est pas établi qu’il a été remédié à l’acte en question par l’envoi d’une traduction et que celui-ci a eu lieu en temps utile pour que le défendeur ait pu se défendre. Une telle obligation résulte également du principe énoncé à l’article 26, paragraphe 2, du règlement n° 44/2001 et le contrôle de son respect est préalable à la reconnaissance d’une décision, conformément à l’article 34, point 2, du même règlement. ». Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 97 Dans l’arrêt (Grand Chambre) C-435/06, C38, à propos de la notion de « matières civiles », l’avocat général avait distingué le régime Bruxelles du règlement Bruxelles IIbis (para 38) : « Dans ses décisions relatives à la convention de Bruxelles, la Cour a en effet toujours souligné que l’interprétation autonome de la notion de matière civile et commerciale doit tenir compte des objectifs et du système de la convention de Bruxelles ainsi que des principes généraux qui se dégagent de l’ensemble des ordres juridiques nationaux. Les objectifs et le système de cette convention et même – ajouterions‑nous – sa genèse ne concordent cependant pas nécessairement avec ceux du règlement nº 2201/2003. D’autre part, les ordres juridiques nationaux peuvent soumettre la responsabilité parentale à des principes généraux du droit différents de ceux qui s’appliquent aux litiges tombant dans le champ d’application de la convention de Bruxelles. La notion de matière civile du règlement nº 2201/2003 doit donc faire l’objet d’une interprétation autonome, dans le contexte de ce règlement même ». Sur le fond, la Cour arrive à la même conclusion que l’avocat général en ce qui concerne la qualification « civile » de la décision en cause, adoptée dans le cadre des règles de droit public relatives à la protection de l’enfance. Son argumentation comporte une référence explicite à la Convention de Bruxelles 1968 aux para. 40 et 41, mais elle ne sert en fait qu’à rappeler le principe commun d’après lequel « La notion de matière civile et commerciale doit être considérée comme une notion autonome qu’il faut interpréter en se référant, d’une part, aux objectifs et au système de la convention de Bruxelles et, d’autre part, aux principes généraux qui se dégagent de l’ensemble des ordres juridiques nationaux ». Puis, face aux arguments du gouvernement suédois à l’appui de la jurisprudence Henkel, la Cour se borne à dire (para. 44) que « [c]ette interprétation de l’article 1er, paragraphe 1, du règlement nº 2201/2003 ne saurait être accueillie », et continue son raisonnement à la lumière, exclusivement, du règlement Bruxelles IIbis39. Dans l’arrêt C-215/15, Gogova40, les arguments de l’avocat général dans sa prise de position reposent principalement sur le régime Bruxelles pour 38 Arrêt de la Cour (Grande Chambre), 27 novembre 2007, ECLI:EU:C:2007:714. Conclusions de l’avocat général Mme Juliane Kokott, ECLI:EU:C:2007:543. 39 Voir B. Hess, Seminal judgments (les grands arrêts) in the case law of the European Court of Justice, dans cet ouvrage, sur la tendance de la Cour à raisonner case-specific, instrument-specific, rule-specific. 40 Supra, note 21. Marta Requejo Isidro 98 délimiter, encore une fois, la notion de matière civile dans le règlement Bruxelles IIbis. On peut lire dans les para. 38, 40 et 48 : « En troisième lieu, je souligne que le règlement nº 44/2001 dispose, à l’article 1er, paragraphe 1, qu’“il ne recouvre notamment pas les matières fiscales, douanières ou administratives“ (…). Contrairement au règlement no 44/2001, le règlement no 2201/2003 ne prévoit pas, à son article 1er, qu’il ne s’applique pas aux matières administratives. Or, l’adoption du règlement no 2201/2003, le 27 novembre 2003, est postérieure à celle du règlement no 44/2001, le 22 décembre 2000, et surtout à l’introduction, en 1978, de la réserve relative aux matières administratives dans la convention de Bruxelles de 1968. Par conséquent, si l’intention du législateur avait été d’exclure les matières administratives du champ d’application du règlement nº 2201/2003, il me semble qu’il l’aurait prévu expressément ». (para. 38) « Or, il me semble que la notion de matières civiles au sens du règlement no 2201/2003 ne saurait être interprétée plus strictement que la notion de matière civile au sens du règlement no 44/2001, dans la mesure où le règlement no 2201/2003, contrairement au règlement no 44/2001, ne prévoit pas expressément l’exclusion des matières administratives (…) ». (para. 40) « La jurisprudence relative à la notion de matière civile au sens de l’article 1er, paragraphe 1, du règlement no 44/2001 peut, nous l’avons vu (30), être transposée à la notion de matières civiles au sens de l’article 1er, paragraphe 1, du règlement nº 2201/2003 » (para. 48) De son côté, la Cour rejoint les conclusions de l’AG sur le fond, mais sans mention du régime Bruxelles sauf pour rappeler le principe commun de l’interprétation autonome au para. 28. Le régime Bruxelles est absent de l’argumentation de la Cour à propos de l’art. 16.1 Bruxelles IIbis, pourtant identique à l’art. 30.1 du règlement Bruxelles I bis, dans l’ordonnance C-173/16, M.H.41. Réciproquement, l’ordonnance n’est pas reprise dans l’arrêt C‑29/16, HanseYachts AG42 sur l’interprétation de l’art. 30.1 Bruxelles, malgré qu’elle ait été évoquée par l’avocat général. 41 Ordonnance de la Cour (sixième chambre), 22 juin 2016, ECLI:EU:C:2016:542. 42 Arrêt de la Cour (deuxième chambre), 4 mai 2017, ECLI:EU:C:2017:343. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe, ECLI:EU:C:2017:44. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 99 L’arrêt C-484/15, Zulfikarpašić43, où il fallait décider si le terme « juridiction » englobe également les notaires dans le cadre du règlement 805/2004, en fournit un autre exemple. D’une part, l’avocat général propose une définition dont l’origine se trouve dans le régime Bruxelles, bien que complétée par la jurisprudence sur d’autres dispositions ; la Cour partage accepte la solution, mais en ignore les fondements.44 D’autre part, la décision fût rendue le même jour et par la même chambre que celle dans l’affaire C-551/15, Pula Parking45. On aurait pu s’attendre à une simple renvoi ; et renvoi il y a, mais seulement pour rappel du texte écrit de la loi : « Il y a encore lieu de constater que, à la différence, par exemple, du règlement (UE) n° 650/2012 (…) dont l’article 3, paragraphe 2, précise que le terme « juridiction », au sens dudit règlement, englobe non seulement les autorités judiciaires, mais également toute autre autorité compétente dans cette matière qui exerce des fonctions juridictionnelles et qui satisfait à certaines conditions qu’énumère cette même disposition, le règlement n° 805/2004 ne comporte aucune disposition générale dotée d’un tel effet » (para. 35) « Cette constatation est confortée par la jurisprudence, relative au règlement (UE) n° 1215/2012 du Parlement européen et du Conseil, du 12 décembre 2012, concernant la compétence judiciaire, la reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale (JO 2012, L 351, p. 1), selon laquelle l’article 3 de ce règlement, qui prévoit que le terme « juridiction » englobe le service public suédois de recouvrement forcé et les notaires en Hongrie, ne comprend pas les notaires en Croatie (voir, en ce sens, arrêt de ce jour, Pula Parking, C‑551/15, point 46) ». (para. 36) 43 Arrêt de la Cour (deuxième chambre), 9 mars 2017, ECLI:EU:C:2017:199. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Yves Bot, ECLI:EU:C:2016:654. 44 Aux para. 74 ss, l’avocat général cherche à définir le concept « juridiction » à l’appui du régime Bruxelles et la notion de « décision » selon l’art. 25 Convention de Bruxelles : « La notion de « décision », au sens de la convention de Bruxelles, implique, en définitive, l’intervention d’un organe juridictionnel investi d’un pouvoir d’appréciation et statuant dans le respect des droits de la défense ». Face à l’imprécision de la jurisprudence relative au régime Bruxelles sur le contenu de la notion d’organe juridictionnel, il a recours à la jurisprudence qui aborde la question sous l’angle de l’article 267 TFUE. 45 Arrêt de la Cour (deuxième chambre), 9 mars 2017, ECLI:EU:C:2017:193. Conclusions de l’avocat général M. Michal Bobek, ECLI:EU:C:2016:825. Marta Requejo Isidro 100 Pour le reste, la Cour, qui conclut dans le même sens dans les deux arrêts, s’explique dans chacun d’entre eux exclusivement par rapport au règlement qui est en cause. Dans l’affaire C-184/14, A46, à propos des arts. 3.c et 3.d du règlement 4/2009, aucun renvoi n’est fait à l’art. 5.2 de la Convention de Bruxelles, ni du règlement 44/2001, qui règlementait auparavant cette question et qui est pourtant mentionné dans le cadre juridique. L’interprétation reste circonscrite au « cercle intérieur » formé par les instruments de droit de la famille, en l’espèce, les règlements 4/2009 et 2201/2003. En revanche, l’avocat général avait souligné le caractère de lex specialis du règlement 4/2009 au para. 9 de ses conclusions. Voyons maintenant quelques illustrations du manque de réflexion sur le régime Bruxelles dans les questions préjudicielles où l’instrument en cause n’offre pas de solution, tandis qu’elle existe dans la Convention ou les règlements Bruxelles I et Ibis, ou dans la jurisprudence les concernant. Dans l’affaire C‑92/12, Health Service Executive47, relative au placement transfrontalier d’un enfant encadré dans le règlement 2201/2003, la juridiction de renvoi voulait savoir si des mesures d’exécution sont possibles dans certaines circonstances, alors même que la déclaration de force exécutoire n’a pas acquis, en droit national, force de chose jugée. L’avocat général, après avoir rappelé l’inexistence dans le règlement 2201/2003 d’une disposition comparable à l’article 47 du règlement 44/2001, qui prévoit expressément la possibilité d’une exécution à des fins conservatoires avant même l’aboutissement de la procédure d’exequatur, estime qu’une solution semblable pourrait exister pour le règlement 2201/2003 et même être exigée dans l’intérêt supérieur de l’enfant. Le raisonnement de la Cour reprend l’opinion de l’avocat général, mais évite toute mention du règlement Bruxelles. Dans la demande de décision préjudicielle C-4/14, Christophe Bohez48, le juge national posait à la Cour une question sur le droit de visite imposant une astreinte et l’exécution de l’astreinte dans le cadre du règlement 2201/2003. Face au défaut d’une règle à ce propos, l’avocat général soutient les observations écrites du gouvernement espagnol et de la Commission, qui souhaitent combler l’absence dans le règlement 2201/2003 d’une règle telle que celle figurant à l’article 49 du règlement 44/2001 par une applica- 46 Supra note 30. 47 Supra note 20. 48 Supra note 31. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 101 tion analogue de cette disposition. Les réflexions de la Cour portent exclusivement sur le règlement Bruxelles IIbis. Finalement, dans l’affaire C-256/09, Purrucker49, la juridiction de renvoi demandait si les dispositions des articles 21 et suivants du règlement Bruxelles IIbis, relatives à la reconnaissance et à l’exécution de décisions d’autres États membres, s’appliquent également à des mesures provisoires exécutoires en matière de droit de garde, au sens de l’article 20 du règlement. Dans ce cadre, la Cour est amenée à réfléchir à la compétence de la juridiction ayant adopté des mesures provisoires. Au para. 76, elle va reprendre sa jurisprudence C-99/96, Mietz50 : « Lorsque la compétence au fond, conformément au règlement n° 2201/2003, d’une juridiction ayant adopté des mesures provisoires ne ressort pas, de toute évidence, des éléments de la décision adoptée, ou que cette décision ne contient pas une motivation dépourvue de toute ambiguïté, relative à la compétence au fond de cette juridiction, par référence à l’un des chefs de compétence visés aux articles 8 à 14 de ce règlement, il peut en être conclu que ladite décision n’a pas été adoptée conformément aux règles de compétence prévues par ledit règlement. Cette décision peut cependant être examinée au regard de l’article 20 dudit règlement, afin de vérifier si elle relève de cette disposition ». Et pourtant, aucune mention expresse n’est faite à cette décision. Encore une fois, la Cour ne suit pas les motifs du raisonnement de l’avocat général. Pas de (p)référence, mais prise en compte toute de même? Bien entendu, même sans référence formelle, il peut arriver qu’il existe une préférence pour le régime Bruxelles. L'analyse doit prendre en considération les précédents cités ou rejetés ; il faut aussi évaluer dans quelle mesure le tribunal résume les arguments de l'avocat général et les approuve. 3.4. 49 Supra, note 33. 50 C-99/96, arrêt du 27 avril 1999, ECLI:EU:C:1999:202. Marta Requejo Isidro 102 Les précédents Dans la question préjudicielle C‑484/15, Zulfikarpašić51, à propos du règlement 805/2004, la juridiction de renvoi demandait si les notaires, agissant dans le cadre des compétences qui leur sont dévolues par le droit national dans les procédures d’exécution forcée sur le fondement d’un « document faisant foi », relèvent de la notion de « juridiction » au sens de ce règlement. Dans son raisonnement à propos des droits de la défense la Cour rappelle sa jurisprudence portant sur le régime Bruxelles, para 39 : « Selon le considérant 10 dudit règlement, cet objectif ne saurait toutefois être atteint en affaiblissant, de quelque manière que ce soit, les droits de la défense (voir, par analogie, arrêt du 14 décembre 2006, ASML, C‑283/05, EU:C:2006:787, point 24 et jurisprudence citée) » Néanmoins, peu après, d’autres arrêts rendus à propos du règlement créant un titre européen pour les créances incontestées font leur apparition pour appuyer le même argument sur le droit de la défense : « L’article 16 dudit règlement, lu à la lumière du considérant 12 de celui‑ci, prévoit la délivrance, « en bonne et due forme », d’une information au débiteur afin de lui permettre de préparer sa défense et garantit ainsi le caractère contradictoire de la procédure aboutissant à la délivrance du titre exécutoire susceptible de donner lieu à la délivrance d’un certificat. Ces normes minimales traduisent la volonté du législateur de l’Union de veiller à ce que les procédures menant à l’adoption des décisions relatives à une créance incontestée offrent les garanties suffisantes du respect des droits de la défense (voir, en ce sens, arrêt du 16 juin 2016, Pebros Servizi, C‑511/14, EU:C:2016:448, point 44) ». (para. 48) Cette indifférence à l’origine des décisions citées place les instruments juridiques au même niveau, et empêche de reconnaître à l’un d’eux une position conceptuellement privilégiée sur les autres dans l’argumentation de la Cour. En outre, on constate que la Cour, au fil du temps, préfère citer des cas relatifs au règlement en jeu, s’éloignant ainsi du « tronc commun »52. 3.4.1. 51 Supra, note 43. 52 Sauf lorsque la Cour énonce des principes généraux comme celui de l’interprétation autonome ; là, souvent les décisions citées à l’appui n’ont rien à voir avec la matière de la question préjudicielle, et pas non plus avec des sujets proches. De cette façon, la Cour tisse un réseau au-delà des limites de la coopération judiciaire en matière civile. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 103 Certes, le régime Bruxelles peut se trouver à la fin d’une chaîne de citations : la décision nommée s’appuie elle-même sur des précédents excipés du régime Bruxelles ; ou d’abord sur d’autres, et on arrive au régime Bruxelles seulement après avoir descendu quelques « marches ». Pourtant, la tendance à invoquer des jugements sur l’instrument européen à la base de la saisine de la Cour renforce peu à peu l’indépendance de cet instrument par rapport à la Convention et aux règlements Bruxelles I et Ibis. C’est ainsi que dans l’arrêt C-523/07, A,53 puis dans la décision C‑215/1554, à propos de la notion de « matière civile » dans le règlement Bruxelles IIbis, mention est seulement faite à l’arrêt C-435/0655. De même dans l’ordonnance C-173/16, M.H.56 sur l’interprétation de l’art. 16 pour les besoins de l’art. 19 du règlement Bruxelles IIbis. Le régime Bruxelles à travers les avocats généraux Souvent, les avocats généraux mettent en lumière les relations entre les instruments européens. La Cour, de son côté, fait quelque fois des renvois directs aux opinions ou aux conclusions des avocats généraux (ou les reprend mot par mot), incorporant ainsi des réflexions faites à propos du régime Bruxelles : par exemple à l’arrêt C-404/14, Marie Matoušková57, sur le champ d’application matériel du règlement Bruxelles IIbis, para. 30 : « En effet, ainsi que Mme l’avocat général l’a relevé au point 41 de ses conclusions (…) » Au para. 41, l’avocat général évoquait le règlement Bruxelles I : « La Cour a d’ailleurs déjà souligné, dans l’affaire Schneider, que la capacité juridique et les questions de représentation y afférentes doivent être appréciées au regard de critères qui leur sont propres et ne doivent pas être traitées comme des questions préalables dépendantes des actes juridiques y afférents. Ladite affaire portait également sur des problèmes de procédure gracieuse, lesquels toutefois se posaient au 3.4.2. 53 Arrêt de la Cour (troisième chambre), 2 avril 2009, ECLI:EU:C:2009:225. Conclusions de l’avocat général Mme Juliane Kokott, ECLI:EU:C:2009:39. 54 Supra, note 21. 55 Supra, note 38. 56 Supra, note 41. 57 Arrêt de la Cour (troisième chambre), 6 octobre 2015, ECLI:EU:C:2015:653. Conclusions de l’avocat général Mme Juliane Kokott, ECLI:EU:C:2009:39. Marta Requejo Isidro 104 regard du règlement (CE) no 44/2001 du Conseil, du 22 décembre 2000, concernant la compétence judiciaire, la reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale » Dans d’autres cas, l’avocat général n’apparaît pas dans le discours de la Cour, mais il est cependant facile d’y identifier ses arguments. Néanmoins, les conclusions manquent per se de valeur normative ; elles ne peuvent être considérées comme adoptées par la Cour en l’absence d’éléments formels en ce sens. Autrement dit, les décisions de la Cour doivent être comprises comme étant des entités autonomes ; leur background peut bien se trouver dans les conclusions mais également dans les arguments fournis par d’autres intervenants, auxquels le grand public n’a pas accès, ou de moins en moins. Une fois intégrées dans les arguments de la Cour, elles deviennent la propriété de cette dernière ; l’absence de mention des conclusions de l’avocat général doit être lue comme une volonté consciente de ne pas les épouser en tant que telles. C’est ainsi que nous comprenons la réponse à la question préjudicielle C-523/0758, à propos des mesures conservatoires dans le règlement Bruxelles IIbis : l’avocat général fait appel à la Convention de Bruxelles et au règlement 44/2001 ; le discours de la Cour est en concordance avec celui de l’avocat général, mais nulle mention n’est faite à ce dernier. Pareillement, dans l’arrêt C-256/0959, également à propos des mesures conservatoires et du règlement Brussels IIbis, aucune indication n’apparaît d’un lien avec l’avocat général, et cela, malgré l’inspiration évidente que la Cour a dû trouver dans sa référence au cas Mietz au para. 142 de l’opinion. Conclusions Trois conclusions se dégagent, à notre avis, de l’exposé qui précède : Sans aucun doute, « la Convention, en fin de vie, vaut la peine, est toujours vive, active et actuelle »60. Pourtant, la conviction que le régime Bruxelles constitue le droit commun dans le domaine du droit européen de la procédure ou, du moins, le point de repère, est surtout un état d’esprit. À l’appui de cette pensée se trouvent notamment les conclusions et les opinions des avocats généraux, acteurs clés de la construction (ou de la mise en lumière) du réseau de relations entre les instruments juridiques 4. 58 Supra note 53. 59 Supra note 33. 60 B. Ancel, Editorial, Revista Española de Derecho Internacional, 2018–1, in fine. Le « régime Bruxelles » dans le droit européen de la procédure civile 105 de l’Union Européenne. Les références de la Cour à des dispositions du régime Bruxelles, ainsi que la citation de décisions prononcées au sujet de la Convention et/ou des règlements Bruxelles I et I bis, renforcent cette conviction. Et pourtant, la jurisprudence de la Cour ne s’inscrit pas forcément dans ce contexte. Sur une échelle, ses arguments sur le lien entre le régime Bruxelles et les autres règlements procéduraux vont de ce qu'on pourrait appeler la « mention décisive », à la pleine indépendance, tout en passant par la « transposition qualifiée » et la « mention sans objet ». De plus, la Cour aboutit parfois à des solutions différentes de celles en vigueur pour le régime Bruxelles, et d’autres fois aux mêmes résultats, sans pourtant y faire appel en s’appuyant donc sur des considérations portant exclusivement sur l'instrument juridique en jeu. La relation entre les instruments européens sur le droit de la procédure pour les situations transfrontalières ne peut pas (ou ne peut plus) être décrite en termes de « colonne vertébrale », « tronc » (le régime Bruxelles), et « branches » (le reste). En réalité, elle ne corresponde à aucun plan préconçu ; plutôt, le dessin est aléatoire. Les règlements européens de droit procédural font partie d'un processus organique, évolutif, tout comme un corps ; et, tout comme un corps, ses organes interagissent de manière complexe, et souvent inattendue. Les notions et les termes des règlements doivent être interprétés de façon autonome. À l’origine et pendant longtemps ce principe a été appliqué « en vertical », pour séparer le droit procédural de l'UE du droit procédural national. À présent il fonctionne également de manière horizontale, faisant du contexte et des objectifs de chacun des instruments les données essentielles de l’interprétation. Marta Requejo Isidro 106 The Shift from a Choice of Law-Centred Approach to a Civil Procedure Standpoint Sabine Corneloup* Table of Contents Mutual Recognition of Judgments, the Fundamental Objective1. 109 Transformation of the Rules on Jurisdiction2. 111 The Objective of Proximity2.1. 111 The Objective of Protection2.2. 112 Impact on Characterization and Interpretation of Common Notions3. 113 Potential Influence of Policies in Favour of Non-Judicial Dispute Settlement Mechanisms 4. 116 Towards an Integrative Approach5. 118 It is widely accepted that the Brussels I Regulation holds the function of “a point of reference for other EU private international law regulations”. This paper would make the point, more generally, that the Brussels Convention and the Brussels I Regulation triggered a shift from a choice of law-centred approach that has dominated Private International Law in Europe for many decades to a civil procedure standpoint. Indeed, the two main components of the European law of civil procedure – the rules on jurisdiction, and the rules on the recognition and enforcement of judgments – have become the pivot of Private International Law in Europe. Brussels I provides the standpoint from which the legal issues are addressed.1 In order to further explain this idea, it is necessary, first of all, to clarify the terminology. Within the French tradition, the name ‘Private International Law’ covers the whole field, including not only choice of law but also international/European civil procedure (conflits de lois and conflits de * Professor at University Paris II Panthéon-Assas. 1 See on this topic the recent article of H. Gaudemet-Tallon, “L’irrésistible ascension des conflits de juridictions”, in Mélanges B. Ancel, Iprolex-LGDJ, 2018, p. 735. 107 juridictions). Therefore, for a French lawyer, the title of this book chapter (“The European law of civil procedure and private international law”) sounds confusing at first sight, because according to the French understanding, European law of civil procedure is actually part of Private International Law. However, other European countries have different approaches. In Germany, for instance, Private International Law traditionally encompasses only choice of law, whereas international civil procedure is seen as a separate field. In the following reflections, we are referring to the French terminological tradition. In the 20th century, the dominant approach in Private International Law in continental Europe was based on Savigny’s theories. It was therefore a choice of law-centred approach. Cross-border relationships between private persons were addressed through the lens of conflict of laws. For instance, the goal of uniformity of decisions, which is a fundamental objective of Private International Law, has traditionally been achieved through choice of law-techniques. Renvoi is a prominent example of it. The main Private International Law literature of the 20th century was dedicated to the study of conflicts of laws, whereas international civil procedure was not a primary object of research. Obviously, the latter was not seen as a potential tool to achieve international harmony of solutions. This has completely changed today, notably under the influence of the EU, and first and foremost of the Brussels Convention.2 Traditional functions of the rules of choice of law, such as the avoidance of limping situations, are now also implemented, for instance, through the principle of mutual recognition of judgments. The shift from a choice of law-centred approach to a civil procedure standpoint can be observed, first of all, with respect to the fundamental objectives of the EU in the field of Private International Law. Indeed, the mutual recognition of judgments has become the overall objective (1.). Secondly, the rules on jurisdiction have undergone a profound transformation since the adoption of the Brussels Convention. Fundamental functions of choice of law have been extended to jurisdiction (2.), which has had an impact, in particular, on characterization and interpretation (3.). At present, it is not perfectly clear whether the current policy in favour of non-judicial dispute settlement mechanisms may provoke a rebalancing, in 2 In this paper dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Brussels Convention, we will be focusing on the role of the Brussels Convention and Regulation. See on other causes more generally: D. Bureau, H. Muir Watt, Droit international privé, PUF, 2017, vol. 1, n° 55–1 ff., vol. 2, n° 1123 ff.; H. Gaudemet-Tallon, op. cit., p. 738 ff. Sabine Corneloup 108 the form of a re-shift from civil procedure to choice of law (4.). Interestingly, in matters of family law and successions, the EU has developed in recent years an integrative approach, uniting all components of Private International Law in one single instrument, which is the most appropriate means to raise awareness of the interplay between the two sets of rules and to achieve a well-balanced coordination of all the tools Private International Law has to offer (5.). Mutual Recognition of Judgments, the Fundamental Objective The whole legal framework on judicial cooperation in civil matters rests upon the principle of mutual recognition. In other words, one of the components of the law of civil procedure has become the ultimate goal and driving force of EU Private International Law. This approach was already present in Art. 220 of the 1957 Rome Treaty, stating that Member States shall enter into negotiations with each other with a view of securing for the benefit of their nationals “the simplification of formalities governing the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments”. The 1999 Tampere meeting of the European Council endorsed the principle of mutual recognition of judgments as the “cornerstone” of judicial cooperation in civil matters,3 which today is expressed in Art. 81(1) TFEU, providing that the Union shall develop judicial cooperation in civil matters having crossborder implications, “based on the principle of mutual recognition of judgments”. Interestingly, the unification of choice of law rules is conceived by Art. 81(2)c) TFEU as one of the means to achieve the free movement of judgments, which seems to assign them a rather subordinated role. This view is more explicitly stated in recital 4 of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations, identifying measures relating to the harmonization of conflict-oflaw rules as those facilitating the mutual recognition of judgments.4 Indeed, common choice of law rules guarantee that all national courts having concurrent jurisdiction in a given case would apply the same law, which in turn is supposed to lead to the same outcome as to the substance of the dispute, regardless of the court actually hearing the case. Harmo- 1. 3 See also, for instance, recital 3 of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations. 4 By reference to the 2000 joint Commission and Council programme of measures for implementation of the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in civil and commercial matters. The Shift from a Choice of Law-Centred Approach to a Civil Procedure Standpoint 109 nized choice of law rules hence facilitate, as well as legitimize, at a later stage the mutual recognition and enforcement of the judgment without control. Of course, the harmonization of choice of law rules has several other objectives: it also provides greater predictability of the outcome of litigation – and thus legal certainty -, as well as it prevents forum shopping, given the plurality of available fora in many situations.5 However, the ultimate goal of the EU is to achieve the free circulation of judgements. Moreover, the progressive liberalization of the circulation of judgments, which has led to the complete abolition of the exequatur by Regulation no 1215/2012, has progressively also erased the role choice of law rules had played at the recognition and enforcement stage. Initially, under the Brussels Convention a residual control of the applicable law was maintained by Art. 27(4),6 whereas today, the law applied by the court of the Member State of origin is not at all controlled anymore in the Member State of recognition. This is another indicator for the decreasing position choice of law has within European Private International Law. In any case, in areas where the domestic laws of the Member States are harmonized, divergences have become negligible and could hardly be seen as an obstacle to mutual recognition within the EU. Given the substantial equivalence of domestic laws, it does not fundamentally matter whether the law of Member State A or Member State B was applied. However, it is symptomatic that even in non-harmonized areas, such as matters relating to the infringement of personality rights where substantive rules as well as choice of law rules do significantly diverge from one Member State to another, judgments circulate freely under the Brussels I Regulation. The principle of mutual recognition applies without any consideration for choice of law. 5 M. Giuliano / P. Lagarde, Report on the Convention on the law applicable to contractual obligations, JOEC, 31.10.1980, n° C 282/5: “To prevent this ‘forum shopping’, increase legal certainty, and anticipate more easily the law which will be applied, it would be advisable for the rules of conflict to be unified in fields of particular economic importance so that the same law is applied irrespective of the State in which the decision is given.” 6 “A judgment shall not be recognized: […] if the court of the State in which the judgment was given, in order to arrive at its judgment, has decided a preliminary question concerning the status or legal capacity of natural persons, rights in property arising out of a matrimonial relationship, wills or succession in a way that conflicts with a rule of the private international law of the State in which the recognition is sought, unless the same result would have been reached by the application of the rules of private international law of that State”. Sabine Corneloup 110 The same shift from a choice of law-centred approach to a civil procedure standpoint can also be observed regarding the rules on jurisdiction. Transformation of the Rules on Jurisdiction The rules on jurisdiction have undergone a profound transformation, with the adoption of the Brussels Convention and the development of the caselaw of the Court of justice.7 Most importantly, they have become increasingly specialized. The current rules on jurisdiction are manifold and the trend is still towards further specialization, whereas for instance the French Civil Code of 1804 initially only provided for jurisdiction based on nationality (Art. 14 and 15). The Brussels regime contributed a lot to this specialization and diversification. In the course of transformation, new functions were assigned to the rules on jurisdiction. Indeed, some of the objectives choice of law rules are serving have been extended to jurisdiction. This holds particularly true for the objective of proximity (1). Moreover, while becoming more sophisticated, jurisdictional rules were also assigned substantive goals, such as the objective of protection of weak parties (2). The Objective of Proximity The great number of jurisdictional rules that exist today have in common that they are all based on a close connection either with the parties or with the legal relationship: for instance, the domicile of the defendant, the place where the immovable is situated, or the place where the damage occurred. Thus, like choice of law rules, jurisdictional rules have, among other objectives, an objective of proximity,8 which is regularly stressed by the Court of justice.9 Of course, unlike choice of law, jurisdiction does not require to identify the closest connection. A close connection generally suffices. Never- 2. 2.1. 7 See on this transformation in particular, D. Bureau, H. Muir Watt, Droit international privé, vol. II, PUF, 2017, n° 1123 ff. 8 P. Lagarde, « Le principe de proximité dans le droit international privé contemporain », RCADI, vol. 196, 1986, p. 1 ff. (on jurisdiction, see especially p. 128 ff.). 9 For recent illustrations, where the Court referred to the objective of proximity of the rules governing jurisdiction (in addition to the objective of predictability), see for instance CJEU, 5 July 2018, AB “flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines”, case C-27/17, pt 40; CJEU, 12 September 2018, Löber, case C-304/17, pt 34. The Shift from a Choice of Law-Centred Approach to a Civil Procedure Standpoint 111 theless, as jurisdictional rules rely on a close connection, they contribute, in their own way, to locate cross-border relationships. They do not locate the relation’s seat, in the sense of Savigny, but it is nonetheless an operation consisting in locating legal relations, and this has important consequences. Indeed, the location of private relationships traditionally is the role of choice of law rules. Hence, a fundamental function of choice of law has shifted, at least partially, to jurisdiction. The Objective of Protection The same shift took place with respect to substantive objectives. Several considerations like the protection of weak parties, which initially have guided only choice of law rules, have been extended to jurisdiction. This can be illustrated with the rules on contracts of employment. In 1982, when the Court ruled in the Ivenel case on the Brussels Convention that for employment contracts, it is the characteristic obligation, which is to be taken into account for jurisdiction, not the obligation in question, the Court referred to the Rome Convention.10 Hence, the interpretation was not given only in the light of the objectives of the Brussels Convention and the general scheme of its provisions. More precisely, in accordance with the Jenard Report, the decision relied on the idea that the rules on jurisdiction for contracts of employment should coincide with the rules determining the applicable law. According to the Court, the close connection with the case, required by Art. 5 of the Brussels Convention, lies in the law applicable to the contract. Therefore, the connecting factor for jurisdiction was aligned, by the 1989 San Sebastian Convention, with the connecting factor set out in the Rome Convention. In other words, the objective of protection was introduced into the rules on jurisdiction, which resulted in two sets of parallel provisions (i.e. Art. 8 of the Rome I Regulation and Art. 20 – 23 of the Brussels Ibis Regulation), which the Court interprets each of them in the light of the other. For instance, in the Ryanair case on jurisdiction, the Court relied on its case law relating to the Rome Convention and Regulation,11 whereas in the Koelzsch case on applicable law, it referred for the purpose of interpreting the Rome Convention 2.2. 10 ECJ, 28 May 1982, Ivenel, case 133/81, pt 12 ff. 11 CJEU, 14 September 2017, Ryanair, joined cases C-168/16 et C-169/16, pt 55. Sabine Corneloup 112 to decisions rendered in application of the Brussels Convention and Regulation.12 The above examples show that fundamental functions of choice of law have been extended to the rules on jurisdiction. That is not to say that jurisdiction and applicable law have systematically the same functions; the system and objectives of each regulation remain specific. However, the lines between the two sets of rules are increasingly blurred, which in turn contributes to the fact that cross-border relationships are increasingly addressed from a civil procedure standpoint. Today, decisive choices are made at the jurisdictional stage, when the EU legislator drafts the common rules on jurisdiction, or when the Court of justice interprets these rules. In other words, decisive patterns are set by application of the Brussels I Regulation. More precisely, with respect to the substance of the rules, the direction of influence seems dominantly be an influence of choice of law on jurisdiction. Solutions generally have their roots in the field of choice of law before being extended to jurisdiction. However, rather than supporting an overall choice of law-oriented approach in Private International Law, this evolution has resulted in conferring a pivotal role to the rules on jurisdiction, which in the end has an impact, in return, on the applicable law. The issues of characterization (“la qualification”) and interpretation of common notions provide a striking illustration of this interaction. Impact on Characterization and Interpretation of Common Notions Traditionally, qualification has been a component of the methodology of choice of law, and as long as autonomous notions of EU law are not concerned, the principle of the lex fori characterization applies. Today, however, as the rules on jurisdiction have become increasingly specialized, it is often necessary to characterize the legal relationship already at the jurisdictional stage.13 For instance, the application of the Brussels I Regulation requires to assess whether the dispute relates to a civil or commercial matter, to a contract or a tort, to the sale of goods or the provision of services, a consumer or a professional, etc. These are common notions, employed 3. 12 CJEU, 15 March 2011, Koelzsch, case C‑29/10, pt 33 and 41. 13 S. Lemaire, « La qualification », in Azzi/Boskovic, Quel avenir pour la théorie générale des conflits de lois?, Bruylant, 2015, p. 35. The Shift from a Choice of Law-Centred Approach to a Civil Procedure Standpoint 113 by jurisdictional rules as well as choice of law rules in Regulations Brussels I, Rome I and Rome II. Consequently, if a dispute arises between the parties, qualification is already required for the purpose of jurisdiction. And since disputes concerning jurisdiction are much more frequent in practice than disputes regarding choice of law, the Court of justice has adopted a rich body of case law under the Brussels Convention and Regulation. Thus, in many instances, decisive orientations were decided in the perspective of jurisdiction. Subsequently, and in accordance with the principle of consistent interpretation, they were transposed to the applicable law under the Rome I and Rome II Regulations. Indeed, recital 7 of the latter regulations provides that the substantive scope and the provisions should be consistent with the other regulations of the trilogy.14 Arguably, the fact that several choice of law functions have shifted towards jurisdiction facilitates a uniform interpretation and makes it even natural. An example, among many others, is the qualification of an action brought by a consumer protection association for the purpose of preventing a trader from using unfair terms in consumer contracts. In the 2016 Verein für Konsumenteninformation decision, the Court of justice aligned the qualification under Rome I and Rome II with the solution given in the 2002 Henkel case15 on jurisdiction, by deciding that this is a matter relating to tort.16 According to the Court, “in the light of the aim of consistent application […], the view that, in matters of consumer protection, noncontractual liability extends also to the undermining of legal stability by the use of unfair terms which it is the task of consumer protection associations to prevent (see, to that effect, judgment of 1 October 2002 in Henkel, C‑167/00, EU:C:2002:555, paragraph 42) is fully applicable to the interpretation of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations”. Another subject matter governed by highly specialized rules on jurisdiction are infringements of personality rights on the internet. In eDate Advertising and Martinez17 and in Bolagsupplysningen,18 the Court developed a specific interpretation of the notion of the ‘place where the damage 14 See on the consistency requirement, M. Szpunar, « Droit international privé de l’Union : cohérence des champs d’application et/ou des solutions? », Rev. crit. DIP 2018, p. 573; and the contribution to the present volume, supra, p.71. 15 CJEU, 1 October 2002, Henkel, case C-167/00. 16 CJEU, 28 July 2016, Verein für Konsumenteninformation, case C-191/15, pt 38 and 39. 17 CJEU, 25 October 2011, eDate Advertising a.o., C-509/09 and C-161/10. 18 CJEU, 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen, case C-194/16. Sabine Corneloup 114 occurred’, i.e. the place of the victim’s centre of interests, which applies only to the violation of personality rights and not to other cyber-torts. In this respect, it is not yet clear in how far decisions on characterization and interpretation for the purpose of jurisdiction may precisely impact the determination of the applicable law, but it is likely that there will be an impact. A court in the State of the victim’s centre of interests, which has established its jurisdiction on the ground that the proceedings relate to a violation of personality rights, will presumably transpose that characterization to the conflict of laws. As a result, the proceedings would fall into one of the gaps of the European harmonization and lead to the application of national choice of law rules.19 On the contrary, if in a dispute similar to the Bolagsupplysningen case, a court characterizes the proceedings as relating to an act of unfair competition, since acts of disparagement for instance may fall under that notion, this would not only have consequences on the interpretation of the place where the damage occurred according to Art. 7(2) of the Brussels Ibis Regulation, as the victim’s centre of interest would not be available, but would probably also affect the choice of law. By transposing the characterization from jurisdiction to choice of law, the court would make Art. 6 of the Rome II Regulation applicable. And here again, the question of consistent interpretation of common notions would arise, since acts of unfair competition affecting exclusively the interests of a specific competitor fall under Art. 4 and thus are governed by the law of the place where the damage occurred. Arguably, this connecting factor would be understood in the same way as it was for the purpose of jurisdiction. It should be stressed that, in some cases, consistent interpretation may lead to the application of the law of the forum, but that it does not necessarily result in a general convergence of forum and ius in all cases.20 Indeed, as Advocate general M. Szpunar explains, the principle of consistent interpretation according to recital 7 only relates to the substantive scope and the provisions.21 There is no general requirement of convergence of solutions; in other words, the consistency requirement does not amount to a 19 See Art. 1(2)g of the Rome II Regulation excluding from its scope of application non-contractual obligations arising out of violations of privacy and rights relating to personality, including defamation. 20 For instance, in CJEU, 5 July 2018, AB “flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines”, case C-27/17, pt 41, the Court refers to the consistency requirement of recital 7 as an argument among others in favour of the alignment of the place of damage and the affected market. 21 M. Szpunar, op. cit. The Shift from a Choice of Law-Centred Approach to a Civil Procedure Standpoint 115 general requirement of convergence of jurisdiction and applicable law. Each regulation conserves its own objectives and system and unquestionably jurisdiction and applicable law do not systematically have the same functions. Thus, there may be convergence, if the connecting factors used by the rules on jurisdiction and applicable law are identical, or divergence, if that is not the case. In any event, even in the absence of such convergence, the above examples show that decisive orientations for the outcome of the proceedings are often set in application of the Brussels I Regulation. To a certain extent, the chronology of judicial proceedings pushes choice of law rules back into the position of followers, whereas Brussels I provides the standpoint from which the legal issues are addressed. Potential Influence of Policies in Favour of Non-Judicial Dispute Settlement Mechanisms Policies in favour of non-judicial dispute settlement mechanisms (conciliation, mediation, collaborative law approaches, etc.) currently exist at national level in most Member States, as well as at EU-level.22 They are targeting both, family disputes as well as civil and commercial disputes. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are generally perceived as appropriate means for the States not only to reduce the workload of national courts, and thus to save costs and time, but also to offer the parties an attractive alternative to court proceedings. They are generally considered to be faster, cheaper and, most importantly, less damaging to ongoing business or family relations. One may wonder whether the development of such out-of-court mechanisms is going to have an impact on the pivotal role the European law of civil procedure currently plays. It could indeed contribute to a re-shift within Private International Law, from civil procedure to choice of law, since neither the rules on jurisdiction, nor the rules on the recognition and enforcement are applicable to such private, non-judicial settlement agreements. Therefore, if these dispute settlement mechanisms are gaining in 4. 22 See in particular Directive 2008/52/EC of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters; see also the 2017 Report of the JURI Committee of the European Parliament on the implementation of the directive, PE595.445, A8–0238/2017. Sabine Corneloup 116 importance in the future, the law of civil procedure could correspondingly lose its prominent role. In order to address this question, it is necessary to distinguish between different types of mechanisms which exist in practice, because they can be more or less closely linked to judicial proceedings. On the one hand, there are types of out-of-court settlements, which indeed involve in no way a State court. They are the kind of settlement agreements the future UNCITRAL convention and model law on the enforcement of international settlement agreements address.23 In these situations, only choice of law is at stake. More precisely, when the parties are negotiating solutions to their disputes, the applicable law is rarely a decisive factor for them. Generally, the parties follow a more factual than legal approach to settle their disputes. Yet, the underlying legal order serves as a frame of reference for the parties to make credible commitments during the negotiations. Moreover, the applicable law may have an important role at a later stage, if the validity of the settlement agreement is challenged. The development of such ADR could trigger a trend back to a more choice of law-oriented approach, as no forum provides a civil procedure standpoint. On the other hand, there are also many ADR types, which are closely linked to court proceedings: for instance, where the judge, in the course of judicial proceedings, facilitates a settlement of the dispute, or where a settlement agreement concluded by the parties is subject to subsequent judicial approval in order to become legally binding. The Brussels I Regulation applies to both cases, either for the jurisdiction of the court, or for the enforcement of the court settlement. Therefore, it is rather unlikely that this second type of mechanisms could provoke a re-balancing of the centre of gravity in Private International Law from civil procedure to choice of law, even if they were to gain in importance in the future. Moreover, the latest legislative evolutions in family matters raise further doubts as to the likelihood of a trend reversal in the near future. A wellknown example is the new French divorce by mutual consent.24 Over the past years, the reform has raised strong concerns regarding the ability of such divorces to develop cross-border effects under EU law since, similarly to out-of-court-settlements, they take place without any court being 23 United Nations draft Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, to be adopted in Singapore in 2019 (the future ‘Singapore Convention on Mediation’); UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Mediation and International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, 2018. 24 Art. 229–1 of the French Civil Code. The Shift from a Choice of Law-Centred Approach to a Civil Procedure Standpoint 117 involved and without being included in an authentic document. Therefore, these divorces rather seemed to fall under the methodology of choice of law. However, during the recast of the Brussels IIbis Regulation, the definition of the notion of ‘agreement’ for the purpose of recognition and enforcement was broadened, in order to encompass such private divorces, provided that they have been registered by a public authority.25 This brought the French private divorce by mutual consent under the Brussels regime. In other words, the Brussels IIter Regulation extended the European law of civil procedure to situations, which would normally have fallen under choice of law. In addition, the new Regulation also projects its jurisdictional rules on such private agreements. The certificate necessary for cross-border recognition and enforcement can only be issued if the Member State which empowered the authority to register the agreement had jurisdiction under the Regulation.26 Hence, the privatization of divorce, rather than operating a re-shift in favour of choice of law, provided another opportunity for the European law of civil procedure to further develop its attractive force and to confirm its pivotal role. Towards an Integrative Approach In recent years, the EU legislator has increasingly opted for a comprehensive approach, combining in one regulation jurisdiction, choice of law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions. The 2008 Maintenance Regulation27 (combined with the 2007 Hague Protocol28), the 2012 Regulation on Successions29 and the two 2016 Regulations on the property 5. 25 Regulation No 2019/1111 of 24 May 2019 on jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, and on international child abduction (recast), “Brussels II ter”, Art. 2. (2) 3, combined with Art. 64 ff. See e.g. S. Corneloup, T. Kruger, “Le règlement 2019/1111, Bruxelles II : la protection des enfants gagne du ter(rain) ”, Rev. crit. DIP 2020, vol. 2, forthcoming. 26 Art. 66 (2) a). 27 Regulation No 4/2009 of 18 December 2008 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations. 28 Hague Protocol of 23 November 2007 on the law applicable to maintenance obligations. 29 Regulation No 650/2012 of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic Sabine Corneloup 118 regimes of international couples30, provide illustrations of this approach.31 By uniting all components of Private International Law in one single instrument, the legislator has drafted each rule in the light of the others, which made the interplay between them more apparent. Such an integrative perspective inevitably strengthens the consistent characterization and interpretation of common notions, because it seems rather inconceivable to develop divergent interpretations within the same regulation. It also avoids the biases induced by the chronology of judicial proceedings, where jurisdiction comes first, and choice of law second, which inevitably have also an impact on the case law of the Court of justice. In these matters of family law and successions, it is remarkable that the integrative approach has led to an increasing convergence of jurisdiction and applicable law. The situations where the courts end up applying their own law have become more frequent, be it because the regulations adopt identical connecting factors for jurisdiction and applicable law (common habitual residence of the spouses, last habitual residence of the deceased, habitual residence of the creditor of maintenance, etc.), provide for the application of the law of the forum as subsidiary solution, or make jurisdiction conditional on the applicable law32. Various patterns exist, but they all have in common to lead to an increasing convergence of solutions.33 Should this model be transposed to civil and commercial matters? From a policy perspective, it would undeniably be advisable to similarly favour an integrative approach, and hence to merge the Rome I, Rome II and Brussels Ibis Regulations into one single instrument. This would first of all lead to a simpler and clearer legal framework for citizens and legal practitioners. Moreover, by raising greater awareness of the interactions between instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. 30 Regulation No 2016/1103 of 24 June 2016 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of matrimonial property regimes; Regulation No 2016/1104 of 24 June 2016 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of the property consequences of registered partnerships. 31 The EU is hereby following the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which had implemented a similar integrative approach already in earlier conventions, such as the 1996 Convention on the protection of children. 32 See for instance Art. 5, 6, 7 and 9 of Regulation No 650/2012 on successions. 33 Which may raise interesting questions. See, for instance, in the field of maintenance obligations, CJEU, 20 September 2018, Mölk, case C-214/17. The Shift from a Choice of Law-Centred Approach to a Civil Procedure Standpoint 119 the different components of Private International Law, it would also allow the EU to address the interactions more directly and systematically than today. In this respect, it is to be stressed that, while strengthening the overall coherence, such a partial codification would not necessarily also result in greater convergence of forum and ius, which in civil and commercial matters is not an objective per se. Indeed, to date, these matters have not been affected to the same extent as family law and successions by the recent trend towards such a convergence. This is not only due to the fact that the rules on civil procedure and the rules on applicable law happened to be harmonized at different moments in time, in separate regulations. The connecting factors are often not the same,34 and unrestricted party autonomy plays a dominant role, allowing for tailor-made solutions35. Notable exceptions are matters subject to exclusive jurisdiction and contracts with weaker parties, where specific considerations explain that the courts normally apply the lex fori, but these considerations cannot be generalized. In summary, after a long period where private international law was dominated by a choice of law-centred approach, a shift towards a more civil procedure-based standpoint took place under the notable influence of the Brussels Convention. However, in family matters and successions, this shift is currently giving way to an all-encompassing perspective, where choice of law and civil procedure are brought more closely together. This appears to be the most suited way forward also in civil and commercial matters. 34 Habitual residence versus place of performance, for instance. 35 Even though in practice, parties often opt for the same State, by choosing its courts as well as its law It is indeed not rare that the parties themselves wish to establish such a link, as it has many advantages from a practical point of view. Sabine Corneloup 120 The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration: a True Trailblazer for the Europeanization and Constitutionalization of Private International Law Johan Meeusen* Table of Contents Introduction1. 121 Brussels I as an Integration Instrument2. 123 Brussels I as a Trailblazer for the Europeanization of Private International Law3. 125 Brussels I as a Trailblazer for the Constitutionalization of EU Private International Law 4. 130 Brussels I, Private International Law and Fundamental Rights Protection4.1. 130 Brussels I, Private International Law and the Principles of Mutual Trust and Mutual Recognition 4.2. 134 The Challenge ahead – a Future Brussels Iter Regulation as the Necessary Next Step towards Further Europeanization and Constitutionalization 5. 140 Introduction The interaction between the European law of civil procedure and private international law is often examined from the perspective of the consistency and convergences between the Brussels Ibis Regulation1 (and its predecessors) and the Rome I and II Regulations2 (and the preceding Rome Con- 1. * Prof. Dr Johan Meeusen LL.M. (UC Berkeley) is Honorary Vice-Rector and Professor of European Union Law and Private International Law at the University of Antwerp, Belgium (www.uantwerpen.be/johan-meeusen). This contribution was concluded on 31 October 2018. 1 Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. 2 Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I Regulation); 121 tracts Convention), and quite understandably so. The respective recitals 7 of the two latter regulations mention that their substantive scope and provisions should be consistent with the Brussels Ibis Regulation, which raises a number of intriguing questions, particularly where the interpretation of these regulations by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU3) is concerned4. Still, the consistency between the European Union (EU) instruments on private international law, and in particular between ‘Brussels I’5 and the regulations holding choice-of-law rules, can be approached as well from a different perspective. Rather than on their contribution to the development of a generally coherent system of private international law, this alternative perspective could focus on their nature as instruments of EU law. Examined from such point of view, the Brussels I regime has fulfilled a remarkable role as a pioneer, but even more a trailblazer for the Europeanization and constitutionalization of private international law more generally. It is on this particular contribution of Brussels I to the structural embedding of private international law within the EU’s legal system that this contribution will focus. The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the European law of civil procedure, as the Brussels Convention was signed half a century ago, invites us to take stock of the evolutions that have taken place in the past fifty years. This brief contribution examines the relationship between Brussels I and private international law more generally. It develops the thesis that Brussels I overcame primary law deficiencies and has served as a major and dynamic trailblazer for the Europeanization and even constitutionalization of private international law more generally, including choice of law. This process is however still characterized by some important challenges, specifically relating to non-discrimination, which should be taken on when, Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II Regulation). 3 In this contribution, the term ‘CJEU’ is used systematically to refer to the Court of Justice of the European Union, also where its pre-Lisbon judgments are concerned. 4 See also recitals 17 and 24 of the Rome I Regulation. 5 In this contribution, “Brussels I” as well as “the Brussels I regime” are referred to as general terms for the European rules on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement in civil and commercial matters, as provided respectively by the so-called Brussels Convention of 27 September 1968, the Brussels I Regulation (Regulation 44/2001 of 22 December 2000) and the current Brussels Ibis Regulation (Regulation 1215/2012 of 12 December 2012). Johan Meeusen 122 within a few years, a new, further modernized Brussels Iter regulation will be prepared6. Brussels I as an Integration Instrument Any analysis of Brussels I that focuses solely on its position as an important source of private international law for the EU Member States risks being only one-dimensional and would overlook both the way it serves (or should serve) to achieve the EU’s objectives and the way it is determined by the particular principles and characteristics of EU law. Within the EU, private international law is today to a large extent EU law and should be understood and interpreted first and foremost in that sense7. Such EU-centred approach of course rests on recognition of the great pertinence of private international law for the process of European integration. Economic integration and, more generally, the development of “an area without internal frontiers”, as put forward since the adoption of the Single European Act in 1986, would simply be impossible without adequate European rules on the private law aspects of cross-border acts and facts. Still, one cannot deny that private international law has not easily found its true place within the European legal order, and this search is probably not even over yet. Most likely, this is due to the uneasiness that has long characterized the EU as regards the position which must be granted within its legal system to private law more generally. Its objective of integration was initially approached through the elimination of all kinds of obstacles stemming from, in particular, public, administrative and economic law, with marginal attention only paid to the impact of private law8. This awkwardness as regards private law could actually be detected in the original EEC Treaty, which in Art. 220 (as well as later in Art. 293 EC Treaty, consolidated version after Amsterdam) recognized the pertinence of private international law only in a very limited way, by holding that “Member States shall, so far as is necessary, enter into negotiations with each other with a view to securing for the benefit of their nationals: (…) 2. 6 Cf. the task assigned to the Commission by Art. 79 Brussels Ibis. 7 R. Michaels, “The New European Choice-of-Law Revolution”, 82 Tulane L. Rev., 2008, (1607), 1642. 8 Id., 1626. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 123 – the simplification of formalities governing the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments of courts or tribunals (…).” The attention that the drafters of the EEC Treaty devoted to private (international) law was not only minimal, but moreover isolated from the regular integration instruments and made subject to traditional intergovernmental negotiations. Today, things are very different as the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ), which includes private international law, has been granted a prominent place in the process of European integration and its achievement has been recognized as one of the Union’s objectives at the same level as the internal market (Art. 3(2) TEU9). Nevertheless, the provisions of the TFEU10 on judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications still suffer from deficiencies and uncertainties11. A more careful and precise phrasing of these Treaty provisions – Articles 67(4) and 81 TFEU – would further strengthen the position of private international law within the EU. Against that background, it is noteworthy that an essential impulse for the growth and impact of the Brussels I regime can be traced back to the original concept of the Brussels Convention of 1968, which on two important points differed from the approach that characterized (then) Art. 220 EEC Treaty. While Art. 220 EEC Treaty did not require this, the Brussels Convention from the start has been a ‘convention double’, providing rules not only with regard to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, but on international jurisdiction as well. This way, Brussels I has introduced a procedural regime that is essentially built on mutual trust, as this is emphasized in recital 26 of the current Brussels Ibis Regulation. The Member States have been able to build confidence on the basis of the reciprocal application of identical jurisdiction rules, which has also convinced them to abandon exorbitant and protective jurisdiction rules for the so-called intra-European relationships (Art. 5 Brussels Ibis). Equally important is that, in spite of the wording of the original Art. 220 EEC Treaty, Brussels I has fortunately not been limited to the sole benefit of the Member States’ 9 Treaty on European Union. 10 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 11 J. Meeusen, “De ‘ruimte van vrijheid, veiligheid en recht’ en de ‘justitiële samenwerking in burgerlijke zaken’ in de Europese Unie: pleidooi voor een beter verdragsrechtelijk kader” in Voor recht, rechtvaardigheid en Camus. Liber Amicorum Bernard Hubeau, Bruges, Die Keure, 2018, (177), 177–191. Johan Meeusen 124 nationals. The adoption of the limited approach that was referred to by Art. 220 EEC Treaty would have strongly increased the importance of the Member States’ residual rules, or could have initiated the adoption by the Member States of a full-fledged alternative system with nationality as the decisive criterion. The focus on domicile for the jurisdictional system and the generalization of recognition and enforcement to all Member State judgments have managed to develop Brussels I as the Member States’ common regime for the internal market and, even more broadly today, the European area without internal frontiers. Hence, while Art. 220 EEC Treaty was framed in the typical terms of intergovernmental cooperation, the two elements mentioned demonstrate that the ambitions of Brussels I have from the start been much greater: it has rather been conceived as an instrument serving integration. In that same respect, the introduction, by the Protocol of 3 June 197112, of the possibility for (many, though not all) Member State courts to refer preliminary questions to the Court of Justice has been of particular significance as well. It was a first major step, that eventually turned out to have a great impact, to tie the Brussels Convention firmly within the EU’s general system of judicial protection and uniform interpretation. These essential links between Brussels I and the process of European integration have impacted in turn on the leading position that this instrument has acquired within the so-called AFSJ and the effect it has had on the further development – through Europeanization and constitutionalization – of private international law within the EU. Brussels I as a Trailblazer for the Europeanization of Private International Law Through its main characteristics as described above, the Brussels I regime has greatly contributed to embedding private international law, choice of law included, firmly within the EU legal system. Brussels I, which the European Commission has even described as “the matrix of civil judicial cooperation in the European Union”13, has first triggered and then strengthened the Europeanization of private international law. This also 3. 12 Protocol on the interpretation by the Court of Justice of the Convention of 27 September 1968 on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, signed in Luxembourg on 3 June 1971. 13 European Commission, Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 125 affects the position of private law more generally within the EU’s legal system. A first important step in this process of Europeanization of private international law, far beyond the significance of the (current) Brussels Ibis Regulation itself, is that Brussels I has paved the way for a European procedural network. Brussels I has not remained an isolated instrument, but has triggered the integration of other procedural concerns under the broad concept of “access to justice”, which is today referred to by Art. 67(4) TFEU. The latter concept has not yet been adequately defined and one can even doubt whether the drafters of this Treaty provision envisaged any precise understanding14. Still, it has long15 served as the common denominator, sometimes jointly with “access to law”16, for the adoption of a whole set of legislative acts, in particular regulations. Together, and actually in addition to the specific procedural rules which are provided by Brussels I itself, such as those on lis pendens and related actions17, they constitute a network of procedures that has complemented Brussels I18. The diverse procedural rules involved must obviously be considered in their own right, and commercial matters (Recast), COM(2010) 748 final, 3 (Explanatory memorandum). 14 J. Meeusen, F. van Overbeeke and L. Verhaert, “The Link Between Access to Justice and European Conflict of Laws After Lisbon. Much Ado About Nothing?”, 81 RabelsZ, 2017, 858–883. 15 See e.g. the references to access to justice in the early policy documents, such as § 2 of the Commission communication to the Council and the European Parliament – 'Towards greater efficiency in obtaining and enforcing judgments in the European Union', (COM)1997 609 final, and § 15–16 of the Action Plan of the Council and the Commission of 3 December 1998 on how best to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Amsterdam on an area of freedom, security and justice (O.J., 23 January 1999, C 19, 1), followed later by the Presidency conclusions of the European Council’s Tampere meeting (1999), § 30 and the Hague and Stockholm Programmes (European Council, “The Hague Programme: strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union”, Chapter III.3; European Council, “The Stockholm Programme – An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens”, § 3). 16 Presidency conclusions of the European Council’s Tampere meeting (1999), § 38. 17 Articles 29ff Brussels Ibis Regulation. 18 See e.g. Council Regulation n°1206/2001 of 28 May 2001 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters; Council Directive 2003/8/EC of 27 January 2003 to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes; Regulation n°805/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 creating a European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims; Regulation (EC) n°1896/2006 of the European Parliament Johan Meeusen 126 as they each have their own precise objectives. But certainly, the broad ambition shown by the Brussels I regime has laid bare the need and prompted the search for other common procedural regimes which would complete the European law of civil procedure19 and unite the Member States’ systems in a single procedural network that, on the one hand, ensures efficient and accessible cross-border litigation in civil and commercial matters20 and, on the other hand, even provides specific alternatives for the main regime that Brussels I constitutes21. Ultimately, this procedural network has facilitated in its turn the transition from the Brussels I Regulation to the Brussels Ibis Regulation and, in particular, the abolition of exequatur by the latter22. Very probably therefore, the European law of civil procedure would today be very different, and in particular have a much less impressive scope and impact, if Brussels I had been approached as a typical intergovernmental instrument holding common rules with a limited scope of application and separate from a solid institutional framework. The impact of Brussels I has not been limited to procedural issues – it has been at the root of the Europeanization of choice-of-law rules as well. The European unification of private international law started with Brussels I and the focus on what one might call a ‘procedural approach’. According to the Presidency conclusions of its Tampere meeting (1999), the European Council famously destined the principle of mutual recognition to become “the cornerstone of judicial co-operation in both civil and criminal matters” (§ 33), and a similar approach was clearly present in, e.g., the European Council’s Hague and Stockholm Programmes (of 2004 and 2009 and of the Council of 12 December 2006 creating a European order for payment procedure (as amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015); Regulation n°861/2007 of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure (as amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015). 19 See e.g. Art. 6(1) of Regulation 1896/2006 (European order for payment). 20 See e.g. recital 8 of Regulation 1206/2001 (Taking of evidence) and recitals 8–10 of Directive 2003/8 (Legal aid). 21 See recital 20 of Regulation 805/2004 (European Enforcement Order). 22 P. Mankowski, "The impact of the Brussels Ibis Regulation on the 'second generation' of European procedural law" in P. Mankowski (ed.), Research Handbook on the Brussels Ibis Regulation, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020, 230. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 127 respectively)23, which both mentioned the harmonization of choice-of-law rules in the context of their emphasis on the mutual recognition of decisions. The easy intra-European recognition and enforcement of judgments, and their free movement, was (and actually still is) considered a goal of prime importance. The harmonization of choice-of-law rules was originally approached as instrumental to that end as the adoption of common choice-of-law rules would increase the confidence granted by each State to other States’ judgments24. To a certain extent, this also explains why the Europeanization of choice of law has first focused on the unification of the rules on international contracts and torts through the Rome I and Rome II Regulations. But as this is also true in other fields of EU law, the process of Europeanization has eventually turned out to be unstoppable. It has resulted in a broad, European harmonization of private international law, stretching to topics that in 1968 were still unimaginable. The success of Brussels I, with corresponding choice-of-law legislation on contracts and torts, has been extended to other fields where similar approaches, with due attention given to the links between jurisdiction, choice of law and recognition and enforcement, have been introduced. Moreover, the emergence and steadily increasing importance of Union citizenship has prompted renewed attention regarding the free movement of persons and a corresponding move to family law and related areas. While the legislature in the introductory recitals to its regulations still routinely refers to the “general objective” of the mutual recognition of decisions25, these (more recent) regulations approach choice of law in its own right. 23 European Council, “The Hague Programme: strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union” (III, § 3.4.2) and “The Stockholm Programme – An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens” (§ 3.1.2 and 3.3.2). 24 See for more detailed references and clarification: A. Fillers, “Implications of Article 81(1) TFEU’s recognition clause for EU conflict of laws rules”, 14 JPIL, 2018, (476), 484ff. 25 Recital 59 of Regulation (EU) n°650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (Successions Regulation), recital 56 of Council Regulation (EU) 2016/1103 of 24 June 2016 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of matrimonial property regimes (Matrimonial property Regulation) and recital 55 of Council Regulation (EU) 2016/1104 of 24 June 2016 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of the property consequences of registered partnerships (Partnership Property Regulation). Johan Meeusen 128 Apart from its impact on the adoption of further legislation on private international law, both on procedure and choice of law, it appears that Brussels I has had an even broader influence. It has laid the basis for a joint European approach to the resolution of cross-border private law disputes by national courts that act, through the system of preliminary references, in close cooperation with the Court of Justice. The national courts have, as from the mid-seventies, not hesitated to refer preliminary questions on Brussels I to the Court of Justice. This has resulted in a steady stream of preliminary judgments on a variety of interpretation issues. These preliminary references have not only contributed to, first of all, concrete dispute resolution by the national courts, but have had the further advantage of familiarizing the Court of Justice itself with the interpretation of private law at European level. In view of the scope and substance of the original EEC Treaty, this was at the time a quite new subject of interpretation in Luxembourg. With hindsight, it can be stated that the Court’s preliminary judgments on the then Brussels Convention have very much contributed to the recognition of the pertinence of private law for the European integration process and, more particularly, the full integration of private international law as a standard topic of interest for the European legal order as we know it today. In that respect, it must be added that the CJEU’s preference for the autonomous interpretation of Brussels I as well as the importance that is attached to the consistency between the various EU regulations on private international law26 have reinforced its typically European character, away from the divergent Member States’ interpretations of identical concepts. The impact that Brussels I has had on the process of Europeanization of private international law in the previous decades is therefore undeniable. The Brussels Convention has triggered the recognition of its pertinence, which was later confirmed in more general terms in, at first, various policy documents and thereafter through the introduction of an explicit treaty basis (first Art. 65 EC Treaty, today Art. 81 TFEU). This formal treaty basis has meanwhile often served for the adoption of further legislation regarding both procedural issues and choice of law. This way, the application and interpretation of Brussels I, but probably even its mere existence, have strongly contributed to the transformation of private international law 26 See in particular recitals 7 of the Rome I and Rome II Regulations; recital 59 of the Successions Regulation, recital 56 of the Matrimonial Property Regulation, recital 55 of the Partnership Property Regulation. See also recital 7 of Regulation (EU) 2015/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings (recast). The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 129 from a very specific set of rules on the margins of European integration to a full-fledged part of the so-called area of freedom, security and justice, which today is considered a key objective for the EU (Art. 3(2) TEU). Brussels I as a Trailblazer for the Constitutionalization of EU Private International Law Brussels I has not only paved the way for the Europeanization of private international law, but has also strongly contributed to the constitutionalization of private international law within the EU. It has therefore not only been at the root of the progressive extension ratione materiae of the field covered by private international law rules of European origin, but it has left its mark on the very substance of this domain. This is particularly noteworthy with regard to the significance of both fundamental rights and the principles of mutual trust and mutual recognition27. Brussels I, Private International Law and Fundamental Rights Protection Just as the importance of fundamental rights protection has steadily increased in the EU legal system as a whole, it has in the field of our inquiry broadened from Brussels I to civil judicial cooperation in the area of freedom, security and justice more generally. Although the particular pertinence of fundamental rights for the EU’s legal system was recognized many years earlier, in particular through the Court’s innovative case law28, the entering into force of the Treaty of Lisbon has given a real boost to fundamental rights protection, also as regards its significance for EU private international law. Of particular importance are the explicit recognition by the Treaty of Lisbon of the legal value of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Art. 6 (1) TEU) and of the CJEU’s consistent case law on the status of fundamental rights as general principles of EU law (Art. 6(3) TEU), as well as its explicit confirmation in Art. 67(1) TFEU that the Union shall constitute an area of freedom, security and justice “with respect for fundamental rights”. 4. 4.1. 27 Cf. R. Michaels, “The new European Choice-of-Law Revolution”, l.c., 1624ff. 28 See e.g. CJEU, 17 December 1970, case 11/70, Internationale Handelsgesellschaft, paragraph 4 and many later judgments in the same sense. Johan Meeusen 130 As they constitute general principles of Union law, fundamental rights are obviously pertinent for the whole of EU law, its private international law instruments included. Still, they have been specifically recognized in the latter field through the definition of the public policy exception in Brussels I. In its famous Krombach judgment, the CJEU defined the public policy exception as referring to an infringement which constitutes “a manifest breach of a rule of law regarded as essential in the legal order of the State in which enforcement is sought or of a right recognised as being fundamental within that legal order”29. The Court gave further substance to this by its reference to the protection of fundamental rights, in that particular case the right to a fair hearing as derived from the common constitutional traditions of the Member States and the European Human Rights Convention30. The Court of Justice hence recognized fundamental rights protection as a full part of the Brussels I regime, which even counterbalances the importance that is in principle attached to the free circulation of judgments within the Union. This conforms to the Court’s consideration in its more recent judgment in FlyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines, that the concept of ‘public policy’ in Brussels I “seeks to protect legal interests which are expressed through a rule of law, and not purely economic interests”31. Hence, the mere invocation of serious economic consequences does not constitute an infringement of the public policy of the Member State in which recognition is sought32. In that respect, as has been made clear by the Court’s consistent case law since Krombach, the free circulation of judgments – in spite of its importance for the proper functioning of the internal market and the economic interests that are at stake – must not be considered an absolute right that could claim priority over respect for fundamental rights. Krombach dates back to 2000. Although it is still recognized, and rightly so, as one of the CJEU’s seminal judgments on the Brussels I regime, the pertinence of fundamental rights for Brussels I and EU private international law has developed further. The new TEU provisions introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon (supra) and the CJEU’s case law on the impact of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, e.g. on the direct effect of its Art. 47 (right to effective judicial protection) in so-called horizontal disputes 29 CJEU, 28 March 2000, case C-7/98, Krombach, paragraph 37. 30 CJEU, 28 March 2000, case C-7/98, Krombach, paragraphs 38–45. 31 CJEU, 23 October 2014, C-302/13, flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines AS, in liquidation, paragraph 56. 32 CJEU, 23 October 2014, C-302/13, flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines AS, in liquidation, paragraph 58. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 131 between private parties33, quite obviously are pertinent as well for private international law litigation. This evolution in EU law in favour of ensured effectiveness and further expansion of fundamental rights is clearly discernible as well in the current interpretation by the CJEU of Brussels I in light of the Charter, and its Art. 47 in particular. The Court today approaches Brussels I in toto as an instrument that embodies the right to a fair trial as laid down in Art. 47 of the Charter. In its recent judgment in Meroni, which also related to the interpretation of the public policy exception34, the CJEU considered that the provisions of EU law, such as those of Brussels I, must be interpreted in the light of fundamental rights which, according to settled case-law, form an integral part of the general principles of law whose observance the Court ensures and which are now set out in the Charter. According to the CJEU, “all the provisions of Regulation No 44/2001 express the intention of ensuring that, within the scope of the objectives of that regulation, proceedings leading to the delivery of judicial decisions are conducted in such a way that the rights of the defence laid down in Article 47 of the Charter are observed”35. This way, the CJEU has been able to make use of Art. 47 of the Charter to update and grant a more specific legal basis to its earlier case law. In Denilauler, still under the regime of the Brussels Convention, the Court had already considered – though without further explanation nor references – that all its provisions express the intention to ensure that proceedings within the scope of the objectives of the Brussels Convention take place in such a way that the rights of the defence are observed36. This interpretation has now been tied to the EU’s general system of fundamental rights protection and so has transformed the Brussels Ibis regulation in an instrument which actually implements the Charter’s concern for effective judicial protection. A similar, broad reference to fundamental rights protection, and Art. 47 of the Charter more specifically, has been introduced as well, in contrast to what was the case previously with the Brussels Convention and the Brussels I Regulation, in recital 38 of the Brussels Ibis Regulation, according to 33 CJEU, 17 April 2018, case C-414/16, Egenberger, paragraphs 78–82. 34 See also on other issues related to Brussels I: CJEU, 10 March 2016, case C-94/14, Flight Refund, paragraph 59; CJEU, 11 September 2014, case C-112/13, A/B and others, paragraph 51; CJEU, 15 March 2012, case C-292/10, G/Cornelius de Visser, paragraph 47; CJEU, 17 November 2011, case C-327/10, Hypoteční banka, paragraph 48. 35 CJEU, 25 May 2016, case C-559/14, Meroni, paragraph 45. 36 CJEU, 21 May 1980, case 125/79, Denilauler, paragraph 13; CJEU, 2 April 2009, case C-394/07, Gambazzi, paragraph 23. Johan Meeusen 132 which that Regulation “respects fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial guaranteed in Article 47 of the Charter”. Actually, Brussels Ibis here followed the earlier references to the Charter of Fundamental Rights which, soon after it had been proclaimed, have been incorporated, but mostly in recitals only, in the Brussels IIbis Regulation37 and the Regulations on the Enforcement Order for uncontested claims38 and the European Small Claims Procedure39. References to fundamental rights protection were made as well by the European Council in its conclusions of Tampere (which actually were adopted a few months before the Krombach judgment) and the Hague Programme (2004). It is the Stockholm Programme (2009) however, adopted after the Treaty of Lisbon, that holds its strongest confirmation, moreover formulated in the same sense as Art. 67(1) TFEU: “The area of freedom, security and justice must above all be a single area in which fundamental rights are protected”40. The significance for the whole area of freedom, security and justice of fundamental rights protection was first confirmed in the regulations on procedural matters, but now logically affects choice of law, as a component of the judicial cooperation in civil matters under that heading, as well. After the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force, references to fundamental rights and to the Charter particularly, have meanwhile become standard as well in the recitals of recent regulations that (inter alia) hold choice-of-law rules, also where the determination of the applicable law is concerned41. Article 10 of the Rome III Regulation even holds a specific clause of non-discrimination on grounds of sex concerning access to divorce or legal separation and further gives particular attention to non- 37 See recital 33 as well as Art. 23 Brussels IIbis Regulation, which refers to the nonrecognition of a judgment relating to parental responsibility if it was given, except in case of urgency, without the child having been given an opportunity to be heard, in violation of fundamental principles of procedure of the Member State in which recognition is sought. 38 Recital 11 of Regulation 805/2204. 39 Recital 9 of Regulation 861/2007. 40 “The Stockholm Programme – An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens”, § 1.1. 41 See the references to fundamental rights that appear to have become standard by now in recitals 58 and 81 of the Successions Regulation, recitals 54 and 73 of the Matrimonial Property Regulation and recitals 53 and 71 of the Partnership Property Regulation. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 133 violation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the prohibition of discrimination in its recitals42. Given the enormous evolution that has taken place in EU law in this regard, it is beyond doubt that this pertinence of fundamental rights protection will not remain limited to the application of the Union’s legislation on private international law, but will stretch beyond that to cases involving elements of private international law that are referred to the Court of Justice for a preliminary interpretation of the EU’s rules, of primary or secondary law, on the internal market or Union citizenship. A first indication thereof can be found in the CJEU’s reliance on the respect for private and family life, as guaranteed by Art. 7 of the Charter, in the recent judgment in Coman43. Although, as the Court emphasized several times44, its judgment was limited to the recognition of marriage between persons of the same sex for the sole purpose of granting a derived right of residence to a third-country national, it may be expected that the inevitable ties between free movement rights under the TFEU and the private law status of the persons concerned will require it sooner rather than later to further examine the interaction, within the scope of EU law, between private international law and fundamental rights45. Brussels I, Private International Law and the Principles of Mutual Trust and Mutual Recognition Article 67 TFEU not only refers to fundamental rights (Art. 67(1)), but also, in view of facilitating access to justice, to mutual recognition of judicial and extrajudicial decisions in civil matters (Art. 67(4)). Article 81(1) TFEU emphasizes the latter principle as well. Since the adoption of the Brussels Convention in 1968, hence long before the Court’s judgment in Cassis de Dijon revolutionized the free movement of goods through the introduction of the principle of mutual recognition46, this concept of mutual recognition has been central to European judicial cooperation. The original Art. 220 of the EEC Treaty aimed at the “reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments”. According 4.2. 42 Recitals 16, 25 and 30 of the Rome III Regulation. 43 CJEU, 5 June 2018, case C-673/16, Coman, paragraphs 48–50. 44 See paragraphs 36, 40, 45 and 46 of its judgment. 45 See in particular the recent CJEU judgment, dating from after the conclusion of this contribution, in SM (26 March 2019, case C-129/18), paragraphs 64–72. 46 CJEU, 20 February 1978, case 120/78, Rewe-Zentral (‘Cassis de Dijon’). Johan Meeusen 134 to the Brussels I regime as it is laid down today in the Brussels Ibis Regulation, neither the jurisdiction of the court of origin nor the substance of the judgment may be reviewed in the host State, where refusal grounds as well as intermediate procedures are kept to a minimum. From Brussels I, mutual recognition has gradually broadened to the whole policy field that is known today as the area of freedom, security and justice. In the so-called “Tampere Milestones” (1999), which followed upon a first indication in that sense at its Cardiff summit of 199847, the European Council endorsed the principle of mutual recognition which, in its view, “should become the cornerstone of judicial co-operation in both civil and criminal matters within the Union” (§ 33; supra). Today, we see this confirmed in Arts. 67(4) and 81(1) TFEU, which both explicitly recognize the key importance of mutual recognition of judgments and decisions for the area of freedom, security and justice in general and judicial cooperation in civil matters more specifically. Mutual recognition is not an isolated concept. Brussels I is essentially characterized by mutual trust among the Member States, which constitutes the true basis of the far-reaching obligation to mutually recognize each other’s judgments, even in the absence of any procedural or substantive harmonisation48. Although it originally appeared hesitant to refer to it explicitly49, the Court of Justice had already reasoned in that sense where the Brussels Convention was concerned, considering that the Convention was “necessarily based on the trust which the Contracting States accord to each other's legal systems and judicial institutions”50. In that same spirit, recital 26 of the Brussels Ibis Regulation today holds, as did recital 16 of the previous Brussels I Regulation 44/2001, that the smooth recognition of judgments is justified by “mutual trust in the administration of justice in 47 “The European Council underlines the importance of effective judicial cooperation in the fight against cross-border crime. It recognises the need to enhance the ability of national legal systems to work closely together and asks the Council to identify the scope for greater mutual recognition of decisions of each others’ courts” (§ 39 of the Presidency Conclusions). 48 S. Clavel, “L’harmonisation des règles de compétence et des procédures de règlement des conflits (exception de litispendance)” in F. Jault-Seseke e.a. (dir.), L’espace judiciaire européen civil et pénal, Paris, Dalloz, 2009, (45), 58–59. 49 M. Weller, “Mutual trust within judicial cooperation in civil matters: a normative cornerstone – a factual chimera – a constitutional challenge”, 35 NIPR, 2017, (1), 6–7. 50 CJEU, 9 December 2003, case C-116/02, Gasser, paragraph 72. See for more details on the Court’s case law development: M. Weller, “Mutual trust: in search of the future of European Union private international law”, 11 JPIL, 2015, (64), 85–89. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 135 the Union”51. This essential link between mutual trust and mutual recognition, with the latter as the former’s operational instrument52, now characterizes other Union instruments adopted within the framework of the AFSJ as well53, and has been confirmed by the CJEU with regard to judicial cooperation in both civil54 and criminal matters55. As the CJEU has recently held in several judgments56 which followed upon its famous Opinion 2/1357, both the principle of mutual trust between the Member States and the principle of mutual recognition, which is itself based on the mutual trust between the Member States, are of fundamental importance for EU law given that they allow an area with- 51 See also recital 17 of the same Brussels I Regulation, as well as recital 21 of the Brussels IIbis Regulation: “The recognition and enforcement of judgments given in a Member State should be based on the principle of mutual trust”. 52 K. Lenaerts, “Der Grundsatz der gegenseitigen Vertrauens im internationalen Privatrecht: Über den Dialog der Gerichte” in B. Hess, E. Jayme and H-P. Mansel (eds.), Europa als Rechts- und Lebensraum. Liber amicorum für Christian Kohler zum 75. Geburtstag am 18. Juni 2018, Bielefeld, Verlag Ernst und Werner Gieseking, 2018, (287), 290: “das funktionale Instrument”. See also D. Düsterhaus, “Judicial Coherence in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Squaring Mutual Trust with Effective Judicial Protection”, 8 Review of European Administrative Law 2015, (151), 157, considering mutual recognition to entertain a symbiotic relationship with mutual trust and the latter to constitute “the aim, the cause and the consequence” of the former. 53 E.g. recital 18 of Regulation 805/2004 (European Enforcement Order) and recital 27 of Regulation 1896/2006 (European order for payment). See for more details, with regard to judicial cooperation in civil matters in the AFSJ: M. Weller, “Mutual trust: in search of the future of European Union private international law”, l.c., 82–85. 54 CJEU, 9 March 2017, case C- 484/15, Zulfikarpašić, paragraph 40 (European Enforcement Order); CJEU, 27 October 2016, case C-428/15, Child and Family Agency, paragraph 57 (Brussels IIbis). 55 See e.g., on the European Arrest Warrant, CJEU, 10 August 2017, case C‑270/17 PPU, Tupikas, paragraph 49; CJEU, 1 June 2016, case C-241/15, Bob- Dogi, paragraph 33; CJEU, 5 April 2016, joined cases C‑404/15 and C-659/15PPU, Aranyosi and Căldăraru, paragraph 77. 56 CJEU, 25 July 2018, case 220/18 PPU, ML, paragraph 49; CJEU, 25 July 2018, case C-216/18 PPU, LM, paragraph 36; CJEU, 9 March 2017, case 551/15, Pula Parking, paragraph 51; CJEU, 10 November 2016, case C-453/16 PPU, Özçelik, paragraph 24; CJEU, 10 November 2016, case 477/16 PPU, Kovalkovas, paragraph 27; CJEU, 10 November 2016, case C-452/16 PPU, Poltorak, paragraph 26; CJEU, 5 April 2016, joined cases C‑404/15 and C-659/15PPU, Aranyosi and Căldăraru, paragraph 78. 57 CJEU, 18 December 2014, Opinion 2/13 (Accession of the European Union to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms), paragraph 191. Johan Meeusen 136 out internal borders to be created and maintained. This key importance of both principles for the process of European integration is essentially tied to the equality of all Member States (Art. 4(2) TEU)58 and – as has been explicitly confirmed by the CJEU – their mutual sincere cooperation (Art. 4(3) TEU)59. As the CJEU further links mutual trust (and mutual recognition) to the values that the Member States and the EU share according to Art. 2 TEU60, both principles are of key importance for EU law in general. Still, the CJEU has insisted as well on the particular importance of the principle of mutual trust for the AFSJ specifically, by emphasizing in its Opinion 2/13 (which it has often repeated thereafter61) not only that the principle of mutual trust is of fundamental importance in EU law, but also that it requires “particularly with regard to the area of freedom, security and justice, each of those States, save in exceptional circumstances, to consider all the other Member States to be complying with EU law and particularly with the fundamental rights recognised by EU law.”62. In Pula Parking, the CJEU applied that same reasoning specifically to the Brussels Ibis Regulation63. Undoubtedly, therefore, the principle of mutual trust which for the past fifty years has constituted a solid basis for the mutual recognition principle that characterizes the Brussels I regime, although not without limita- 58 K. Lenaerts, “La vie après l’avis: exploring the principle of mutual (yet not blind) trust”, 54 CMLR, 2017, (805), 808. 59 CJEU, 6 February 2018, case C-359/16, Altun, paragraph 40: “Indeed, the principle of sincere cooperation also implies that of mutual trust”. See also CJEU, 6 March 2018, case C-284/16, Achmea, paragraph 34. See on the interaction between mutual recognition and sincere cooperation: M. Fartunova, “La coopération loyale vue sous le prisme de la reconnaissance mutuelle: quelques réflexions sur les fondements de la construction européenne”, 52 Cahiers de droit européen, 2016, 193ff. 60 CJEU, 18 December 2014, Opinion 2/13, paragraph 168; CJEU, 6 March 2018, case C-284/16, Achmea, paragraph 34. See already earlier judgments such as CJEU, 21 December 2011, joined cases C-411/10 and C-493/10, N.S., paragraph 83, CJEU, 29 January 2013, case C-396/11, Radu, paragraph 34 and CJEU, 26 February 2013, case C-399/11, Melloni, paragraph 37. 61 CJEU, 19 September 2018, case C-327/18 PPU, RO, paragraph 35; CJEU, 25 July 2018, case 220/18 PPU, ML, paragraph 49; CJEU, 25 July 2018, case C-216/18 PPU, LM, paragraph 36; CJEU, 26 April 2018, case C-34/17, Donnellan, paragraph 40; CJEU, 5 April 2016, joined cases C-404/15 and C‑659/15 PPU, Aranyosi and Căldăraru, paragraph 78. 62 CJEU, 18 December 2014, Opinion 2/13, paragraph 191. 63 CJEU, 9 March 2017, case C-551/15, Pula Parking, paragraphs 51–53. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 137 tions64, constitutes today “a constitutional principle that pervades the entire AFSJ”65. In the field of judicial cooperation, it implies that the recognizing, host State accepts to abandon its own view on how a particular case should be solved, even when there are important links with its citizens or its territory, and even where the choice-of-law rules or substantive law have not been harmonized. That all Member States are supposed to share the same values, including the rule of law and fundamental rights, obviously opens the door to such mutual confidence, and even dispenses them from further procedural harmonization66. As regards judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the CJEU considered that a re-examination in the host State of the judicial decisions adopted in the issuing Member State would infringe and render ineffective the principle of mutual recognition, which implies that there is mutual trust as to the fact that each Member State accepts the application of the criminal law in force in the other Member States, even though the implementation of its own national law might produce a different outcome67. The executing judicial authority is therefore not allowed to substitute its own assessment68. The provisions of the Brussels Ibis Regulation, which provide for the circulation of judgments without review as to their substance in the host State69, rely on that same approach. Moreover, a comparable approach – not identical in a strict sense, but inspired by a similar type of reasoning70 – is discernible today where the impact on private international law, including choice of law, of Union citi- 64 As is true for mutual trust in the internal market as well: see C. Janssens, The Principle of Mutual Recognition in EU Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013, 29. See further on the pertinence of limitations and control as essential components of genuine and sincere mutual confidence or trust: T. Wischmeyer, “Generating Trust Through Law? Judicial Cooperation in the European Union and the ‘Principle of Mutual Trust’”, 17 German L.J., 2016, (339), 368–382. 65 K. Lenaerts, “La vie après l’avis: exploring the principle of mutual (yet not blind) trust”, l.c., 813 and 838. 66 D. Düsterhaus, “Judicial Coherence in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Squaring Mutual Trust with Effective Judicial Protection”, l.c., 151 and 153– 154. 67 See already in that sense the pioneer judgment of 11 February 2003, joined cases C-187/01 and C-385/01, Gözütok and Brügge, paragraph 33 (cf. C. Janssens, The Principle of Mutual Recognition in EU Law, o.c., 133). 68 CJEU, 23 January 2018, case C-367/16, Piotrowski, paragraph 52. 69 Cf. Art. 52 Brussels Ibis Regulation. 70 Cf. P. Lagarde, “Développements futurs du droit international privé dans une Europe en voie d’unification: quelques conjectures”, 68 RabelsZ, 2004, (225), 232. Johan Meeusen 138 zenship and the internal market is concerned: rejection of the unilateral application of the host State’s national choice-of-law system but recognition of the choice-of-law process that has been gone through in the home State71. In that sense, mutual recognition, which rests on mutual trust, lies at the basis of the particular identity that the internal market and Union citizenship impose on the non-harmonized private international law rules of the Member States. In Grunkin and Paul, the CJEU interpreted the Treaty rules on Union citizenship to oblige Germany to recognize the outcome of the choice-oflaw process in Denmark as to the determination of the surname of a German child, rather than apply its own choice-of-law rules72. In other words, the CJEU imposes upon the Member States a similar duty of recognition of the foreign choice-of-law process that they must apply, according to the Brussels I regime, to judgments of the other Member States. Legal situations that have been established abroad are to be given effect73, whatever the law that was applied in that State of origin74. Even in those fields where the choice-of-law rules have not been harmonized, Member States (acting as host States) hence cannot just apply, blindly and from a onesided perspective, their national choice-of-law rules to all cases brought before their courts but must take the European nature of the dispute into account and grant recognition to the earlier choice-of-law process in the home Member State. This compulsory, reciprocal recognition of the Member States’ choice-of-law processes requires the host Member State to add another layer of interests to its approach of cross-border mobility in civil matters and makes EU conflict of laws differ intrinsically from the typical national or intergovernmental conflict of laws approach75. Similar principles govern the CJEU’s interpretation of the effect of the Treaty rules on freedom of establishment on the Member States’ choice-oflaw rules regarding companies. As the CJEU’s case law since the mid-1980s makes clear, the Court prioritizes mutual recognition by the Member 71 See also H. Muir Watt, “European Federalism and the ‘New Unilateralism’”, 82 Tulane L. Rev., 2008, (1983), 1985–1986. 72 CJEU, 14 October 2006, case C-353/06, Grunkin and Paul. 73 In principle, not excluding exceptional justification of non-recognition, see e.g. CJEU, 22 December 2010, case C-208/09, Sayn-Wittgenstein, paragraphs 81–95. 74 C. Kohler, “La reconnaissance des situations juridiques dans l’Union européenne: le cas du nom patrynomique” in P. Lagarde (dir.), La reconnaissance des situations en droit international privé, Paris, Pedone, 2013, (67), 72. 75 J. Meeusen, “The Grunkin and Paul Judgment of the CJEU, or How to Strike a Delicate Balance between Conflict of Laws, Union Citizenship and Freedom of Movement in the EC”, 18 Zeitschrift für Europäisches Privatrecht, 2010, (186), 198. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 139 States of the choice-of-law process in the home Member State and so obliges the Member States to abandon, within the internal market, the universal claim that is proper to the traditional multilateral choice-of-law rules. In other words, the application of the still non-harmonized choiceof-law rules, which according to the CJEU’s steadfast interpretation are intrinsically valid under EU-law76, must be qualified in light of the duty of mutual recognition in the internal market77. It can be concluded from the foregoing that mutual recognition, based upon mutual trust, was first introduced by Art. 220 EEC Treaty and the Brussels Convention, and has gradually extended to what is known today as the area of freedom, security and justice, including judicial cooperation in civil matters. The CJEU’s case law on a variety of problems indicates that it even governs the interaction between the internal market, Union citizenship and private international law. The constitutionalization of EU private international law through mutual recognition and mutual trust has far-reaching effects. It has served to grant a particular identity to this field, as it is characterized by principles and interests that are different from those that govern private international from national or intergovernmental (treaty-made) origin. The Challenge ahead – a Future Brussels Iter Regulation as the Necessary Next Step towards Further Europeanization and Constitutionalization Brussels I has strongly contributed to the Europeanization and constitutionalization of private international law within the EU. Pertinent for both these processes is the principle of non-discrimination. Due to its objective of differentiation, private international law is always vulnerable to potential claims of discrimination78. This is especially sensitive where its rules are supposed to contribute to integration within an 5. 76 See most recently CJEU, 25 October 2017, case C-106/16, Polbud, paragraph 34. 77 See e.g. CJEU, 5 November 2002, case C-208/00, Überseering, paragraphs 78–82. See for more details and references: J. Meeusen and M. Myszke-Nowakowska, “International Company Law in the European Internal Market: Three Decades of Judicial Activity” in L. Nemer Caldeira Brant (ed.), XI Anuário Brasileiro de Direito Internacional – Vol.II, Belo Horizonte, CEDIN, 2016, (92), 109ff. 78 Cf. B. Currie, “Unconstitutional Discrimination in the Conflict of Laws: Privileges and Immunities”, Yale L.J., 1960, 1323, reprinted in B. Currie, Selected Essays on the Conflict of Laws, Durham N.C., Duke University Press, 1963, 523: “Problems of discrimination are inherent in conflict-of-laws cases”. Johan Meeusen 140 area without internal frontiers. It is therefore imperative to stay alert and face the important challenge that is still ahead in this process of Europeanization and constitutionalization and actually concerns Brussels I itself79. In spite of the original order to the Member States, as was laid down in Art. 220 EEC Treaty, to enter into negotiations on recognition and enforcement “for the benefit of their nationals”, and the phrasing of current Art. 3(2) TEU, according to which the Union shall offer “its citizens” an area of freedom, security and justice, the Brussels I regime rejects nationality privileges as well as any further differentiation along that line. The defendant’s domicile, a customary and non-discriminatory jurisdictional factor which the CJEU considers a general principle80 and which the Jenard Report called equitable and practical81, is generally decisive for both the applicability of the jurisdiction rules and the determination of jurisdiction itself and is complemented by the explicit non-discrimination rules that are laid down in both Arts. 4(1) and 4(2) of the Brussels Ibis Regulation. Further, nationality and even the domicile of the parties involved are irrelevant where recognition and enforcement are concerned. By breaking away from a regime aimed at protecting the Member States’ nationals, Brussels I has managed to accommodate the needs of the internal market and judicial cooperation in an area without internal frontiers. In that respect, however, the wisdom of two important limitations to the scope of the Brussels I regime is often questioned. On the one hand, the Brussels recognition and enforcement rules are pertinent only for judgments given in a Member State; third State judgments are not within the scope of the Brussels Ibis regulation. On the other hand, the jurisdictional regime of Brussels I typically distinguishes between so-called intra- and extra- EU disputes; apart from some important exceptions, Brussels I has excluded this last category, defined by the defendant’s third State domicile, from its scope. For many disputes, Article 6 of the Brussels Ibis Regulation subjects the determination of jurisdiction regarding defendants domiciled 79 See for a more profound analysis of the significance of the non-discrimination principle for the Brussels Ibis Regulation: J. Meeusen, “The Brussels Ibis Regulation and the prohibition of discrimination under EU primary law” in P. Mankowski (ed.), Research Handbook on the Brussels Ibis Regulation, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020, 285. 80 CJEU, 13 July 2000, case C-412/98, Group Josi Reinsurance Company, paragraph 35. 81 Report by Mr P. Jenard on the Convention of 27 September 1968 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, O.J., 5 March 1979, C 59, 18–19. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 141 in third States to the residual Member States’ rules, including those that are commonly considered excessive or exorbitant. While both scope limitations are subject to debate, they are explained by different concerns and considerations. As Brussels I essentially rests on the guiding principle of mutual trust among the EU Member States (and their courts), it is easy to understand that not so much the exclusion of third State judgments, but rather the jurisdictional scope limitation of Brussels I continues to stir controversy, as its ratio is dubious but its impact far-reaching. Certainly, one should not neglect the important political considerations involved, which relate to the lack of reciprocity with third States and the possibility to conclude bilateral conventions to remedy this to the mutual advantage of the EU and pertinent third States82. From a legal, and even human rights perspective, however, it is very difficult if not impossible to justify a system that allows one category of defendants, domiciled in third States, to be subject to jurisdiction rules from which EU-domiciled defendants are explicitly shielded, due to their possibly exorbitant or even discriminatory character83. Moreover, this distinction between ‘intra-EU’ and ‘extra-EU’ disputes has important consequences within the specific framework of Brussels I. It is not only the case that Art. 6(2) of the Brussels Ibis regulation extends the 82 H. Gaudemet-Tallon, “Les frontières extérieures de l’espace judiciaire européen: quelques répères” in A. Borrás e.a. (eds.), E Pluribus Unum. Liber Amicorum Georges A.L. Droz. On the Progressive Unification of Private International Law, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1996, (85), 93–94. 83 See, amongst many other authors criticizing this regime : P. Franzina, “L’universalisation partielle du régime européen de la compétence en matière civile et commerciale dans le règlement Bruxelles Ibis: une mise en perspective” in E. Guinchard (ed.), Le nouveau règlement Bruxelles Ibis, Brussels, Bruylant, 2014, (39), 59– 60; W. Hau, “Gegenwartsprobleme internationaler Zuständigkeit” in Grenzen überwinden – Prinzipien bewahren. Festschrift für Bernd van Hoffmann zum 70. Geburtstag om 28. Dezember 2011, Bielefeld, Verlag Ernst und Werner Gieseking, 2011, (617), 621; E. Pataut, “Qu’est-ce qu’un litige ‘intracommunautaire’? Réflexions autour de l’article 4 du Règlement Bruxelles I” in Justice et droits fondamentaux. Etudes offertes à Jacques Normand, Paris, Litec, 2003, (366), 380; F. Pocar, “Access to Justice and European Rules on Jurisdiction” in J. Forner Delaygua e.a. (cords.), Entre Bruselas y La Haya. Estudios sobre la unificación internacional y regional del Derecho internacional privado. Liber Amicorum Alegria Borrás, Madrid, Marcial Pons, 2013, (743), 744–747; P. Schlosser, “Unzulässige Diskriminierung nach Bestehen oder Fehlen eines EG-Wohnsitzes im europäischem Zivilprozessrecht” in S. Lorenz e.a. (eds.), Festschrift für Andreas Heldrich zum 70. Geburtstag, Munich, Verlag C.H. Beck, 2005, (1007), 1008–1011. Johan Meeusen 142 right to rely on the national jurisdiction rules to “any person domiciled in a Member State”. Equally important is that, due to the Regulation’s sweeping recognition and enforcement rules which, apart from some exceptions, consider the parties’ domiciles or even the application of the correct jurisdiction rules by the original court irrelevant, a Member State judgment against third-State defendants that is based on that Member State’s residual rules, whatever their content, will circulate freely within the Union and enjoy the benefit of the Member States’ obligations of mutual trust and mutual recognition. While recourse to exorbitant jurisdiction typically results in other States’ refusal to recognize the judgment that is eventually obtained on that basis, Art. 6(2) Brussels Ibis Regulation explicitly follows the opposite path84. Although the wisdom of the distinguishing criterion – the defendant’s domicile – can be debated85, the real problem lies with the complete tolerance of the application to so-called extra-EU disputes of all kinds of Member State residual rules whatever their exorbitant, protective or even purely discriminatory character, as explicitly confirmed by Art. 6(2) of the Brussels Ibis regulation86. In spite of that reference to the Member States’ residual jurisdiction rules, the EU is undoubtedly involved here as well. Firstly, there is the internal ratio of the Brussels I regime. Brussels I has been set up as a double system, as it holds both jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement rules and the system essentially rests on their interaction. Yet, this double system is unbalanced, or even incomplete, as the judgments which the Member State courts render on the basis of their non-unified, residual jurisdiction rules enjoy the benefit of the regime’s liberal recognition and enforcement rules as well. Secondly, and most importantly from a legal perspective, the EU cannot be shielded from its own legal responsibilities vis-à-vis defendants domiciled in third States. In its famous “Lugano Opinion”, the CJEU, taking into account the adoption by the EU of the Brussels 84 P. Kinsch, “Droits de l’homme, droits fondamentaux et droit international privé”, Rec. Cours, 2005, vol.318, (9), 78. 85 E. Pataut, “Qu’est-ce qu’un litige ‘intracommunautaire’? Réflexions autour de l’article 4 du Règlement Bruxelles I”, l.c., 380–382. 86 The continued application of Art. 14 of the French Code civil illustrates this problem well and has often been criticized (see e.g. J.J. Fawcett, M.N. Shúilleabháin and S. Shah, Human Rights and Private International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016, 467; L. Usunier, “La compatibilité de l’article 14 du Code civil avec les droits fondamentaux, une question dépourvue de caractère sérieux? A propos de l’arrêt Cass. civ. 1er, 29 février 2012”, 101 Rev. crit., 2012, (775), 784– 788). The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 143 I Regulation with its particular scope and content, confirmed that the conclusion of the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters fell entirely within the sphere of exclusive competence of the (then) European Community, both regarding its rules on jurisdiction and those on recognition and enforcement87. As regards (current) Art. 6 Brussels Ibis Regulation, the Court considered that “given the uniform and coherent nature of the system of rules on conflict of jurisdiction” established by Brussels I, this provision “must be interpreted as meaning that it forms part of the system implemented by that regulation, since it resolves the situation envisaged by reference to the legislation of the Member State before whose court the matter is brought”88. In other words, the application of the residual Member State rules must be considered the result of a particular kind of delegation by the EU, as a part of its uniform system, to the Member States of the determination of jurisdiction in these cases, and therefore still affects the responsibility of the EU itself89. In 2010, the European Commission had already proposed a new approach, consisting of a combination of worldwide coverage and differentiated jurisdiction rules90. Nevertheless, the Commission’s ideas on this precise issue were rejected in the further legislative process and eventually did not make it into the new Brussels Ibis Regulation. As the Commission, according to Art. 79 of the Brussel Ibis Regulation, must present by 11 January 2022 a report on the application of the Brussels Ibis Regulation, including an evaluation of the possible need for a further extension of its jurisdiction rules to defendants not domiciled in a Member State, this issue will inevitably become the subject of negotiations again. This indeed 87 CJEU, 7 February 2006, Opinion 1/03, Competence of the Community to conclude the new Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, paragraphs 134–173. 88 CJEU, 7 February 2006, Opinion 1/03, Competence of the Community to conclude the new Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, paragraph 148. 89 P. Franzina, “L’universalisation partielle du régime européen de la compétence en matière civile et commerciale dans le règlement Bruxelles Ibis: une mise en perspective”, l.c., 60–61; F. Pocar, “Access to Justice and European Rules on Jurisdiction”, l.c., 745. P. Kinsch (“Droits de l’homme, droits fondamentaux et droit international privé”, l.c., 80–81) expresses more reservations in this regard. 90 European Commission, Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Recast), COM(2010) 748 final, 3 and 8 (Explanatory memorandum). Johan Meeusen 144 seems, of all outstanding issues, the most prominent and urgent one that, in view of the necessary coherence of Brussels I and also of the many difficult political issues involved, would deserve priority. As to the possible introduction of a unified recognition and enforcement regime for third State judgments, the outcome of the ongoing Hague Judgments Convention process – as a process to establish a global regime – is obviously of the highest importance91. Reconsideration of the scope limitation through the elimination of reference to the defendant’s domicile for the determination of the applicability of the unified jurisdictional rules would be a logical, even necessary next step in the double process of the Europeanization and constitutionalization of Brussels I, and hence of private international law in the EU. Even more, this process would actually come full circle as a possible future Brussels Iter Regulation along the lines just mentioned could actually seek inspiration in the more recent sources of EU private international law which, mutatis mutandis, lack the scope limitations that still characterize the Brussels Ibis Regulation. In that sense, not only the “standard”92 set by the full Europeanization of the jurisdiction rules in the more recent regulations93, but also the unified choice-of-law rules in the EU regulations which typically have a universal character94 can specifically be referred to and could in their turn constitute a valuable source of inspiration for the possible amendment of the current Brussels Ibis Regulation. 91 The Hague Judgments Convention has eventually been adopted, after the conclusion of this contribution, on 2 July 2019. See for more details:https://www.hcch.n et/en/instruments/conventions/full-text/?cid=137. 92 T. Domej, “Das Verhältnis nach ‘aussen’. Europäische v. Drittstaatensachverhalte” in J. von Hein and G. Rühl (eds.), Kohärenz im Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrecht der Europäischen Union, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2016, (90), 93. 93 See the replacement of the Member State jurisdiction rules by unified European rules which characterizes the Maintenance Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) n°4/2009 of 18 December 2008 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations), as well as the Successions, Matrimonial Property and Partnership Property Regulations. 94 See in particular Art. 2 Rome I Regulation, Art. 3 Rome II Regulation, Art. 4 Rome III Regulation, Art. 20 Successions Regulation, Art. 20 Matrimonial Property Regulation and Art. 20 Partnership Property Regulation. The Contribution of ‘Brussels I’ to the Process of EU Integration 145 The Application of the European Law of Civil Procedure in the Dialogue Between the CJEU and the National Judges Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe* Table of Contents Introduction1. 148 The Preliminary Ruling Procedure as an Instrument of Cooperation between the CJEU and the National Judges 2. 149 Examples from the Jurisprudence of the CJEU Regarding the Further Development of the European Law of Civil Procedure 3. 150 Granarolo, C-196/15, 14 July 20163.1. 151 Austro-Mechana, C-572/14, 21 April 20163.2. 152 Hanse Yachts AG, C-29/16, 4 May 20173.3. 153 Nogueira and Others, C-168/16 and C-169/16, 14 September 20173.4. 155 Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan, C-194/16, 17 October 20173.5. 157 Concurrence SARL, C-618/15, 21 December 20163.6. 159 Conclusion4. 160 Ladies and Gentlemen, First of all, let me thank you for the opportunity to speak at this conference. In the next thirty minutes I will try to give you a brief overview of the current application of the European law of civil procedure in the dialogue between the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court of Justice) and the national judges. Due to the size and complexity of the subject, my speech does not imply any claim to be exhaustive. Nevertheless, several Court decisions already illustrate the current development of European law of civil procedure. * Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union. 147 Introduction The starting point of the European law of civil procedure was the “Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters”, whose 50th anniversary we are celebrating today. Based on this so-called Brussels Convention, the European legislator adopted the Brussels I Regulations, namely Regulation No 44/2001 and the recast version of this Regulation, Regulation No 1215/2012 that applies to legal proceedings introduced after January 10th 2015. The Brussels I Regulation became and still represents the core of the European law of civil procedure.1 That is why I will focus on the application of these Regulations in the dialogue between the Court of Justice and the national judges. To be clear, today the European law of civil procedure comprises much more than the international civil procedure law as it results from the Brussels I Regulations.2 The laws of civil procedure of the Member States are, for example, more and more influenced and changed by European Directives such as Directive 2013/11/EU on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes3 or Directive 2014/104/EU4 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union. Furthermore, autonomous types of proceedings have been created such as the European order for payment procedure5. I would also like to mention the growing influence of the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice on national civil procedure law via the application of the non-discrimination rule6 and Article 47 of the Charter. 1. 1 See also Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht, 2010, § 1 I., point 2. 2 Stadler, JZ 2017, p. 693, 694 f., see also regarding the notion of “European law of civil procedure“, Berger, Organisation und Verfahren der ordentlichen Gerichtsbarkeit im Lichte der Rechtsprechung des Gerichtshofs der Europäischen Union, 2013, p. XLV. 3 Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Directive on consumer ADR). 4 Directive 2014/104/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union. 5 Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 creating a European order for payment procedure. 6 See for example, judgment of 26 September 1996, Data Delecta and Forsberg (C‑43/95, EU:C:1996:357); judgment of 10 February 1994, Mund & Fester Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe 148 Before we take a closer look at the decisions of the Court of Justice regarding the Brussels I Regulations, I think it is also necessary to bring to mind how the dialogue between the Court of Justice and the national judges is actually taking place, as it is imposed by EU constitutional procedures. The Preliminary Ruling Procedure as an Instrument of Cooperation between the CJEU and the National Judges It is the preliminary ruling procedure according to Article 267 TFEU that enables the national judges to collaborate with the Court of Justice to ensure a uniform interpretation and application of EU law in the Member States. The preliminary ruling procedure establishes a direct cooperation between the Court of Justice and the national jurisdictions via a non-contentious procedure that has the character of a step in the action pending before the national court7. The importance of the preliminary ruling procedure is already shown by the statistics. In 2017, for example, over 70 % of the new cases brought before the Court of Justice were requests for a preliminary ruling.8 Furthermore, inter alia, with regard to the further development of the European law of civil procedure the dialogue between the Court of Justice and the national judges by the means of the preliminary ruling procedure has proved to be a significant key driver. For example, in 2017 the Court issued 12 judgments regarding the interpretation of the Brussels I Regulations. As you all know the functioning of the preliminary ruling procedure I don’t have to explain it any further. However, I would like to emphasize a few aspects that are important for the fruitfulness of this dialogue between courts and judges: We have to be aware that there is a clear partition of competences between the Court of Justice and the national jurisdictions in the context of the preliminary ruling procedure. The Court of Justice provides the 2. (C‑398/92, EU:C:1994:52); judgment of 1 July 1993, Hubbard (C‑20/92, EU:C:1993:280); see also Hess, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht, 2010, § 1 III., point 19. 7 Judgment of 6 December 2001, Clean Car Autoservice (C‑472/99, EU:C:2001:663, paragraph 24). 8 CJEU Annual Report 2017, Judicial Activity (https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/ docs/application/pdf/2018-04/_ra_2017_en.pdf), p. 102. The Application of the European Law of Civil Procedure 149 national judges with the elements of interpretation of the European law that are needed to solve the litigations that are brought before them on a national level.9 The task of the Court of Justice is to give the national judges a clear and useful answer to their question10, which in the end, they have to use in their independent decisions. This requires that the Court of Justice understands the facts of the case, as they are explained by the national judges, and the questions asked. In this context, I would also like to emphasize that in my opinion it is very useful for us members of the Court to receive feedback from academics in conferences like the one today as to whether we understand the questions raised and whether we give clear and useful answers. As, in my opinion, the Brussels I Regulations are among the texts with the highest quality and practical relevance in the EU, the answers given by the Court of Justice have to be particularly clear and have to provide legal certainty as well, because otherwise a uniform interpretation of EU law is not possible and the aims of the Regulations cannot be met. Examples from the Jurisprudence of the CJEU Regarding the Further Development of the European Law of Civil Procedure The cases that I will present to you now illustrate very well how the Court of Justice and the national judges collaborate in the domain of the Brussels I Regulation and how the European law of civil procedure is evolving through this collaboration. I have picked a small number of recent preliminary rulings with respect to important fields of the Brussels I Regulation as whether an action is contractual or tortious in nature, how situations of lis pendens are to be solved and which courts are competent regarding actions of employees against their employer and actions because of infringements committed on the internet. 3. 9 Judgment of 5 July 2016, Ognyanov (C‑614/14, EU:C:2016:514, paragraph 16); judgment of 9 June 2016, Nutrivet (C‑69/15, EU:C:2016:425, paragraph 58). 10 Judgment of 14 March 2013, Aziz (C‑415/11, EU:C:2013:164, paragraph 39); judgment of 19 June 2012, The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (C‑307/10, EU:C:2012:361, paragraph 31). Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe 150 Granarolo, C-196/15, 14 July 2016 I would like to start with a judgment rendered by the Court in July 2016, in the case of Granarolo11. The Court had to rule on the determination of the court with jurisdiction in relation to abrupt termination of a long-standing business relationship. Ambrosi, an undertaking established in France, distributed for approximately 25 years food products in France that were made by an Italian company named Granarolo. The distribution relationship was not the subject of a framework contract. Then suddenly Granarolo informed Ambrosi about its decision to terminate the distribution relationship. Thereupon Ambrosi brought an action for damages against Granarolo before the French courts. Granarolo contested the jurisdiction of the French courts, on the ground that the action in question was a matter relating to a contract. The Court of Justice was thus in particular12 asked whether that action was a matter relating to tort or delict or a matter relating to a contract, which was relevant for the determination of the competent court according to Article 5 of the Brussels I Regulation from 2001. As a first step the Court of Justice brought to mind some general rules regarding the interpretation of the Brussels I Regulation: The Court pointed out that the Brussels I Regulation pursues an objective of legal certainty which consists in strengthening the legal protection of persons established in the EU, by enabling the applicant to easily identify the court in which he may sue and by enabling the defendant to foresee before which court he may be sued.13 Therefore, the terms “matters relating to a contract” and “matters relating to tort, delict or quasi delict” within the meaning of Article 5 of the Brussels I Regulation must only be interpreted autonomously in order to ensure a uniform application in all Member States.14 As a second step, on the grounds of these general rules the Court of Justice interpreted Article 5 of the Brussels I Regulation and stated that an action for damages based on an abrupt termination of a long-standing business relationship is not a matter relating to tort or delict if a tacit con- 3.1. 11 Judgment of 14 July 2016, Granarolo (C‑196/15, EU:C:2016:559). 12 I will focus in this speech only on the first of the two questions asked by the referring court. 13 Judgment of 14 July 2016, Granarolo (C‑196/15, EU:C:2016:559, paragraph 16). 14 Judgment of 14 July 2016, Granarolo (C‑196/15, EU:C:2016:559, paragraph 19). The Application of the European Law of Civil Procedure 151 tractual relationship existed between the parties, which according to the Court is a matter for the national judge to ascertain.15 On this basis, in order to give a clear and useful answer to the referring court and to ensure legal certainty in all Member States, the Court of Justice determined the aspects that have to be considered in this examination. The demonstration of the existence of a tacit contractual relationship must be based on a “body of consistent evidence”, which may include for example the existence of a long-standing business relationship, the good faith between the parties and the regularity of the transactions.16 However, it is irrelevant how the action for damages in relation to the abrupt termination of a long-standing business relationship is classified under national law, because this qualification may differ from Member State to Member State.17 That means that in the present case it didn’t matter that the claim for damages was, under French law, tortious in nature, but the French courts had to examine the existence of a tacit contractual relationship. Austro-Mechana, C-572/14, 21 April 2016 Another preliminary ruling regarding the applicability of Article 5 of the Brussels I Regulation from 2001 was the judgment Austro-Mechana18, rendered by the Court of Justice in April 2016. The referring court asked the Court of Justice whether the obligation to pay fair compensation for private copying was a matter relating to tort delict or quasi-delict within the meaning of Article 5 (3) of the Regulation. The Court of Justice affirmed this by answering that a claim for payment of compensation that is owed by virtue of a national law that applies a system of fair compensation does indeed fall within the scope of this Article. 3.2. 15 Judgment of 14 July 2016, Granarolo (C‑196/15, EU:C:2016:559, paragraphs 25 and 28). 16 Judgment of 14 July 2016, Granarolo (C‑196/15, EU:C:2016:559, paragraph 26). 17 Judgment of 14 July 2016, Granarolo (C‑196/15, EU:C:2016:559, paragraphs 19 and 23). 18 Judgment of 21 April 2016, Austro-Mechana (C‑572/14, EU:C:2016:286). Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe 152 Hanse Yachts AG, C-29/16, 4 May 2017 Another important part of the Brussels I Regulation is the rules on how to tackle situations of lis pendens between two actions before the courts of different Member States. The Court of Justice has clarified these rules in the case of Hanse Yachts AG19 of May 2017. HanseYachts, a company established in Germany, sold a yacht to the French company, Port D’Hiver Yachting. The yacht was then resold to another French company named SMCA. Subsequently, HanseYachts and Port D’Hiver Yachting concluded a dealer contract which should replace all previous agreements between those parties and contained a clause conferring jurisdiction on German courts. As far as clauses conferring jurisdiction are concerned, Advocate General Wahl concluded in the Apple Sales International case recently that it is up to the national courts to determine the scope of such a clause20. A short time later, some damage appeared in one of the yacht’s engines and SMCA applied to the Commercial Court of Marseilles for proceedings for the preservation of evidence. Both Port D’Hiver Yachting and Hanse Yachts were parties to the proceedings. After the termination of these proceedings Hanse Yachts brought an action against Port D’Hiver Yachting and SMCA before the Regional Court of Stralsund in Germany seeking in a negative declaration that Port D’Hiver Yachting and SMCA were not in any way its creditors with respect to the yacht in question. Thereupon, SMCA for its part brought an action against Port D’Hiver Yachting and HanseYachts before the Commercial Court of Toulon seeking compensation. It is quite clear that there was a situation of lis pendens between the different cases pending before the court of Stralsund and before the court of Toulon. But the referring court of Stralsund asked the Court of Justice whether the action brought before the court of Toulon had already started with the proceedings for the taking of evidence brought before the court of Marseille with the result that according to Article 27 of the Brussels I Regulation from 2001 the court of Stralsund would have to stay its proceedings until such time as the jurisdiction of the court of Toulon is established. 3.3. 19 Judgment of 4 May 2017, HanseYachts (C‑29/16, EU:C:2017:343). 20 Opinion of Advocate General Wahl in Apple Sales International and Others (C‑595/17, EU:C:2018:541, paragraph 54). The Application of the European Law of Civil Procedure 153 In its judgment the Court of Justice pointed out first of all that it is solely for the referring Court to determine both the need for a preliminary ruling in order to enable it to deliver judgment as well as the relevance of the questions which it submits to the Court.21 So in order to stay within the dialogue the Court of Justice did not prejudge the issue whether the German Courts had international jurisdiction because of the choice of forum clause concluded between HanseYachts and Port D’Hiver Yachting. Furthermore, the Court of Justice stated that Articles 27 to 30 of the Brussels I Regulation from 2001 seek to reduce to the greatest extent possible concurrent proceedings before the courts of the various Member States, to avoid the delivery of irreconcilable decisions22 and to provide legal certainty23. The Court of Justice explained that the mechanism to resolve situations of lis pendens according to Articles 27 and 30 is objective and automatic and is based on a purely chronological order.24 Therefore, according to the Court, the date on which a procedure for a measure of inquiry prior to any legal proceedings was commenced is not relevant for the determination of the date on which a court called upon substantive application, which was brought in the same Member State following the result of that measure, was “deemed to be seised”.25 The Court based this interpretation on the analysis that in French law the proceedings for the taking of evidence are clearly independent in relation to the substantive proceedings, but also reminded the national judges to assess whether this analysis is correct as it does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice to interpret national law.26 As a result, the German court was deemed to be seised first. But let me add, as I did in my Opinion in the present case, that the procedural approach taken by HanseYachts does not constitute abuse. To be clear, “forum shopping” is not prohibited per se by the Brussels I Regulation from 2001.27 21 Judgment of 4 May 2017, HanseYachts (C‑29/16, EU:C:2017:343, paragraph 24). 22 Judgment of 4 May 2017, HanseYachts (C‑29/16, EU:C:2017:343, paragraph 25). 23 Judgment of 4 May 2017, HanseYachts (C‑29/16, EU:C:2017:343, paragraph 30). 24 Judgment of 4 May 2017, HanseYachts (C‑29/16, EU:C:2017:343, paragraph 28). 25 Judgment of 4 May 2017, HanseYachts (C‑29/16, EU:C:2017:343, paragraph 36). 26 Judgment of 4 May 2017, HanseYachts (C‑29/16, EU:C:2017:343, paragraphs 33, 34 and 35). 27 Opinion of Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe in HanseYachts (C‑29/16, EU:C:2017:44, paragraph 66). Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe 154 Nogueira and Others, C-168/16 and C-169/16, 14 September 2017 Another domain with a great practical relevance in the EU is the determination of the court with jurisdiction in matters relating to individual contracts of employment. The preliminary rulings of the Court of Justice have had a great impact on the evolution of this domain as, for example, the judgment of the Court in the case of Nogueira and Others28, rendered in September 2017. In this case the applicants in the main proceedings were all members of cabin crew of the flight company Ryanair. The applicants brought proceedings against their employer before Belgian courts, because they wanted to obtain various heads of compensation. The contracts of employment were all drafted in English and specified that the work relationship was subject to Irish law. It was furthermore stipulated that as the planes of Ryanair are registered in Ireland, the work of the employees was also regarded as being carried out in Ireland. But the contracts of employment also stipulated that Charleroi airport was the home base of those employees and that they had to reside within an one hour journey of the home base. Each of these employees started and ended their working day at this airport. It was clear that the applicants could have sued their employer before the courts of Ireland but the question was whether they were also able to sue in Belgium. Article 19 (2) of the Brussels I Regulation from 2001 allows an employee to sue his employer in the courts of the place where the employee habitually carries out his work. Therefore, the Court of Justice was asked by the referring Belgian court whether in the event of legal action by an airline crew the concept of “place where the employee habitually carries out his work” can be equated with that of “home base” within the meaning in Annex II to Regulation No 3922/91 on the harmonization of technical requirements and administrative procedures in the field of civil aviation.29 The Court pointed out that it is the objective of Article 19 of the Brussels I Regulation to protect the weaker party, namely the employee, by 3.4. 28 Judgment of 14 September 2017, Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C-169/16, EU:C:2017:688). 29 Judgment of 14 September 2017, Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C-169/16, EU:C:2017:688, paragraph 44). The Application of the European Law of Civil Procedure 155 allowing him to sue his employer before the courts that are closest to his interests.30 The Court of Justice also recalled its own settled case law according to which the place where the employee habitually carries out his work in the meaning of Article 19 of the Brussels I Regulation must be interpreted as referring to the place where, or from which, the employee performs the essential part of his duties.31 In order to determine in the present case the “place from which” members of an air crew principally perform their obligations, the national judges have to refer to a set of indicia, as the place from which the employee carries out his tasks, the place where he returns afterwards and where he receives instructions concerning his tasks.32 Although, according to the Court, the “place where, or from which the employee habitually performs his work” could not be equated with any concept referred to in another act of EU law, including the concept of “home base” in the Annex III to Regulation No 3922/91,33 the Court of Justice pointed out that the national judges are able to refer to the concept of “home base” as a significant indicium in determining the “place where the employee habitually carries out his work”.34 Again, the Court answered the questions asked by a national court with regard to the Brussels I Regulation from 2001 by a preliminary ruling interpreting EU law and by giving guidance with respect to procedural questions to be answered by the national court but without lifting the partition of competences. In the context of this case, it is also interesting to know that, in its initial version, the Brussels Convention did not include any specific provision relating to contracts of employment. The Court of Justice at that time nonetheless held that disputes arising out of a contract of employment were subject to that convention and came, more particularly, under Article 30 Judgment of 14 September 2017, Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C-169/16, EU:C:2017:688, paragraphs 49 and 50). 31 Judgment of 14 September 2017, Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C-169/16, EU:C:2017:688, paragraph 58). 32 Judgment of 14 September 2017, Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C-169/16, EU:C:2017:688, paragraphs 60, 61 and 63). 33 Judgment of 14 September 2017, Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C-169/16, EU:C:2017:688, paragraphs 65 and 66). 34 Judgment of 14 September 2017, Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C-169/16, EU:C:2017:688, paragraph 77). Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe 156 5(1) of the convention.35 Finally on the occasion of the San Sebastián Convention of 26 May 1989, Article 5(1) of the Brussels Convention was supplemented by a specific rule relating to contracts of employment that reflected the Court’s earlier case-law.36 That rule has virtually identical terms as the rule later on stated in Article 19 (2) of the Brussels I Regulation from 2001 and is now not only kept under Article 21 (2) of the “new” Brussels I Regulation from 2012 but also supplemented by the terms “from where” the employee habitually carries out his work, which reflects the Courts’ newer case-law that I have just illustrated. So here you can see very clearly how a preliminary ruling contributed to the development of civil procedure law and how the interpretation by the Court has even been codified in the end. Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan, C-194/16, 17 October 2017 The last domain we will have a look at is the domain of infringements committed on the internet. In October 2017 the Court of Justice, sitting as the Grand Chamber, delivered an important judgment in the case of Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan37. This judgment was rendered in the context of litigation between an Estonian company and an employee of that company on the one hand, and a Swedish company on the other hand, regarding the request of the Estonian parties for the rectification of allegedly incorrect information published on the website of the Swedish company, the deletion of related comments on a discussion forum on that website, and compensation for harm allegedly suffered.38 The problem was whether the Estonian courts had jurisdiction on the grounds that they were the courts of the place where, in the matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict, the harmful event occurred according to 3.5. 35 Opinion of Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe in Joined Cases Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C‑169/16, EU:C:2017:312, paragraph 62 with further references). 36 Opinion of Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe in Joined Cases Nogueira and Others (C-168/16 and C‑169/16, EU:C:2017:312, paragraph 67 with further references). 37 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766). 38 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 2). The Application of the European Law of Civil Procedure 157 Article 7(2) of the Brussels I Regulation from 2012. In fact, the information and comments at issue had been published in Swedish without a translation, on a Swedish website, but could nevertheless be retrieved in Estonia. As the wording of Article 7 (2) of the Brussels I Regulation from 2012 is identical to the wording of Article 5 (3) of the Brussels I Regulation from 2001, the Court of Justice clarified first of all that its former interpretation of the rule also applies with regard to the new Regulation from 2012.39 It was settled case-law that the term “place where the harmful event occurred or may occur” covers both the place where the damage occurred and the place of the event giving rise to it.40 As far as competition law is concerned, the Court recently clarified the latter in its FlyLAL case as being the place where the anticompetitive agreement was definitely concluded which is up to the national jurisdiction to determine.41 In order to determine whether the damage caused via Internet actually occurred in Estonia, the Court of Justice recalled its judgment in the case of eDate Advertising, delivered in 2011.42 The Court of Justice held in that case that in the event of an alleged infringement of personality rights by the means of content placed online on a website, the concerned person must have the possibility to bring an action for damages, in respect of all the harm caused in the Member State in which the centre of its interests is based.43 In fact, the infringement in the context of the internet is – as the Court explains – usually felt most keenly in the centre of the interests of the person and this is therefore also the place where the damage caused by online material occurs most significantly.44 Consequently the courts of the Member State in which the centre of interests of the person is situated are most 39 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 24). 40 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 29). 41 Judgment of 5 July 2018, flyLAL-Lithuanian Airlines (C‑27/17, EU:C:2018:533, paragraph 49). 42 Judgment of 25 October 2011, eDate Advertising and Others (C‑509/09 and C‑161/10, EU:C:2011:685). 43 Judgment of 25 October 2011, eDate Advertising and Others (C‑509/09 and C‑161/10, EU:C:2011:685, paragraph 52); judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 32). 44 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 33). Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe 158 suitable to assess the impacts of such content on the rights of that person.45 Furthermore, this criterion accords with the aim of predictability pursued by the Brussels I Regulation.46 Whereas the judgment eData Advertising was rendered only with respect to a natural person, the Court of Justice made it clear in the present judgment that the centre of interests is as well the criterion to determine the court with jurisdiction with respect to a legal person. The Court furthermore pointed out how the national judges have to identify the centre of interests. With regard to a legal person it is the place where it carries out the main part of its economic activities. The location of its registered office however is in itself not a conclusive criterion.47 Finally, the Court brought to mind that instead of an action for damages in respect of all the harm caused, the concerned person may also bring his action before the courts of each Member State in whose territory content placed online is or has been accessible. But the courts of these Member States then have jurisdiction only with respect of the harm caused in their territory.48 However, an application for the rectification of information and the removal of content placed online on a website can, because of the ubiquitous nature of that information and content, only be made before a court with jurisdiction to rule on the entirety of an application for compensation for damage.49 Concurrence SARL, C-618/15, 21 December 2016 In this context, I would also like to draw your attention to the preliminary ruling of the Court of Justice in the case of Concurrence50, rendered in December 2016. This case was about an infringement of the prohibition on resale outside a selective distribution network committed on the inter- 3.6. 45 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 34). 46 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 35). 47 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 41). 48 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 47). 49 Judgment of 17 October 2017, Bolagsupplysningen and Ilsjan (C‑194/16, EU:C:2017:766, paragraph 48). 50 Judgment of 21 December 2016, Concurrence (C‑618/15, EU:C:2016:976). The Application of the European Law of Civil Procedure 159 net. The Court of Justice stated that the fact that the websites, on which the offer of the products covered by the selective distribution right appear, operate in Member States other than that of the court seised is irrelevant, as long as the events which occurred in those Member States resulted in or may result in the alleged damage in the jurisdiction of the court seised, which it is for the national court to ascertain.51 Conclusion There are a lot more interesting preliminary rulings with respect to the interpretation of the Brussels I Regulation. For example, to mention a last one, the judgement of 5 October 2017 in the case of Hanssen Beleggingen52 where the Court decided that Article 22(4) of the Brussels I Regulation of 2001 must be interpreted as not applying to proceedings to determine whether a person was correctly registered as the proprietor of a trade mark. However, I hope I was already able to give you a small overview of the issues currently treated by the Court of Justice in the scope of the Brussels I Regulations. In my opinion, the European law of civil procedure has continued to develop in the past years especially due to the increasing number of preliminary ruling procedures before the Court of Justice. I am now looking forward to the panel discussion with Professor Hau, Professor Oberhammer and Professor Kramer. Thank you very much for your attention. 4. 51 Judgment of 21 December 2016, Concurrence (C‑618/15, EU:C:2016:976, paragraph 34). 52 Judgment of 5 October 2017, Hanssen Beleggingen (C‑341/16, EU:C:2017:738). Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe 160 The Dialogue on the European Law of Civil Procedure between the Court of Justice and National Courts from a German Perspective Wolfgang Hau* Table of Contents The Early Reception of the Brussels Convention in Germany1. 161 The Halting Dialogue between the Court of Justice and German Courts2. 165 The Dialogue and the Promotion of European Civil Procedure3. 172 The Early Reception of the Brussels Convention in Germany The Rome Treaty establishing the European Economic Community of 1957 required the then six Member States in its Article 220, inter alia, to simplify the formalities governing the reciprocal recognition and execution of judicial decisions. A little more than ten years later, in September 1968, the Brussels Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters,1 came into the world: a masterpiece of international law-making, distinguished by its clear language, sublime architecture and wise underlying principles. Soon after its entry into force in 1973, the Convention has been intensely discussed in German literature2 and has gained practical impor- 1. * Dr Wolfgang Hau is a professor of private law and German, international and comparative civil procedure, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, and a parttime judge at the Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court) Munich. 1 OJ 1972 L 299, p. 32; Bundesgesetzblatt 1972 II, 774. 2 For early general accounts of the Brussels Convention see Hans Arnold, Das EWG- Gerichtsstands- und Vollstreckungsübereinkommen vom 27.9.1968, AWD 1969, 89; Hellmuth Bauer, Das EWG-Gerichtsstandsübereinkommen, DB 1973, 2333; Reinhold Geimer, Eine neue internationale Zuständigkeitsordnung in Europa, NJW 1976, 441; Reinhold Geimer, Anerkennung gerichtlicher Entscheidungen nach dem EWG-Übereinkommen vom 27. September 1968, AWD/RIW 1976, 139; Wolfgang 161 tance before German courts.3 Since 1976, starting with the famous ruling in Tessili v Dunlop,4 it has been frequently applied by important decisions of the European Court of Justice. In Germany, from the very beginning, such rulings from Luxembourg have not only been noted by a few law professors riding their academic hobbyhorses, but have been published and analysed in major legal periodicals5 by practitioners and scholars alike. When reading some of the first published German cases dealing with the Brussels Convention, it is remarkable that they show no trace of reservation. It seems as if from the mid-seventies onwards the new instrument was applied as a matter of course without further ado and that parties and courts very soon adapted quite well to the new European rules. Obviously, it was a very wise move from the Member States to opt for a convention double, an approach that went beyond what was required by Article 220 of the EEC-Treaty: The convention included not only rules on recognition and enforcement but also on international jurisdiction, the latter being of greater importance in most cross-border cases. Much of the credit given to the Brussels Convention by German practitioners was surely owed to its very well drafted jurisdictional regime, in particular with regard to the requirements and effects of jurisdiction agreements. Furthermore, this receptiveness might also be due to the insight that the Convention in many respects complied with the German legal tradition. Since Grunsky, Probleme des EWG-Übereinkommens über die gerichtliche Zuständigkeit und die Vollstreckung gerichtlicher Entscheidungen in Zivil- und Handelssachen, JZ 1973, 641; Bernd von Hoffmann, Das EWG-Übereinkommen über die gerichtliche Zuständigkeit und die Vollstreckung gerichtlicher Entscheidungen in Zivil- und Handelssachen, AWD/RIW 1973, 57; Jörg Pirrung, Zum Gesetz zur Ausführung des EWG-Gerichtsstands- und Vollstreckungsübereinkommens vom 27. September 1968, DGVZ 73, 178; Manfred Wolf, Das Ausführungsgesetz zu dem EWG-Gerichtsstands- und Vollstreckungsübereinkommen, NJW 1973, 397. Even authors from the then German Democratic Republic took notice, cf. Horst Fincke, Zum westeuropäischen Übereinkommen über Entscheidungen in Zivil- und Handelssachen, DDR-Außenwirtschaft 33/1974, Beilage RiA 8. 3 As far as can be seen, the first published German decision mentioning the Brussels Convention was given by the Bayerisches Oberstes Landesgericht (Highest Regional Court of Bavaria) on 21 December 1973 – Breg 1 Z 99/73, NJW 1974, 421, and the first relevant decision of the Bundesgerichtshof (German Federal Court of Justice) was rendered on 24 September 1975 – VIII ZR 23/74, NJW 1975, 2143. 4 Judgment of 6 October 1976 − Case 12–76 (Industrie Tessili Italiana Como v Dunlop AG), ECLI:EU:C:1976:133. 5 See the annotations by Reinhold Geimer, NJW 1977, 492, and Hartmut Linke, RIW 1977, 40. Wolfgang Hau 162 procedural law in Germany is mainly determined by statutory law, not by case law, for German lawyers the handling of a convention or regulation is not very different from working with the Zivilprozessordnung (Code of Civil Procedure). With regard to content, the Convention is widely compatible with traditional German thinking, as well. For example, both underline the importance of the defendant’s domicile as the fundamental rule of international jurisdiction, leave very little room for judicial discretion, and adhere to the first-in-time principle when it comes to parallel proceedings. Furthermore, it was appreciated that the Convention, as proved by the Protocol annexed to it, left some margin for separate national approaches where for once a conventional solution was regarded as irreconcilable with features of national law (or simply as too progressive).6 For instance, with respect to third party proceedings, Article V of the Protocol allowed Germany to retain its traditional instrument (Streitverkündung, cf. Sections 68 et seq. of the Code of Civil Procedure) instead of adopting the Roman concept of actions on a warranty or guarantee (Article 6 (2) Brussels Convention). It seems remarkable that in Germany the early development of European legislation and case law in the field of cross-border litigation ran parallel to the establishment of the law of international civil procedure as a fully-fledged academic discipline. Formerly this field of law has been rather ambiguously positioned between the law of domestic civil procedure on the one hand and the rules of conflict of laws on the other. At the time of the adoption of the Convention, the German law of international civil procedure was being increasingly understood as emancipated.7 In this context, the Brussels Convention was welcomed not only as an object of practical interest but also as an expression of this spirit of academic optimism. Law professors and outstanding practitioners wrote ground-breaking articles and books in the field.8 In due course, the first “Kommentare” 6 Protocol of 27 September 1968 annexed to the Convention. 7 One indication of this emancipation was the publication of pioneering monographs, such as Andreas Heldrich’s “Internationale Zuständigkeit und anwendbares Recht” in 1969, and Jochen Schröder’s “Internationale Zuständigkeit − Entwurf eines Systems von Zuständigkeitsinteressen im Zwischenstaatlichen Privatverfahrensrecht aufgrund rechtshistorischer, rechtsvergleichender und rechtspolitischer Betrachtungen” in 1971. For a recent discussion of the development of the law of international civil procedure see Peter Mankowski, Über den Standort des Internationalen Zivilprozessrechts, RabelsZ 82 (2018) 576. 8 The decision of the Max-Planck-Institut für Ausländisches und Internationales Privatrecht in Hamburg to edit a “Handbuch des internationalen Zivilverfahrensrechts” The Dialogue on the European Law of Civil Procedure 163 on the Brussels Convention have been published9, i.e. volumes providing lengthy article-by-article annotations with plenty of footnotes and cross-references, a very typical genre of German legal literature, and the favoured reading of German judges and lawyers. The availability of such working tools has, in turn, greatly facilitated the reception of the Convention in practice. Yet, the pioneering years should not be misunderstood as an attempt to nationalise the Brussels Convention, to press it into the trusted patterns of German doctrine and working-routine or to distract attention away from its truly international nature. Quite the contrary, not only have the official Report by Paul Jenard10 and its early sequel by Peter Schlosser11 been intensely analysed in Germany, but also the contributions of foreign authors, such as Georges Droz,12 Hélène Gaudemet-Tallon,13 Pierre Gothot and was of particular importance in this respect. The first volume was published in 1982 and already included two comprehensive sections dealing with the Brussels Convention, authored by Jürgen Basedow (general matters) and Jan Kropholler (international jurisdiction). 9 See Reinhold Geimer & Rolf A. Schütze, Internationale Urteilsanerkennung, Band I, Halbband 1: Das EWG-Übereinkommen über die gerichtliche Zuständigkeit und die Vollstreckung gerichtlicher Entscheidungen in Zivil- und Handelssachen, 1983 (meanwhile: Reinhold Geimer & Rolf A. Schütze, Europäisches Zivilverfahrensrecht, 4th edition, forthcoming); Jan Kropholler, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht, 1983 (meanwhile: Jan Kropholler & Jan von Hein, Europäisches Zivilprozessrecht, 10th edition, forthcoming). Even before such special treatments were available, the Brussels Convention was treated in some of the general commentaries on the German code of civil procedure (such as Wieczorek/Schütze, Zivilprozessordnung, 2nd edition 1980, and Zöller, Zivilprozessordnung, 13th edition 1981). Its text was already published in Stein/Jonas, Kommentar zur Zivilprozessordnung, 19th edition 1969 (Anhang A.III zu § 328 ZPO). 10 Paul Jenard, Report on the Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Signed at Brussels, 27 September 1968), OJ 1979 C 59, p. 1. 11 Peter Schlosser, Report on the Convention of 9 October 1978 on the Association of the Kingdom of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters and to the Protocol on its interpretation by the Court of Justice, OJ 1979 C 59, p. 71. 12 Georges Droz, Compétence judiciaire et effets des jugements dans le Marché Commun (Étude de la convention de Bruxelles du 27 septembre 1968), Paris 1972; Georges Droz, Pratique de la Convention de Bruxelles du 27 septembre 1968: le nouveau régime de la compétence judiciaire et des effets des jugements dans l'Europe des six, Paris 1973. 13 Hélène Gaudemet-Tallon, Les Conventions de Bruxelles et de Lugano: Compétence internationale, reconnaissance et exécution des jugements en Europe, Paris 1993. Wolfgang Hau 164 Dominique Holleaux,14 Fausto Pocar15 and Peter Kaye.16 Some of their works have repeatedly been cited by the Federal Court of Justice and even by the lower courts. Last but not least, it seems noteworthy that even the German legislator took inspiration from the Brussels Convention: The reform of 1974 on the requirements of jurisdiction agreements was expressly modelled on Article 17 of the Convention.17 The Halting Dialogue between the Court of Justice and German Courts Against the backdrop of the friendly reception, as sketched so far, it is not surprising that German courts asked for preliminary rulings on many occasions when the interpretation of the Brussels Convention seemed doubtful. During the first five years of rulings by the Court of Justice on the Convention, i.e. between 1976 and 1980, twelve out of a total of twenty references came from German courts – eight from the Federal Court of Justice18 and four from various Courts of Appeal.19 Indeed, when trying to 2. 14 Pierre Gothot & Dominique Holleaux, La Convention de Bruxelles: compétence judiciaire et effets des jugements dans la CEE, Paris 1985. 15 Fausto Pocar, Codice delle convenzioni sulla giurisdizione e l’esecuzione delle sentenze straniere nella C.E.E. con la giurisprudenza sulla Convenzione di Bruxelles del 1968 e sulle convenzioni bilaterali concluse dall’Italia, Milan 1980; Fausto Pocar, La convenzione di Bruxelles sulla giurisdizione e l’esecuzione delle sentenze, Milan 1995. 16 Peter Kaye, Civil Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: The application in England and Wales of the Brussels Convention of 1968 on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters under the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982, Abingdon 1987. 17 Cf. Bundestags-Drucksache (parliamentary documents) 7/1384, p. 4. 18 Judgment of 14 December 1976 − Case 24–76 (Estasis Salotti di Colzani Aimo e Gianmario Colzani s.n.c. v Rüwa Polstereimaschinen GmbH), ECLI:EU:C:1976:177; Judgment of 14 December 1976 − Case 25–76 (Galeries Segoura SPRL v Société Rahim Bonakdarian), ECLI:EU:C:1976:178; Judgment of 14 July 1977 − Joined cases 9–77 and 10–77 (Bavaria Fluggesellschaft Schwabe & Co. KG and Germanair Bedarfsluftfahrt GmbH & Co. KG v Eurocontrol), ECLI:EU:C:1977:132; Judgment of 9 November 1978 − Case 23/78 (Nikolaus Meeth v Glacetal), ECLI:EU:C:1978:198; Judgment of 22 February 1979 − Case 133/78 (Henri Gourdain v Franz Nadler), ECLI:EU:C:1979:49; Judgment of 27 March 1979 − Case 143/78 (Jacques de Cavel v Louise de Cavel), ECLI:EU:C:1979:83; Judgment of 17 January 1980 − Case 56/79 (Siegfried Zelger v Sebastiano Salinitri), ECLI:EU:C:1980:15; Judgment of 6 March 1980 − Case 120/79 (Louise de Cavel v Jacques de Cavel), ECLI:EU:C:1980:70. The Dialogue on the European Law of Civil Procedure 165 understand the success story of the Brussels Convention, one can hardly overestimate the relevance of the fact that the Member States very soon realised that it would be wise to confer jurisdiction on the Court of Justice to interpret the Convention.20 By absolute numbers, Germany might still be the all-times European champion when it comes to referring questions to the Court of Justice, currently done under Article 267 TFEU. Nevertheless, one should not ignore the fact that things have changed since the early years of the Brussels Convention.21 Thirty years later, between 2006 and 2010, the Court of Justice has rendered 21 judgments. These judgements gave guidance on the then new Brussels I Regulation of 200122 which replaced the Convention after the coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam23 and brought important alterations to the Brussels regime. It seems astonishing that only three of these cases came from Germany.24 This observation can only partly be explained by the unwise decision of the Amsterdam Treaty to 19 Judgment of 6 October 1976 − Case 12–76 (Industrie Tessili Italiana Como v Dunlop AG), ECLI:EU:C:1976:133 (submitted by the Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main); Judgment of 14 October 1976 − Case 29–76 (LTU Lufttransportunternehmen GmbH & Co. KG v Eurocontrol), ECLI:EU:C:1976:137 (submitted by the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf); Judgment of 22 November 1978 – Case 33/78 (Somafer SA v Saar-Ferngas AG), ECLI:EU:C:1978:205 (submitted by the Oberlandesgericht Saarbrücken); Judgment of 21 May 1980 – Case 125/79 (Bernard Denilauler v SNC Couchet Frères), ECLI:EU:C:1980:130 (submitted by the Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main). 20 Protocol of 3 June 1971 on the interpretation by the Court of Justice of the Convention of 27 September 1968 on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. For early German discussions of the Protocol cf. Hans Arnold, Das Protokoll über die Auslegung des EWG-Gerichtsstands- und Vollstreckungsübereinkommens durch den Gerichtshof in Luxemburg, NJW 1972, 977, and Peter Schlosser, Neue Zuständigkeiten des Gerichtshofs der Europäischen Gemeinschaften, AWD/RIW 1975, 534. 21 In the following, such cases are left out of consideration in which, for whatever reason, the request did not lead to a judgment of the Court of Justice. 22 Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, OJ 2001 L 12, p. 1. 23 OJ 1997 C 340, p. 173. 24 Judgment of 13 December 2007 − Case C-463/06 (FBTO Schadeverzekeringen NV v Jack Odenbreit), ECLI:EU:C:2007:792 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 9 July 2009 – Case C-204/08 (Peter Rehder v Air Baltic Corporation), ECLI:EU:C:2009:439 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 25 February 2010 − Case C-381/08 (Car Trim GmbH v KeySafety Systems Srl.), ECLI:EU:C:2010:90 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof). Wolfgang Hau 166 allow only courts of last instance to ask the Court of Justice for preliminary rulings in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters.25 Although the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union has thankfully abolished this unreasonable restriction, it seems that the general trend is still towards less incoming communication from German courts. Between 2016 and 2018, the Court of Justice has rendered 37 judgments dealing in their operative parts with the Brussels I Regulation and/or the most recent Brussels I bis Regulation.26 Only five of these cases came from Germany.27 When this paper was completed in late 2018, similar findings emerged with regard to the other regulations in the field of judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters. In matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility, only three of the then 31 preliminary rulings regarding the Brussels II bis Regulation28 were initiated by German courts,29 the last one dating back to 2010. Moreover, the situation was not 25 Article 68 (1) EC Treaty (Amsterdam consolidated version), OJ 1997 C 340, p. 173. 26 Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, OJ 2012 L 351, p. 1. 27 Judgment of 4 May 2017 − Case C-29/16 (HanseYachts AG v Port D’Hiver Yachting SARL and Others), ECLI:EU:C:2017:343 (submitted by the Landgericht Stralsund); Judgment of 27 September 2017 − Joined Cases C-24/16 and C-25/16 (Nintendo Co. Ltd v BigBen Interactive GmbH and BigBen Interactive SA), ECLI:EU:C:2017:724 (submitted by the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf); Judgment of 5 October 2017 − Case C-341/16 (Hanssen Beleggingen BV v Tanja Prast-Knipping), ECLI:EU:C:2017:738 (submitted by the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf); Judgment of 7 March 2018 − Joined Cases C-274/16, C-447/16 and C-448/16 (flightright GmbH v Air Nostrum, Líneas Aéreas del Mediterráneo SA, Roland Becker v Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd and Mohamed Barkan and Others v Air Nostrum, Líneas Aéreas del Mediterráneo SA), ECLI:EU:C:2018:160 (submitted by the Amtsgericht Düsseldorf and the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 4 October 2018 − Case C-379/17 (Proceedings brought by Società Immobiliare Al Bosco Srl), ECLI:EU:C:2018:806 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof). 28 Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, OJ 2003 L 338, p. 1. 29 Judgment of 15 July 2010 − Case C-256/09 (Bianca Purrucker v Guillermo Vallés Pérez), ECLI:EU:C:2010:437 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 9 November 2010 − Case C-296/10 (Bianca Purrucker v Guillermo Vallés Pérez), ECLI:EU:C:2010:665 (submitted by the Amtsgericht Stuttgart); Judgment of 22 December 2010 − Case C-491/10 PPU (Joseba Andoni Aguirre Zarraga v Simone Pelz), ECLI:EU:C:2010:828 (submitted by the Oberlandesgericht Celle). The Dialogue on the European Law of Civil Procedure 167 much different with regard to the Maintenance Regulation30 (one out of six31), the European Enforcement Order Regulation32 (one out of seven33), the Service Regulation34 (one out of eight35) and the Evidence Regulation36 (none out of three). At least the German figures with regard to the Insolvency Regulations37 were significantly better (seven out of 2438). The obviously increasing reluctance is remarkable in several respects. Germany is a Member State of more than 82 million citizens and by far the 30 Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 of 18 December 2008 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations, OJ 2009 L 7, p. 1. 31 Judgment of 18 December 2014 − Joined Cases C-400/13 and C-408/13 (Sophia Marie Nicole Sanders v David Verhaegen and Barbara Huber v Manfred Huber), ECLI:EU:C:2014:2461 (submitted by the Amtsgericht Düsseldorf and the Amtsgericht Karlsruhe). 32 Regulation (EC) No 805/2004 of 21 April 2004 creating a European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims, OJ 2004 L 143, p. 15. 33 Judgment of 15 March 2012 − Case C-292/10 (G v Cornelius de Visser), ECLI:EU:C:2012:142 (submitted by the Landgericht Regensburg). 34 Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 of 13 November 2007 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (service of documents), OJ 2007 L 324, p. 79. 35 Judgment of 11 June 2015 − Case C-226/13 (Stefan Fahnenbrock and Others v Hellenische Republik), ECLI:EU:C:2015:383 (submitted by the Landgericht Wiesbaden). 36 Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 of 28 May 2001 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters, OJ 2001 L 174, p. 1. 37 Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000 on insolvency proceedings, OJ 2000 L 160, p. 1; Regulation (EU) 2015/848 of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings, OJ 2015 L 141, p. 19. 38 Judgment of 17 January 2006 − Case C-1/04 (Susanne Staubitz-Schreiber), ECLI:EU:C:2006:39 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 12 February 2009 − Case C-339/07 (Christopher Seagon v Deko Marty Belgium NV), ECLI:EU:C:2009:83 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 16 January 2014 − Case C-328/12 (Ralph Schmid v Lilly Hertel), ECLI:EU:C:2014:6 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 4 December 2014 − Case C‑295/13 (H v H.K.), ECLI:EU:C:2014:2410 (submitted by the Landgericht Darmstadt); Judgment of 16 April 2015 − Case C-557/13 (Hermann Lutz v Elke Bäuerle), ECLI:EU:C:2015:227 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 10 December 2015 − Case C-594/14 (Simona Kornhaas v Thomas Dithmar als Insolvenzverwalter über das Vermögen der Kornhaas Montage und Dienstleistung Ltd), ECLI:EU:C:2015:806 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof); Judgment of 26 October 2016 – Case C-195/15 (SCI Senior Home v Gemeinde Wedemark and Hannoversche Volksbank eG), ECLI:EU:C:2016:804 (submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof). Wolfgang Hau 168 biggest economy within the European Union. When talking to German judges, one does not get the impression that they play coy when it comes to considering a reference for a preliminary ruling. On the contrary, they are well aware of this instrument and, of course, where applicable, of their obligation under Article 267 (3) TFEU to bring a matter before the Court of Justice. Furthermore, European Civil Procedure really matters in German legal practice. In 2018, in almost 11,000 civil or commercial lawsuits before German regional courts (Landgerichte) at least one of the parties was domiciled in another Member State of the European Union.39 In September 2018, a research in the most common German legal data base (juris) revealed 230 decisions by the Federal Court of Justice and 360 decisions of higher regional courts applying the Brussels I and/or the Brussels I bis Regulation. Such data oddly contrasts with the low number of recent requests for preliminary rulings. Of course, one could ask whether this development is disturbing at all. Does it not simply indicate that the national courts get along very well? Is it not much the same as grown-up children who have left home and now are living their own lives, rarely call and finally even stop sending their laundry home? Why should the parents care instead of enjoying their quiet house, convinced that their children would stop by and ask for advice when they face something bothering? Unfortunately, this analogy does not work: the preliminary ruling procedure is not merely an emergency line that national judges can call when a case has already gone in the wrong direction. Rather, it is a key instrument to ensure that EU law is interpreted and applied in the same way in all EU Member State.40 39 Statistisches Bundesamt (Federal Statistical Office), Zivilgerichte – Fachserie 10 Reihe 2.1 2018 (published 2019), p. 60: In 1.8 % of the 304,000 cases the plaintiff and in 1.8 % of the cases the defendant is resident in another EU Member State (not stated is the presumably rather low number of cases in which both parties come from another EU Member State). 40 There is a broad discussion in Germany on the relevance of the preliminary ruling procedure in the field of European civil justice. Cf. Jürgen Basedow, Der Europäische Gerichtshof und das Privatrecht − Über Unsicherheiten, Allgemeine Grundsätze und die europäische Justizarchitektur, AcP 210 (2010), 157; Thomas von Danwitz, Die Aufgabe des Gerichtshofs bei der Entfaltung des europäischen Zivil- und Zivilverfahrensrechts, ZEuP 2010, 463; Beate Gsell & Wolfgang Hau, Zivilgerichtsbarkeit und Europäisches Justizsystem, 2012; Burkhard Hess, Der europäische Gerichtsverbund, 2017; Andreas Piekenbrock, Vorlagen an den EuGH nach Art. 267 AEUV im Privatrecht, EuR 2011, 317; Hannes Rösler, Das Rechtsgespräch zwischen dem EuGH und den verschiedenen zivilgerichtlichen Instanzen über das Vertrags- und Deliktsrecht, EuZW 2014, 606. For Austrian perspectives The Dialogue on the European Law of Civil Procedure 169 In fact, there are two different problematic constellations. On the one hand, when reading rulings from Luxembourg or opinions of the Advocates General, one sometimes wonders why so many cases with very particular facts and of very limited general interest reach the Court of Justice. What seems more troublesome is that, on the other hand, every expert can tell stories about cases in which a reference would have been highly advisable to give the Court of Justice an opportunity to clarify an important point of European wide interest, but this chance was missed for whatever reason.41 It is not suggested that national courts prefer to insist entirely on their own perspective, thereby intentionally leaving the Court of Justice out. In the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters, there is no indication of an inappropriately selective perception of the case law from Luxembourg.42 A much more likely explanation is that judges are sometimes tempted to resort over-optimistically to the doctrine of acte clair (or acte éclairé, respectively). A rather extreme example is the long-standing but hardly sustainable position of the Federal Court of Justice as regards the admissible grounds for refusal of recognition under Article 45 of the Brussels I Regulation,43 which was only overcome when eventually the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden gave the Court of Justice an opportunity to correct the German approach.44 Occasionally, judges simply assume that it is in the best interest of the parties to get a prompt decision on the merits, see Selena Clavora/Thomas Garber, Das Vorabentscheidungsverfahren in der Zivilgerichtsbarkeit, 2014. 41 Cf. Hannes Rösler, Das Rechtsgespräch zwischen dem EuGH und den verschiedenen zivilgerichtlichen Instanzen über das Vertrags- und Deliktsrecht, EuZW 2014, 606, 610: “dunkle Masse der Nichtvorlagen“ (“dark mass of missed references“). 42 For a much more pessimistic view (although without paying special attention to matters of judicial cooperation), see Fabian Michl, Zur selektiven Rezeption europäischer Rechtsprechung, EuR 2018, 456. 43 Cf., for example, Bundesgerichtshof, order of 14 March 2007 − IX ZB 174/04, NJW 2007, 3432. On this, see Burkhard Hess, Die Unzulässigkeit materiellrechtlicher Einwendungen im Beschwerdeverfahren nach Art. 43 ff. EuGVVO, IPRax 2008, 25, rightly criticising that the Federal Court was in breach of its duty to refer the question to the Court of Justice. 44 Judgment of 13 October 2011 − Case C-139/10 (Prism Investments BV v Jaap Anne van der Meer), ECLI:EU:C:2011:653. This, in turn, did not only lead to adjusted decisions of the German courts (see Bundesgerichtshof, order of 12 July 2012 − IX ZB 267/11, NJW 2012, 2663) but also triggered a reform of the German act implementing the Brussels I Regulation (Bundesgesetzblatt 2013 I, 273; cf. Bundestags- Drucksache 17/10492, p. 12). Wolfgang Hau 170 accepting that a mere procedural issue may not be settled right down to the last detail of European law. Hand in hand with this problematic position might go an over-pessimistic estimation of the duration and effort of preliminary ruling proceedings. One may, however, not completely rule out that there are also quality considerations involved. It seems obvious that German courts have considered some rulings from the Court of Justice, irrespectively of whether or not they sympathised with the result in substance, as less helpful than hoped for, in particular when not matters of principle but rather technical procedural problems were concerned. This might be illustrated by the irritation that followed after the ruling on the practically important question whether a set-off requires the judge to have international jurisdiction over the defendant’s claim: in the Danværn Production v Schuhfabriken Otterbeck case, the Court of Justice underlined the obvious (i.e. that a set-off is not a counterclaim in the strict sense of Article 6 (3) Brussels Convention, now Article 8 (3) Brussels I bis Regulation), but did not get to the heart of the problem and eventually pointed to the applicability of the national law.45 In a subsequent case, the Federal Court made no secret of its difficulties understanding what the Court of Justice actually meant, but avoided another reference.46 To give a more recent example: with all due respect, it seems rather questionable whether the long-awaited answer of the Court of Justice in the Società Immobiliare Al Bosco case,47 dealing with the applicability of time limits for enforcement in the lex fori executionis, sufficiently reflects the complexity of the problem (and further implications for cases of cross-border enforcement) which was judiciously discussed both in the foregoing reference of the Federal Court of Justice48 and the opinion of the Advocate General.49 Maybe more often than not, the Court of Justice, when finally asked, only confirms what has already been practised for years without going through the bother of initiating a preliminary ruling procedure. And in cases in which the Court of Justice gets to a conclusion that departs from 45 Judgment of 13 July 1995 − Case C-341/93 (Danværn Production A/S v Schuhfabriken Otterbeck GmbH & Co.), ECLI:EU:C:1995:239. 46 Bundesgerichtshof, judgment of 7 November 2001 − VIII ZR 263/00, NJW 2002, 2182. 47 Judgment of 4 October 2018 − Case C-379/17 (Proceedings brought by Società Immobiliare Al Bosco Srl), ECLI:EU:C:2018:806. 48 Bundesgerichtshof, order of 11 May September 2017 − V ZB 175/15, RIW 2017, 305. 49 Opinion of Advocate General Spunar of 20 June 2018, ECLI:EU:C:2018:472. The Dialogue on the European Law of Civil Procedure 171 national case law, it does not necessarily mean that the new position serves the principle of mutual recognition of judgments better than the earlier practice. To give just one example: under the Polish rules of civil procedure, it was assumed that judicial documents addressed to a defendant domiciled abroad could simply be placed in the case file and deemed to have been effectively served, if the defendant has failed to appoint a Polish representative who is authorised to accept service. On a number of occasions, the German Federal Court held that a Polish decision has to be recognised and enforced even when the Polish court had applied this rule.50 This liberal approach only ended when the Court of Justice, in the Alder v Orlowski case, clarified in 2012 that the Polish rule was not in line with the standards of European law.51 In other words, there was more mutual trust before than after the intervention by the Court of Justice. By the same token, mutual trust is not the only principle at stake, and it is clear that there is also more protection of defendant’s rights since than before this intervention. The Dialogue and the Promotion of European Civil Procedure The preliminary ruling procedure is not only a dialogue between the Court of Justice and a single national court, but it is a public and well-documented course of events, from the reference to the preliminary ruling to the final decision of the case. Interested practitioners and academics throughout the European Union observe this process, irrespectively of where the original case comes from. Of course, rulings by the Court of Justice are important because (more precisely: as far as) they clarify certain legal issues. However, at the same time, they draw a lot of attention to European instruments, thereby giving national courts an opportunity to reconsider their own practice and making lawyers start thinking about whether such instruments could be useful tools that serve the needs of their clients. In other words, preliminary rulings are extremely helpful in promoting the standards and instruments of European Civil Procedure, the backbone 3. 50 Cf., for example, Bundesgerichtshof, order of 14 June 2012 − IX ZB 183/09, NJW- RR 2012, 1013. 51 Judgment of 19 December 2012 − Case C‑325/11 (Krystyna Alder and Ewald Alder v Sabina Orlowska and Czeslaw Orlowski), ECLI:EU:C:2012:824. Referring to that and thus refusing the recognition of a Polish decision: Bundesgerichtshof, order of 10 September 2015 − IX ZB 39/13, NJW 2010, 160. Wolfgang Hau 172 of judicial cooperation in the area of freedom, security and justice. This is why it seems crucial to get more decisions dealing with the many open questions for example as regards the Regulation establishing a European Small Claims Procedure52 or the more recent Regulation establishing a European Account Preservation Order Procedure.53 More guidance from Luxembourg could enhance the general awareness for these instruments just as early landmark-decisions such as Tessili,54 De Bloos,55 Eurocontrol56 or Mines Potasse d’Alsace57 once helped promoting the Brussels Convention in the seventies of the last century. It seems obvious that there are still more than enough cases brought before the Member States’ courts raising open questions of European-wide interest that are well worth being referred to Luxembourg. But this requires national judges who give the Court of Justice the opportunity to accomplish its important mission. 52 Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure, OJ 2007 L 199, p. 1; amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 of 16 December 2015, OJ 2015 L 341, p. 1. 53 Regulation (EU) No 655/2014 of 15 May 2014 establishing a European Account Preservation Order procedure to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters, OJ 2014 L 189, p. 59. 54 Judgment of 6 October 1976 − Case 12–76 (Industrie Tessili Italiana Como v Dunlop AG), ECLI:EU:C:1976:133. 55 Judgment of 6 October 1976 − Case 14–76 (A. De Bloos, SPRL v Société en commandite par actions Bouyer), ECLI:EU:C:1976:134. 56 Judgment of 14 October 1976 − Case 29–76 (LTU Lufttransportunternehmen GmbH & Co. KG v Eurocontrol), ECLI:EU:C:1976:137. 57 Judgment of 30 November 1976 − Case 21–76 (Handelskwekerij G. J. Bier BV v Mines de potasse d'Alsace SA), ECLI:EU:C:1976:166. The Dialogue on the European Law of Civil Procedure 173 European Civil Procedure and the Dialogue between National Courts and the European Court of Justice Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars* Table of Contents Introduction1. 176 The Complex Harmonization of Civil Procedure in Europe2. 177 Europeanization of Civil Procedure: Goals and State of Affairs2.1. 178 The European Civil Justice Patchwork: Legislative Disparities and the Role of the Courts 2.2. 180 National Courts and CJEU in Dialogue3. 182 Cooperation at the Centre of the EU Legal System3.1. 182 Europeanization of National Judicial Practice3.2. 183 Variable Use of the Reference Procedure in the Civil Justice Area3.3. 186 National Civil Judges as European Judges3.4. 188 (Re)formulating the Questions3.5. 190 Applying CJEU Judgments in National Cases3.6. 191 Resistance to CJEU Authority3.7. 193 Improving the Dialogue4. 194 Measures at the National Level4.1. 195 Measures at the EU level4.2. 198 Concluding Remarks and Outlook5. 199 * Xandra Kramer is Professor of Private Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Professor of Private International Law, Utrecht University (The Netherlands). Jos Hoevenaars is Postdoc Researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam. This research has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 726032), ERC consolidator project ‘Building EU Civil Justice: challenges of procedural innovations – bridging access to justice’; see . 175 Introduction Celebrating the 50th anniversary of what has become known as the ‘Brussels Regime’ – starting with the 1968 Brussels Convention, currently the Brussels I-bis Regulation1 – it is no overstatement to say that civil justice in Europe has changed fundamentally. While civil procedures, rules, and judicial systems continue to be dominantly national and are firmly rooted in their respective national traditions, EU legislation increasingly Europeanizes our legal systems. The Brussels I-bis and its predecessors not only mark the starting point of the gradual Europeanization; it is still the most used and considered to be the most successful instrument to facilitate cross-border litigation in Europe. This is also clear from the preliminary rulings of the Court of Justice; the vast majority of rulings in the area of judicial cooperation in civil matters are on the application of the Brussels I-bis Regulation and its predecessors. While the core of civil procedure in the Member States is still regulated by national law, the growing number of European instruments on civil justice has resulted in the gradual harmonization of civil procedure. Through a process known as ‘functional spill over’2 in one academic discipline or ‘competence creep’3 in another, the EU increasingly encroached on national civil laws by pointing to the necessity of completion of the internal market, the elimination of distorted competition, the removal of obstacles to cross-border trade, the strengthening of consumer protection, and more recently, the establishment of a genuine area of justice. The dialogue between national courts and the CJEU plays an unmistakable role in this dynamic. At present some twenty civil justice instruments are in place relying on different legislative bases, having different scopes of application and relying on different approaches. While many of the instruments are directly binding regulation and are self-standing regimes, the rules operate within the national context and rely on a proper implementation and application. 1. 1 Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters [2012] OJ L289. 2 In International Relations literature, see L. N. Lindberg, ‘The Political Dynamics of European Economic Integration’ in M. Eilstrup-Sangiovanni (ed), Debates on European Integration: A Reader (Palgrave Macmillan 2005) 123. 3 In legal analysis, see S. Vogenauer and S. Weatherill, ‘The European Community’s Competence for a Comprehensive Harmonisation of Contract law-An Empirical Analysis’ (2005) 30 European Law Review 821. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 176 Considering the legislative diversity at both the European and national level and the diverging legal practices in the Member States, the uniform application of the European rules is challenging. At the grass-roots level the application of rules of European civil procedure lies with the national courts. The role of the European Court of Justice as the European upper judge in the interpretation and harmonization of European civil procedure cannot be underestimated. At the same time, the preliminary reference procedure institutionalizes the dialogue between the national courts and the European Court of Justice.4 This paper focuses on the dialogue between the European Court of Justice (CJEU) and the national courts in the application and development of European civil procedure. It questions the role of the preliminary reference procedure in the discourse with the national courts. It will consider to what extent the reference procedure may fill the European legislative deficit and bridge the divergences of national civil justice systems and practice, and how the dialogue between the CJEU and the national courts can be improved. First, the paper discusses the legislative disparities in the area of European civil procedure and the impact on court practice. Next, it zooms in on the dialogue between the national courts and the CJEU and on measures to improve the dialogue. Finally, the discussion is placed into the broader challenges for European civil procedure. The Complex Harmonization of Civil Procedure in Europe The harmonization of civil procedure has traditionally been regarded as one of the most intricate issues considering the great variety in procedural laws and the embeddedness into and intertwinement with local legal culture, institutions, and traditions. At the global level, the conventions on private international law and judicial cooperation of the Hague Conference on Private International Law are the most significant. At the European level, substantial progress has been made since the introduction of the competence on judicial cooperation in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) two decades ago. European civil procedure is one of the most vital areas of European law.5 This section focuses on the 2. 4 See Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union [2012] OJ C326/47 (TFEU), art. 267. 5 See inter alia X. E. Kramer, ‘Strengthening Civil Justice Cooperation: The Quest for Model Rules and Common Minimum Standards of Civil Procedure in Europe’ in M. A. Rodrigues and H. Zaneti Jr. (eds), Coleção Grandes Temas do Novo CPC – European Civil Procedure 177 development of European civil procedure. It serves to illustrate how the patchy legislative approach creates challenges for legal practice, increasing the need for a true dialogue between the national courts and the European Court of Justice. Europeanization of Civil Procedure: Goals and State of Affairs The gradual harmonization of civil procedure in Europe should be viewed in the broader context of Europeanization of laws and of civil law more in particular. National legal systems have become progressively Europeanized with a view to further the various goals of the European Union, including securing peace, freedom, security and justice, and economic sustainability.6 However, the EU’s encroachment on the realm of civil law has been an issue of great sensitivity and debate, since civil law remains, as such, squarely within the domain of national competence. In the past twenty years the extended competence in the area of civil justice has spurred harmonization tremendously. However, the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,7 the limitations imposed by the relevant treaty rules as well as the compromises resulting from the sometimes difficult tripartite negotiations between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council, have also resulted in a fragmented legislative framework.8 The EU legislation in the area of civil procedure aims to support judicial cooperation in civil matters between the Member States, as is clear from Article 81 TFEU. The overriding objective is to invigorate judicial coopera- 2.1. v.13 – Cooperação Internacional (Editora Juspodivm 2019) 593–598; B. Hess and X. E. Kramer (eds), From Common Rules to Best Practices in European Civil Procedure (Nomos/Hart Publishing 2017); B. Hess, M. Bergström and E. Storskrubb (eds), EU Civil Justice: Current Issues and Future Outlook (Hart Publishing 2016); X. E. Kramer, ‘Procedure Matters: Construction and Deconstructivism in European Civil Procedure’ (Inaugural Lecture, Erasmus Law Lectures 33, Eleven International Publishing 2013); Z. Vernadaki, ‘Civil Procedure Harmonization in the EU: Unravelling the Policy Considerations’ (2013) 9 Journal of Contemporary European Research 298– 312; M. Tulibacka, ‘Europeanisation of Civil Procedures: In Search of a Coherent Approach’ (2009) 46 Common Market Law Review 1527. 6 Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union [2012] OJ C326/13 (TEU), art. 3. 7 Art 5 TEU. 8 See for an overview and discussion X. E. Kramer, ‘Judicial Cooperation in Civil Matters’ in P. J. Kuijper and others (eds), The Law of the European Union (Kluwer Law International 2018) 721–740. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 178 tion, based on the principle of mutual trust, with the aim of enhancing access to justice for EU citizens.9 An important limitation imposed by this provision is that it only provides competence for rules addressing cases “having cross-border implications”. These are generally defined as cases in which at least one of the parties is domiciled or habitually resident in a Member State other than the Member State of the court or tribunal seized for the dispute.10 Several attempts of the European Commission to stretch the competence to instruments on civil justice cooperation that also apply to domestic cases were not acceptable for the Member States. On the basis of this competence, twenty regulations and a directive have been adopted over the past twenty years. Many of the regulations based on this provision concern traditional private international law issues, including international jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments, and the applicable law. The best known is the Brussels I-bis Regulation, while in more recent years another strand of instruments based on this provision are those introducing uniform procedures or harmonising specific aspects of civil procedure. These include the Regulations on a European Order for Payment Procedure, a Small Claims Procedure, and an Account Preservation Order11 as well as the Mediation Directive.12 Another pillar for harmonisation is Article 114 TFEU, which gives competence to enact sector-specific legislation that introduces harmonised rules for a specific substantive EU law area, including consumer law and competition law. In the civil justice area these notably include two instruments on Consumer ADR and Consumer ODR,13 and a non-binding Rec- 9 European Commission, ‘The EU Justice Agenda for 2020 – Strengthening Trust, Mobility and Growth within the Union’ COM (2014) 144 final, point 3; European Commission, ‘Proposal for a directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC’ COM (2018) 184 final. 10 See e.g. Council Regulation (EC) 1896/2006 of 12 December 2006 on creating a European Order for Payment Procedure [2006] OJ L399 (EOP), art. 3. 11 Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 of 16 December 2015 amending Regulation (EC) No. 861/2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure and Regulation (EC) No. 1896/2006 creating a European order for payment procedure [2015] OJ L341/1; Regulation (EU) 655/2014 of 15 May 2014 establishing a European Account Preservation Order to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters [2014] OJ L189/59 (EAPO). 12 Council Directive 2008/52/EC of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters [2008] OJ L136/3 (Mediation Directive). 13 Directive 2013/11/EU of 21 May 2013 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004 and Directive European Civil Procedure 179 ommendation on Collective Redress.14 A Commission proposal for representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers was put forward in 2018.15 In addition, a number of other sectorial instruments that primarily regulate substantive law issues, in particular intellectual property and competition law, also contain rules on civil procedure.16 Last but not least, the influence of primary EU law and human rights law on the development and interpretation of European civil justice is considerable. This includes notably the fair trial principle laid down in Art. 6 European Convention on Human Rights and Art. 47 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights.17 The European Civil Justice Patchwork: Legislative Disparities and the Role of the Courts The specifics of the EU supranational order, the limited competence of the EU legislator, and the reluctance of the Member States to harmonize civil procedure have resulted in a scattered legislative framework. While national legal orders generally rely on an encompassing view on the justice system, and civil procedural rules are designed to enforce rights in the 2.2. 2009/22/EC [2013] OJ L165/63 (Directive on consumer ADR); Regulation (EU) 524/2013 of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC [2013] OJ L165/1 (Regulation on consumer ODR). 14 Commission Recommendation 2013/396/EU of 11 June 2013 on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms in the Member States concerning violations of rights granted under Union Law [2013] OJ L201 (Recommendation on collective redress). 15 European Commission, ‘Proposal for a directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC’ COM (2018) 184 final. See also A. Biard and X. E. Kramer, ‘The EU directive on representative actions for consumers: a milestone or another missed opportunity?’ (2019) Zeitschrift für Europäisches Privatrecht 249–259. 16 See most notably Council Directive 2004/48/EC of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights [2004] OJ 2004 L195/16 ((IPR) Enforcement Directive); Directive 2014/104/EU of 26 November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union [2014] OJ L349/1 (Actions for Damages under Competition Law Directive). 17 C. Mak, ‘Rights and Remedies. Article 47 EUCFR and Effective Judicial Protection in European Private Law Matters’ in H.W. Micklitz (ed), Constitutionalization of European Private Law (Oxford University Press 2014) 236–258. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 180 domestic context, the European civil justice system is piecemeal legislation that is put into existence on a seemingly somewhat ad hoc basis, relying on political priorities and feasibility to reach an agreement on a proposed instrument at a given time. Resulting from the different heads of competence and the negotiating character of the legislative process, both legislative technique and scope differ greatly between the instruments. Many instruments are direct binding regulations, but some are directives – either relying on minimum or maximum harmonisation – that require national implementation, or are non-binding instruments. Some are horizontal instruments applying to civil and commercial matters with only few exceptions (including the Brussels I-bis Regulation), while others are sectorial instruments that apply to specific types of cases or subject-matters only (for instance the European Small Claims Regulation). Some instruments apply to both domestic and cross-border cases, while many others – those based on Article 81 TFEU – are limited to the latter. Most instruments are of a mandatory nature, however the uniform European procedures18 are optional for the claimant and thus co-exist with domestic civil procedures. In addition, owing to their special position in relation to judicial cooperation instruments under the Treaty, Denmark has a general opt out,19 while the United Kingdom and Ireland have opted in on many, but not all civil procedure instruments under Article 81. It goes without saying that the United Kingdom is no longer bound by any instrument following its departure from the EU after the transition period expires. This legislative patchwork can be characterised as unintended deconstructivism.20 Not only does European civil procedure add a layer to the national legal order and the international conventions on civil justice cooperation, its multi-regulation and multimethodology are a problem in itself.21 The incoherence of the European civil justice framework and the confrontation with the diverging domestic legal orders in the application of the rules increase the need for progressive and assertive courts. The prelim- 18 The European Order for Payment, the European Small Claims Procedure and the Account Preservation Order (n. 10, 11). 19 Denmark does take part in the Brussels I-bis Regulation and the Service Regulation pursuant to a parallel agreement. 20 X. E. Kramer, Procedure Matters: Construction and Deconstructivism in European Civil Procedure (Eleven International Publishing 2013) 23–26. 21 A staff member of the CJEU who participated in the conference from which this paper results commented that the huge number of diverging instruments makes their work difficult. European Civil Procedure 181 inary reference procedure is crucial not only for a harmonized interpretation and application; it also gives body to underlying principles and goals of judicial cooperation, ties the European instruments together, and connects the national legal orders. National Courts and CJEU in Dialogue This section zooms in on the dialogue between the national courts and the CJEU through the preliminary reference procedure against the background of the development of European civil procedure. Cooperation at the Centre of the EU Legal System A common way to judge the state of European harmonization in the legal realm is to look at the cooperation between national courts and the CJEU through the use of Article 267 TFEU. The preliminary ruling procedure gives every national court the power – and even imposes an obligation on some courts – to refer preliminary questions concerning the interpretation of European law and the validity of the acts of EU institutions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Historically Art. 267 has proven itself to be the most successful provision in the European Treaties. In the words of the institution itself, the preliminary ruling procedure is the ‘keystone’ of the EU judicial system,22 as it guarantees the uniformity of EU law and it is crucial to its development. Moreover, the preliminary procedure contributes to the legal protection of individual citizens within the EU by ensuring a uniform application of EU rules in the different Member States. Since many major concepts of European law as well as many ground breaking judgments have followed from a request for a preliminary ruling by a national court, a vast corpus of academic literature in the political sciences has designated the CJEU as the motor of European integration and the preliminary reference procedure as the fuel.23 Founding doctrinal prin- 3. 3.1. 22 See, for instance, Opinion 2/13 of 18 December 2014 on Accession of the European Union to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [2014] ECLI:EU:C:2014:2454, para 176. 23 For a comprehensive literature review see L. Conant, ‘Review Article: The Politics of Legal Integration’ (2007) 45 Journal of Common Market Studies 45. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 182 ciples such as the primacy and direct effect of EU law, as well as the principle of mutual trust, among others, found their expression in preliminary rulings. Beyond its role in the development of such fundamental doctrinal principles, the preliminary reference procedure provides national judges with a tool in fulfilling their task of applying EU law in national cases and functions to ensure uniform interpretation and validity of EU law across all Member States. Today the procedure is the most frequently used channel of access to the Court in Luxembourg. The preliminary reference procedure takes the somewhat unusual form of a dialogue between courts. As the CJEU itself reaffirms on a regular basis in its judgments, a ‘spirit of cooperation’ between national judges and the CJEU characterizes the procedure. Apart from the collaborative connotations of a dialogue this cooperation is reinforced by a mutual dependence. National courts that refer a case to the CJEU are dependent on the Court’s response in settling the domestic dispute. In turn, without the procedure, the CJEU cannot fulfil its role as the highest European court with final jurisdiction over the interpretation of EU law. This is why national courts and the CJEU have a shared interest and responsibility in making this dialogue a successful one. The Court itself likes to stress the success of the procedure, as well as the spirit of cooperation between the CJEU and national courts. However, viewed from both a macro standpoint – the diversity in its use among different Member States – and the micro perspective – the day-to-day practice of referrals – the procedure does not function without its drawbacks and challenges.24 Europeanization of National Judicial Practice The developing area of European civil procedure raises important and unique questions as many instruments have only been established in recent years. Apart from the Brussels Convention and a number of Hague Conventions focusing on cooperation in international cases, twenty years ago civil procedure was an exclusively national matter. Civil procedure rules have always been closely interwoven with legal culture, state organization and judicial infrastructure. The present multi-layered nature of civil justice and the national divergences creates unique challenges for national 3.2. 24 See R. van Gestel and J. de Poorter, In the Court We Trust: Cooperation, Coordination and Collaboration between the ECJ and Supreme Administrative Courts (Cambridge University Press 2019). European Civil Procedure 183 judges. Not only are they responsible for ensuring the enforcement of national law and the correct application of European civil procedure rules, they are also faced with the sometimes complex interaction between the domestic legal order and the European rules.25 In some Member States, the legislator ensured that the European rules are embedded into the domestic legal order through the Code of Civil Procedure (e.g., in Germany). In other Member States, implementation acts are put into place which at least consider how the European civil procedure rules interact with domestic procedures (e.g., in the Netherlands). In a number of Member States hardly any implementation rules are enacted, disconnecting the European rules and procedures from the domestic legal order and making the application more difficult (e.g., in Belgium). National judges are tasked with finding their way through the collection of rules in judging civil disputes. With ever-progressing internationalization of commercial activity and personal mobility, maintaining coherence and unity in judging is an increasingly daunting task. The highest civil law courts have traditionally had the responsibility for monitoring the uniformity of law and legal certainty in their Member States. Now this monitoring has to be fulfilled against the backdrop of a growing body of European civil procedural rules that are not always sufficiently clear or are not aligned with national rules and procedures. These challenges increase the number of cases in which uncertainty arises about the interpretation or application of these rules. This is reflected by the number of preliminary references cases that reach the CJEU each year regarding civil matters, as shown in Figure 1. 25 See for a some of the European uniform procedure, based on an EU wide evaluation, X. E. Kramer, ‘Specific Instruments’ in B. Hess and P. Ortolani (eds), Impediments of National Procedural Law to the Free Movement of Judgments (Luxembourg Report on European Procedural Law: Volume I, Beck/Hart/Nomos 2019) 213, 214, 216, 220, 229. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 184   Figure 1: Total number of references for a preliminary ruling (judgments only) in ‘civil matters’ Source: EUR-Lex (selection ‘Judicial Cooperation in Civil Matters’, per year) Although the numbers fluctuate per year it is clear that there has been a steady increase in references for a preliminary ruling in this area over the past ten years. This can also be explained by the increase in the number of instruments on civil justice, as discussed in Section 2 above. They make up approximately 7 % of all references to the CJEU, and though the percentage fluctuates per year it seems to largely keep pace with the total growth of the caseload.26 Looking at the preliminarily rulings on content, it is no surprise that most cases are on the Brussels I-bis Regulation and its predecessors, the Regulation being the oldest instrument in this area, and key in cross-border litigation.27 A substantial number of the other rulings con- 26 The total number of judgments in this period on civil justice cooperation was 203, with 8 judgments in 2010, 14 in 2011, 14 in 2012, 19 in 2013, 16 in 2014, 26 in 2015, 24 in 2016 and 2017, 27 in 2018 and 31 in 2019. In this period, the number of times the topic of civil justice was included in all questions to the CJEU amounted to 7 %, ranging between 3 % and 9 %, with fluctuations per year and no obvious increase over the years. 27 This is also an indication that it still raises questions despite its improvement and clarification in the different versions over the past fifty years. European Civil Procedure 185 cern in particular the Insolvency Regulation and the Brussels II-bis Regulation, the latter being the key instrument in the area of family law. Variable Use of the Reference Procedure in the Civil Justice Area A stark difference in the number of references coming from the Member States signals the variance in use of the option for referral by national judges operating in different national contexts. Figure 2 shows the differences between Member States in number of references in the area of area of judicial cooperation in civil matters. Apart from Poland being in the top 5 in this area, these numbers are in line with those in other fields of EU law.28 3.3. 28 From these numbers, one might be tempted to draw conclusions as to the importance the Member State national courts attach to questions of private international law. Most ‘top scorers’ in the area of judicial cooperation in civil matters in the reference period – Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy and France – do not differ significantly from those that refer most references for a preliminary ruling in general. However, unlike in other areas of EU law, Poland one of the ‘top scorers’ in the area of judicial cooperation in civil matters in the reference period. The opposite applies to Belgium and the UK, that refer most references for a preliminary ruling in general, but not in the area of judicial cooperation in civil matters. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 186   Figure 2: References for a preliminary ruling (judgments only) regarding ‘judicial cooperation in civil matters’ per Member State over the period 2010–2019 Source: EUR-Lex (selection ‘Judicial Cooperation in Civil Matters’, per year and per Member State) Over the past decades, attempts have been made to understand these disparities between Member States in terms of aggregate national trends. Econometric approaches to the conundrum of the variable use of Art. 267 have attempted to correlate references with indicators such as public support for integration, the presence of a monist or dualist legal tradition, judicial review, population size, and intra-EU trade activity.29 These analyses have been somewhat unsatisfactory in their ability to tie these variations to distinguishable macro factors. However, they do point to the different features of the legal and judicial systems of Member States as well as specific characteristics of the national legal culture that may create obstacles to the effective fulfilment of expectations stemming from EU law. In an attempt to get more grip on the practical inner workings of the procedure, research focus has recently shifted from the question why 29 See Conant (n. 23). European Civil Procedure 187 national judges refer towards focusing more on what keeps judges from sending cases to the CJEU. Bottom-up approaches have inquired into what moves a national judge to refer a case and, more importantly, what considerations play a role in refraining from using the reference procedure.30 That research has revealed a number of factors that make the use of the procedure less than straightforward. National Civil Judges as European Judges Nominally, national courts serve as the ‘guardians of EU law’ based on Article 19(1) TEU, which stipulates that ‘Member States shall provide remedies sufficient to ensure effective legal protection in the fields covered by Union law’.31 In practice, national judges are tasked with applying relevant EU rules in cases brought before their courts. In order for judges to effectively fulfil this task, EU law provides them with various tools in applying EU law in national cases. These include inter alia the fundamental principles of EU law such as primacy, direct effect, indirect effect, and effet utile as well as their ability to use the preliminary ruling procedure when they are in doubt about the application or interpretation of EU law in a particular case. In the civil justice area, the principle of mutual trust and the need for legal certainty have been dominant in providing guidance, along with specific aims set out in the recitals of the different regulations. The need for a uniform and equal application led the CJEU to adopt a predominantly autonomous interpretation of legal terms, meaning interpretation in line with the objectives and general schemes of the regulation.32 In practice, being an effective European judge has proven to require a considerable dose of willingness and engagement on the part of national 3.4. 30 A. Dyevre and others, ‘Who refers most? Institutional incentives and judicial participation in the preliminary ruling system’ (2019) Journal of European Public Policy; U. Jaremba and J.A. Mayoral, ‘The Europeanization of national judiciaries: definitions, indicators and mechanisms’ (2019) Journal of European Public Policy 386; J. Krommendijk, ‘The highest Dutch courts and the preliminary ruling procedure: critically obedient interlocutors of the Court of Justice’ (2019) European Law Journal 394; T. Nowak and others, National judges as European Union judges: Knowledge, experiences and attitudes of lower court judges in Germany and the Netherlands (Eleven Publishers 2011). 31 See TEU, art. 19(1). 32 Case 29/76 LTU v. Eurocontrol [1976] ECR 1541. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 188 judges.33 Despite the fact that the national judge has been given a powerful role in the process of European rights enforcement, research among national judges suggests that a proper and uniform use of these new tools in practice is challenging. Empirical studies among national judges suggest that national judges lack adequate knowledge of EU law, are not familiar with the specific methods of legal interpretation as practiced by the CJEU, lack the foreign language skills to study what goes on in other jurisdictions or they simply have no access to EU law sources.34 Consequently, the uniform fulfilment of the expectations stemming from EU law by national judges cannot be taken for granted. Sacha Prechal, the current judge from the Netherlands at the CJEU, concluded earlier in this respect that ‘These quality and capacity of the national courts to apply [EU] law and to do so correctly is a matter for serious concern. [...] National judges, even the ‘younger’ generation, are rather still struggling with [EU] law than smoothly applying it.’35 When national judges run into the limits of their knowledge in applying EU law in national proceedings, the preliminary reference procedure can provide a valuable tool in resolving issues of interpretation. However, the limited number of cases that reach the CJEU on an annual basis, as well as the difference in the number of references per Member State, point to the fact that the use of Art. 267 is not self-evident. Empirical studies show that national judges’ decisions (not) to refer are based predominantly on pragmatic and practical considerations, such as the consequences of referring in terms of delays or the importance of the issue at stake. In fact, through extensive fieldwork in Italian (and in later work French and German) courts, Pavone has pointed to the fact that rather than being driven by a strategic quest for power, judges are constrained very much by the demands of everyday labour, and as a result develop a ‘diffuse discipline’ that ‘everyday practice that resists encounters with “lesser” known courts and fields of law.’36 As a result, referring to the CJEU becomes something that is avoided rather than pursued. 33 See Nowak (n. 30). 34 Ibid. 35 S. Prechal, ‘National Courts in EU Judicial Structures’ (2006) 25 YEL 429, 432– 433. 36 T. Pavone, ‘Revisiting judicial empowerment in the European Union: Limits of empowerment, logics of resistance’ (2018) Journal of Law and Courts 303. European Civil Procedure 189 As was also commented by an English expert on European civil justice at the conference from which this paper results,37 in the past decade the number of references from English courts on the Brussels I-bis Regulation has decreased. This may have been triggered by English procedural law being outlawed by the CJEU on a number of occasions. Well-known and illustrative are the rulings in Turner,38 Owusu,39 and West Tankers.40 In the Turner case, the CJEU considered an English anti-suit injunction − prohibiting a party from litigating in a Spanish court in view of a pending procedure in England − as being contrary to the Brussels regime. While this was based on the principle of mutual trust that underpins civil justice cooperation – requiring full independence for the courts of the Member States to decide on their respective jurisdiction – the result was that a national procedural mechanism intended to prohibit abusive litigation was banned from the European civil justice area. This has been criticized both by English and other commentators, but in the West Tankers case this ruling was nevertheless confirmed and extended by the CJEU to vexatious litigation interfering with an arbitration clause between parties. An equally rigid approach was taken in the heavily debated Owusu case, in which the CJEU prohibited Member States to apply the forum non conveniens doctrine in any situation where the Brussels I Regulation affords jurisdiction. (Re)formulating the Questions A seminal part of the dialogue between national judges and the CJEU, and one that can be cause for some hesitation is the formulation of the preliminary questions themselves. The questions asked by national courts, and in particular their formulation, are an essential element in the interaction between the institutions, because they determine to a great extent the types of answers given by the CJEU. One important problem that occurs in the dialogue is the information asymmetry between the institutions. On the one hand, the national judge knows the details of the case and the national legal context, while on the other hand the CJEU has superior knowledge of the EU law context as 3.5. 37 Alexander Layton QC, ‘Future perspectives on the European law of civil procedure’ (Conference The 50th Anniversary of the European Law of Civil Procedure, Luxembourg, 28 September 2018). 38 C-159/02 Turner [2004] ECR I-03565. 39 C-281/02 Owusu [2005] ECR I-1445. 40 C-185/07 West Tankers [2009] ECR I-00663. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 190 well as the scope of the questions it can actually answer. This asymmetry can result in the CJEU choosing to reformulate the questions and, by doing so, either broadening or limiting the scope of the answers it provides. The examples under the Brussels Regulation are numerous. Voss has identified three different situations in which the Court chooses to reformulate questions.41 Firstly, the relatively uncontroversial situations where there is some type of ‘mistake’ in the formulation of the question. Secondly, reformulations also occur where the national court has apparently not understood EU law or the jurisdiction of the CJEU correctly. In these cases, the court has to adjust the questions to avoid declaring the question inadmissible. Thirdly, there are cases where the Court appears to want to avoid answering the question as it is posed by the national court, particularly where the question is politically sensitive. Additionally, Langer identifies situations where the Court does this because it is more practical to group certain questions together, or in order to make its response more suitable for application in all Member States.42 While such broader framing can make for a more effective dialogue in terms of uniform application of its judgments across the board, it can cause difficulties applying the ruling to the specific case. Applying CJEU Judgments in National Cases The framing of the matter at hand in preliminary references gives national courts a large hand in the issue to be decided upon, but it is also important for the remainder of the procedure before the national court. Even if the CJEU occasionally reformulates the questions asked, the Court will always be bound by the facts and the way in which these are presented by the national court, and it depends in large part on the representation of the relevant national law as provided by the national judge in its application. In its request for a preliminary ruling the national court is required to supply the history and legal context of the case in which the questions arise. Once the national court submits its request, it generally loses contact with the case as well as the Court of Justice itself. Unless the Court asks for clarification with respect to the questions or the relevant national legal 3.6. 41 Katharina Voss, ‘But That's Not What I Asked! The Reformulation of Questions Asked in Preliminary Rulings’ (2016) 18 Europarättslig tidskrift 939. 42 J. Langer, ‘The Preliminary Ruling Procedure: Old Problems or New Challenges?’ (Inaugural Lecture, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen 2016), last accessed 28 January 2020. European Civil Procedure 191 context at a later stage, the national judge has no further voice in the proceedings. In that sense, the procedure appears to be less of dialogue. This can result in some friction in both directions.43 For the CJEU, the absence of the national judge in the proceedings means that there is little opportunity to seek clarification once issues of interpretation arise during proceedings. Once proceedings have started, the CJEU is limited in its ability to request clarification to the parties present during the oral stage. On the other hand, for the national court this can mean that the resulting CJEU judgment may lack national specificity resulting in national courts having a hard time in actually applying the CJEU’s findings to the case at hand and more broadly in their national jurisdiction. While in general the CJEU judgements are loyally implemented, it can be argued that merely looking at implementation rates obscures the fact that national court judges are not always satisfied with all judgments.44 Though there are differences per Member State, also considering the style and length of judgments, it seems that the CJEU case law in the area of civil justice is frequently referenced and generally followed. For instance, in the Netherlands, it is common to refer to CJEU case law and in particular the case law on Brussels I-bis is widely referenced both by lower instance courts and the Supreme Court.45 43 J. Hoevenaars & J. Krommendijk, ‘Black box on the Kirchberg: the bewildering experience of national court judges and lawyers with the ECJ’ (forthcoming) European Law Review. 44 J. Krommendijk, ‘The highest Dutch courts and the preliminary ruling procedure: critically obedient interlocutors of the Court of Justice’ (2019) 25(4) European Law Journal 394–415. 45 See inter alia in these recent Dutch decisions: Supreme Court 21 December 2018, ECLI:NL:HR:2018:2361; Supreme Court 14 June 2019, ECLI:NL:HR:2019:925; Supreme Court 20 September 2019, ECLI:NL:HR:2019:1400; Supreme Court 22 February 2019, ECLI:NL:HR:2019:292; District Court Oost-Brabant 15 May 2019, ECLI:NL:RBOBR:2019:2869; Court of Appeal ’s-Hertogenbosch 23 July 2019, ECLI:NL:GHSHE:2019:2794; Court of Appeal The Hague 10 December 2019, ECLI:NL:GHDHA:2019:3316; District Court Overijssel 16 April 2019, ECLI:NL:RBOVE:2019:1605; District Court Oost-Brabant 29 November 2017, ECLI:NL:RBOBR:2017:6333. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 192 Resistance to CJEU Authority Despite general trends of increasing interaction between national courts and the EU legal system, as evidenced by an ever-rising number of references reaching the CJEU, a growing body of research demonstrates that national judges may also contest EU legal developments.46 Doctrinal analyses have demonstrated that historically many national courts did not accept the CJEU’s rulings on direct effect and supremacy and some constitutional courts have moved to justify EU law’s primacy according to their own terms in order to reaffirm national constitutional norms, as well as their own prominence.47 Such resistance to the acceptance of EU law can lead national judges to refrain from sending references and interpret EU law independently in order to shield domestic practices from unwelcome CJEU rulings. An accurate view of the prevalence of such practices is hard to establish since, in general, the overwhelming majority of all national court decisions on EU law are independent decisions that do not involve references to the CJEU. As such, references for preliminary rulings represent only a fraction of national court interpretation of EU law. A remarkably clear recent example of refusal to comply with a CJEU ruling is the Ajos48 case, in which the Danish Supreme Court decided to disregard a judgment from the CJEU, handed down as a result of a preliminary reference it had itself sent to Luxembourg. The case, over labour dispute, turned into a case in which the Danish court redefined the boundaries of the applicability of the CJEU’s rulings in Denmark. Rather than an orderly judicial dialogue resolving the matter and fostering legal certainty, the process gradually enhanced frictions and ended in disagreement and collision. Holdgaard et al. have concluded that, while the judgments of both the CJEU and the Danish Supreme Court were legally sound and understandable when read from each courts’ legal perspective, both courts failed in carrying out a judicial dialogue in the spirit of good faith. Instead, they 3.7. 46 See A. Torres Pérez, ‘Melloni in Three Acts: From Dialogue to Monologue’ (2014) 10 European Constitutional Law Review 2, 308; T. de la Mare and C. Donnelly, ‘Preliminary Rulings and EU Legal Integration: Evolution and Stasis’ in P. Craig and G. de Búrca (eds), The Evolution of EU Law (OUP 2011) 363, 390–391. 47 A. M. Slaughter, A. S. Sweet and J. Weiler (eds), The European Court and National Courts: Doctrine & Jurisprudence: Legal Change in its Social Context (Hart Publishing 1998). 48 C-15/2014 Dansk Industri (DI) acting for Ajos A/S vs. The estate left by A [2016] ECLI:EU:C:2015:776. European Civil Procedure 193 conclude, “the preliminary reference procedure was used in a way that gradually built up tensions and ended in a clear clash.”49 The clash was a result of tensions between the different legal cultures of, in this case, the EU and Denmark. While the preliminary reference procedures, and the interjudicial dialogue made possible by it, is ostensibly the key instrument for avoiding deadlocks and fostering fruitful cross-fertilization, Ajos reveals how the procedure does not function well without a clear commitment by courts on both levels to the spirit of collaboration in good faith. Also, in the area of civil justice cooperation there have been several instances where the boundaries of the rules were explored or challenged. These include the cases Turner, Owusu, and West Tankers referred by the English court, as discussed above.50 A German Court of Appeal explored and may have challenged the mutual trust principle underlying the abolition of exequatur under Brussels II-bis Regulation in Zarraga v. Pelz.51 In the Diageo case the Dutch Supreme Court challenged the limits of the public policy exception under the Brussels I Regulation.52 A striking example of resistance to the CJEU authority is offered by a Dutch lower court decision regarding flight compensation case under the European Small Claims Procedure.53 The sub-district court dismissed the Sturgeon ruling of the CJEU,54 granting compensation in the case of flight delays, stating that Regulation 261/2004 does not give such right to compensation and that the CJEU cannot change the law. Luckily, this clearly wrong judgment was not followed in later case law by the same court. Improving the Dialogue With a view to furthering the harmonization of European civil procedure, the dialogue between national judges and the CJEU plays an unmistakable role in the interpretation and uniform application of the rules, and developing underlying principles. With the increasing body of rules there is little doubt that the use of the reference procedure by national courts in this 4. 49 G. K. Holdgaard, D. Elkan and G. Krohn Schaldemose ‘From cooperation to collision: The ECJ’s Ajos ruling and the Danish Supreme Court’s refusal to comply’ (2018) 55 CMLR 17, 53. 50 Section 3.4. 51 C-491/10 PPU Zarraga v. Pelz [2010] ECR I-14247. 52 C-681/13 Diageo Brands BV v Simiramida-04 EOOD [2015] ECLI:EU:C:2015:471. 53 District Court ’s-Hertogenbosch 19 January 2012, ECLI:NL:RBSHE:2012:BV1931. 54 Joined cases C-402/07 and C-432/07 Sturgeon and others [2009] ECR I-10291. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 194 area will continue the upward trend that has been set in over the past decade. With that in mind, the proper functioning of the preliminary reference procedure is of paramount importance. The previous sections have identified a number of stumbling blocks that also indicate where possible measures for improvement may be appropriate. Measures at the National Level Effective dialogue depends to a significant degree on the cooperation of the national courts in activating the procedure and on national judges and parties to the proceedings in providing the CJEU with the necessary information to effectively judge on matters of European civil procedure. However, even assuming there is a general willingness among national judges to send references (as we have seen, an overoptimistic view), a lot hinges on the national judges’ awareness of relevant EU legislation and the necessary expertise to effectively use the instruments. There is thus a dire need for increased EU law awareness and expertise among judges as well as parties. Almost a decade ago, Nowak et al. already suggested, among other things, training courses for judges on increased awareness of areas in which EU law may become important in their daily work.55 The increase in the number of European private international law and civil procedure instruments and their practical relevance necessitates including these in EU law training as well.56 National judicial networks, additional training and the sharing of best practices are therefore important in further improving the expertise among national judges. Expertise is, however, not only needed from the referring courts, in drafting up sufficiently detailed orders for reference, but also plays an important role later on in the procedure. Langer discusses the information asymmetry and the need for the court to be informed about the national context that is specific to the Member State where a reference originated: “The Court regularly invites the parties to the national proceedings and the Member States to answer written questions in the run-up to a hearing. During the hearing, it also routinely asks them to give further details about specific 4.1. 55 Nowak (n. 30). 56 See for existing structures in several Member States X. E. Kramer, ‘A Common Discourse in European Private International Law? A View from the Court system’ in J. Von Hein, E.-M. Kieninger and G. Rühl (eds), How European is European Private International Law? Sources, Court Practice, Academic Discourse (Intersentia 2019) 226–230. European Civil Procedure 195 aspects of the case. What is striking is that these requests frequently concern the facts or the applicable national law.”57 The Court with some regularity feels the need to ask for additional information or considerations, which it cannot deduce from the national courts’ reference order itself. As a rule, there is no judge from the referring legal system on the court’s panel, as is the case in the ECtHR. Therefore, written questions, as well as the hearing, can serve to provide and clarify ‘pure facts or aspects of national law’.58 This places a responsibility on the parties and their representatives.59 Hoevenaars has warned about the resulting asymmetry in expertise and effective advocacy between Member State representatives and parties to the proceedings that may occur after referral, with Member State agents being able to frame matters of national law to their benefit.60 This information asymmetry has stirred the debate about whether or not to allow for a greater role for the referring judge during the proceedings.61 As of today that debate is still ongoing. Some degree of court specialization can contribute to better equipping national courts to deal with matters of European civil procedure and to effectively communicate with the CJEU. Within national courts this can be done by allocating court cases involving important private international law questions to judges with the required knowledge and experience, and/or involving court assistants with such expertise.62 Centralized expertise on (aspects of) European private international law and civil procedure could contribute to expanding the required knowledge and skills for referring the preliminary questions to the CJEU, thereby fostering a more effective and efficient dialogue as well as possibly curtailing some of the 57 Langer (n. 42). 58 D. Edward, ‘How the Court of Justice Works’ (1995) 20(1) European Law Review 545. See also D. Vaughan and M. Gray, ‘Litigating in Luxembourg’ (2007) 11 Jersey & Guernsey Law Review 1–14. 59 J. Hoevenaars & J. Krommendijk, ‘Black box on the Kirchberg: the bewildering experience of national court judges and lawyers with the ECJ’ (forthcoming) European Law Review. 60 J. Hoevenaars, ‘Advocaten in Europa: Vertegenwoordiging op het Hoogste Niveau?’ (2019) 40(3) Recht der Werkelijkheid 7. 61 M. Bobek, ‘Of Feasibility and Silent Elephants: The Legitimacy of the Court of Justice Through the Eyes of National Courts’ in Maurice Adams and others (eds), Judging Europe's Judges: The Legitimacy of Case Law of the European Court of Justice Examined (Hart 2013) 197–234. 62 X. E. Kramer (n 56); P. A. de Miguel Asensio, ‘National Court Systems and Uniform Application of European Private International Law’ in J. Von Hein, E.-M. Kieninger and G. Rühl (eds), How European is European Private International Law? Sources, Court Practice, Academic Discourse (Intersentia 2019) 243–245. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 196 existing resistance to cooperation with the CJEU. For instance, in the Netherlands the Eurinfra project was initiated in 2000, and courts have a coordinator for European Law that ensures access to EU law, publishes case law, and enables the exchange of information.63 A more far-reaching solution is to create special courts or units (chambers) within courts for matters involving European civil procedure and private international law.64 As regards uniform European procedures, the concentration of specific procedures in certain courts within a country can be useful. For instance, the handling of the European Order for Payment Procedure has been concentrated in one court in Austria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Malta, Sweden, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Hungary.65 Interesting in this regard is also the recent establishment of international commercial courts in Europe and beyond, including in France, the Netherlands, and Germany.66 Their establishment is also triggered by other aspects than the desire to bundle expertise, notably attracting high value cases to the jurisdiction.67 Their aim to provide effective dispute resolution for business parties may even be at odds with the time consuming referral of questions to the CJEU. Nevertheless, these specialized courts can play a role in singling out relevant issues of international litigation and increasing the quality of the application of European civil procedure. 63 M. Claes, M. de Visser and M. de Werd, ‘Operationalizing the European mandate of national courts: Insights from the Netherlands’ in B. de Witte et al (eds), National Courts and EU Law. New Issues, Theories and Methods (Edward Elgar 2016) 105–126. 64 X. E. Kramer (n 56) 226–233; P. A. De Miguel Asensio (n. 61) 239–243. 65 See X. E. Kramer, ‘Specific Instruments’ in B. Hess and P. Ortolani (eds), Impediments of National Procedural Law to the Free Movement of Judgments (Luxembourg Report on European Procedural Law: Volume I, Beck/Hart/Nomos 2019) 217. 66 See X. E. Kramer (n. 56), 230–233 in respect to European private international law. See for an extensive analysis of courts in different jurisdictions X. E. Kramer and J. Sorabji (eds), International Business Courts: A European and Global Perspective (Eleven International Publishing 2019); X. E. Kramer and J. Sorabji, ‘International Business Courts in Europe and Beyond: A Global Competition for Justice?’ (2019) 1 Erasmus Law Review 1–9. 67 See in particular J. Sorabji and X. E. Kramer, ‘Introduction – The International Business of Courts’ in X. E. Kramer and J. Sorabji (n. 65) 9–12. European Civil Procedure 197 Measures at the EU level While the national judicial infrastructure, training and information flow are essential, also at the EU level measures to improve the application of European civil procedure and the court dialogue is crucial. In recent years, efforts have been made to increase awareness and to provide information and training for practitioners. Access to information has been improved greatly through the e-Justice portal, which serves at the ‘electronic onestop-shop in the area of justice’.68 It is a rich source of information on EU and national legislation, procedures, and case law for practitioners, citizens, and businesses. While the information is not always up to date and the website is not in all respects easy to navigate, it is a huge step forward. The European Network in Civil and Commercial Matters (EJN) and the national contact points through which information is exchanged promote understanding, facilitate access to European civil procedure and national implementation.69 The European Commission has also invested in training programmes, among others by co-financing the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN).70 The EJTN is an independent organization that also coordinates judicial exchanges and the exchange of information. The training programmes of the European Law Academy (ERA), including extensive training programmes on cross-border civil procedures, key issues of EU law as well as language courses, are another important source in educating judges and judicial staff. These activities are of great importance for the correct application of EU instruments on civil procedure, the strengthening judicial cooperation in the EU, and furthering best practices. It is not likely that the above measures will be able to stave off future clashes between the CJEU and national (supreme) courts, like we have seen in the Ajos case. However, such relatively overt conflicts that threaten to undermine the legitimacy of the EU legal order, are rare, and the 4.2. 68 See . 69 See . 70 See http://www.ejtn.eu/. The support for judicial training is also laid down in Article 81(2)(g) TFEU. See also European Union [2012] OJ C326/47; European Commission, ‘Communication on judicial training in the European Union’ COM (2006) 356; European Commission, ‘Building trust in EU-wide justice – a new dimension to European Judicial training’ COM (2011) 551 final. Annual reports on the progress are available through the e-Justice Portal, see page on ‘European judicial training’. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 198 arguably most valuable function of the preliminary reference procedure is and remains the release of tensions before they build into a clash of such magnitude. As for European civil justice we can expect much more of a role for the dialogue between the courts in line with the ‘spirit of cooperation’ as envisioned by the CJEU itself. To improve the dialogue specific training and gaining experience in how to formulate preliminary questions to the CJEU is required at the national level. At the EU level, the CJEU should ensure that it has a proper understanding of national civil procedure in order to be able to assess the context in which the question arises. To further the development of a truly European civil justice system that finds its roots in the European traditions and connects with the national systems, the CJEU should also engage in comparative civil procedure. A real dialogue between national courts and the CJEU also requires a well-functioning communication system through which the European and national court can exchange the necessary additional information required to assure that the appropriate answers are given to the appropriate questions. Concluding Remarks and Outlook European civil justice consists of a plethora of European instruments, having different legislative bases, different scopes of application and relying on different approaches and, in part, different concepts. These European rules, even if they are laid down in directly applicable Regulations, interact with the national procedural rules, need embedding in the domestic legal environment, and in any case, they are to be applied by the Member States’ national courts. The preliminary reference procedure, and more specifically the dialogue between national courts and the CJEU it institutionalizes, plays an important role in reducing uncertainty resulting from the patchy legislative framework, furthering implementation at the national level and harmonizing the application of the rules. While the influence of the case law of the CJEU cannot be underestimated, the preliminary reference procedure is also plagued with a number of practical issues which impede its consistent use by national courts. The required expertise and willingness of national courts to refer matters to Luxembourg make the use of this mechanism less than self-evident. The number of references in the field of civil justice cooperation and the great differences per country in this regard mirrors the numbers with regard to preliminary reference procedure in general. In view of the lack of familiarity of many national judges with this limited, yet growing, field of Euro- 5. European Civil Procedure 199 pean civil justice there are quite a few obstacles to be overcome before the procedure can fulfil its role in providing the necessary clarity and legal development. Along with improvements at the legislative level, practical measures to support the proper application of European civil procedure include continuous court training as well as securing access to information at both national and European level. The exchange of information, a comparative approach of laws by the European Court of Justice and improving the direct communication between the requesting national court and European Court of Justice are essential. While it is for the European Court to take the initiative when it requires more information about the facts or the national legal context, it goes without saying this is a two-way street. It has been commented by European judges that requests for more information are not always followed up by the requesting court, whereas the European Court does not always understand the national legal context in which the questions arise. In recent years the changing dynamics in the EU, increased Euroscepticism and the departure of the United Kingdom have rightfully received attention. Understandably, many of the discussions in European private international law and civil procedure focused on the legal and practical implications of Brexit, the position of London as the centre of international litigation, and the resulting increase of civil justice competition.71 But the influence on the process of legal integration and judicial cooperation is of course much bigger. Specifically for European civil procedure and the operation of the Brussels I-bis Regulation and related instruments, the loss of the English common law culture, the cross-fertilization and the checks and balances created by the UK contributions to the negotiations – not seldom aligned and allied with the Dutch – are beyond comprehension.72 This, and along with global challenges of environmental pollution, 71 See for the latter E. Themeli, Civil justice system competition in the European Union: The great race of courts (PhD dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam 2018, Eleven International Publishing 2018) 1–6,135–146, 250–257; X. E. Kramer and J. Sorabji, ‘Introduction: The International Business of Courts’ in X. E. Kramer and J. Sorabji (eds), International Business Courts: A European and Global Perspective (Eleven International Publishing 2019) 9–12; X. E. Kramer and J. Sorabji, ‘International Business Courts in Europe and Beyond: A Global Competition for Justice?’ (2019) 1 Erasmus Law Review 1, 2–4, 8. 72 B. Hess and X. E. Kramer, ‘From Common Rules to Best Practices in European Civil Procedure: An Introduction’ in X. E. Kramer and B. Hess (n. 5), 27–29; B. Hess, ‘Back to the Past: BREXIT und das europäische internationale Privat- und Verfahrensrecht’ (2016) 36 IPRax 409. Xandra Kramer & Jos Hoevenaars 200 immigration, financial stability, corporate governance and security call for civil justice cooperation with third countries in Europe and globally.73 Important challenges of European civil procedure continue to be the lack of coherence and the interaction with national law and practice. The lack of a comprehensive approach to, and vision on, the civil justice area hampers the maturing of this field of law. The more recent shift in focus from launching new instruments to the proper implementation at the national level is of great importance. This should be strengthened by paying attention to the interaction between national procedural law and institutions and the exchange of best practices. This shift to implementation, however, should not withhold the European legislature to pursue measures to increase coherence with the aim of strengthening a genuine European judicial cooperation. A more horizontal approach or at least ensuring alignment and interconnectedness of sectorial instruments is needed. More coherence can also be achieved by establishing an overarching framework focusing on general rules of civil procedure and by implementing existing or new rules for designated areas. Two important developments in this regard are the 2017 European Parliament’s resolution for a Directive on common minimum standards74 and the ELI-UNIDROIT European Rules of Civil Procedure (ERCP).75 The latter are scheduled for adoption as a model law by the two respective institutes in 2020. Thus far the European Commission has not followed up on the European Parliament’s initiative and both the proposed Directive and the ERCP have their limitations and flaws.76 Nevertheless, they are instrumental to contributing to a common framework, increasing coherence in European civil procedure, and eventually a true civil justice dialogue in Europe. 73 X. E. Kramer (n. 56) 233–234. 74 Committee on Legal Affairs (European Parliament), ‘Report with recommendations to the Commission on common minimum standards of civil procedure in the EU’ 2015/2084(INL)). 75 See the project websites of ELI: < https://www.europeanlawinstitute.eu/projects-p ublications/current-projects-feasibility-studies-and-other-activities/current-projects /civil-procedure/> and of UNIDROIT: <>. 76 X. E. Kramer, ‘Strengthening Civil Justice Cooperation: The Quest for Model Rules and Common Minimum Standards of Civil Procedure in Europe’ (n 5) 598–606. European Civil Procedure 201 L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne – Réflexions naïves d’un Huron au Palais du Kirchberg1 Loïc Cadiet* Table of Contents La mystérieuse notion de l’autonomie procédurale à travers la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne 1. 206 Origine de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres1.1. 206 Limites de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres1.2. 209 L’incertaine portée de l’autonomie procédurale à partir de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne 2. 219 Autonomie procédurale et rapports de systèmes2.1. 219 Autonomie procédurale et structures du droit2.2. 225 Il m’appartient de vous parler de l’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice européenne; il était initialement prévu que je traitasse du développement d’un droit procédural autonome dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice européenne, ce qui n’est pas tout à fait la même chose. L’intitulé du sujet a donc été élargi afin d’englober les différents aspects de l’autonomie procédurale qui doit être considérée, à la fois, du point de vue du droit de l’Union européenne et du point de vue du droit des Etats membres car, si la référence à l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres est une référence récurrente dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne, depuis les années 1970, cette référence est tout aussi régulièrement flanquée de la référence au principe 1 Hommage à Jean Rivéro, « Le Huron au Palais Royal ou réflexions naïves sur le recours pour excès de pouvoir », D. 1962, pp. 37–40. * Professeur à l’Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Ecole de droit de la Sorbonne) Président de l’Association internationale de droit processuel 203 d’équivalence et d’effectivité des règles nationales de procédure au regard du droit de l’Union européenne. J’ignorais à quoi je m’engageais lorsque l’invitation de la Cour et du Max Planck Institute de Luxembourg, que je remercie, m’a été présentée par mon ami Burkhard Hess. L’amitié vous fait parfois faire des bêtises. Je ne suis qu’un simple juriste de droit privé français, largement ignorant, comme la majorité des juristes internistes français, du droit de l’Union européenne. Bien sûr, comme processualiste, je n’ignore pas tout à fait les développements importants de la coopération judiciaire au sein de l’Union européenne, qui intéressent aussi bien la procédure civile que la procédure pénale; ces développements ont d’ailleurs suscité une littérature abondante2 au point de faire bouger certaines frontières disciplinaires, comme celle de la procédure civile et du droit international privé dont relève, dans la conception française, le droit des conflits de juridictions3. Mais ce n’est pas de procédure civile internationale qu’il s’agit ici; c’est de procédure civile interne et de l’effet qu’exerce sur elle la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne au fil des renvois préjudiciels qui lui sont soumis. Disons-le d’emblée, cette question est à peu près inconnue des juristes nationaux4, pour lesquels, ainsi que l’ont écrit Rostane Mehdi et Estelle Brosset, « le droit de l’Union continue à être appréhendé invariablement comme un droit second »5. Cette question n’apparaît quasiment pas dans les manuels de droit judiciaire privé, sauf quelques vagues références en introduction6 ou en note de bas de page à l’office dérogatoire 2 Outre les manuels de droit judiciaire privé (ou procédure civile), et ceux de droit international privé, V. p. ex. J.-S. Bergé, D. Porcheron et G. Vieira da Costa Cerqueira, V° « Droit international privé et droit de l’Union européenne », Rép. eur. Dalloz, 2017. Adde L. Cadiet, E. Jeuland et S. Amrani Mekki (dir.), Droit processuel civil de l’Union européenne, Paris, LexisNexis, 2011. 3 V. not. S. Bollée, L. Cadiet, E. Jeuland et E. Pataut (dir.), Les nouvelles formes de coordination des justices étatiques, Paris, IRJS Editions, 2013. 4 V. en revanche C. Franklin (ed.), The Effectiveness and Application of EU and EEA Law in National Courts, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2018. – K. Riesenhuber (ed.), European Legal Methodology, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2017. Adde A. Beka, The Active Role of Courts in Consumer Litigation – Applying EU Law of the National Court’s Motion, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2018. V., en dernier lieu, B. Krans, A. Nylund (eds), Procedural Autonomy across Europe, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2020. 5 R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, « De quoi le droit de l’Union est-il le nom? A propos du droit de l’Union en tant que droit commun des Etats membres », in J.-B. Bonnet, op. cit., p. 669 et s., spéc. p. 685. 6 V. p. ex. J. Héron et T. Le Bars, Droit judiciaire privé, Montchrestien, 6ème éd. 2015, n° 20. – L. Cadiet et E. Jeuland, Droit judiciaire privé, LexisNexis, 10ème éd. 2017, n° Loïc Cadiet 204 du juge en matière de clauses abusives7 et, c’est un comble, l’article consacré à l’Union européenne et la procédure civile dans le Répertoire de procédure civile de l’Encyclopédie Dalloz, qui est l’une des deux grandes références de la littérature procédurale, a été rédigé par un spécialiste de droit européen8. C’est dire l’innocence de mon regard sur l’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne. J’avais bien sûr vu passer, de temps en temps, la référence faite par la Cour au principe d’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres, mais je dois confesser, à ma grande honte, que je ne m’y étais pas spécialement arrêté. C’est donc quasiment une terra incognita qu’il m’a été donné de découvrir et ce sont mes impressions de voyage en cette terre qui m’était inconnue que je voudrais vous livrer, avec modestie, ne doutant pas que mes observations profanes paraîtront banales, voire naïves, peut-être erronées, aux oreilles des éminents spécialistes que vous êtes9. J’ai cependant tâché de jouer le jeu de la sincérité et, au terme de ce périple, périlleux mais stimulant, mes principales impressions sont que la notion de l’autonomie procédurale qui se dégage de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne (1) m’apparaît aussi mystérieuse que sa portée, telle qu’elle peut se révéler à partir de la jurisprudence de la Cour, me semble incertaine (2). Ce sont ces deux impressions que je développerai tour à tour. 29, le plus complet étant C. Chainais, F. Ferrand et S. Guinchard, Procédure civile – Droit interne et européen du procès civile, Dalloz, 33ème éd. 2016, n° 79–87. 7 L. Cadiet et E. Jeuland, Droit judiciaire privé, préc., n°533, note 304. V. cep. C. Chainais, F. Ferrand et S. Guinchard, Procédure civile – Droit interne et européen du procès civil, préc., n° 155–156, à propos du droit d’agir en justice. 8 T. Debard, V° « Droit de l’Union européenne et procédure civile », Rép. proc. civ., Dalloz, 2018. 9 Dans ce voyage, j’ai eu le bonheur et le plaisir de pouvoir compter sur les conseils d’un précieux guide en la personne de Janek T. Nowak, chercheur au Max Planck Institute de Luxembourg et à l’Institut de droit européen de l’université catholique de Leuven, fin connaisseur du droit processuel de l’Union européenne. Je lui exprime ma plus vive gratitude. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 205 La mystérieuse notion de l’autonomie procédurale à travers la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne La notion d’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres, qui semble aujourd’hui monnaie courante, est nimbée d’un certain mystère aux yeux du profane que je suis : mystère d’abord de ses origines (1.1), mystère surtout de ses limites (1.2). Origine de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres La chose semble avoir existé avant l’expression, dont l’apparition est tardive. L’autonomie des Etats membres est traditionnellement associée à deux arrêts Rewe et Comet rendus par la Cour de justice des Communautés européennes en décembre 197610 dans lesquels la Cour déclarait que « en l’absence de règlementation communautaire (…), il appartient à l’ordre juridique interne de chaque Etat membre de désigner les juridictions compétentes [c’est l’autonomie institutionnelle] et de régler les modalités procédurales des recours en justice destinés à assurer la sauvegarde des droits que les justiciables tirent de l’effet direct du droit communautaire [c’est l’autonomie procédurale] ». En vérité, cette affirmation était incomplète autant qu’elle n’était pas tout à fait inédite11. Dès avril 1968, dans une affaire Gebrüder Lück, la Cour de justice avait déjà indiqué, à propos d’une disposition du traité CEE qu’elle ne limitait pas « le pouvoir des juridictions nationales compétentes d’appliquer, parmi les divers procédés de l’ordre juridique interne, ceux qui sont appropriés pour sauvegarder les droits substantiels conférés par le droit communautaire »12. Puis, quelques mois plus tard, dans une affaire Société par actions SALGOIL, elle ajoutait que « il appartient à l’ordre juridique national de déterminer la juridic- 1. 1.1. 10 CJCE, 16 déc. 1976, aff. 33/76, Rewe-Zentralfinanz eG et Rewe-Zentral AG c. Landwirtschaftskammer für das Saarland. – CJCE, 16 déc. 1976, aff. 45/76, Comet BV c. Produktschap voor Siergewassen. 11 Comp. J. T. Nowak, « Chapter 1. Considerations on the Impact of EU Law on National Civil Procedure : Recent Examples from Belgium », in V. Lazić and S. Stuij (eds), International Dispute Resolution – Selected Issues in International Litigation and Arbitration, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2018, pp. 1–41, spéc. 1.2.1.1. 12 CJUE, 4 avr. 1968, aff. 34/67, Firma Gebrüder Lück c. Hauptzollamt Köln-Rheinau. Loïc Cadiet 206 tion compétente pour assurer cette protection »13. D’autres arrêts suivront, dans le même ordre d’idée, comme l’arrêt International Fruit Company14 et l’arrêt Fleischkontor en 197115. C’est d’ailleurs à partir de là, dès 1972, que la doctrine forgera l’expression et théorisera la notion d’autonomie institutionnelle et procédurale des Etats membres16. Mais il faudra attendre les années 1990 pour que quelques avocats généraux à la Cour de justice en proposent l’emploi avant que celle-ci, à partir des années 2000, finisse par se référer, « conformément à une jurisprudence constante »17, mais de manière variable, à l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres18, au principe d’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres ou au principe de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres19. La référence explicite à l’autonomie procédurale est loin d’être systématique et encore moins la référence au principe d’autonomie procédurale ou de l’autonomie procédurale, outre que la formulation précise a évolué au fil du temps avec les évolutions institutionnelles de l’Europe ellemême. C’est ainsi que, dans un arrêt du mois de mai 2018, la Cour rappelle que, « en l’absence de réglementation du droit de l’Union en la matière, les modalités des procédures destinées à assurer la sauvegarde des droits que les justiciables tirent dudit droit de l’Union relèvent de l’ordre juridique interne des États membres, en vertu du principe de l’autonomie procédurale de ces derniers »20. Le droit de l’Union a remplacé le droit communautaire et il n’est plus fait référence à l’effet direct. Cette suppression, qui manifeste un élargissement du champ de la protection des citoyens au-delà du seul effet direct des normes européennes21, rappelle que l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres a partie liée avec les principes mêmes de la construction européenne, qui en constituent ainsi le fondement. 13 CJCE, 19 déc. 1968, aff. 13/68, Société Salgoil c. Ministère du commerce extérieur de la République italienne. 14 CJCE 15 déc. 1971, aff. C-51/71 à 54/71, International Fruit Company. 15 CJCE 11 février 1971, aff. C-39/70, Fleischkontor. 16 Point de départ : J. Rideau, « Le rôle des Etats membres dans l’application du droit communautaire », AFDI 1972, p. 864 et s. 17 Ex. CJUE, 21 avr. 2016, aff. C-377/14, Ernst Georg Radlinger et Helena Radlingerová c. Finway a.s. 18 Ex. CJUE, 27 juin 2018, aff. C-246–17, Ibrahim Diallo c. Etat belge. 19 Ex. CJUE, 22 févr. 2018, aff. C-572/16, INEOS Köln GmbH c. Bundesrepublik Deutschland. 20 Ex. CJUE, 17 mai 2018, aff. C-147/16, Karel de Grote – Hogeschool Katholieke Hogeschool Antwerpen VZW c. Susan Romy Jozef Kuijpers. 21 V. K. Lenaerts, I. Maselis and K. Gutman, EU Procedural Law, edited by Janek Tomasz Nowak, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, 4.02, note 4. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 207 Dès 1960, la Cour de justice a rappelé que les traités instituant les Communautés européennes reposent sur le « principe d’une séparation rigoureuse des compétences des institutions communautaires et de celles des Etats membres »22, aujourd’hui consacré et organisé par les articles 4 et 5 du traité du l’Union européenne. Le projet européen ne pouvait réussir que dans le respect des souverainetés nationales de sorte que, par réalisme politique23, une fédéralisation des structures d’application du droit, telle qu’elle existe aux Etats-Unis, en Allemagne, en Suisse ou au Canada, a été exclue24. Le Traité de Rome s’est abstenu de créer des juridictions spécialement chargées de l’application du droit communautaire aussi bien que des voies de droit spécifiques pour y procéder25, à la seule exception du renvoi préjudiciel devant la Cour de justice (ex. art. 177 CEE, devenu art. 234 TCE, puis art. 267 TFUE). Aux institutions européennes, la production du droit, c’est-à-dire la compétence législative; aux Etats membres, la mise en œuvre du droit, c’est-à-dire la compétence d’exécution26, de sorte que le système communautaire, construit sur une logique d’intégration à laquelle Pierre Pescatore a donné ses lettres de noblesse, est centralisé sur le plan législatif mais décentralisé sur le plan exécutif27. Cette compétence nationale d’exécution est une nécessité. Comme il a été souligné, « sans les droits nationaux, leur organisation juridictionnelle et l’ensemble des règles de procédures, le droit européen serait un droit figé, incapable de se mettre en mouvement en dehors des procédures proprement européennes »28. C’est ainsi, par exemple, 22 CJCE 16 éd. 1960, aff. C-6/60, J.-E. Humblet c. Etat belge. 23 G. Isaac et M. Blanquet, Droit général de l’Union européenne, Sirey, 10ème éd., 2012, p. 205, devenu M. Blanquet, Droit général de l’Union européenne, Sirey, 11ème éd. 2018, n° 1021, p. 594. – R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, « De quoi le droit de l’Union est-il le nom? A propos du droit de l’Union en tant que droit commun des Etats membres », préc., spéc. p. 686. 24 L. Azoulai et E. Dubout, « Repenser la primauté – L’intégration européenne et la montée de la question identitaire », in J.-B. Bonnet, p. 567 et s., spéc. p. 576. 25 CJCE, 7 juill. 1981, Rewe II, aff. C-155/80. 26 V. aussi K. Lenaerts, « National remedies for private parties in the light of the EU principles of equivalence and effectiveness”, Irish Jurist (2011) 46, pp. 13–37, spéc. p. 13 : « There is effectively a division of functions between the EU and the national legal systems, with the former providing the rights and the latter the remedies ». 27 P. Pescatore, Le droit de l’intégration – Emergence d’un phénomène nouveau dans les relations internationales selon l’expérience des Communautés européennes, Leiden, A. W. Sijtoff, 1972, réimp. Bruylant, 2005. L’image est devenue habituelle sous la plume des auteurs : V. p. ex. M. Blanquet, op. cit., n° 1017, p. 592. – K. Lenaerts, op. cit., p. 13. – J. T. Nowak, op. cit. et loc. cit., and note 7. 28 J.-S. Bergé, « Enrichir les rapports entre ordres juridiques par les rapports de mise en œuvre », in J.-B. Bonnet, op. cit., p. 593 et s., spéc. n° 4, p. 594. Loïc Cadiet 208 que relèvent en principe du droit national la compétence juridictionnelle, les délais de procédure, les règles de preuve, l’office du juge ou l’étendue et l’autorité de la chose jugée. L’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres est une manifestation de leur autonomie plus générale dans l’exécution du droit de l’Union29 au même titre que leur autonomie institutionnelle30, à laquelle se rattache l’autonomie d’organisation juridictionnelle31 aussi bien que l’autonomie d’organisation administrative32, encore qu’une distinction soit faite entre les deux, le caractère complet ou absolue de l’autonomie institutionnelle étant opposé au caractère partiel ou relatif de l’autonomie procédurale33, ce qui nous conduit à la question, également mystérieuse à mes yeux, des limites de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres. Limites de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres Ces limites, au nombre deux, sont généralement présentées ensemble comme bornant, dès l’origine, l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres34. La première limite est référée au principe d’équivalence, la seconde au principe d’effectivité. Sans doute, en même temps que les arrêts Rewe I et Comet affirmaient, sans l’exprimer ainsi, l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres, ils assortissaient cette autonomie de deux limites : d’une part, que les modalités procédurales du droit national ne soient pas « moins favorables que celles concernant des recours similaires de nature interne »35 et que, d’autre part, qu’elles n’aboutissent pas « à rendre, en pratique, impossible l'exercice de droits 1.2. 29 M. Roccati, « Quelle place pour l’autonomie juridictionnelle des Etats membres? », RIDE, 2015/4, p. 152 et s. 30 Ou que leur autonomie juridique quant aux règles de fond applicables dans l’hypothèse, par exemple, de la transposition d’une directive : T. Debard, « Droit de l’Union européenne et procédure civile », préc., n° 21. 31 Selon l’expression de Thierry Debard, op. cit., n° 23. 32 V. T. Debard, op. cit., 21. – M. Blanquet, op. cit., n° 1022, p. 594. – M. Roccati, art. préc., p. 152. 33 V. en ce sens M. Blanquet, op. cit., n° 1023, p. 595. 34 V. en ce sens T. Debard, op. cit., n° 25. – M. Roccati, op. cit., 1.1. 35 CJCE, 16 déc. 1976, aff. C-33/76, Rewe, n° 5, et aff. C-45/76, Comet, préc., n° 13 : « en l 'absence de règlementation communautaire en la matière, il appartient à l 'ordre juridique interne de chaque Etat membre de désigner les juridictions compétentes et de régler les modalités procédurales des recours en justice destinés à assurer la sauvegarde des droits que les justiciables tirent de l'effet direct du droit communautaire étant L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 209 que les juridictions nationales ont l'obligation de sauvegarder »36. Il s’agit de permettre la mise en œuvre du droit européen dans toute la plénitude de son champ d’application de manière égale dans l’ensemble des Etats membres. Le propos demande cependant à être précisé. D’abord, des arrêts ultérieurs réuniront ces deux limites dans une même phrase, ce qui n’était pas le cas originairement37, en même temps qu’ils élargiront la deuxième limite, l’impossibilité pratique s’étendant à la difficulté excessive38. C’est à cette époque également que ces limites de l’autonomie procédurale seront explicitement référées, dans les arrêts de la Cour de justice, « consacrant les dénominations que la doctrine leur avait données »39, aux « principes » d’équientendu que ces modalités ne peuvent être moins favorables que celles concernant des recours similaires de nature interne ». 36 CJCE, 16 déc. 1976, aff. C-33/76, Rewe, n° 5, et aff. C-45/76, Comet, préc., n° 15– 16 : « A défaut de (…) mesures d'harmonisation, les droits conférés par le droit communautaire doivent être exercés devant les juridictions nationales selon les modalités déterminées par la règle nationale; (…) qu'il n'en serait autrement que si ces modalités et délais aboutissaient à rendre, en pratique, impossible l'exercice de droits que les juridictions nationales ont l'obligation de sauvegarder ». 37 CJCE, 9 nov. 1983, aff. C- 199/82, Administration des financés de l'État italien c. SpA San Giorgio, n° 12 : « s’il est vrai que le remboursement ne peut être poursuivi que dans le cadre des conditions, de fond et de forme, fixées par les diverses législations nationales en la matière, il n'en reste pas moins, ainsi qu'il résulte d'une jurisprudence constante de la cour, que ces conditions ne sauraient être moins favorables que celles qui concernent des réclamations semblables de nature interne et qu'elles ne sauraient être aménagées de manière à rendre pratiquement impossible l'exercice des droits conférés par l'ordre juridique communautaire ». 38 V. CJCE, 25 févr. 1988, aff. C-331, 376 et 378/85, Les Fils de Jules Bianco SA et J. Girard Fils SA c. Directeur général des douanes et droits indirects, n° 12 : « II convient de rappeler à ce sujet, ainsi que la Cour l'a jugé dans l'arrêt du 9 novembre 1983 (San Giorgio, 199/82, Rec. p. 3595), que sont incompatibles avec le droit communautaire toutes modalités de preuve dont l'effet est de rendre pratiquement impossible ou excessivement difficile l'obtention du remboursement de taxes perçues en violation du droit communautaire ». – CJCE, 3 févr. 2000, aff. C-228/98, Charalampos Dounias et Ypourgou Oikonomikon, n° 69 : « Dans la mise en œuvre de cette exigence, les États membres doivent s'assurer que les modalités de preuve applicables aux recours portant sur des litiges relatifs à une violation du droit communautaire, en premier lieu, ne sont pas moins favorables que celles concernant des recours similaires de nature interne et, en second lieu, ne rendent pas en pratique impossible ou excessivement difficile l'exercice par le justiciable des droits conférés par l'ordre juridique communautaire ». 39 T. Debard, op. cit. et loc. cit. Loïc Cadiet 210 valence (ou de l’équivalence) et d’effectivité40, avant d’être qualifiées par elle de « principes généraux de droit communautaire »41. La formulation s’est par la suite stabilisée, ainsi qu’en témoigne encore une série d’arrêts rendus au cours de cette année 201842, jusque très récemment comme l’indiquent deux arrêts du 20 septembre 201843. 40 V. not. CJCE, 10 juill. 1997, aff. C-271/95, Rosalba Palmisani c. Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale (INPS), n° 27 : “il résulte d'une jurisprudence constante depuis l'arrêt Francovich e.a., précité, points 41 à 43, que, sous réserve de ce qui précède, c'est dans le cadre du droit national de la responsabilité qu'il incombe à l'État de réparer les conséquences du préjudice causé, étant entendu que les conditions, notamment de délai, fixées par les législations nationales en matière de réparation des dommages ne sauraient être moins favorables que celles qui concernent des réclamations semblables de nature interne (principe de l'équivalence) et ne sauraient être aménagées de manière à rendre en pratique impossible ou excessivement difficile l'obtention de la réparation (principe d'effectivité) ». 41 CJCE, 18 sept. 2003, aff. C-125/1, Peter Flücke c. Bundesansalt für Arbeit, n° 33–34 : « (33) Dans ces conditions, les États membres sont en principe libres de prévoir dans leur droit national des dispositions fixant un délai de forclusion pour l'introduction de la demande d'un travailleur salarié visant à obtenir, selon les modalités de la directive 80/987, le paiement d'une indemnité d'insolvabilité, pour autant, toutefois, que ces dispositions respectent les principes généraux du droit communautaire. (34). S'agissant de ces principes, il est de jurisprudence constante que de tels délais de forclusion prévus en droit national ne peuvent être moins favorables que ceux concernant des demandes semblables de nature interne (principe d'équivalence) et ne peuvent être aménagés de manière à rendre en pratique impossible l'exercice des droits reconnus par l'ordre juridique communautaire (principe d'effectivité) ». 42 CJUE, 17 mai 2018, aff. C-147/16, Karel de Grote – Hogeschool Katholieke Hogeschool Antwerpen VZW c. Susan Romy Jozef Kuijpers, n° 33 : : « il convient de rappeler que, en l’absence de réglementation du droit de l’Union en la matière, les modalités des procédures destinées à assurer la sauvegarde des droits que les justiciables tirent dudit droit de l’Union relèvent de l’ordre juridique interne des États membres, en vertu du principe de l’autonomie procédurale de ces derniers. Cependant, ces modalités ne doivent pas être moins favorables que celles régissant des situations similaires soumises au droit interne (principe d’équivalence) ni être aménagées de manière à rendre en pratique impossible ou excessivement difficile l’exercice des droits conférés aux consommateurs par l’ordre juridique de l’Union (principe d’effectivité) ». – Adde CJUE, 27 juin 2018, aff. C-246/17, Ibrahim Diallo c. Etat Belge, n° 45 : « il convient de relever que la directive 2004/38 ne contient aucune disposition régissant les conséquences qui découlent du dépassement du délai visé à l’article 10, paragraphe 1, de la directive 2004/38, cette question relevant, en principe, de l’autonomie procédurale des États membres sous réserve du respect des principes d’effectivité et d’équivalence (voir, en ce sens, arrêt du 17 mars 2016, Bensada Benallal, C‑161/15, EU:C:2016:175, point 24) ». 43 CJUE, 20 sept. 2018, aff. C-518/17, Stefan Rudigier c. Salzburger Verkehrsverbund GmbH, n° 61 : « En l’absence de précision d’ordre procédural prévu par le droit de l’Union pour sanctionner un droit, et conformément à une jurisprudence constante de la L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 211 Le refrain serait-il cependant en train de changer? Il faut en effet avoir égard à deux arrêts prononcés par la 2ème chambre de la Cour en matière de protection des consommateurs le 31 mai et le 13 septembre 201844. Dans ces arrêts, la Cour, après avoir rappelé le principe du renvoi à l’ordre juridique interne des Etats membres, en l’absence d’harmonisation par le droit de l’Union des procédures applicables à l’examen du caractère prétendument abusif d’une clause contractuelle, conditionne ce renvoi à ce que ces procédures nationales « ne soient pas moins favorables que celles régissant des situations similaires soumises au droit interne (principe d’équivalence) et qu’elles prévoient un droit à un recours effectif, tel que prévu à l’article 47 de la charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne »45. Cour, il appartient à l’ordre juridique interne de chaque État membre de régler les modalités procédurales destinées à assurer la sauvegarde des droits que les justiciables tirent du droit de l’Union. Ces modalités ne doivent, toutefois, pas être moins favorables que les voies similaires de nature interne (principe d’équivalence) et ne doivent pas rendre pratiquement impossible ou excessivement difficile l’exercice des droits conférés par l’ordre juridique de l’Union (principe d’effectivité) (voir, en ce sens, arrêt du 5 avril 2017, Marina del Mediterráneo e.a., C‑391/15, EU:C:2017:268, point 32 et jurisprudence citée). » – CJUE, 20 sept. 2018, aff. C-448/17, EOS KSI Slovensko c. Ján Danko, Margita Danková, n° 36 : « En l’absence de réglementation de l’Union en ce qui concerne le droit des associations de protection des consommateurs d’intervenir dans des litiges individuels impliquant des consommateurs, il appartient à l’ordre juridique interne de chaque État membre d’établir de telles règles, en vertu du principe de l’autonomie procédurale, à condition toutefois qu’elles ne soient pas moins favorables que celles régissant des situations similaires soumises au droit interne (principe d’équivalence) et qu’elles ne rendent pas impossible en pratique ou excessivement difficile l’exercice des droits conférés par le droit de l’Union (principe d’effectivité) (voir, en ce sens, arrêt du 27 février 2014, Pohotovosť, C‑470/12, EU:C:2014:101, point 46). ». 44 CJUE, 31 mai 2018, aff. C-483/16, Zsolt Sziber c. ERSTE Bank Hungary Zrt., n° 35 et CJUE, 13 sept. 2018, aff. C-176/17, Profi Credit Polska S.A. w Bielsku Białej c. Mariusz Wawrzosek, n° 57 : « Si la Cour a ainsi déjà encadré, à plusieurs égards et en tenant compte des exigences de l’article 6, paragraphe 1, et de l’article 7, paragraphe 1, de la directive 93/13, la manière selon laquelle le juge national doit assurer la protection des droits que les consommateurs tirent de cette directive, il n’en reste pas moins que, en principe, le droit de l’Union n’harmonise pas les procédures applicables à l’examen du caractère prétendument abusif d’une clause contractuelle, et que celles-ci relèvent, dès lors, de l’ordre juridique interne des États membres, à condition, toutefois, qu’elles ne soient pas moins favorables que celles régissant des situations similaires soumises au droit interne (principe d’équivalence) et qu’elles prévoient une protection juridictionnelle effective, telle que prévue à l’article 47 de la Charte ». 45 V. déjà, dans une formulation antérieure associant explicitement principe d’effectivité et protection juridictionnelle effective, CJUE 14 sept. 2017, aff. C-628/15, The Trustees of the BT Pension Scheme c. Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Loïc Cadiet 212 Cette évolution, sur laquelle les discutants de ce rapport nous fourniront leurs lumières46, invite à prendre la mesure des raisons, des manifestations des limites ainsi posées à l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres. Le champ est immense; je l’ai découvert en préparant cet exposé; il a d’ailleurs donné lieu à une littérature abondante qui me dispense de trop longs développements Les raisons de ces limites sont de plusieurs sortes et relèvent de plusieurs niveaux. Dès 1972, dans un arrêt Schlüter, la Cour de justice avait précisé que l’application de leur droit national par les Etats membres devait se concilier avec la nécessité d'une application uniforme du droit communautaire, destiné à éviter un traitement inégal, ou discriminatoire, des opérateurs économiques47, ce que rappellera l’arrêt Deutsche Milchkontor en 198348. Voilà pour le principe d’équivalence. Quant au principe d’effectivité, les auteurs l’expliquent généralement par la nécessité d’assurer l’effet utile du droit de l’Union49. Mais ces principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité sont eux-mêmes, ainsi qu’ils ont été qualifiés en doctrine, l’expression pratique, « practical expression », des principes de primauté et d’effet direct du droit Customs, n° 59 : « En outre, en application du principe d’effectivité, les États membres ont la responsabilité d’assurer, dans chaque cas, une protection effective des droits conférés par le droit de l’Union et, en particulier, de garantir le respect du droit à un recours effectif et à accéder à un tribunal impartial, consacré à l’article 47, paragraphe 1, de la charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne ». Mais comp. CJCE, 15 avr. 2008, aff. C-268/06, Impact, préc., n° 45–47 et CJUE, 18 mars 2010, aff. C-317/08, C-318/08, C-319/08 et C-320/08, Rosalba Alassini, n° 46, visant « les principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité ainsi que le principe de protection juridictionnelle », et qui considère que « ces exigences d’équivalence et d’effectivité (…° expriment l’obligation générale pour les Etats membres d’assurer la protection juridictionnelle des droits que les justiciables tirent du droit de l’Union ». 46 V. infra l’intervention de M. Vilaras proposant notamment de distinguer selon l’objectif poursuivi (assurer la primauté du droit de l’Union : principe d’effectivité, ou protéger les droits fondamentaux : art. 19.1 TUE, puis art. 47 CDFUE) et l’effet recherché (mise à l’écart de la règle nationale ou édiction d’obligations positives à l’endroit du juge national). 47 CJCE, 6 juin 1972, aff. 94–71, Schlüter & Maack c. Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Jonas. 48 CJCE, 21 sept. 1983, aff. C-205 à 215/82, Deutsche Milchkontor GmbH et autres c. République fédérale d'Allemagne, n° 17. 49 V. p. ex. T. Debard, op. cit., n° 27. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 213 de l’Union50. Un auteur a également parlé de « déclinaisons »51. Nous touchons là au cœur de la construction européenne52, conçue comme une intégration juridique en faveur des droits individuels plutôt qu’en faveur des souverainetés nationales. Les principes de primauté et d’effet direct ne sont en effet eux-mêmes que l’expression instrumentale de la nature de la construction européenne53 définie par la Cour de justice, dans les arrêts fondateurs Van Gend en Loos54 et Costa55, comme « un ordre juridique propre intégré au système juridique des Etats membres (…) et qui s’impose à leurs juridictions ». Or, comme l’a souligné Jean-Victor Louis dans ses conclusions générales des actes du colloque sur le 50ème anniversaire de l’arrêt Van Gend en Loos, la notion d’autonomie de l’ordre juridique communautaire formait « l’épine dorsale du raisonnement de la Cour »56, sans que le mot luimême ne soit jamais prononcé57. C’est cette association intime des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité à l’essence même de la construction européenne qui explique sans doute que ces principes se soient renforcés en même temps que la construction européenne et, singulièrement, le principe d’effectivité, fer de lance de l’effet direct, qui a pu favoriser une intervention accrue de la Cour de justice sur le terrain des règles nationales de procédure là où le seul principe 50 K. Lenaerts, I. Maselis and K. Gutman, op. cit., 4.04. – K. Lenaerts, op. cit., p. 13. – J. Rideau, « Ordre juridique de l’Union européenne – Sources non écrites », Juris- Classeur Europe, fasc. 191, (2014), n° 26, pour lequel le principe d’autonomie « est cependant loin d’être absolu et de nombreuses limitations y ont été apportées par la Cour. Il ne peut, en toute hypothèses, contrarier le jeu de la primauté et de l’effet direct ». 51 M. Roccati, op. cit., 1.1. : « Equivalence et effectivité sont ainsi les déclinaisons de l’objectif initial, tourné vers la sauvegarde des droits issus des normes européennes ». 52 Rappr. M. Roccati, op. cit. et loc. cit. : « De là dépend la raison d’être du système juridique européen ». 53 Ses « murs porteurs » selon l’expression de R. Mehdi, « Ordre juridique de l’Union européenne – Effet direct », JurisClasseur Europe, fasc. 195, (2018), n° 1. 54 CJCE, 5 févr. 1963, aff. 26/62, Van Gend en Loos. 55 CJCE, 15 juill. 1964, aff. 6/64, Costa. 56 R. Mehdi, op. cit., n° 17. Conf. F. Picod, “La Cour de justice de l’Union européenne et les rapports entre les ordres juridiques de l’Union européenne et des Etats membres”, in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 995 et s. 57 J.-V. Louis, « Conclusions générales », in Cour de justice de l’Union européenne, 50ème anniversaire de l’arrêt Van Gend en Loos 1963–2013, Office des publications de l’Union européenne, 2013, p. 205 et s., spéc. p. 213 et s. V. également D. Simon, « Les fondements de l’autonomie du droit communautaire », in SFDI, Droit international et droit communautaire : perspectives actuelles, Pedone, 2000, p. 222 et s. Adde M. Klamert, « The autonomy of the EU (and of EU law) : through the kaleidoscope », European Law Review 2017, 42(6), pp. 815–830. Loïc Cadiet 214 d’équivalence pouvait justifier une attitude plus passive58. Il ne s’agit plus seulement pour le juge national de laisser au besoin inappliquée, de sa propre autorité, l’application de la règle nationale, même postérieure à une disposition du droit de l’Union59; il s’agit de mettre à la charge des juridictions nationales des obligations positives à peine de responsabilité de l’Etat membre60. Je ne m’arrêterai pas sur les manifestations de ce renforcement des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité, largement documenté61, dès lors que la règle nationale de procédure porte atteinte à la réalisation des objectifs essentiels du droit de l’Union et met en cause la protection effective que les citoyens tirent de l’ordre juridique de l’Union européenne62 : chacun a notamment en tête les solutions adoptées par la Cour de justice en ce qui concerne le droit à une protection juridictionnelle provisoire63, l’application d’office par le juge national d’un moyen tiré du droit de 58 V. en ce sens K. Lenaerts, op. cit., p. 15. 59 CJUE, 9 févr. 2017, aff. C-283/16, M. S. c. P. S., n° 50. 60 Selon une jurisprudence constante, le principe de la responsabilité de l’État pour des dommages causés aux particuliers par des violations du droit de l’Union qui lui sont imputables est inhérent au système des traités sur lesquels cette dernière est fondée. Les particuliers lésés ont un droit à réparation dès lors que trois conditions sont réunies, à savoir que la règle de droit de l’Union violée a pour objet de leur conférer des droits, que la violation de cette règle est suffisamment caractérisée et qu’il existe un lien de causalité direct entre cette violation et le préjudice subi par les particuliers : V. CJCE, 19 nov. 1991, aff. 6/90 et 9/90, Francovich e.a., n ° 35. – CJCE, 5 mars 1996, aff. 46/93 et 48/93, Brasserie du pêcheur et Factortame, n° 31. V. K. Lenaerts, I. Maselis and K. Gutman, op. cit., 4.42 – 4.57. Ce principe est valable quel que soit l’auteur public à l’origine de la violation, y compris, à certaines conditions, lorsque la violation découle d’une décision d’une juridiction nationale statuant en dernier ressort : CJCE, 30 sept. 2003, aff. C-224/01, Köbler, n ° 32–36 et 59. – CJUE, 9 sept. 2015, aff. C-160/14, João Filipe Ferreira da Silva e Brito, e. a., n° 46–60. – CJUE, 28 juill. 2016, aff. C-168/15, Milena Tomášová, n° 20. V. T. Debard, op. cit., n° 54–57, spéc. n° 56–57 à propos du « manquement judiciaire ». 61 V. not. K. Lenaerts, op. cit., 12, p. 37. – K. Lenaerts, I. Maselis and K. Gutman, op. cit., chap. 4. 62 V. p. ex. CJCE, 15 avr. 2008, aff. C-268/06, Impact, n° n° 47. – CJUE, 18 mars 2010, aff. C-317/08, C-318/08, C-319/08 et C-320/08, Rosalba Alassini, préc., n° 49 : « Ces exigences d’équivalence et d’effectivité expriment l’obligation générale pour les Etats membres d’assurer la protection juridictionnelle des droits que les justiciables tirent du droit communautaire/de l’Union ». 63 V. not. K. Lenaerts, op. cit., 7, p. 27 et s. et, p. ex., CJCE, 19 juin 1990, aff. C-213/89, Factortame. – CJCE, 21 févr. 1991, aff. C-143/88 et C-92/89, Zuckerfabrik Süderdithmarschen AG et Zuckerfabrik Soest. – CJCE, 13 mars 2007, aff. C-432/05, Unibet. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 215 l’Union64 ou, plus spécifiquement, l’éviction de l’autorité de la chose jugée en matière d’aides d’Etat lorsque les compétences de la Commission sont en jeu65. Il est notable que la référence aux principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité s’est élargie en même temps que ces principes se sont renforcés. Initialement limitée à l’hypothèse d’ « absence de règlementation communautaire », la référence a évolué vers l’absence, dans le droit de l’Union, de disposition spécifique66, y compris dans le domaine de la coopération judiciaire intraeuropéenne67 où elle remplit, mutadis mutandis, un rôle comparable à celui des notions autonomes68. La législation européenne y fait du reste elle-même référence69. 64 Voir A. Beka, The Active Role of Courts in Consumer Litigation – Applying EU Law of the National Court’s Motion, préc. – Adde, dans une vue à la fois plus large et plus étroite, au regard du droit français, E. Bazin, « Le juge et le droit de la consommation », Droit et procédures 2018, p. 142 et s. 65 CJCE, 18 juill. 2007, aff. C-119/05, Lucchini. 66 V. p. ex. CJUE, 20 sept. 2018, aff. 518/17, Stefan Rudigier, n° 60. – CJUE, 20 déc. 2017, aff. C-102/16, Vaditrans BVBA, n° 55. 67 V. p. ex. CJUE, 8 juin 2017, aff. C-54/16, Vinyls Italia SpA, n° 26; JCP G 2017, 711, obs. Berlin : “il est de jurisprudence constante que, en l’absence, dans le droit de l’Union, d’une harmonisation de ces règles, il appartient à l’ordre juridique interne de chaque État membre de les établir, en vertu du principe d’autonomie procédurale, à condition toutefois qu’elles ne soient pas moins favorables que celles régissant des situations similaires soumises au droit interne (principe d’équivalence) et qu’elles ne rendent pas impossible en pratique ou excessivement difficile l’exercice des droits conférés par le droit de l’Union (principe d’effectivité) », à propos du Règl. (CE) n° 1346/2000 du 29 mai 2000 relatif aux procédures d’insolvabilité, art. 13, qui contient une disposition relative à la charge de la preuve mais précise pas ses aspects procéduraux spécifiques (modes d’administration, moyens de preuve, principes régissant l’appréciation de la force probante, etc.). 68 V. en ce sens, L. Charbonneau, « Notions autonomes et intégration européenne », Cahiers de droit européen, 2013, p. 21 et s., spéc. n° 76, pp. 50–51, qui observe que « le développement de notions autonomes permet d’abord une limitation de l’autonomie procédurale et institutionnelle des Etats en restraignant le pouvoir d’interprétation des juges internes ». Il est tout à fait notable que les notions autonomes apparaissent, dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice, en même temps que s’affirme le principe de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres sous réserve du respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité : V. p. ex. CJCE, 1er févr. 1972, aff. 49/71, Hagen, n° 6 : “Sauf renvoi, explicite ou implicite, au droit national, les notions juridiques utilisées par le droit communautaire doivent être interprétées et appliquées de façon uniforme dans l'ensemble de la communauté ». – Puis CJCE 14 oct. 1976, aff. 29/76, Eurocontrol, n° 3. Sur la participation des notions autonomes à l’autonomie de l’ordre juridique du droit de l’Union européenne, V. également J.-CL. Gautron Loïc Cadiet 216 Cette évolution a quelque chose de troublant dans la mesure où, en définitive, à travers les principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité, c’est à l’autonomie du droit de l’Union européenne que l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres se heurte. En vérité, il est bien étrange de présenter comme des limites à un principe, celui de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats et S. Platon, « La naissance d’une singularité doctrinale : les européanistes », in J.- B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 109 et s., spéc. p. 116. Pour une vue plus générale, V. D. Simon, « Les ‘notions autonomes’ en droit de l’Union », in Mélanges Henri Oberdorf, LGDJ, 2015, p. 93 et s. Et, pour les applications privilégiées qui en sont faites en droit international privé, conf. M. Audit, « L’interprétation autonome du droit international privé communautaire », Journal du droit international 2004, p. 789 et s. – F. Mailhé, « Entre Icare et Minotaure. Les notions autonomes de droit international privé de l’Union », Mélanges Bertrand Ancel, Paris, Dalloz, 2018, p. 1137 et s. 69 V. p. ex. Directive 2014/104/UE du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 26 novembre 2014 relative à certaines règles régissant les actions en dommages et intérêts en droit national pour les infractions aux dispositions du droit de la concurrence des États membres et de l'Union européenne, art. 4 : « Principes d'effectivité et d'équivalence. Conformément au principe d'effectivité, les États membres veillent à ce que toutes les règles et procédures nationales ayant trait à l'exercice du droit de demander des dommages et intérêts soient conçues et appliquées de manière à ne pas rendre pratiquement impossible ou excessivement difficile l'exercice du droit, conféré par l'Union, à réparation intégrale du préjudice causé par une infraction au droit de la concurrence. Conformément au principe d'équivalence, les règles et procédures nationales relatives aux actions en dommages et intérêts découlant d'infractions à l'article 101 ou 102 du traité sur le fonctionnement de l'Union européenne ne sont pas moins favorables aux parties prétendument lésées que celles régissant les actions similaires en dommages et intérêts découlant d'infractions au droit national. ». – Règlement (UE) 2017/1939 du Conseil du 12 octobre 2017 mettant en œuvre une coopération renforcée concernant la création du Parquet européen, consid. n° 88 : « La légalité des actes de procédure du Parquet européen qui sont destinés à produire des effets juridiques à l’égard de tiers devrait être soumise au contrôle juridictionnel des juridictions nationales. À cet égard, il convient de garantir des voies de recours effectives, conformément à l’article 19, paragraphe 1, deuxième alinéa, du TUE. Par ailleurs, comme la Cour de justice l’a souligné dans sa jurisprudence, les règles de procédure nationales régissant les recours relatifs à la protection des droits individuels octroyés par le droit de l’Union ne doivent pas être moins favorables que les règles régissant des recours similaires au niveau national (principe d’équivalence) et ne doivent pas rendre pratiquement impossible ou excessivement difficile l’exercice des droits conférés par le droit de l’Union (principe d’effectivité). » V. également, de lege ferenda, le projet de règles procédurales minimum proposé par la Commission des affaires juridiques du Parlement européen, infra note 146. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 217 membres, d’autres principes, les principes d’effectivité et d’équivalence70. Il y a, dans cette terminologie, quelque chose qui heurte l’entendement : où est le principe, où est la limite? Et l’on comprend, en revanche, que l’existence, non seulement d’un principe d’autonomie procédurale, mais de l’existence même d’une autonomie procédurale des Etats soit très vigoureusement contestée71, et pas seulement parce que le prétendu principe de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres aurait fini par être anéanti en raison de l’expansion continu des exigences imposées par la jurisprudence « audacieuse mais logique » de la Cour de justice72. La proposition est d’ailleurs faite d’abandonner l’expression « autonomie procédurale » pour lui préférer celle de « compétence procédurale fonctionnelle »73, ce qui conduit à s’interroger sur la portée de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres, qui m’apparaît aussi incertaine que sa notion me semble mystérieuse. 70 Conditions conviendrait mieux que limites. V. d’ailleurs CJUE, 17 mars 2016, aff. C-161/15, Bensada Benallal, n° 25 : « Il s’ensuit que deux conditions limitatives, à savoir le respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité, doivent être réunies pour qu’un Etat membre puisse faire valoir le principe de l’autonomie procédurale dans des situations qui sont régies par le droit de l’Union », qui emploie ici limitatives au sens de exclusives. 71 V. p. ex. M. Bobek, “Why there is no principle of ‘procedural autonomy’ of the Member States’, in H. Micklitz et B. De Witte (eds), The European Court of Justice and the autonomy of the Member States, Antwerp/Cambridge, Intersentia, 2012, pp. 305–323. – D. U. Galetta, Procedural Autonomy of EU Member States: Paradise Lost?, Berlin, Springer-Verlag, 2011. – C. Kakoukis, “Do the Member States Possess Judicial Procedural ‘Autonomy’?”, Common Market Law Review, 1997, vol. 34, Issue 6, Issue 6, pp. 1389–1412. – J. Nowak, op. cit., 1.2.1.1. Comp. P. Girerd, “Les principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité: encadrement ou désencadrement de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres?”, RTD. eur., 2002, p. 75 et s. 72 En ce sens T. Debard, op. cit., n° 51. 73 V. D. U. Galetta, Procedural Autonomy of EU Member States : Paradise Lost?, Berlin, Springer-Verlag, 2011, p. 123. – En ce sens également M. Roccati, op. cit., 2.2., in fine. Loïc Cadiet 218 L’incertaine portée de l’autonomie procédurale à partir de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne Nous changeons ici de registre en quittant celui du droit positif pour celui de l’épistémologie juridique en raison des effets perturbateurs, voire « mutagènes »74 du droit de l’Union européenne sur les droits des Etats membres. Il est plus précisément permis de se demander si le traitement de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice n’invite pas à penser de manière nouvelle, à la fois, l’articulation des ordres juridiques de l’Union européenne et des Etats membres, ainsi que les catégories structurantes du droit des Etats membres. C’est au regard du droit français que j’aborderai ainsi, tour à tour, brièvement, l’autonomie procédurale et les rapports de systèmes (2.1), puis l’autonomie procédurale et les structures du droit (2.2), par où se dessine peut-être une nouvelle épistémê de la procédure en Europe. Autonomie procédurale et rapports de systèmes La réflexion en termes de rapports de systèmes part de l’impasse théorique à laquelle conduit l’analyse de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres en termes de principe que limiteraient les principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité qui sont l’expression de l’autonomie de l’ordre juridique constitué par le droit de l’Union européenne. Depuis que le terme est attesté, l’autonomie (emprunté au grec α υ ̓ τ ο ν ο μ ι ́ α) est le droit de se régir par ses propres lois; on ne peut donc rationnellement combiner deux autonomies, l’une excluant l’autre et vice versa. En quelque sorte, autonomie sur autonomie ne vaut. Laissant de côté les tentatives d’explication historique75 ou psychologique76 de l’aporie, c’est plutôt vers l’idée d’interdé- 2. 2.1. 74 R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, « De quoi le droit de l’Union est-il le nom? A propos du droit de l’Union en tant que droit commun des Etats membres », préc., p. 669 et s., p. 687. 75 Qui décrirait une évolution allant historiquement d’une autonomie à l’autre, soit de l’autonomie de l’Union européenne (des Communautés européennes) à celle des Etats membres, soit de l’autonomie des Etats membres à celle de l’Union européenne. 76 De l’ordre du verre à moitié plein ou à moitié vide, selon que l’on adopte le point de vue du droit de l’Union ou celui du droit national. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 219 pendance qu’il convient de se tourner77. L’autonomie, entendue comme la capacité à se gouverner soi-même, a été au cœur du projet de la modernité tel qu’il a été élaboré par les philosophes des Lumières et tel qu’il a été, ensuite, repris par le projet démocratique, à la fois dans sa dimension individuelle et collective. C’est une notion qui fait sens dans une conception kelsénienne du droit, mais cette conception ne peut plus rendre compte de la réalité complexe78 du monde juridique dit post-moderne79 caractérisé, notamment, par la globalisation des échanges, l’émergence des droits fondamentaux, la fragmentation des sources du droit, la contractualisation de la régulation sociale, l’horizontalisation de la production normative. Le phénomène est particulièrement sensible dans un pays comme la France où, au début du 19ème siècle, le droit avait été réduit à la loi et la loi enfermée dans des codes, en un légicentrisme exacerbé. L’Europe qui se construit depuis soixante ans est au rebours de ce modèle; elle révèle une réalité composite et dynamique, transcendant la distinction des sources du droit autant que la division du droit en systèmes nationaux80. « Entre ordre et désordre », selon l’expression de François Ost et Michel van de Kerchove81, ce n’est plus d’autonomie qu’il s’agit, mais d’interdépendance, ou d’indépendance dans l’interdépendance si l’on veut être rassurant. Le passage de l’ordre juridique traditionnel, centré sur la loi et identifié à l’Etat-Nation, à un ordre juridique régional conduit à articuler entre eux des processus normatifs et juridictionnels de niveaux différents afin d’harmoniser les solutions juridiques dans un espace normatif 77 Rappr. L. Azoulai et E. Dubout, « Repenser la primauté – L’intégration européenne et la montée de la question identitaire », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 567 et s., spéc. p. 571 : « Dans la Communauté, le droit communautaire et les droits nationaux se rejoignent. Non qu’ils se confondent. Suivant la doctrine de la Cour, il s’agit de deux espèces de droit également autonomes qui sont de facto en situation de proximité mais, de jure, en relation d’interdépendance. La primauté est précisément ce qui distingue ces deux espèces en les maintenant dans une relation de dépendance ». 78 V. en ce sens J.-P. Jacqué, « Quelques considérations sur les rapports de système entre ordres juridiques en Europe », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 1108 et s., spéc. p. 1109. 79 Voir not. J. Chevallier, L’Etat post-moderne, LGDJ, 2ème éd. 2004; « Vers un droit post-moderne? », in J. Clam et G. Martin, Les transformations de la régulation juridique, LGDJ, 1998, p. 21 et s. 80 Elle est à l’image de ce que Mireille Delmas-Marty appelle « la grande complexité juridique du monde » : M. Delmas-Marty, « La grande complexité juridique du monde », in Mélanges Gérard Timsit, Bruylant, 2005, p. 89 et s. 81 F. Ost et M. van de Kerchove, « Le juge entre ordre et désordre », in Mélanges Jacques van Compernolle, Bruylant, 2004, p. 470 et s. Loïc Cadiet 220 commun82; les institutions, les règles et les juridictions ne se substituent pas les unes aux autres, elles interagissent « en raison de leur aptitude à produire ensemble un effet juridique propre qu’aucune d’elles ne permettrait d’atteindre seule »83. A la rassurante métaphore kelsénienne de la pyramide se substituent les métaphores, perturbantes, du réseau84 ou des nuages ordonnés85, dans le cadre de ce que Mireille Delmas-Marty appelle un « pluralisme ordonné »86, qui est juridictionnel autant que juridique87. La hiérarchie fait place à la complémentarité, la suprématie à la primauté88. Les rapports de systèmes deviennent des rapports de mise en œuvre coopérative s’inscrivant dans une logique d’exécution89. Cette réalité-là appelle au développement de procédures de coopération, de dialogue, d’échanges, destinées à trouver des équilibres normatifs90. Le 82 Sur la notion d’espace, comme révélateur de la nouvelle organisation juridique qui se met en place au niveau régional : V. M. Delmas-Marty, « Vers une cinétique juridique : D’une approche statique à une approche dynamique de l’ordre juridique », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 145. V. également, sur les notions d’ordre et de système « pour désigner la réalité juridique de l’intégration », L. Azoulai et E. Dubout, « Repenser la primauté – L’intégration européenne et la montée de la question identitaire », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 567 et s., spéc. p. 574 et s., qui voit dans le choix du mot ordre le choix de l’institutionnalisme d’Hauriou contre le normativisme kelsénien. Conf. F. Picod, “La Cour de justice de l’Union européenne et les rapports entre les ordres juridiques de l’Union européenne et des Etats membres”, préc., pp. 995–996. 83 J.-S. Bergé, « Enrichir les rapports entre ordres juridiques par les rapports de mise en œuvre », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 593 et s., spéc. p. 593. 84 F. Ost et M. van de Kerchove, De la pyramide au réseau? Pour une théorie dialectique du droit, Bruxelles, Presses universitaires Saint-Louis, 2002, ainsi que « Repenser la coexistence des ordres – repenser leurs relations », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 151 et s. 85 M. Delmas-Marty, « Au pays des nuages ordonnés », postface de Pour un droit commun, Seuil, 1994, p. 283 et s. 86 M. Delmas-Marty, Les forces imaginantes du droit – Le relatif et l’universel, Seuil, 2004, pp. 19–20 et 412–414. 87 Rappr. M. Guyomar, « La recherche de l’harmonie entre normes internes et européennes : repenser l’équivalence », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 585 et s., spéc. p. 585. 88 Comp. L. Azoulai et E. Dubout, « Repenser la primauté – L’intégration européenne et la montée de la question identitaire », préc., spéc. p. 569. 89 J.-S. Bergé, « Enrichir les rapports entre ordres juridiques par les rapports de mise en œuvre », préc., loc. cit., qui y voit plus précisément des rapports de mise en œuvre « institutionnels », à distinguer des rapports de mise en œuvre « matériels », intéressant les droits plus que les institutions. 90 Rappr. G. Canivet, « Les influences croisées entre juridictions nationales et internationales », RSC 2005, p. 799 et s. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 221 processus d’intégration est un processus d’interaction91. Là où la conception traditionnelle des hiérarchies normatives « conduit à une détermination prioritairement conflictuelle des relations entre normes juridiques et décisions juridictionnelles »92, l’interdépendance postule nécessairement la coopération, loyale, des institutions, ce qui ne signifie pas que l’entreprise soit aisée car une coopération loyale n’est pas une coopération spontanément harmonieuse93; c’est une affaire de dosage subtil94, d’ajustement permanent et, partant, incertain95, entre les intérêts nationaux et l’intérêt commun96, si l’on veut bien admettre que le droit de l’Union européenne est le droit commun des Etats membres, « entendu comme droit de la mitoyenneté » selon l’expression proposée par Rostane Mehdi et Estelle Brosset, le droit de l’Union étant « comme le mur mitoyen, un droit tout à la fois intermédiaire, partagé, mais propre à chacun », ne pouvant se maintenir que « grâce à une harmonie acceptable entre intérêt commun et intérêt singulier »97. 91 Rappr. M. Delmas-Marty, « Vers une cinétique juridique : D’une approche statique à une approche dynamique de l’ordre juridique », préc., p. 141 et s. – J.-S. Bergé, « Enrichir les rapports entre ordres juridiques par les rapports de mise en œuvre », préc. 92 D. Simon, « Repenser le raisonnement interprétatif : autonomie ou circulation des principes, des méthodes et des techniques, dans les rapports de systèmes », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 605 et s., spéc. p. 605. 93 V. p. ex. R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, « De quoi le droit de l’Union est-il le nom? A propos du droit de l’Union en tant que droit commun des Etats membres », in J.- B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 669 et s., spéc. p. 686–687. – F. Ost et M. van de Kerchove, « Repenser la coexistence des ordres – repenser leurs relations », préc., p. 167 : « Si l’articulation de ces différents ordres juridiques suscite l’apparition de nombreux mécanismes de coopération, elle n’exclut pas la subsistance de différents phénomènes partiels de dissonance ». 94 « Balancing emerges as the only viable solution » : K. Lenaerts, op. cit., p. 14. 95 Rappr. L. Azoulai et E. Dubout, « Repenser la primauté – L’intégration européenne et la montée de la question identitaire », préc., spéc. p. 577 : « Il y a un excès propre à la manière dont la Cour de justice a développé les caractères de la primauté du droit de l’Union. Cela résulte de la manière idéale dont elle a été conçue et de la volonté qui s’ensuit de donner toutes les preuves de son existence concrète. Cela vient aussi sans doute de la position incertaine dans laquelle se trouve la Cour de justice ellemême, qui cherche dans les caractères de la primauté qu’elle a forgée le miroir de son identité ». 96 V. déjà P. Pescatore, Le droit de l’intégration, préc., p. 85, selon lequel droit communautaire et droits nationaux sont dans un « rapport entre le tout et la partie, entre l’intérêt commun et l’intérêt particulier ». 97 V. R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, « De quoi le droit de l’Union est-il le nom? A propos du droit de l’Union en tant que droit commun des Etats membres », préc., p. 672. Loïc Cadiet 222 Cette coopération loyale est inscrite de manière déclaratoire au fronton du pacte communautaire, à l’article 4 du traité sur l’Union européenne98. Elle s’incarne, techniquement, dans le mécanisme de coopération juridictionnelle que constitue la procédure de renvoi préjudiciel dans laquelle Pierre Pescatore voyait un « lien de communication organique créé entre la Cour communautaire et les juridictions nationales de tout ordre et de tout degré »99 et, de fait, la Cour de justice y fait régulièrement référence lorsqu’elle se réfère à l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres au regard des exigences d’équivalence et d’effectivité100. Ce dialogue des juges101, destiné à faciliter la résolution des conflits de normes en favorisant « la définition du réglage optimal entre les offices des différents juges »102, est concrètement mis en œuvre lorsque la Cour de justice, pour aider les juridictions nationales103 à satisfaire aux principes d’équivalence et d’effec- 98 Art. 4, 2° TUE : « En vertu du principe de coopération loyale, l'Union et les États membres se respectent et s'assistent mutuellement dans l'accomplissement des missions découlant des traités. ». Le principe de coopération innerve plus largement l’Union européenne, sans se limiter aux processus verticaux de coopération entre la Cour de justice et les juridictions nationales : V. A. Rosas, “The European Court of Justice in context: forms and patterns of judicial dialogue”, European Journal of Legal Studies, 2007, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 13–14; il infuse de plus les relations horizontales des juridictions nationales entre elles dans le domaine de la coopération judiciaire : V. L. Cadiet, “The Emergence of a Model of Cooperative Justice in Europe: Horizontal Dimensions”, Florence, European University Institute, 5 December 2013, Working Paper Series, 2014, http://cadmus.eui.eu/handle/1 814/32632. 99 P. Pescatore, op. cit., p. 89. Selon L. Azoulai et E. Dubout, op. cit., p. 571, « l’analyse de Pescatore anticipe mot pour mot l’approche de la Cour dans son arrêt Simmenthal » (CJCE, 9 mars 1978, aff. C-106/77, Administration des finances de l’Etat c. SA Simmenthal », et. P. 577, c’est la procédure du renvoi préjudiciel qui « a rendu possible l’affirmation de la primauté » en faisant « surgir le droit de l’Union et son juge dans le cours d’une procédure judiciaire nationale ». 100 V. K. Lenaerts, op. cit. et loc. cit. : “Moreover, in accordance with the principle of sincere cooperation laid down in art. 4(3) TEU, national courts are required, so far as possible, to interpret and apply national procedural rules governing the exercise of rights of action in a way that achieves that result. It should be stress that the relationship between EU institutions and national courts is not hierarchical, but co-operative”. 101 Selon l’expression consacrée depuis les conclusions de B. Genevois sur CE, ass., 22 déc. 1978, n° 11604, Cohn-Bendit, Rec. Lebon 524. 102 M. Guyomar, « La recherche de l’harmonie entre normes internes et européennes : repenser l’équivalence », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 586 et s., spéc. p. 586. 103 Rappr. CJUE, 9 nov. 2017, aff. C-217/6, Commission européenne c. Dimos Zagoriou, n° 43 : « assister la juridiction de renvoi dans la solution du litige concret pendant devant elle ». L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 223 tivité, définit des directives qui sont une sorte de guide méthodologique104 destiné à permettre l’unité d’interprétation dans la mise en œuvre de ces principes105. C’est ainsi que, s’agissant du principe d’équivalence, elle invite le juge national à vérifier l’équivalence des modalités procédurales « sous l’angle de leur objet, de leur cause et de leurs éléments essentiels »106. En ce qui concerne le principe d’effectivité, afin de déterminer si une disposition procédurale nationale rend impossible ou excessivement difficile l’application du droit de l’Union, la Cour appelle les juges nationaux à tenir compte « de la place de cette disposition dans l’ensemble de la procédure, de son déroulement et de ses particularités devant les diverses instances nationales »107 et, dans cette perspective, à « prendre en considération, le cas échéant, les principes qui sont à la base du système juridictionnel national, tels que la protection de droits de la défense, le principe de sécurité juridique et le bon déroulement de la procédure »108. Jusqu’à présent, l’avis des observateurs réguliers de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice est que cette coopération s’est avérée fructueuse grâce à « la modération réciproque des acteurs »109, jusqu’à considérer que les rapports entre la Cour de justice et les juridictions nationales sont même entrés, « au cours des dernières années, dans une ère de rassurante clarté » et qu’ils paraissent aujourd’hui « empreints de la sagesse que l’on prête souvent aux connivences qui se sont imposées après de longues périodes de défiance »110. 104 Rappr. 14 sept. 2016, aff. C-184/15 et C-197/15, Florentina Martínez Andrés c. Servicio Vasco de Salud et Juan Carlos Castrejana López, n° 44 : “La Cour, statuant sur renvoi préjudiciel, peu, néanmoins, apporter des précisions visant à guider ladite juridiction dans son appréciation”. 105 V. T. Debard, op. cit., n° 26–27. 106 V. p. ex. CJCE, 16 mai 2000, aff. C-78/98, Preston. – CJUE, 26 janv. 2101, aff. C-118/08, Transportes urbanos. – CJUE, 17 mars 2016, aff. C-161/15, Bensada Benallal. – CJUE, 9 nov. 2017, aff. C-217/6, préc., n° 20. V. K. Lenaerts, op. cit., 2, pp. 16–19. 107 V. p. ex. CJUE, 3 oct. 2013, aff. C-32/12, Soledad Duarte Hueros c. Autociba SA. et Automóviles Citroën España SA, n° 34. – CJUE, 9 nov. 2017, aff. C-217/6, préc. 108 V. p. ex. CJCE, 14 déc. 1995, aff. C-312/93, Petebroeck, n° 14. – CJUE, 8 juill. 2010, Bulicke, C‑246/09, n° 35. – CJUE, 8 sept. 2011, aff. C-177/10, Rosaldo Santana, n° 92. – CJUE, 14 sept. 2016, aff. C-184/15 et C-197/15, préc., n° 61. – CJUE, 7 mars 2018, aff. 494/16, Giuseppa Santoro. 109 J.-P. Jacqué, op. cit., p. 1121, se référant, en matière de protection des droits fondamentaux, à A. Tizzano, « La protection des droits fondamentaux en Europe et les juridictions constitutionnelles nationales », Rev. dr. UE 2006, p. 9 et s. 110 R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, op. cit. p. 686. Rappr. J.-P. Jacqué, op. cit., p. 1108 : « Les différentes juridictions nationales ou internationales, déploient, à travers un dialogue constructif, de louables efforts pour tenter de démêler l’écheveau des contradictions Loïc Cadiet 224 Le jugement appelle cependant deux observations. D’abord, la Cour de justice, si elle n’est pas une autorité politique, ne peut cependant pas faire abstraction de la dimension politique des arrêts qu’elle rend et, sans doute, sa jurisprudence révèle-t-elle, ici et là, les signes d’ajustements que nécessite, par exemple, l’émergence du respect revendiqué de l’identité nationale des Etats membres à travers, notamment, certaines de leurs spécificités constitutionnelles111. A cet égard, il ne faut pas négliger l’incidence que pourrait avoir à l’avenir, sur le fonctionnement des institutions européennes et, par ricochet, sur la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice, y compris dans le domaine qui nous intéresse ici, ce que Loïc Azoulai et Edouard Dubout appellent « la montée de la question identitaire », corrélée au développement du populisme et invitant, selon eux, à « repenser la primauté »112. Il y a là un élément d’incertitude auquel il faut ajouter, en outre, la nature même de « ce pouvoir judiciaire européen » dont Pierre Pescatore avait fait, avec prescience, une des caractéristiques majeures du droit de l’intégration européenne113. C’est alors sur les structures du droit national que la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice relative à l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres exerce son effet perturbateur. Autonomie procédurale et structures du droit Cette dernière question est complexe et mériterait une étude à elle seule. Je me bornerai donc ici à quelques observations lapidaires relatives à l’effet perturbateur de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice sur les sources du droit et les divisions du droit, au regard du moins du droit français. 2.2. inhérentes aux rapports de système », p. 1110 : « La survie du système doit beaucoup à la tolérance et à l’ouverture réciproque des juridictions nationales et européennes » et p. 1141 : « la sagesse a prévalu jusqu’à présent grâce à l’attitude coopérative des juridictions suprêmes ». 111 Sur la théorie des « contre-limites » développée par certaines juridictions constitutionnelles nationales, V. J.-P. Jacqué, « Quelques considérations sur les rapports de système entre ordres juridiques en Europe », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 1108 et s., spéc. p. 1120 et s. Rappr. D. Simon, « Repenser le raisonnement interprétatif : autonomie ou circulation des principes, des méthodes et des techniques, dans les rapports de systèmes », préc., spéc. p. 627 et s., à propos de la place que prend, au sein du raisonnement interprétatif, la référence à l’identité propre du système, notamment à l’identité constitutionnelle. 112 L. Azoulai et E. Dubout, « Repenser la primauté – L’intégration européenne et la montée de la question identitaire », in J.-B. Bonnet (dir.), op. cit., p. 567 et s. 113 P. Pescatore, op. cit., p. 73 et s. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 225 Il apparaît, en premier lieu, que la mise en œuvre coopérative du droit de l’Union européenne par le juge national suppose une exacte et claire connaissance, par celui-ci, des sources du droit de l’Union. Or cette connaissance est problématique en ce qui concerne la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice. La question n’est pas tant celle de savoir si la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice est une source de droit, ce qui peut être discuté114 comme pour toute jurisprudence115, que celle de son intelligibilité et de sa prévisibilité, non seulement par les juridictions suprêmes des Etats membres, mais aussi par les juridictions du fond, qui devraient participer pleinement au dialogue de juges, et, plus largement, par les avocats des parties, sans parler des citoyens eux-mêmes qui sont les premiers destinataires de l’effet direct des normes européennes. Les acteurs de la justice nationale sont aussi les acteurs de la justice européenne; ils doivent pouvoir s’en emparer dès la première instance. A défaut de s’imposer par raison d’autorité, comme la loi générale et abstraite, la jurisprudence, particulière et concrète, ne peut s’imposer que par l’autorité de ses raisons, auctoritate rationis sed non ratione auctoritatis. La difficulté est que ces raisons, même si elles sont exposées amplement et précisément, ne le sont, inévitablement, qu’à l’occasion de chaque affaire dont la Cour de justice est saisie sur renvoi préjudiciel et cette casuistique, aléatoire116, complique considérablement une connaissance systématique de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice, malgré le soin apporté aux renvois auxquels elle procède à ses arrêts antérieurs et leur contribution à la définition, jugée insuffisante, de « lignes de jurisprudence »117. Un auteur s’interroge ainsi : « Par exemple, la Cour de justice a très largement investi le champ des litiges de consommation en ce qui concerne le 114 La jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne n’apparaît pas toujours comme une source du droit de l’Union européenne : V. cep. M. Blanquet, op. cit., p. 428 et s. – J. Rideau, « Ordre juridique de l’Union européenne – Sources non écrites », préc. 115 Source ou autorité? Source de droit ou source du droit? Le débat est classique : V. not. J. Carbonnier, Droit civil, vol. I, Paris, PUF, Quadrige, 2004, pp. p. 190 et s. – L. Cadiet, « Quelques observations, en demi-teinte, sur la prévisibilité du jugement et la jurisprudence concrète », in La justice du 21ème siècle – Le citoyen au cœur du service public de la justice, Les actes du débat national, Paris, Ministère de la justice, 2014, pp. 156–159. Ce débat se modernise avec le développement des nouvelles technologies, de l’open data des décisions de justice et de l’intelligence artificielle : V. p. ex. P. Deumier, “La jurisprudence d’aujourd’hui et de demain”, RTD civ. 2017, p. 600 et s. spéc. pp. 604–606. 116 V. p. ex. M. Roccati, op. cit., 1.2. 117 M. Roccati, op. cit. et loc. cit. Loïc Cadiet 226 relevé d’office des clauses abusives, mais quid de ce relevé d’office dans les autres domaines du droit de l’Union? Peut-on transposer à un cas de discrimination fondée sur le sexe ou à toute autre disposition européenne? »118. A l’intérieur d’un même domaine, comme celui des clauses abusives, qui donne lieu à une jurisprudence abondante, les distinctions auxquelles se livre la Cour de justice peuvent apparaître « relativement subtiles »119, ce qui peut nuire à la compréhension, par les acteurs nationaux, du fondement et de la portée des solutions adoptées par la Cour de justice et, par voie de conséquence, à l’efficacité de sa jurisprudence même. L’incertitude quant au fondement a déjà été mentionnée en ce qui concerne le principe d’effectivité des arrêts Rewe et Comet dans sa relation avec la protection juridictionnelle effective de l’article 19,1 TUE et le droit à un recours effectif de l’article 47 CDFUE120; l’incertitude quant à la portée tient à la fois à la variabilité du comportement attendu du juge national par la Cour de justice afin d’assurer le respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité121 et à l’ « exportabilité » d’une solution retenue pour un droit national vers d’autres droits nationaux122, surtout lorsqu’est en cause la conformité « d’une pratique des juridictions nationales »123 avec les exigences du droit de l’Union européenne. 118 M. Roccati, ibidem. 119 M. Roccati, ibidem, qui illustre son propos en confrontant CJUE, 14 juin 2012, aff. C-618/10, Banco Español de Crédito SA c. Joaquin Calderón Camino, et CJUE, 12 févr. 2015, aff. C-567/13, Nóra Baczó. 120 V. supra 1.1. En ce sens, également, J. Nowak, op. cit., 1.2.1.3. – M. Roccati, op. cit., 2.2. 121 Dans certaines affaires, la Cour de justice demeure très générale, requérant simplement du juge national qu’il veille au respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité : ex. CJUE, 9 nov. 2017, aff. C-217/6, Commission européenne c. Dimos Zagoriou, préc., n° 12–26; CJUE 13 déc. 2017, aff. C-403/16, El Hassani, D. 2018, p. 313, obs. Jault-Seseke. Dans d’autres cas, elle attend du juge national qu’il prenne des mesures particulières, préjugeant de l’issue de l’affaire : ex. CJUE, 14 sept. 2016, aff. C-184/15 et C.197/15, Florentina Martínez Andrés, préc., n° 34–54, spéc. n° 43 : « il incombe donc à la juridiction de renvoi… », n° 52 : « Plus particulièrement, la juridiction nationale doit s’assurer… ». 122 V. p. ex. CJUE, 3 oct. 2013, aff. C-32/12, Soledad Duarte Hueros, préc., à propos des obstacles procéduraux résultant des règles du code de procédure civile espagnole et contrariant le succès d’une demande en résolution d’un contrat de vente d’un véhicule pour défaut de conformité de celui-ci à un contrat au regard de la directive 1999/44/CE du 25 mai 1999 sur certains aspects de la vente et des garanties de biens de consommation. 123 C’est l’expression retenue par la Cour de justice : V. p. ex. CJUE, 14 sept. 2016, aff. C-184/15 et C.197/15, Florentina Martínez Andrés, préc., n° 28. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 227 Ces difficultés sont aggravées par le fait que l’accès aux solutions procédurales définies par la Cour de justice ne se fait pas par la procédure (mesures provisoires, charge de la preuve, autorité de chose jugée, délais de procédure, relevé d’office), mais par la substance du droit en cause (clauses abusives, aides d’Etat, droits de propriété intellectuelle, garantie des biens de consommation, contrats de travail à durée déterminée successifs, etc.), ce qui provoque une connaissance morcelée des solutions procédurales de la Cour de justice et nous amène à la question, finale, de l’effet perturbateur de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice sur les divisions du droit. En second et dernier lieu, en effet, le droit de l’Union européenne en général, la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice en particulier, se jouent des divisions qui structurent les droits nationaux. Les travaux ne manquent pas sur l’ébranlement de la distinction du droit interne et du droit international sous l’effet du droit de l’Union européenne124, mais aussi entre ce qui relève du droit de l’Union et ce qui n’en relève pas, pas seulement en raison du développement des instruments de coopération judiciaire en matière civile et pénale125. Un arrêt rendu par la Cour de justice au début de l’année 2018 dans une affaire Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses, en fournit une remarquable illustration, cette affaire opposant le syndicat des juges portugais à la Cour des comptes du Portugal au sujet de la réduction temporaire du montant des rémunérations versées aux membres de cette juridiction dans le cadre des orientations de politique budgétaire de l’Etat portugais. Certes, la politique budgétaire du Portugal était sous contrainte européenne; sans doute était invoquée l’espèce l’atteinte portée par cette mesure de réduction salariale au principe de l’indépendance des juges consacré par l’article 19, 1, al. 2 TUE et par l’article 47 de la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne. Il n’en reste pas moins, comme l’écrivent Rostane Mehdi et Estelle Brosset, que « la notion de situation purement interne est (…) en voie de démonétisation »126. L’apparition d’une doctrine européaniste a joué un rôle certain dans cette évolution127. J’évoque cet aspect pour mémoire car, 124 V. p. ex. Société française pour le droit international, Droit international, droit communautaire : perspectives actuelles, Paris, Pedone, 2000. – L. Dubouis, « Introduction », Droit communautaire, droits nationaux, influences croisées, en hommage à Louis Dubouis, coll. Monde européen et international, La Documentation française-CERIC, 2000, p. 11. 125 V. supra notes 2 et 3. 126 R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, op. cit., p. 685. 127 V. J.-C. Gautron et S. Platon, op. cit. Loïc Cadiet 228 aujourd’hui, ce sont même, et surtout, les distinctions structurant le droit interne qui se trouvent bousculées. Il en va d’abord ainsi de la distinction du droit privé et du droit public, étrangère au droit européen128, qui les enveloppe dans un même mouvement. Non seulement, le droit privé s’est européanisé dans sa totalité, y compris en ce qui concerne les relations familiales129, mais le droit de l’Union européenne a provoqué un déplacement, sinon un dépassement des clivages structurant traditionnellement l’ordre français130 : clivages matériels séparant la sphère publique et la sphère privée131; clivages institutionnels résultant par exemple du dualisme juridictionnel, permettant ainsi à la Cour de cassation, juridiction suprême de l’ordre judiciaire de ne pas poser une question préjudicielle au Conseil d’Etat, juridiction suprême de l’ordre administratif, lorsque est en cause devant elle, à titre incident, la conformité d’un acte administratif au droit de l’UE132. Même si la question ne relève pas à proprement parler de la problématique de l’autonomie procédurale, la manière dont la Cour de justice a été invitée, si ce n’est instrumentalisée, dans le débat français sur la question prioritaire de constitutionnalité, fournit une autre illustration de l’effet perturbateur des normes européennes sur l’architecture juridictionnelle des Etats membres, de la France en l’espèce133. 128 R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, op. cit., p. 687 : « Le droit de l’UE n’est pas sensible à la distinction ‘droit public – droit privé’ car elle ne présente, le concernant, aucune véritable valeur heuristique ». 129 R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, op. cit., pp. 683–684, selon lesquels cette européanisation du droit privé a été rendue possible par la combinaison des libertés fondamentales garanties par les traités tels qu’interprétés par la Cour de justice, du principe de non-discrimination fondée sur la nationalité et du principe de reconnaissance mutuelle. 130 R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, op. cit., pp. 687–688. 131 R. Mehdi et E. Brosset, op. cit., p. 688. – J.-B. Auby, « La distinction du droit public et du droit privé », in J.-B. Auby (dir.), L’influence du droit européen sur les catégories du droit public, Paris, Dalloz, 2010, p. 300, selon lequel « le droit de l’UE peut, en fonction de ses seuls impératifs, placer la frontière entre ce qui est propre à la puissance publique, à l’ordre public, ailleurs que là où elle est située par les droits nationaux ». 132 T. confl.., 17 oct. 2011, n° 3828, SCEA du Cheneau, dérogeant ainsi, partiellement, au principe traditionnel issu d’une jurisprudence quasiment séculaire du Tribunal des conflits : T. confl., 16 juin 1923, Septfonds. V. M. Gautier, op. cit., pp. 946–948. 133 M. Gautier, op.cit., pp. 948–951, à propos des affaires Melki et Abdeli : V. C. cass., QPC,16 avr. 2019, n° 10–40.002; CJUE, 22 juin 2010, aff. C-188/10 et 189/10. Conf. Cons. const. 12 mai 2010, n° 210–605 DC, Loi relative à l’ouverture à la concurrence des jeux d’argent, et CE 14 mai 2010, n° 312305, Rujovic. L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 229 En vérité, au-delà de cette incidence sur les relations des juridictions nationales entre elles, y compris sur les relations entre les juridictions suprêmes et les juridictions qui leur sont subordonnées, c’est la séparation des pouvoirs qui est affectée par la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne, comme elle l’est aussi d’ailleurs par celle de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme. Appelé à œuvrer de conserve avec la Cour de justice à la réalisation des objectifs du droit de l’Union et à la protection juridictionnelle effective des citoyens européens, le juge national, juge européen de droit commun, est appelé à s’émanciper de la loi nationale en laissant au besoin inappliquée toute disposition contraire aux principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité. Si certaines dispositions des droits nationaux sont de nature à légitimer cette émancipation, comme l’article 55 de la Constitution française, l’évolution récente de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice conduit à se demander si cette émancipation n’est pas appelée à trouver dans l’article 47 de la charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne, relatif au droit à une protection juridictionnelle effective, un fondement renforcé, autonome, quasiment constitutionnel, par rapport au droit national134, susceptible d’habiliter le juge national, en l’absence de toute législation, à déterminer lui-même de nouveaux types de recours juridictionnel propres à assurer l’effectivité de la protection juridictionnelle des particuliers, ce qui pourrait porter encore plus loin que les solutions consacrées en matière de mesures provisoires ou de responsabilité de l’Etat. La perspective est audacieuse, sans doute politiquement discutable, et elle se heurte d’ores et déjà à certaines limites plus techniques tenant à la forme de ce droit procédural prétorien. C’est ici la distinction du droit matériel, ou substantiel, et du droit procédural, ou processuel, qui est affectée par le droit de l’Union européenne, qu’il soit issu de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice ou des instruments de droit dérivé. M. Janek Nowak en a remarquablement traité dans une communication présentée à Maastricht en novembre 2016 lors du congrès Ius Commune135. En substance, il y oppose deux approches de la procédure civile, l’approche sectorielle et fonctionnelle de l’Union européenne à l’approche horizontale et autonome des Etats membres. Dans l’approche des Etats membres, les règles de procédure civile, contenues dans des codes 134 V. p. ex. CJUE, 17 avr. 2018, aff. C-414/16, Egenberger, spéc. n° 78 : « l’article 47 de celle-ci, relatif au droit à une protection juridictionnelle effective, se suffit à lui-même et ne doit pas être précisé par des dispositions du droit de l’Union ou du droit national pour conférer aux particuliers un droit invocable en tant que tel ». 135 J. T. Nowak, op. cit., spéc. 1.4 : « Different Approaches to Civil Procedure », p. 29 et s. Loïc Cadiet 230 ou des lois dédiées, couvrent l’ensemble du procès civil, jusques y compris, parfois, l’arbitrage, les modes alternatifs de règlement des conflits, les procédures d’exécution; elles s’appliquent en toute matière et devant l’ensemble des juridictions, sous réserve ici et là de dispositions particulières à certaines juridictions ou à certaine matières136, qui n’affectent cependant pas l’unité de la législation et de son application jurisprudentielle. Au contraire, dans l’approche européenne, la procédure civile n’est pas considérée dans sa neutralité et sa globalité; elle n’est qu’un instrument au service de droits matériels qui en plient les règles à leur convenance de sorte que, par exemple, les pouvoirs d’office du juge, les règles de preuve ou de prescription, ne seront pas réglés de la même manière selon le contentieux dans lequel ils sont appelés à s’exercer137. Les solutions procédurales sont donc dispersées dans une multitude d’instruments ou d’arrêts sans cohérence d’ensemble. M. Nowak ne pense pas que cette distorsion puisse perdurer sur le long terme; la contamination des droits nationaux par l’approche européenne est à craindre, conduisant à une fragmentation des codes nationaux de procédure dont le contenu se disperserait dans des codes ou des lois de droit matériel, à moins que la règle européenne, spécifique au regard de sa fonction au service d’une règle matérielle du droit de l’Union, fasse l’objet, de la part du législateur national, d’une généralisation de nature à préserver l’unité du droit procédural de l’Etat membre138. Mais, en définitive, dans les deux cas, le pouvoir du législateur de l’Etat 136 V. exemplairement, dans le code de procédure civile français, les livres 2 (« Dispositions particulières à chaque juridiction » et 3 (« Dispositions particulières à certaines matières »). 137 Une ambigüité doit être ici levée. Sans doute, le droit processuel est traditionnellement un droit sanctionnateur au service du droit matériel (L. Cadiet et E. Jeuland, op. cit., n° 9). Usant d’une judicieuse métaphore, Gérard Cornu et Jean Foyer ont écrit du droit judiciaire qu’il était la « servante des autres lois » et, qu’à ce titre, il était « moins une espèce particulière de loi que la sanction de toutes les autres » (G. Cornu et J. Foyer, Procédure civile, Paris, PUF, 3ème éd. 1996, p. 67). Mais il n’en demeure pas moins, dans cette conception, global et neutre : la finalité matérielle qu’il poursuit est la réalisation des droits substantiels. C’est autre chose de le concevoir de telle manière qu’il serve un certain nombre d’objectifs spécifiques du droit matériel comme, par exemple, la protection du consommateur, du travailleur, de l’assuré, de la victime (V. p. ex. L. Raschel, Le droit processuel de la responsabilité civile, préf. L. Cadiet, IRJS éd., 2010). 138 Rappr. M. Campos Sanchez-Bordona, concl. sur CJUE, 5 avr. 2016, C-57/15, United Video Properties, n° 3 : « L’objectif d’harmonisation de certaines règles procédurales des États membres est perceptible dans quelques directives, notamment dans la directive qui habilite la Cour à se prononcer dans une affaire qui, autrement, relèverait exclusivement des États membres. Le champ d’application de ces directives est, logiquement, L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 231 membre d’édicter les règles de procédure civile s’en trouverait affecté, directement ou indirectement. L’issue est incertaine car l’évolution peut se faire du côté des droits nationaux comme du côté du droit de l’Union. D’ores et déjà, les droits nationaux, ce qui est le cas du droit français, laissent se développer, en dehors du code de procédure civile, dans des codes de droit matériel, comme le code du commerce, le code de la consommation, le code de l’environnement, le code de la propriété intellectuelle, des pans entiers de règles procédurales provenant du droit de l’Union européenne139, l’office du juge en matière de clauses abusives140, la communication et la production des pièces en matière d'actions en domlimité à un ou plusieurs secteurs particuliers (la propriété intellectuelle, la protection de la concurrence, l’environnement, la protection des consommateurs, notamment). La multiplication des règles procédurales « sectorielles » – qui ne sont pas toujours cohérentes entre elles – qui doivent être transposées dans les ordres juridiques nationaux peut provoquer comme conséquence indésirable la fragmentation du droit procédural dans les pays qui sont parvenus, après de nombreuses années et un effort codificateur méritoire, à promulguer des lois de procédure civile générales destinées à se substituer précisément à la multiplicité des procédures préalables et à les ramener à une procédure commune. ». 139 Ou non : ainsi, pour l’action de groupe dont les règles, selon la matière litigieuse, sont dispersées dans différents codes de droit matériel, code de la consommation (art. L. et R. 623–1 et s.), code de l’environnement (art. L. 142–3– 1), code de la santé publique (art. L. et R. 1143–1), code du travail (art. L. 1134–6 et s.) ou loi spéciale comme la Loi n° 78–17 du 6 janvier 1978 relative à l'informatique, aux fichiers et aux libertés, art. 43 ter. L’édiction de quelques règles générales dans une loi par ailleurs quasiment vidée de son contenu (art. 60–83, L. n° 2016–1547 du 18 novembre 2016 de modernisation de la justice du XXIe siècle), dont est d’ailleurs exclue l’action de groupe en matière de consommation, est loin de remédier aux inconvénients de cette méthode. C’est cependant dans le code de procédure civile qu’ont été accueillies les dispositions règlementaires d’application de ces règles générales d’origine législative : art. 848 à 849–1, réd. D. n° 2019–1133, 11 déc. 2019. Il en résulte un redoutable, et détestable, patchwork normatif. 140 Art. R. 632–1 C. consom. : “Le juge peut relever d'office toutes les dispositions du présent code dans les litiges nés de son application. (al. 1) Il écarte d'office, après avoir recueilli les observations des parties, l'application d'une clause dont le caractère abusif ressort des éléments du débat. (al. 2). La Cour de justice de l’Union européenne ne requiert pas du juge national, tenu par le principe dispositif, qu’il examine d’office chacune des clauses contractuelles qui n’ont pas été attaquées par le consommateur afin de vérifier proprio motu si elles peuvent être considérées comme abusives : CJUE 11 mars 2020, aff. C-511/17, Dalloz.actualité 31 mars 2020, obs. Pellier. Loïc Cadiet 232 mages et intérêts du fait des pratiques anticoncurrentielles141, la protection du secret des affaires devant les juridictions civiles et commerciales142 ou la protection juridictionnelle contre la contrefaçon143; en revanche, et paradoxalement, c’est dans le code de procédure civile (livre 5, art. 1528–1567) qu’a été accueilli le décret n° 2012–66 du 20 janvier 2012 relatif à la résolution amiable des différends, pris pour l'application de l'ordonnance n° 2011–1540 du 16 novembre 2011 portant transposition de la directive 2008/52/CE du 21 mai 2008 sur certains aspects de la médiation en matière civile et commerciale. Quant au droit de l’Union, il a développé des instruments sectoriels de droit dérivé contenant des dispositions d’ordre procédural144, qui sont autant d’outils d’encadrement législatif de l’autonomie procédurale des Etats membres145 complétant l’encadrement jurisprudentiel de la Cour de justice. La méthode a ses vertus, notamment pour garantir, mieux que ne peut le faire la jurisprudence, une protection équivalente dans toute l’Union; mais elle a aussi ses limites en ce qu’elle ne remédie pas à la fragmentation de la procédure civile, pas plus que ne peut y remédier la consécration des solutions de la Cour dans les instruments législatifs pertinents146. Le droit de l’Union pourrait aussi s’orienter vers une approche 141 V. C. com., art. L. 483–1 et s., réd. Ord. n° 2017–303, 9 mars 2017, compl. D. n° 2017–305, 9 mars 2017, transposant la directive 2014/104/UE du 26 novembre 2014 relative à certaines règles régissant les actions en dommages et intérêts en droit national pour les infractions aux dispositions du droit de la concurrence des Etats membres et de l'Union européenne. 142 Art. L. 153–1 et L. 153–2 C. com., L. réd. n° 2018–670, 30 juill. 2018 relative à la protection du secret des affaires, transposant la directive 2016/943/UE du 8 juin 2016 sur la protection des savoir-faire et des informations commerciales non divulguées. 143 C. propr. intell., art. L. 521–1 et s., L. 615–3 et s., L. 623–7 et s., L. 716–3 et s., réd. L. n° 2007–1544, 29 oct. 2007 de lutte contre la contrefaçon, compl. D. n° 2008–624, 27 juin 2008 pris pour l'application de la loi n° 2007–1544 du 29 octobre 2007, transposant la directive 2004/48/CE du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 29 avril 2004 relative au respect des droits de propriété intellectuelle. 144 V. p. ex. supra notes 134–137. 145 V. M. Roccati, op. cit., 2. 146 V. d’ailleurs le jugement porté par la Commission des affaires juridiques du Parlement européen, dans son Projet de rapport contenant des recommandations à la Commission relatives à des normes minimales communes pour les procédures civiles dans l’Union européenne, Parlement européen – Commission des affaires juridiques, 2015/2084(INL), 10 févr. 2017, point H : « la nature fragmentaire de l’harmonisation des procédures au niveau de l’Union a été maintes fois critiquée et que l’émergence d’un droit de l’Union de type sectoriel dans les procédures civiles ne favorise guère la cohérence des systèmes nationaux de procédure civile ni des divers instruments L’autonomie procédurale dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice 233 globale et horizontale ainsi que le projet en a été envisagé au sein du parlement européen avec la proposition de recommandations à la Commission relatives à des normes minimales communes pour les procédures civiles dans l’Union européenne. Faisant référence aux travaux actuellement menés par l’Institut européen du droit (European law institute), conjointement avec UNIDROIT, sur l’élaboration d’un corpus de Règles européennes de procédure civile147. Ce rapport mentionne, dans ses visas, la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne (CJUE) sur les principes de l’autonomie procédurale nationale et de la protection juridictionnelle effective, spécialement de l’arrêt Comet148 et de l’arrêt UNIBET149. Mais, s’il rend hommage au « rôle capital que joue la Cour de justice dans la mise en place des fondements de la procédure civile dans l’Union, puisqu’elle a défini le sens de cette procédure dans l’ordre juridique de l’Union » et « même si la jurisprudence de la Cour a fixé des normes procédurales qui font aujourd’hui partie intégrante du régime procédural de l’Union », ce rapport souligne cependant que « le rôle de la Cour devrait essentiellement être considéré comme un rôle d’interprétation plutôt que de définition des normes ». Il serait présomptueux d’affirmer que la messe est dite. La question est en tout cas posée de savoir si, vingt ans après le projet Storme, les résistances des Etats membres seront définitivement toujours aussi fortes pour faire obstacle à ce que le législateur de l’Union investisse davantage le champ de la procédure150. C’est mon souhait personnel, mais ce n’est que le souhait d’un Huron au palais du Kirchberg. de l’Union », Au demeurant, ainsi que l’observe M. Roccati, op. cit. et loc. cit., le législateur européen s’est montré très discret dans sa proposition de directive « alors même que la Cour de justice avait déjà bien affirmé sa jurisprudence relative au relevé d’office des clauses abusives » : Proposition de directive relative aux droits des consommateurs COM(2008) 614 final, 8 oct. 2008, art. 38 : « Les États membres habilitent les tribunaux ou les autorités administratives à mettre en œuvre des moyens adéquats et efficaces pour empêcher que les professionnels continuent d'utiliser des clauses jugées abusives ». 147 Projet de rapport contenant des recommandations à la Commission relatives à des normes minimales communes pour les procédures civiles dans l’Union européenne, préc. 148 V. supra notes 10 et 35. 149 CJCE, 13 mars 2007, C-432/05, Unibet (London) Ltd c. Justitiekanslern : en l’absence de dispositions de l’Union harmonisant les modalités procédurales, la primauté des États membres pour fixer des modalités procédurales pour l’application des droits conférés par l’Union ne s’étend pas à l’ouverture de nouvelles voies de recours dans les ordres juridiques nationaux pour garantir l’applicabilité du droit de l’Union. 150 Conf. M. Roccati, op. cit. et loc. cit. Loïc Cadiet 234 La Charte des droits fondamentaux et les nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie procédurale des États membres L’exemple du droit européen de la procédure civile Michail Vilaras* Table of Contents Le renforcement du contrôle de l’effectivité du droit de l’Union à travers l’intégration de la Charte dans le contrôle (l’exemple de la jurisprudence sur les clauses abusives) 1. 239 La définition initiale des limites à l’autonomie procédurale nationale : la jurisprudence classique opérant un double contrôle d’équivalence et d’effectivité 1.1. 240 L’évolution du contrôle des limites à l’autonomie procédurale induite par l’entrée en vigueur de la Charte 1.2. 241 L’intégration du contrôle au titre de la Charte au contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité : la jurisprudence opérant un double contrôle d’équivalence et d’effectivité renforcé par la Charte 1.2.1. 241 La substitution du contrôle au titre de la Charte au contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité : la jurisprudence opérant un double contrôle d’équivalence et au titre de la Charte 1.2.2. 243 La juxtaposition du contrôle au titre de la Charte et du contrôle du respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité : la jurisprudence opérant un triple contrôle d’équivalence, d’effectivité et au titre de la Charte 1.2.3. 244 La substitution du contrôle au titre de la Charte au contrôle traditionnel de l’effectivité : une approche exceptionnelle pour des cas particuliers? la jurisprudence supprimant le contrôle d’équivalence et d’effectivité 2. 245 Propos conclusifs3. 247 * Juge à la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne. 235 Merci Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs, Dans le peu de temps qui m’est imparti, je m’efforcerai, sinon de définir, à tout le moins d’esquisser les paramètres de la problématique relative à ce que l’on pourrait qualifier de « nouvelles frontières » de l’autonomie procédurale des États membres dessinées par la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne. À cette fin, l’une des première questions qui se pose, est celle de savoir si la Cour a, peut, ou encore doit, substituer au contrôle classique du respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité qu’elle utilise pour encadrer l’autonomie institutionnelle et procédurale dont jouissent les États membres, en dehors du domaine harmonisé par le législateur de l’Union, un contrôle de non-discrimination, au titre de l’article 18 TFUE, et de proportionnalité au titre de l’article 47 de la Charte des droits fondamentaux? Il n’est, je crois, pas nécessaire de rappeler ici ce qu’est le principe d’autonomie procédurale et ce que recouvre le contrôle du respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité, ni de longuement décrire ce que ces principes entretiennent de commun avec le principe de protection juridictionnelle effective. Je me bornerai à rappeler que, comme la Cour a pu le relever, les « exigences d’équivalence et d’effectivité expriment l’obligation générale pour les États membres d’assurer la protection juridictionnelle des droits que les justiciables tirent du droit de l’Union »1. Il n’est, en revanche, pas inutile de souligner que la pertinence du questionnement trouve un fondement sérieux dans l’évolution récente de la jurisprudence de la Cour, à tout le moins dans certains domaines. Ainsi, dans le domaine des marchés publics, qui se caractérise par l’existence de directives procédant à l’harmonisation à la fois des dispositions matérielles et des dispositions procédurales des États membres [je vise par là la directive 89/6652 et la directive 92/133, concernant le procédures de recours en matière de passation des marchés publics], la Cour est passée 1 Voir arrêts du 15 avril 2008, Impact (C‑268/06, EU:C:2008:223, point 47); du 29 octobre 2009, Pontin (C‑63/08, EU:C:2009:666, point 44); du 18 mars 2010, Alassini e.a. (C‑317/08 à C‑320/08, EU:C:2010:146, point 49). 2 Directive 89/665/CEE du Conseil, du 21 décembre 1989, portant coordination des dispositions législatives, réglementaires et administratives relatives à l'application des procédures de recours en matière de passation des marchés publics de fournitures et de travaux, JO 1989, L 395, p. 33. 3 Directive 92/13/CEE du Conseil, du 25 février 1992, portant coordination des dispositions législatives, réglementaires et administratives relatives à l'application des Michail Vilaras 236 d’un contrôle du respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité à un contrôle du respect de l’effet utile des directives, telles qu’interprétées à la lumière des exigences de l’article 47 de la Charte. Je me permets, à cet égard, de vous renvoyer à l’arrêt du 15 septembre 2016, Star Storage e.a.4, qui constitue la première manifestation de ce mouvement jurisprudentiel. D’autres arrêts s’inscrivent dans ce mouvement de substitution. L’arrêt rendu par la Grande chambre, le 8 novembre 2016, Lesoochranárske zoskupenie VLK5, concernant la convention d’Aarhus du 25 juin 1998, sur l’accès à l’information, la participation du public au processus décisionnel et l’accès à la justice en matière d’environnement, en constitue un autre exemple topique. C’est également à la lumière de l’article 47 de la Charte que la Cour a, dans certaines affaires, examiné la définition par les États membres des modalités procédurales de recours en justice dans le domaine du droit d’asile et de l’immigration6. Les trois domaines ainsi répertoriés, marchés publics, protection de l’environnement et asile et immigration constituent autant de branches de ce que l’on peut considérer comme relevant du « droit administratif de l’Union ». Dans ces domaines, le droit de l’Union se caractérise par l’existence de dispositions explicites garantissant le droit à une protection juridictionnelle effective. Certes, ces normes sont souvent minimales, en ce sens qu’elles se bornent à définir l’objectif, garantir une protection juridictionnelle effective, en imposant en termes plus ou moins généraux l’obligation de prévoir des voies de recours appropriées, pour laisser aux États membres le soin de régler les détails institutionnels et procéduraux. Toutefois, quand bien même les compétences résiduelles ainsi conservées par les États membres dans la mise en œuvre de l’objectif de protection juridictionnelle effective s’apparentent, ni plus ni moins, à l’ancienne autonomie procédurale, il demeure que la Cour tend à contrôler leur compatibilité avec le droit de l’Union non plus à l’aune des principes d’équivarègles communautaires sur les procédures de passation des marchés des entités opérant dans les secteurs de l'eau, de l'énergie, des transports et des télécommunications, JO 1992, L 76, p. 14. 4 C‑439/14 et C‑488/14, EU:C:2016:688. 5 C‑243/15, EU:C:2016:838. 6 Voir arrêt du 19 juin 2018, Gnandi (C‑181/16, EU:C:2018:465), points 52 et suivants. La Charte des droits fondamentaux et les nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie procédurale 237 lence et d’effectivité, mais bien à la lumière des exigences découlant de l’article 47 de la Charte. Ce mouvement n’est cependant pas totalement univoque, à tout le moins pas encore. En effet, la jurisprudence de la Cour opérant un contrôle d’équivalence et d’effectivité continue à se développer, dans les autres domaines du droit de l’Union, mais parfois aussi dans ces mêmes domaines. Il peut ainsi être observé que c’est dans le cadre d’un contrôle plus classique du respect des principes d’effectivité et d’équivalence que la Cour analyse le respect par les États membres des exigences des droits de la défense dans le cadre des procédures administratives en matière d’asile et d’immigration7. De même, interrogée dans l’affaire El Hassani8 sur la question de savoir si l’article 32, paragraphe 3, du code des visas9, lu à la lumière de l’article 47 de la Charte, doit être interprété en ce sens qu’il impose aux États membres l’obligation de prévoir un recours juridictionnel, ce n’est pas sur le fondement de l’article 47 de la Charte que la Cour a construit sa réponse, mais sur une analyse classique en termes de respect des principes d’effectivité et d’équivalence. Nombreux, à vrai dire, sont les arrêts qui, avant mais aussi après le prononcé des arrêts Star Storage e.a. et Lesoochranárske zoskupenie VLK, opèrent un contrôle « classique » de l’autonomie procédurale, en intégrant, le cas échéant, un contrôle au titre de l’article 47 de la Charte dans le cadre du contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité. Dans une telle perspective, l’analyse de la réglementation nationale à la lumière de l’article 47 de la Charte permet à la Cour d’intensifier le contrôle usuel du respect du principe d’effectivité. Or, il se trouve que la jurisprudence de la Cour intéressant le droit de la procédure civile a ceci de particulier qu’elle illustre parfaitement ces différentes tendances. En effet, et tout d’abord, la jurisprudence de la Cour relative à l’interprétation de la directive 93/13/CEE du Conseil, du 5 avril 1993, concernant 7 Sur les droits de la défense, au plan administratif : arrêts du 10 septembre 2013, G. et R. (C‑383/13 PPU, EU:C:2013:533); du 5 novembre 2014, Mukarubega (C‑166/13, EU:C:2014:2336); arrêt du 11 décembre 2014, Boudjlida (C‑249/13, EU:C:2014:2431). 8 Arrêt du 13 décembre 2017, El Hassani (C‑403/16, EU:C:2017:960). 9 Règlement (CE) no 810/2009 du Parlement européen et du Conseil, du 13 juillet 2009, établissant un code communautaire des visas, JO 2009, L 243, p. 1. Michail Vilaras 238 les clauses abusives dans les contrats conclus avec les consommateurs10 fournit plusieurs exemples d’arrêts intégrant l’article 47 de la Charte dans le contrôle classique du principe d’effectivité. Mais c’est également dans le domaine de la procédure civile que l’on trouve sans doute les exemples les plus significatifs d’une substitution d’un contrôle au regard de la Charte au contrôle du respect des principes d’effectivité et d’équivalence. Le domaine de la procédure civile constitue, ainsi, un très bon observatoire des nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie institutionnelle et procédurale nationale. Il pourrait même apparaître comme l’un des principaux laboratoires où se forgent les outils appelés à encadrer l’exercice par les États membres des compétences qui sont les leurs dans le domaine de leur organisation juridictionnelle et procédurale au sens large. Le renforcement du contrôle de l’effectivité du droit de l’Union à travers l’intégration de la Charte dans le contrôle (l’exemple de la jurisprudence sur les clauses abusives) Je rappelle pour mémoire que, afin de garantir la protection effective de consommateurs poursuivie par la directive 93/13 concernant les clauses abusives dans les contrats, la Cour a posé le principe que les juridictions nationales devaient pouvoir apprécier d’office le caractère abusif d’une clause contractuelle relevant du champ d’application de la directive 93/1311. Rapidement, la Cour a été confrontée à des réglementations venant limiter la portée de cette faculté. C’est à l’aune des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité qu’elle a tout naturellement examiné, dans un premier temps, la compatibilité des réglementations de cette nature, avant, dans un second temps, d’intégrer dans son contrôle les exigences découlant de l’article 47 de la Charte. Encore faut-il préciser que cette intégration s’opère de manière variable : il est des cas dans lesquels la Cour intègre la Charte dans le contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité, et d’autres où elle substitue le contrôle du respect de la charte au contrôle du principe d’effectivité12. 1. 10 JO 1993, L 95, p. 29. 11 Arrêt du 27 juin 2000, Océano Grupo Editorial et Salvat Editores (C‑240/98 à C‑244/98, EU:C:2000:346, points 26 à 29). 12 Voir arrêt du 31 mai 2018, Sziber (C‑483/16, EU:C:2018:367, points 29 et 35). La Charte des droits fondamentaux et les nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie procédurale 239 La définition initiale des limites à l’autonomie procédurale nationale : la jurisprudence classique opérant un double contrôle d’équivalence et d’effectivité Dans une première étape du développement de sa jurisprudence « Clauses abusives », c’est suivant une logique d’autonomie procédurale que la Cour s’est employée à encadrer les compétences des États membres, mais en s’écartant, à tout le moins formellement, de la formulation traditionnelle du principe. Ainsi, par exemple, dans l’affaire ayant donné lieu à l’arrêt du 21 novembre 2002, Cofidis13, elle s’est opposée à une règle portant fixation, dans les procédures ayant pour objet l'exécution de clauses abusives, d'une limite temporelle au pouvoir du juge d'écarter, d’office ou à la suite d'une exception soulevée par le consommateur, une telle clause. Une telle règle de forclusion est, en effet, de nature à porter atteinte à l'effectivité de la protection voulue par les articles 6 et 7 de la directive 93/13. Bien que la Cour se soit abstenue, dans son arrêt, de rappeler les termes de sa jurisprudence classique concernant l’autonomie procédurale des États membres, c’est bien à un contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité auquel elle se livre. Elle conclut, ainsi : « une disposition procédurale qui interdit au juge national, à l'expiration d'un délai de forclusion, de relever, d'office ou à la suite d'une exception soulevée par un consommateur, le caractère abusif d'une clause dont l'exécution est demandée par le professionnel, est de nature à rendre excessivement difficile, dans les litiges auxquels les consommateurs sont défendeurs, l'application de la protection que la directive entend leur conférer. » Cette approche sera confirmée dès l’arrêt suivant, à savoir l’arrêt du 26 octobre 2006, Mostaza Claro14. Je pourrais citer nombre d’autres exemples, mais il ne me semble pas nécessaire de consacrer de trop longs développements à cet égard. Ce qu’il convient de retenir, c’est que, quel que soit le contexte procédural dans lequel la question de l’obligation éventuelle pour les juges nationaux de soulever d’office le caractère abusif des clauses contractuelles se pose, c’est dans le cadre des limites à l’autonomie procédurale nationale qu’il y est répondu. Les juges doivent ainsi examiner d’office le caractère 1.1. 13 C‑473/00, EU:C:2002:705, points 35 et 36. 14 C‑168/05, EU:C:2006:675. Michail Vilaras 240 abusif des clauses contractuelles, dès lors qu’ils disposent des éléments de droit et de fait nécessaires à cet effet. L’évolution du contrôle des limites à l’autonomie procédurale induite par l’entrée en vigueur de la Charte Cette ligne classique d’analyse des restrictions apportées aux pouvoirs des juridictions nationales dans le domaine d’application de la directive 93/13 va cependant progressivement s’enrichir avec l’entrée en vigueur de la Charte. Deux tendances principales peuvent être distinguées. La première, la plus importante en nombre, consiste à étoffer le contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité avec les exigences découlant de l’article 47 de la Charte. La seconde, constituée pour l’instant d’une seule affaire, consiste à substituer le contrôle au titre de l’article 47 de la Charte au contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité. À vrai dire, comme on le verra, la jurisprudence fournit des exemples d’une troisième tendance, consistant à juxtaposer et à cumuler les deux types de contrôle. L’intégration du contrôle au titre de la Charte au contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité : la jurisprudence opérant un double contrôle d’équivalence et d’effectivité renforcé par la Charte C’est dans son arrêt du 21 février 2013, Banif Plus Bank (C‑472/11, EU:C:2013:88) que la Cour a, pour la première fois, intégré l’article 47 de la Charte dans le cadre de son examen du contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité. La Cour était, en l’occurrence, saisie d’une demande visant à déterminer les conséquences à tirer de la constatation du caractère abusif d’une clause, étant précisé que l’article 6, paragraphe 1, de la directive 93/13 exige que les États membres prévoient qu’une telle clause ne lie pas les consommateurs « dans les conditions fixées dans leurs droits nationaux ». C’est sur le terrain de l’autonomie procédurale que la Cour va s’employer à donner réponse à la question, en se livrant à un contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité. Elle va, toutefois, pour la première fois, intégrer l’article 47 de la Charte à son contrôle : « 27 S’agissant de l’obligation d’assurer l’effectivité de la protection prévue par la directive en ce qui concerne la sanction d’une clause abusive, la Cour 1.2. 1.2.1. La Charte des droits fondamentaux et les nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie procédurale 241 a déjà précisé que le juge national doit tirer toutes les conséquences qui, selon le droit national, découlent de la constatation du caractère abusif de la clause en cause afin de s’assurer que le consommateur n’est pas lié par celleci (arrêt Asturcom Telecomunicaciones, précité, point 59). La Cour a toutefois précisé que le juge national n’est pas tenu, en vertu de la directive, d’écarter l’application de la clause en cause si le consommateur, après avoir été avisé par ledit juge, entend ne pas en faire valoir le caractère abusif et non contraignant (voir arrêt Pannon GSM, précité, points 33 et 35). 28 Il découle de cette jurisprudence que la pleine efficacité de la protection prévue par la directive requiert que le juge national qui a constaté d’office le caractère abusif d’une clause puisse tirer toutes les conséquences de cette constatation, sans attendre que le consommateur, informé de ses droits, présente une déclaration demandant que ladite clause soit annulée. 29 Toutefois, en mettant en œuvre le droit de l’Union, le juge national doit également respecter les exigences d’une protection juridictionnelle effective des droits que les justiciables tirent du droit de l’Union, telle qu’elle est garantie par l’article 47 de la charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne. Parmi ces exigences figure le principe du contradictoire, qui fait partie des droits de la défense et qui s’impose au juge notamment lorsqu’il tranche un litige sur la base d’un motif retenu d’office (voir, en ce sens, arrêt du 2 décembre 2009, Commission/Irlande e.a., C‑89/08 P, Rec. p. I‑11245, points 50 ainsi que 54). » En l’occurrence, la Cour jugera que la règle nationale en cause dans le litige au principal, selon laquelle le juge qui a relevé d’office une cause de nullité doit en avertir les parties et leur donner la possibilité de faire une déclaration sur l’éventuelle constatation de l’absence de validité du rapport de droit concerné, répond à cette exigence. Ce premier arrêt sera suivi de plusieurs autres reproduisant globalement la même ligne de raisonnement : – arrêt du 27 février 2014, Pohotovosť (C‑470/12, EU:C:2014:101) – arrêt du 17 juillet 2014, Sánchez Morcillo et Abril García (C‑169/14, EU:C:2014:2099) – arrêt du 10 septembre 2014, Kušionová (C‑34/13, EU:C:2014:2189) Ce qui ressort nettement de cette jurisprudence, sans qu’il soit besoin d’en faire revue dans le détail, c’est que le principe d’effectivité, dans son acception traditionnelle, ne permet pas d’appréhender les réglementations nationales restrictives qui affectent les différentes composantes du droit à une protection juridictionnelle effective et/ou droit à un recours effectif et à accéder à un tribunal impartial : le principe du contradictoire dans Michail Vilaras 242 l’affaire Banif Plus Bank, le principe d’égalité des armes dans l’affaire Sánchez Morcillo et Abril García, le droit à l’aide juridictionnelle dans l’affaire Pohotovosť sont les chevaux de Troie de la Charte dans la logique traditionnelle de l’autonomie procédurale nationale. Cette ligne de jurisprudence, il faut le souligner, n’a cependant pas totalement remplacé la ligne de jurisprudence traditionnelle : les deux lignes cohabitent donc et se développent en parallèle, avec une troisième, plus récente, que je vais maintenant présenter. La substitution du contrôle au titre de la Charte au contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité : la jurisprudence opérant un double contrôle d’équivalence et au titre de la Charte La jurisprudence offre, en effet, un autre exemple de mixité du contrôle opéré par la Cour, mêlant un contrôle du respect du principe d’équivalence et un contrôle au titre de l’article 47 de la Charte, mais totalement détaché du contrôle du respect du principe d’effectivité. Dans l’affaire Sziber15, la Cour était interrogée sur le point de savoir si l’article 7 de la directive 93/13 devait être interprété en ce sens qu’il s’oppose à une réglementation nationale qui prévoit des exigences procédurales spécifiques pour des recours formés par des consommateurs ayant conclu des contrats de prêt libellés en devise étrangère contenant une clause relative à l’écart du taux de change et/ou une clause concernant l’option de modification unilatérale. D’emblée la Cour a considéré que, eu égard à l’objet du litige au principal, il convenait de procéder à l’interprétation de la directive 93/13, lue à la lumière des dispositions pertinentes de la Charte, notamment de son l’article 47, consacrant le droit à une protection juridictionnelle effective. C’est toutefois bien à un contrôle mixte auquel la Cour va finalement procéder, en se plaçant sur le terrain de l’autonomie procédurale et en se livrant, d’une part, à un contrôle du respect du principe d’équivalence et, d’autre part, à un contrôle du respect du droit à une protection juridictionnelle effective : « Si la Cour a ainsi déjà encadré, à plusieurs égards et en tenant compte des exigences de l’article 6, paragraphe 1, et de l’article 7, paragraphe 1, de la directive 93/13, la manière selon laquelle le juge national doit assurer la 1.2.2. 15 Arrêt du 31 mai 2018, Sziber (C‑483/16, EU:C:2018:367, points 29). La Charte des droits fondamentaux et les nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie procédurale 243 protection des droits que les consommateurs tirent de cette directive, il n’en reste pas moins que, en principe, le droit de l’Union n’harmonise pas les procédures applicables à l’examen du caractère prétendument abusif d’une clause contractuelle, et que celles-ci relèvent, dès lors, de l’ordre juridique interne des États membres, à condition, toutefois, qu’elles ne soient pas moins favorables que celles régissant des situations similaires soumises au droit interne (principe d’équivalence) et qu’elles prévoient une protection juridictionnelle effective, telle que prévue à l’article 47 de la Charte (voir, en ce sens, arrêt du 14 avril 2016, Sales Sinués et Drame Ba, C‑381/14 et C‑385/14, EU:C:2016:252, point 32 ainsi que jurisprudence citée). » Il est à noter que, dans ce point, la Cour se réfère expressément au point 32 de l’arrêt du 14 avril 2016, Sales Sinués et Drame Ba16, alors même que ce dernier se référait de manière traditionnelle aux deux principes d’effectivité et d’équivalence, sans même mentionner la Charte, pas plus, du reste, que l’arrêt du 5 décembre 2013, Asociación de Consumidores Independientes de Castilla y León qu’il citait17. Cet arrêt est, à ma connaissance, unique. Il importe cependant de préciser que les deux tendances évoquées ci-dessus, répertoriées dans le domaine d’application de la directive 93/13, ne sont nullement exclusives d’autres modalités du contrôle opéré par la Cour. La juxtaposition du contrôle au titre de la Charte et du contrôle du respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité : la jurisprudence opérant un triple contrôle d’équivalence, d’effectivité et au titre de la Charte La Cour, en effet, avait déjà expérimenté, avant l’adoption de son arrêt du 21 février 2013, Banif Plus Bank18, une autre modalité de contrôle, en examinant une réglementation nationale, en premier lieu, au titre du contrôle du respect des principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité puis, en second lieu, au titre de l’article 47 la Charte, en l’occurrence dans l’arrêt du 18 mars 2010, Alassini e.a.19. 1.2.3. 16 C‑381/14 et C‑385/14, EU:C:2016:252. 17 C‑413/12, EU:C:2013:800, point 30. 18 C‑472/11, EU:C:2013:88. 19 C‑317/08 à C‑320/08, EU:C:2010:146. Michail Vilaras 244 Dans cette affaire, la question qui se posait était de savoir si la directive 2002/22/CE du Parlement européen et du Conseil, du 7 mars 2002, concernant le service universel et les droits des utilisateurs au regard des réseaux et services de communications électroniques (directive « service universel »)20 et le principe de protection juridictionnelle effective s’opposait à une réglementation nationale, italienne en l’occurrence, en vertu de laquelle les litiges en matière de services de communications électroniques entre utilisateurs finals et fournisseurs de ces services doivent faire l’objet d’une tentative de conciliation extrajudiciaire obligatoire comme condition de recevabilité des recours juridictionnels. La Cour juge, en l’occurrence qu’une telle réglementation n’est incompatible ni avec les principes d’effectivité et d’équivalence, ni avec l’article 47 de la Charte. La substitution du contrôle au titre de la Charte au contrôle traditionnel de l’effectivité : une approche exceptionnelle pour des cas particuliers? la jurisprudence supprimant le contrôle d’équivalence et d’effectivité Le mouvement d’intensification du contrôle de l’effectivité du droit de l’Union lié à l’intégration du contrôle au titre de la Charte examiné cidessus, à travers l’exemple de la jurisprudence sur les clauses abusives, n’est pas exclusif d’autres tendances de la jurisprudence. La jurisprudence de la Cour intéressant le droit de la procédure civile des États membres au sens large fournit en effet des exemples dans lesquels la Cour s’est livrée à un contrôle direct au titre de la Charte, sans se référer aux principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité, alors même que l’affaire s’y prêtait assurément parfaitement. L’arrêt du 22 décembre 2010, DEB21, dans lequel la Cour consacre l’existence d’un droit à l’aide juridictionnelle des personnes morales, sur le fondement de l’article 47 de la Charte, en constitue un exemple particulièrement parlant. Dans cette affaire, la juridiction de renvoi demandait si les principes d’équivalence et d’effectivité devaient être interprétés en ce sens qu’ils s’opposaient à une réglementation nationale qui subordonnait l’exercice d’une action en réparation au paiement d’une avance sur frais et prévoyait 2. 20 JO 2002, L 108, p. 5. 21 C‑279/09, EU:C:2010:811. La Charte des droits fondamentaux et les nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie procédurale 245 que l’aide judiciaire ne pouvait être accordée à une personne morale qui n’est pas en mesure de faire cette avance. La Cour a choisi de reformuler la question, et d’examiner la réglementation nationale au regard de l’article 47 de la Charte seulement (point 33). Se livrant notamment à un examen minutieux de la jurisprudence pertinente de la Cour européennes droits de l’homme, la Cour a jugé que « le principe de protection juridictionnelle effective, tel que consacré à l’article 47 de la charte, doit être interprété en ce sens qu’il n’est pas exclu qu’il soit invoqué par des personnes morales et que l’aide octroyée en application de ce principe peut couvrir, notamment, la dispense du paiement de l’avance des frais de procédure et/ou l’assistance d’un avocat ». Ce qu’il est remarquable de noter dans cette affaire, c’est que la Cour ne tranche pas elle-même définitivement la question : elle renvoie au juge national le soin de « vérifier si les conditions d’octroi de l’aide judiciaire constituent une limitation du droit d’accès aux tribunaux qui porte atteinte à ce droit dans sa substance même, si elles tendent à un but légitime et s’il existe un rapport raisonnable de proportionnalité entre les moyens employés et le but visé ». Certes, les exemples de ce type de raisonnements et d’analyses sont plus nombreux dans le domaine du droit administratif. Mais la Cour l’a également récemment utilisé dans son arrêt du 14 juin 2017, Menini et Rampanelli22, qui posait une question proche de celle qui se posait dans l’arrêt du 18 mars 2010, Alassini e.a.23. La question qui se posait était en effet celle de savoir si le droit de l’Union s’opposait à une réglementation nationale, qui prévoyait, notamment, comme dans l’affaire Alassini e.a., le recours obligatoire à une procédure de médiation, dans les litiges visés à l’article 2, paragraphe 1, de la directive 2013/11/UE du Parlement européen et du Conseil, du 21 mai 2013, relative au règlement extrajudiciaire des litiges de consommation et modifiant le règlement (CE) n° 2006/2004 et la directive 2009/22/CE (directive relative au RELC)24, comme condition de recevabilité de la demande en justice relative à ces mêmes litiges. À la différence de l’arrêt dans l’affaire Alassini e.a., c’est sur le seul fondement du principe de protection juridictionnelle effective que la Cour examine la question, concluant en l’occurrence à la compatibilité de la réglementation nationale. 22 C‑75/16, EU:C:2017:457. 23 C‑317/08 à C‑320/08, EU:C:2010:146. 24 JO 2013, L 165, p. 6. Michail Vilaras 246 Propos conclusifs Que peut-on tirer de cette analyse? D’aucuns pourraient voir dans cette coexistence de lignes de jurisprudence diverses une certaine cacophonie, la marque d’un certain manque de rigueur dans les analyses, voire, plus grave, le témoignage de divergences de vues, de dissensions, entre les différentes formations de jugement de la Cour. Je considère, pour ma part, qu’il suffit de prendre un peu de hauteur pour comprendre ce qui est à l’œuvre. L’analyse de l’incidence du droit européen sur le droit de la procédure civile des États membres est, en réalité, très illustrative de l’évolution des outils utilisés par la Cour pour garantir l’effectivité des droits que les justiciables tirent du droit de l’Union et le cas échéant, quand cela s’avère nécessaire, assurer la primauté du droit de l’Union. Ce qui est à l’œuvre, c’est un processus de normalisation des procédures administratives, civiles, commerciales ou encore pénales des États membres, opéré au cas par cas par la Cour de justice, qui utilise à ces effets les outils à sa disposition pour résoudre les problèmes qui lui sont posés. La technique de l’autonomie procédurale suffit dans nombre de cas à garantir l’effectivité du droit de l’Union, des droits garantis aux justiciables par le droit de l’Union, par application non discriminatoire de l’arsenal national disponible. La Charte peut être mobilisée le cas échéant pour imposer des obligations positives, sur la base d’une interprétation utile, voire optimale, des dispositions du droit de l’Union créant des droits pour les justiciables. La primauté du droit de l’Union constitue bien entendu l’arme ultime de résolution des conflits de normes, qui demeurent finalement assez rares. Il apparaît ainsi assez clairement que, bien que casuistique, la jurisprudence de la Cour n’en présente pas moins de solides éléments de cohérence. La variété des configurations procédurales auxquelles la Cour est confrontée, décuplée par la variété des ordres juridiques qui les génèrent, est la principale raison de la complexité de la jurisprudence de la Cour, de son raffinement devrait-on plutôt dire. La Cour règle les problèmes qui lui sont soumis sur la base des informations dont elle dispose en utilisant tous les moyens disponibles. Il peut être utile de rappeler ici, pour conclure, que d’autres dispositions du droit de l’Union ont été exploitées dans une même perspective. Je pense tout d’abord à l’article 19, paragraphe 1, alinéa 2, TUE, que la Cour a mobilisé pour rappeler aux États membres les devoirs qui leur 3. La Charte des droits fondamentaux et les nouvelles frontières de l’autonomie procédurale 247 incombe au titre de la garantie de l’indépendance de la justice : arrêt du 27 février 2018, Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses25. Mais je pourrais aussi évoquer le rôle du principe d’autonomie du droit de l’Union, qui a également récemment été utilisé dans un objectif proche, dans l’affaire ayant donné lieu à l’arrêt du 6 mars 2018, Achmea26, pour trancher la question de la compatibilité avec le droit de l’Union des mécanismes de règlements des différends entre investisseurs privés et États généralement prévus par les accords bilatéraux d’investissement des États membres. Je vous remercie de votre attention. 25 C‑64/16, EU:C:2018:117. 26 C‑284/16, EU:C:2018:158. Michail Vilaras 248 The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration1 Fausto Pocar* The Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, concluded in Brussels on 27 September 1968,2 is celebrating today its 50th anniversary. It is a significant date and a long way off from its conclusion, marked by many important and successful events, some of which are also celebrating their anniversary this year. Indeed, the sister of the Brussels Convention, the Lugano Convention,3 is 30 years old. Her son, the Brussels I Regulation,4 is 18 years old and has just come of age. It is the anniversary year of a whole family, not to mention the growing of the family through accession agreements, which has brought its membership from the initial 6 to 28 members. Among them, it is worth mentioning here the accession convention concerning the United Kingdom,5 which is now 40 years old, and might soon be repealed should a hard Brexit occur, as reflected in a recent document6 issued by the British Government on handling civil cases if there is a no Brexit deal between the EU and the UK. Will it be the first, and hopefully the last, divorce in the family? The above is an unparalleled series of events in the life of an international legal instrument, which confirm that the Brussels Convention has * Professor emeritus, University of Milan; Dr. h. c. Antwerpen and Buenos Aires. 1 Dinner speech held at the Max-Planck-Institute, Luxembourg, on 27 September 2018. 2 The Convention entered into force between the original 6 Member States of the EEC on 1st February 1973, was given the n. 72/455/CEE, and published in OJEC, 1972, L 229. 3 Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters done at Lugano on 16 September 1988, OJEC, L 319, 25 November 1988. 4 Council Regulation (CE) No. 44/2001, 22 December 2000, OJEC, L 12, 16 January 2001. 5 Convention on the Accession of the Kingdom of Denmark, of Ireland and of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, concluded in Luxembourg on 9 October 1978, OJEC, L 304, 1978. 6 Handling civil legal cases that involve EU countries if there’s no Brexit deal, doc. gov.uk, 13 September 2018. 249 been the starting point of a prodigious development of European civil procedural law and legal cooperation through half a century, and more in general of European private international law. The Convention, indeed, permeated and continues to permeate many other EU instruments, until the most recent regulation which refers to the Brussels I Regulation as the governing procedural law for the settlement of disputes before the European Patent Court.7 But it is also the starting point of a cooperation on international civil procedure in a wider context, in particular if one considers that the Convention was the inspiring document of the initiative in 1993 – 25 years ago, another anniversary! – to draft a worldwide double convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in civil and commercial matters within the Hague Conference on Private International Law.8 That initiative faced a setback in 1999 and 2002, but later resurged with the adoption in 2005 of a more limited Convention on choice of court agreements, and recently with a more general, though restricted in scope, draft Judgment Convention which will be adopted by the Hague Conference in 2019, thus missing by only one year the fiftieth anniversary we are celebrating today. The just mentioned series of events marks a fascinating story, which would deserve much more attention that it can receive in a short speech, where it is impossible to go through all the many lights and the few shadows that accompanied the life of the Brussels Convention and its achievements as a central international and European legal instrument. Thus, this speech will try to address briefly only one main question: why is the Brussels Convention and are its developments so important for Europe and its citizens? and it will point only to a few features which appear particularly notable for the progress of the European integration. In this perspective it may be worth quoting an eminent French scholar, Berthold Goldman, who already in 1971 – before the entry into force of 7 Regulation (EU) No. 542/2014, 15 May 2014, OJEU, L 163, 29 May 2014 and Art. 31 of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, OJEU, C 175, 20 June 2013. 8 The Special Commission, which was established in 1996, submitted in 1999 a “Preliminary Draft Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters”, as well as a “Report of the Special Commission” drawn up by Peter Nygh and Fausto Pocar, but the following discussion at the first part of the 19th session of the Diplomatic Conference held in June 1999 did not lead to the adoption of a convention and its outcome is reflected in a Summary that took note of the proposals endorsed by Member States’ delegations. All these documents are published in Hague Conference on Private International Law, Proceedings of the Twentieth Session 14 to 30 June 2005, tome II, Judgments, 197, 207 (2013). Fausto Pocar 250 the Brussels Convention9 but, importantly, just the year of the adoption of the Protocol establishing the competence of the EC Court of Justice to interpret its provisions10 – wrote an essay where the Convention was characterized as a “traité fédérateur”, a federating treaty.11 While the article is more a description of the Convention than a discussion about why it is a federating treaty, the definition is hitting the mark. Why does the Convention deserve to be referred to as a federating treaty? This question may beg other questions and multifaceted answers, some of which I will try to address hereafter. Firstly, it must be recalled that the Convention was concluded in September 1968, at a time when the transitional period of the common market came to an end, due to the so called “acceleration decision”, adopted by the EEC Commission on 1st July 1968, eighteen months ahead of schedule, to introduce the common customs tariff and to eliminate all customs duties on trade between Member States. This temporal coincidence with the achievement of the common market may be fortuitus, especially in light of the several years of negotiations, starting in 1960, that were necessary for agreeing on a text and arriving at the conclusion of the Convention.12 However, the adoption of a treaty providing for the simplification of the formalities governing the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments envisaged in Article 220 of the EEC Treaty was a timely and appropriate measure to complement the free circulation of goods and services. It added a significant instrument of judicial cooperation aimed at supporting that circulation and making the settlement of disputes linked to the common market more uniform, speedy and effective. As the EEC Commission pointed out in a note inviting the Member States to commence the negotiations that led to the adoption of the Convention, a true internal market between them would be achieved only if adequate legal protection and, hence, legal security could be secured by providing for the recognition and 9 See supra, ftn 2. 10 The Protocol was adopted in Luxembourg on 3 June 1971 and entered into force on 1st September 1975, OJEC, L 204, 1975; see also an amended version of the Protocol in OJEC, C 97, 11 April 1983. 11 Berthold Goldman, “Un traité fédérateur : La Convention entre Etats membres de la CEE sur la reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale”, 7 Revue trimestrielle de droit européen, 1–39 (1971). 12 See Paul Jenard, “Report on the Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters”, OJEC, C 59/3, 5 March 1979. The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration1 The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration 251 enforcement of judicial decisions beyond the boundaries of each national territory.13 Secondly, and even more importantly, the adoption of the Convention contributed substantially to enhance, within its scope of application, the respect for human rights in the international civil procedural domain at a time in which their respect in this area of law was not felt so urgent and important as it is nowadays. On one hand, the suppression of exorbitant fora based on nationality that characterized the rules governing jurisdiction in civil matters in some contracting States and conflicted with human rights, as legal literature recognised much later, represented a significant step in that direction.14 On the other hand, a simplified procedure for the enforcement of foreign judgments, based on an injunction according to the model provided in the Hague Conventions on civil procedure concluded in 1905 and 1954 with respect to the decisions on costs, went in the same direction.15 There is no doubt that making justice more equal and efficient meant enhancing the protection of a basic human right as is the right to access to justice. And there is also no doubt that an equal protection of that right, as well as of all human rights, represented an essential federative pillar in a group of States as was the European Community, as is now the European Union. It is not by mere accident that when the Communities moved towards forming a closer union, the need was felt for the adoption of a common bill of rights, the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union,16 which was subsequently made formally binding for the European institutions in relation to their legislative and administrative activity, as 13 Paul Jenard, supra ftn 12, ibidem. 14 See Fausto Pocar, “Etude comparative des règles de conflit de juridictions dans les Etats membres de la C.E.E.”, in The Influence of the European Communities upon Private International Law of the Member States (François Rigaux ed.), 77–96 (1981); Patrick Kinsch, Human Rightrs and Private International Law, in Encyclopedia of Private International Law (Jürgen Basedow et al. ed), 880–886 (2017), and, more specifically, the interesting analysis of Laurence Usunier, “La compatibilité de l’article 14 du Code civil avec les droits fondamentaux, une question dépourvue de caractère sérieux?, 102 Revue critique de droit international privé, 775–788 (2013). 15 Fausto Pocar, “Alcune osservazioni in merito al procedimento per il riconoscimento e l’esecuzione delle sentenze straniere previsto nelle convenzioni dell’Aja e della C.E.E.”, in 5 Rivista di diritto internazionale privato e processuale, 132–138 (1969). 16 The Charter was solemnly proclaimed at Nice on 7 December 2000 (OJEC, C364/1, 18 December 2000), and was made formally binding only much later, with the Lisbon Treaty (see the adapted wording of the text, replacing the original one, in OJEU, C326/391, 26 October 2012). However, most of its content was sub- Fausto Pocar 252 well as for the Member States with respect to the implementation of Union law.17 A third additional factor should not be neglected. The exclusive competence for the interpretation of the Convention, granted to the Court of Justice with the Protocol of 3 June 1971,18 aligned the provisions of the Convention to those of the founding Treaties and the secondary community legislation for the purposes of their exclusive judicial interpretation, and recognised their equal role in contributing to the European integration and in providing for an additional guarantee in this respect. The importance of the Protocol as a powerful tool in the hands of the Court should by no means be underestimated in the perspective of the European integration. After a few years from the entry into force of the Protocol the jurisprudence became so rich in this new field of European law that its impact on the harmonization of the legal systems of the Member States was substantial. In this context, it cannot be denied that the determination of autonomous legal notions independent of national law for the interpretation of the Convention contributed to the unification of the law and performed a federative task. However, even when the Court chose the option not to interpret a notion autonomously, and rather preferred to refer to the national systems for its interpretation, such referral frequently meant that the national legislators were indicated to proceed themselves to unify the law. An example lies in the well-known question of the definition of the place of performance of contractual obligations. The Court’s reference to national private international law19 was regarded as a confirmation of the importance of the initiative whereby the States parties of the Convention were going to adopt common legislation with a view to unifying their private international law on the matter of contractual and non-contractual obligations.20 The Court’s decision not only confirmed the link between the Brussels Convention and the future Rome Convention of 19 June 1980 stantially applicable as of its proclamation, because it dealt with rights that were either present in the European Convention on Human Rights or in EU legislative acts, as well as affirmed in the case law of the European Court of Justice: see Fausto Pocar, in F. Pocar and M. Baruffi, Commentario breve ai trattati sull’Unione europea, 2nd ed., 1793–1795 (2014). 17 See Art. 51 of the Charter. 18 Supra, ftn 10. 19 Industria Tessili Italiana Como v. Dunlop (12/76), Court of Justice, October 6, 1976, Report, 1976, 1473 concl. Mayras. 20 See the Draft Convention on the law applicable to contractual and non-contractual obligations, Commission doc. XIV/398/72-E, Rev. 1 (1972), and the “Report” The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration1 The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration 253 on the law applicable to contractual obligations.21 It also served the purpose of contributing to identify a legal basis for that Convention, which could be indirectly be brought back to Article 220 of the EC Treaty as being ancillary to the Brussels Convention.22 In the same perspective, the Brussels Convention had also opened the door for the development of a more general “communitarisation” of private international law in Europe. But perhaps the main contribution to the recognition of a federative role of the Brussels Convention was provided by the Court of Justice with the Opinion rendered on 7 February 2006 on the competence of the European Community to conclude the new Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.23 On that occasion the Court expressed the view that the conclusion of the revised Lugano Convention falls entirely within the sphere of the exclusive competence of the European Community, rather than within a shared competence with the member States. In rendering such an opinion, the Court settled the scholarly dispute about the value of the reference made in Article 4(1) of the Brussels Convention to national rules of competence in order to establish jurisdiction over defendants non domiciled in a Member State. In particular, it had to decide whether that reference was a mere recognition of an original member States’ competence, as suggested by a part of legal literature, or marked the attribution to Member States of a competence of the Community, as suggested by another part of legal doctrine. By stating that Regulation Brussels I “contains a set of rules forming a unified system which apply not only to relations between different Member States, …but also to relations between a Member State and a non-member country”,24 the Court concluded in favour of the second alternative option.25 of Mario Giuliano, Paul Lagarde and Th. Van Sasse van Ysselt, doc. XIV/408/72-E, Rev. 1 (1972). See also these documents, in French, in 9 Rivista di diritto internazionale privato e processuale, 159–260 (1973). 21 OJEC, L 266, 9 October 1980. As it is well known, the initial project which comprised contractual and non-contractual obligations was later restricted to the domain of contractual obligations: see Mario Giuliano and Paul Lagarde, “Report on the Convention on the law applicable to contractual obligations”, OJEC, No C 282, 31.10.80, at 4 f. 22 Fausto Pocar, “Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgments under the EC Convention of 1968. A Review of Court Decisions”, 42 Rabels Zeitschrift für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht, 405–430 (1978), at 418. 23 Opinion of the Court (Full Court), 1/03, European Court Reports, 2006, I-01145. 24 Opinion, supra ftn 23, at 144. 25 Opinion, supra ftn 23, at 148. Fausto Pocar 254 It also drew from such a conclusion that there was a need to unify the national rules of jurisdiction over defendants domiciled in third countries, as it was subsequently proposed by the Commission in its Green Paper on the review of Brussels I Regulation.26 By offering a basis to the Commission’s proposal the Court substantially contributed to the establishment of an external competence of the European Union, which represents of itself a federative factor. An additional contribution in this perspective lies in the statement of the Court that a lack of uniformity of the rules of competence over defendants domiciled in third countries may constitute an obstacle to the good functioning of the internal market. It could determine a forum shopping in favour of the most convenient jurisdiction, whose decision will have effect in all the Member States as a consequence of the liberalisation of the circulation of judgments. Furthermore, conflicts between different rules of jurisdiction drawn up by various legal systems “could give rise to the concurrent jurisdiction of several courts to resolve the same dispute, but also to a complete lack of judicial protection, since no court may have jurisdiction to decide such a dispute”.27 By advocating the Union’s competence, the Court’s opinion thus not only underlined the importance of the unification of the external jurisdiction for the proper functioning of the internal market. It also stressed its importance for the establishment of a market where stakeholders receive equal and full protection of their right to access to justice, thus completing the scope of the agreement reached at the conclusion of the Convention with the deletion of the national exorbitant fora. In this respect the position taken by the Court contains a significant federative element. It is highly unfortunate that the competent EU institutions – the Parliament and the Council – as well as the Member States disregarded the opinion of the Court of Justice and did not implement it but to a limited extent in the revision of the Brussels I Regulation carried out some years later, in contrast with the proposal submitted by the Commission.28 This attitude of the legislative institutions is the more regrettable if one considers that 26 Green Paper on the review of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, COM(2009) 175 final, 21 April 2009. 27 Opinion supra ftn 23, at 141. 28 See European Commission, “Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction and the recognition of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Recast)”, 14 December 2010, doc COM(2010) 748 final. The new Regulation Brussels I (supra ftn 4) accepts the Commission’s proposal The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration1 The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration 255 the Court’s arguments – which rely on the proper functioning of the internal market and on the respect for a fundamental right like the access to justice – show that its opinion was not expressing a mere option but a binding obligation on the European legislator and the Member States. By failing to enhance the equal access to justice of its citizens, the EU institutions did not comply with Article 47 of the Charter of fundamental rights that they are obliged to respect within the powers conferred to them by the Treaties.29 It is highly desirable that this attitude changes in the near future with a view to putting the European legislation in line with the jurisprudence of the Court. These last developments show that, notwithstanding the many significant results achieved by the Brussels Convention and its related instruments during half a century, significant gaps still exist and need to be filled in order to enable the Convention to fully perform its federative role and reach the finish line pre-determined by its founding fathers. Harmonized rules on jurisdiction over defendants domiciled in third countries, as well as common rules concerning the recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered outside of the EU, are still missing and need to be adopted. Will the Convention succeed in achieving this goal in the next future? Or will the EU abandon this target with the hope that the lacunae will be filled in a worldwide convention concerned with the relations with third countries within the framework of the Hague Conference on private international law? While this perspective may be desirable, it does not seem to be realistic, at least in a short term, at the present stage of the harmonization of international law of civil procedure. As mentioned earlier, after 25 years of negotiations there are still serious difficulties of States to reach consensus on a double convention dealing both with direct jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments. The current draft Judgment Convention is limited to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and an addition of rules on direct jurisdiction is not at hand; furthermore, the scope of application of the draft is far more restricted than the scope of the Brussels I Regulation. As a consequence, a Hague convenonly as far as some protective jurisdiction is involved, in particular over consumer contracts and contracts of employment, but disregards the arguments, convincingly made by the Court of Justice and endorsed by the Commission, in favour of a general harmonisation of jurisdiction over defendants domiciled outside of the territory of any Member State. 29 Art. 51 of the Charter. Fausto Pocar 256 tion will govern the relations of the EU Member States with third countries only to some extent, leaving out many areas of those relations, which will continue to be governed either by national laws or by a European uniform legislation. Therefore, while a full success of the future Hague Judgement Convention may help to resolve a number of problems in the relations of the EU Member States with third countries, its worldwide dimension will not be suitable to ensure the coherence of a regional system as far as the equality of access to justice for all the persons residing in the Union is concerned. A legislative initiative of the Union will still be necessary to achieve this goal, and its importance needs to be pointed out on the occasion of this anniversary. A celebration is not only a time for expressing satisfaction with past accomplishments, but rather an opportunity to look at the way ahead. The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration1 The Brussels Convention: 50 Years of Contribution to European Integration 257 Delendum est Forum Delicti1? Towards the Jurisdictional Protection of the Alleged Victim in Cross-Border Torts Etienne Farnoux* Table of Contents The Rise of Fora Actorum in Tort Litigations1. 263 An Overview1.1. 263 Forum actoris through forum delicti (art. 5.3/7.2)1.1.1. 263 Forum actoris through derived jurisdiction1.1.2. 268 Low standard of proof at the jurisdictional stage1.1.3. 269 Forum actoris in the specific realm of personal data protection1.1.4. 270 An Explanation1.2. 270 The traditional explanation: localization1.2.1. 271 Favouring the plaintiff?1.2.2. 275 The Replacement of the Forum Delicti by a Forum Victimae2. 277 Reasons to Replace the Forum Delicti by a Forum Victimae2.1. 277 Regime of the Forum Victimae2.2. 281 * Professor at University of Strasbourg 1 In 1997, Georges A. L. Droz authored an article in French published in the Recueil Dalloz titled “Delendum est forum contractus? (vingt ans après les arrêts De Bloos et Tessili interprétant l'article 5.1 de la Convention de Bruxelles du 27 septembre 1968)” (Recueil Dalloz, 1997, p. 351) in which he expressed frustration at what was then article 5.1 of the Brussels Convention, the forum contractus. The title of the present article is intended as a reference to this seminal contribution, which itself was a reference to the Latin sentence “Carthago delenda est” (“Carthage must be destroyed”). The present paper outlines some of the conclusions of a PhD dissertation entitled Les considérations substantielles dans le règlement de la compétence internationale des juridictions – Réflexion autour de la matière délictuelle, defended in October 2017 at the Sorbonne Law School. The author wishes to thank MPI Luxembourg and the participants of the pre-seminar to “The 50th Anniversary of the European Law of Civil Procedure” conference for the thorough discussion and comments. 259 At first glance, the European rules of international jurisdiction are based on two fundamental principles. First, according to Recital 15 of the Regulation Brussels 1 Recast (“RB1R”), “the principle that jurisdiction is generally based on the defendant’s domicile” (the forum rei). The forum rei is not just one among several jurisdiction rules: it is a principle rule. This is expressed in the Latin maxim “actor sequitur forum rei” which means that the claimant should bring proceedings against the defendant at his/her domicile. This principle is expressed by the letter of article 4.1 Brussels Regulation (recast) (“… persons domiciled in a Member State shall … be sued in the courts of the Member State”) as well as by Recital 15 (“The rules of jurisdiction should be highly predictable and founded on the principle that jurisdiction is generally based on the defendant’s domicile”). There is a fairness justification for this: when the claimant and the defendant are not domiciled within the same State, it is the claimant who should bear the burden of litigating abroad because, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the defendant does not owe anything to the claimant. In other words, the Brussels system adheres, like many jurisdictional systems, to the principle of jurisdictional protection of the defendant2. Second, according to Recital 16 RB1R, “there should be alternative grounds of jurisdiction based on a close connection between the court and the action or in order to facilitate the sound administration of justice”. One such alternative ground of jurisdiction is found in article 7§ 2 RB1R which “in matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict” provides for the jurisdiction of “the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur”. This connecting factor exemplifies the research for a close connection between the court whose jurisdiction is envisaged and the subject-matter of the dispute. The general idea behind such a forum delicti is that it is the geographical localization of the dispute (or rather of the material elements of the dispute) that should determine the jurisdiction of a given domestic court. Apart from the generally accepted notion in private international law that localization is a relevant way of organizing state jurisdiction (both prescriptive and adjudicative), it is expected that the jurisdiction of a court with a close geographical connection with the dispute will offer both pre- 2 P. Jenard, Report on the Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters, Official Journal of the European Communities, N° C 59, p. 1, (hereinafter Jenard Report) spec. p. 18. Etienne Farnoux 260 dictability and sound administration of justice (especially concerning evidentiary issues)3. As a result, from the beginning, a significant part of the case-law, both by the domestic courts of the Member States and by the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”), under article 5.3/7.2 of the European jurisdiction system (the Brussels Convention and its progeny), dealt with issues concerning the localization of the material elements of the dispute (the “harmful event”, that is both the event causing the loss and the loss itself4). At first sight, it frames the jurisdictional debate as a debate on the localization of the material elements of the dispute. Yet, this program is faced with dire difficulties, namely the growing virtualization of entire swathes of human activities and the rise in cross-border private relations. In recent years, the ECJ, as well as the courts of the Member States, have been grappling with complex issues pertaining to the localization of the elements of a tort. It proves difficult, and in many cases artificial, to find the localization of an element “taking place” on the Internet and, thus, deprived of any materiality. Simultaneously, it becomes evident that the other founding principle of the European jurisdictional system faces difficulties. It becomes increasingly common that, in a given case, the result of the interpretation of the forum delicti allows the plaintiff to sue at home and not at the defendant’s home, opening a de facto forum actoris, contrary to the principle forum rei. This is problematic because, as stated above, forum rei is not just one among several jurisdiction rules: it is a principle rule. The question is whether this principle still holds or whether it has effectively been overturned. One way to look at it, one that finds resonance in the case law of the ECJ, is that this phenomenon is only the result of the attempt to localize the elements of the tort. As such, this proposition might not be found entirely sufficient. The creation of such accidental fora actorum through special heads of jurisdiction has indeed been the subject of intense criticism. Admittedly, the usual suspect had been for a long time the forum contractus of article 5.1 of the Brussels Convention. In 1997, in an insightful article published in French and entitled “Delendum est forum contractus?” (in the interrogative form), Georges Droz demonstrated that the forum con- 3 This idea was present from the very start, see Jenard Report, p. 25. 4 ECJ, Bier v. Mines de Potasse d’Alsace, 30 November 1976, 21/76. Delendum est Forum Delicti 261 tractus, as it was construed under De Bloos and Tessili judgments5, often led to a forum actoris. In Droz’s mind, this result had to be avoided because it was contrary to the inspiration of the Brussels Convention. He concluded with this last plea: if this unfortunate result could not be remedied either through a modification in the Court’s case-law or through an amendment to the provision itself, the forum contractus should be deleted (“Delendum est forum contractus!”, in the exclamative form). Maybe the same should be said of article 5.3/7.2 of the European jurisdiction system: Delendum est forum delicti? However, another way to look at it is that the forum delicti actually plays an undercover role of jurisdictional protection of the alleged victim, outside of the scope of the provisions offering a more traditional protection to the weaker party (Section 3, 4 and 5 RB1R). From this perspective, the creation of a forum actoris through a special head of jurisdiction should no longer be regarded as accidental but as the true function of the forum delicti. In this case, the reason brought forward by Droz to advocate for the deletion of a special jurisdiction would be turned upside down: the exception to the principle actor sequitur forum rei would no longer be the anomaly but the goal. However, it might still be necessary to put an end to the forum delicti as we know it, but only to reveal it to its true function, that of protecting the alleged victim by allowing him or her to initiate litigation at home. To the question Delendum est forum delicti?, the answer would then be yes, but not only… It is this paper’s ambition to review the case-law relating to cross-border tort disputes and to determine whether there is a possibility and a need to transform the current forum delicti into a forum actoris of the victim. The scope of this paper is disputes with subject matter pertaining to tort, as defined by the ECJ6. A phenomenon that is striking is the rise of a forum actoris in European private international law concerning torts (1). This phenomenon argues in favour of replacing the current forum delicti by a forum actoris of the victim (2). 5 ECJ, De Bloos v. Bouyer, 6 October 1976, 14/76 and ECJ, Tessili, 6 October 1976, 12/76. 6 See for instance ECJ judgment in Kolassa, 28 January 2015, C‑375/13, paragraph 44 : “the concept of ‘matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict’ within the meaning of Article 5(3) of Regulation No 44/2001 covers all actions which seek to establish the liability of a defendant and do not concern ‘matters relating to a contract’ within the meaning of Article 5(1)(a) of that regulation”. Etienne Farnoux 262 The Rise of Fora Actorum in Tort Litigations First, as the rise of fora actorum in cross-border tort litigation appears somewhat counter-intuitive under the Brussels jurisdictional system, the exact magnitude of the phenomenon should be evaluated. Once its scale has been established, this phenomenon calls for an inquiry into its causes or justifications. Accordingly, an overview of the rise of fora actorum is provided (1.1.) as well as an explanation (1.2.). An Overview The European system of international jurisdiction holds the view that as a matter of principle the defendant should be sued at his domicile. In contrast, it is clear that the forum actoris should be avoided because it is unfair to the defendant: it is legitimate only when the claimant is identified as a weaker party (insurance taker, consumer, employee). As a consequence, the European Court of Justice has repeatedly ruled that the exceptions to the forum rei (art 2/4) should be interpreted narrowly or restrictively both with regards to the material scope of the rule and with regards to the interpretation of the connecting factor. However, the application of the forum delicti often results in a forum actoris (1.1.1.). Nevertheless, the forum delicti is by no means the only channel through which a forum actoris is eventually offered to the alleged victim; derived jurisdictions also play a key role (1.1.2.). The rules of jurisdiction are not the only ones that come into play: the low standard of proof at the jurisdictional stage is crucial too (1.1.3.). Outside of the scope of the Brussels jurisdictional system, this tendency towards forum actoris is exemplified in the realm of data protection (1.1.4.). Forum actoris through forum delicti (art. 5.3/7.2) In many recent cases, the application of the forum delicti rule led to opening a forum actoris. The origin of this phenomenon lies with the Mines de Potasse judgment and the principle of ubiquity7: the place where the harmful event occurred (in art. 7§ 2 BIR recast) covers both the place of the event causing the loss (Handlungsort) and the place where the loss occurred 1. 1.1. 1.1.1. 7 ECJ, Bier v. Mines de Potasse d'Alsace, op. cit., paragraph 24. Delendum est Forum Delicti 263 (Erfolgsort). The principle of ubiquity allowed for a doubling of the plaintiff’s opportunity to sue away from the defendant’s home forum. Following the rule set in Fiona Shevill8, a distinction should be drawn, at least in the abstract, between instances where the damage is plurilocalized and instances where the damage is localized in one Member State only. In several cases this allowed de facto the plaintiff to sue at home for the whole loss, usually by locating the loss (through the second “leg” of the forum delicti under Mines de Potasse) within the victim’s home State. This occurred in the Wintersteiger case9, which involved online infringement of a trademark in which the court ruled that the loss was located at the place where the trademark is registered, oftentimes where the alleged victim is domiciled (here, Austria). Similarly in the Kolassa case10 which dealt with a prospectus liability litigation and in which the Court ruled that the loss occurred in the applicant’s bank account. The same outcome was later reached in the Löber case11. In the CDC case, the Court ruled that “for loss consisting in additional costs incurred because of artificially high prices, the place where the alleged damage … is located, in general, at that victim’s registered office”12. In Concurrence SARL13, in the context of an action to establish liability for infringement of the prohibition on resale 8 ECJ, Shevill and Others, 7 March 1995, C‑68/93. 9 ECJ, Wintersteiger, 19 April 2012, C‑523/10, paragraph 29. 10 Loc. cit. 11 ECJ, Löber, 12 September 2018, C-304/17. 12 ECJ, CDC, 21 May 2015, C-352/13, paragraph 56. In later cases, the solution seemed to have evolved. In the flyLAL case (ECJ, 5 July 2018, C-27/17), the Court ruled, in the context of an action seeking compensation for damage caused by anticompetitive conduct, that the ‘place where the harmful event occurred’ covers the place where the loss of income consisting in loss of sales occurred, that is to say, the place of the market which is affected by that conduct and on which the victim claims to have suffered those losses. This market approach was confirmed in the Tibor-Trans case (ECJ, 29 July 2019, C-451/18), in which the court ruled that, in an action for compensation for damage caused by collusive arrangements on pricing, ‘the place where the harmful event occurred’ covers the place where the market which is affected by that infringement is located, that is to say, the place where the market prices were distorted and in which the victim claims to have suffered that damage, even where the action is directed against a participant in the cartel at issue with whom that victim had not established contractual relations. It seems that the Court is moving away from the direct forum actoris determination illustrated in the CDC case, as far as damage caused by anticompetitive conduct is concerned. In all these cases, however, the claimants were allowed to bring action at their home forum. 13 ECJ, Concurrences SARL, 21 December 2016, C-618/15, paragraph 35. Etienne Farnoux 264 outside a selective distribution network, the Court ruled that the place where the damage occurred was to be regarded as the territory of the Member State which protects the prohibition on resale by means of the action at issue, a territory on which the appellant alleges to have suffered a reduction in its sales. In the Zuid Chemie case14, a product liability litigation, the Court ruled that the loss occurred at the place where the initial damage occurred as a result of the normal use of the product for the purpose for which it was intended. In all these cases, the reasoning effectively allowed the claimant to sue at home for the whole of the loss. The European Court of Justice did make clear that, following Fiona Shevill, the jurisdiction of the court based at the place where the loss occurred is limited to the damage that was felt locally, in the case where the damage might be felt in several Member States. In this case, the forum actoris created by the localization of the loss is limited by the mosaic principle. The Court did so, famously, in the eDate case15, in Pinckney16, in Hi Hotel17, in Hejduk18, and in Bolagsupplysningen19. The distinction between jurisdiction for the entirety of the loss and jurisdiction limited to the damage felt locally is fundamental in the ECJ’s case law, in order to rein in the alleged victim’s opportunities to sue at home for the whole of the loss. However, in many cases, this functional limitation of the jurisdiction was made void because it seemed that the damage was only or predominantly local (it was not actually a case of plurilocalized damage, in the sense of Fiona Shevill)20. 14 ECJ, Zuid Chemie,16 July 2009, C-189/08, paragraph 32. 15 ECJ, eDate Advertising and Others, 22 October 2011, C‑509/09 and C‑161/10, paragraph 51 “Moreover, instead of an action for liability in respect of all of the damage, the criterion of the place where the damage occurred, derived from Shevill and Others, confers jurisdiction on courts in each Member State in the territory of which content placed online is or has been accessible. Those courts have jurisdiction only in respect of the damage caused in the territory of the Member State of the court seised”. 16 ECJ, Pinckney, 3 October 2013, C‑170/12, paragraph 45. 17 ECJ, Hi Hotel, 4 April 2014, C-387/12, paragraph 38. 18 ECJ, Hejduk, 22 January 2015, C-441/13, paragraph 37. 19 ECJ, Bolagsupplysningen, 17 October 2017, C-194/16, paragraph 44. 20 See for instance ECJ, CDC, 21 May 2015, C-352/13, paragraph 55 : “However, given that the jurisdiction of the court seized of the matter by virtue of the place where the loss occurred is limited to the loss suffered by the undertaking whose registered office is located in its jurisdiction, an applicant such as CDC, who has consolidated several undertakings’ potential claims for damages, would therefore, in accordance with the case-law set out in paragraph 35 above, need to bring sepa- Delendum est Forum Delicti 265 Granted, it might be argued, with reason, that it is only accidentally that in these particular cases the tribunal of the claimant has jurisdiction over the case: on the face of it, the connecting factor is still the “place where the loss occurred” and the loss might have occurred elsewhere. This objection is only relevant in the abstract, where it is indeed very different to use the place where the loss occurred or the domicile of the claimant (or the victim) as connecting factors. However, it is significant that, in the particular factual cases that gave rise to the rulings, the claimant was allowed to sue “at home” for two reasons. First, it is not a wild guess that the rationale expressed in the above-mentioned cases will statistically lead to the same outcome more often than not. While analyzing the elements that constitute the tort (namely, the event giving rise to the damage and the damage), it appears that the damage is the element that is closer to the alleged victim (while the event giving rise to the damage is closer to the alleged tortfeasor, and indeed often located at the tortfeasor’s domicile by the Court21). Second, and more importantly, it is reasonable to assume that in most tort cases the claimant will try and sue at home. The relevant question is not whether forum delicti allows the alleged victim to sue somewhere else than at their domicile, but whether or not it allows them to sue at their domicile: it seems that forum delicti does allow them to do so. Finally, and more strikingly, in the eDate/Martinez cases, the Court of Justice ruled that the alleged victim could sue the author of an infringement of a personality right on the internet at the centre of the victim’s interest, opening an explicit forum actoris of the victim22. This solution was furthered by the Bolagsupplysningen case in which the Court extended the principle to legal persons23. The exact reasoning behind this solution is somewhat elusive. On the one hand, in eDate/Martinez, the Court stated rate actions for the loss suffered by each of those undertakings before the courts with jurisdiction for their respective registered offices”. 21 See for instance eDate, op. cit., paragraph 42. 22 The court ruled (paragraph 49) that the place where a person has the centre of his interests corresponds in general to his habitual residence. However, a person may also have the centre of his interests in a Member State in which he does not habitually reside, in so far as other factors, such as the pursuit of a professional activity, may establish the existence of a particularly close link with that State. 23 The court ruled (paragraph 41) that, as regards a legal person pursuing an economic activity, “the centre of interests of such a person must reflect the place where its commercial reputation is most firmly established and must, therefore, be determined by reference to the place where it carries out the main part of its economic activities”. The Court further noted that “while the centre of interests of a legal person may coincide with the place of its registered office when it carries out Etienne Farnoux 266 explicitly that the solution found its justification in the contrast between “the difficulties of giving effect, within the context of internet, to the criterion relating to the occurrence of the damage which is derived from Shevill” and “the serious nature of the harm which may be suffered by the holder of a personality right who establishes that information injurious to that right is available on a world-wide basis”24. On the other hand, in Bolagsupplysningen, the Court presented the solution as closely connected to the localization of the loss25. To mark the full extent of the phenomenon, it should also be noted that the place where the loss occurs may be used against several defendants, even though they play different roles in the causation chain, as illustrated in Pinckney26 and Hi Hotel27. The fact that the localization of the damage all or the main part of its activities in the Member State in which that office is situated and the reputation that it enjoys there is consequently greater than in any other Member State, the location of that office is, not, however, in itself, a conclusive criterion for the purposes of such an analysis”. 24 eDate, op. cit., paragraph 47. 25 Clearly in this sense Bolagsupplysningen, op. cit., paragraph 33. 26 In Pinckney, the question was whether Article 5(3) allowed “where there is an alleged infringement of a copyright which is protected by the Member State of the court seised, that court (…) to hear an action to establish liability brought by the author of a work against a company established in another Member State, which has in the latter State reproduced that work on a material support which is subsequently marketed by companies established in a third Member State through an internet site which is also accessible in the Member State of the court seised”. The Court ruled that the court seised had jurisdiction (“only to determine the damage caused in the Member State within which it is situated”). Hence, the place where alleged damage occurred offers a base for jurisdiction exercised over a defendant whose role in the tort is not immediate (here the company that reproduced the copyrighted work as opposed to the company that marketed them through a website accessible in the Member State whose courts are seised). 27 In Hi Hotel (op. cit.), the question was whether, where there are several supposed perpetrators of the damage allegedly caused to rights of copyright protected in the Member State of the court seised, article 5§ 3 allows jurisdiction to be established with respect to one of those perpetrators who did not act within the jurisdiction of that court. The Court ruled that although “that provision does not allow jurisdiction to be established, on the basis of the causal event of the damage, of a court within whose jurisdiction the supposed perpetrator who is being sued did not act, [it] does allow the jurisdiction of that court to be established on the basis of the place where the alleged damage occurs, provided that the damage may occur within the jurisdiction of the court seised” (in which case, the court has jurisdiction only to rule on the damage caused in the territory of the Member State to which it belongs). Delendum est Forum Delicti 267 allows the plaintiff to litigate at his/her own domicile is all the more striking. However, the forum delicti is not the only channel through which the alleged victim is allowed to sue at home. Forum actoris through derived jurisdiction The derived jurisdiction of articles 8.1 (in the case of multiple defendants) and 8.2 (in the case of third-party proceedings) also plays a key role in allowing a claimant to initiate proceedings against out-of-forum defendants. The general idea, to turn these bases of jurisdiction into forum actoris, is to establish jurisdiction in the claimant’s home forum against a defendant (a forum anchor-defendant in the case of article 8.1) and to use this base as a stepping stone to reach other out-of-forum defendants. The feasibility of this depends of course on the preconditions that have to be met in order for the claimant to invoke a derived jurisdiction against an out-of-State defendant. The first precondition as far as article 8.1 is concerned, is that the claimant be able to identify a credible local defendant, the anchor defendant. The case law is however favourable to a certain extent. Particularly in the Reisch Montage28 and CDC29 judgments, the Court held that the inadmissibility of the first claim, was not an obstacle to the extension of jurisdiction to the derived claim. Admittedly, in these two cases, the derived jurisdiction did not open a forum actoris but, in general, this loosening of the requirement regarding the anchor defendant undeniably makes it easier for the claimant to litigate at home against other outof-forum defendants30. The second precondition would be that the claims are “so closely connected it is expedient to hear and determine them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgements resulting from separate proceedings”31. 1.1.2. 28 ECJ, Reisch Montage, 13 July 2006, C-103/05. 29 Loc. cit. 30 See for instance French Cour de cassation, 3e Chambre Civile, 19 dec. 2007, n° 06– 18.811. 31 In that regard, the Court of Justice ruled in Freeport that “in order for judgments to be regarded as irreconcilable, it is not sufficient that there be a divergence in the outcome of the dispute, but that divergence must also arise in the context of the same situation of fact and law” (ECJ, Freeport, 11 October 2007, C-98/06, paragraph 40). Etienne Farnoux 268 On the closeness of the connection (or the connectedness) required under article 8.1, the Court held in recent cases that “a difference in legal basis between the actions brought against the various defendants, does not, in itself, preclude the application of Article 6(1) of Regulation No 44/2001”32 which loosens the threshold for connectedness33 and again made it easier for a plaintiff to sue at home against out-of-forum defendants. Low standard of proof at the jurisdictional stage One other point that should be raised with respect to tort victims under the Brussels regime is that claimants seeking the jurisdiction of their home tribunals in tort litigations will typically be favoured by the low standard of proof required to establish the facts relevant at the jurisdictional stage. This question boils down to the obligations of the national court in the course of determining their international jurisdiction. It was raised in the Kolassa case. The question was whether it was necessary “in the context of the determination of international jurisdiction under Regulation n 44/2001, to conduct a comprehensive taking of evidence in relation to disputed facts that are of relevance both for the question of jurisdiction and for the existence of the claim or whether it is, instead, to be considered that the allegations of the applicant in the main proceedings alone are correct for the purposes of the decision on jurisdiction”. The Court ruled that “it is not necessary to conduct a comprehensive taking of evidence in relation to disputed facts that are relevant both to the question of jurisdiction and to the existence of the claim. It is, however, permissible for the court seised to examine its international jurisdiction in the light of all the information available to it, including, where appropriate, the allegations made by the defendant”34. 1.1.3. 32 ECJ, Painer, 7 March 2013, C-145/10, paragraph 84 and CDC, op. cit., paragraph 23. 33 Even though the Court did add the requirement that “it was foreseeable by the defendant that they might be sued in the Member State where at least one of them is domiciled”, which is some ways only restates the connectedness requirement from another perspective. 34 Kolassa, op. cit., paragraph 66. Delendum est Forum Delicti 269 Forum actoris in the specific realm of personal data protection It should be noted that in the specific case of data protection, when Regulation 2016/679 (Personal data) is applicable, a specific jurisdiction rule is available to the person who considers that their rights under the Regulation have been infringed as a result of the processing of their personal data in non-compliance with the Regulation. Article 79.2 of the Regulation reads that “proceedings against a controller or a processor shall be brought before the courts of the Member State where the controller or processor has an establishment. Alternatively, such proceedings may be brought before the courts of the Member State where the data subject has his or her habitual residence …”. This clearly allows for a forum actoris. Even though this rule is found outside of the realm of the Brussels I (recast) Regulation it offers an interesting comparison, which shows that, apart from the more classical hypothesis where weaker parties are offered jurisdictional protection (consumers, workers, insurance takers), there are instances, conceptually close (if not included within) the category of tort litigation, where a forum actoris is granted up front to the claimant. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that, even though the forum rei is held to be the principle within the European jurisdictional system, this system allows in many instances for the alleged victim to litigate at home, for the whole or part of the alleged damage. This begs the question of whether it is only a coincidence or if it is the result of some deeper tendency within the jurisdictional system. An Explanation There are essentially two opposite ways to look at this phenomenon (the rise of forum actoris). The first one, in line with the history and traditionally held beliefs and creeds about the jurisdictional system, refuses to acknowledge this rise, or rather pictures it as the mere result of the localization process which, only by coincidence, leads to the designation of the tribunal at the claimant’s domicile (1.2.1.). However, one may harbour doubts as to how absolutely convincing this explanation is, if only because of the magnitude of the phenomenon. In this case, one should envisage another, less popular explanation: what if the opening of forum actoris was deliberate as a way to favour the alleged victim? (1.2.2). 1.1.4. 1.2. Etienne Farnoux 270 The traditional explanation: localization The most obvious and simple (and reassuring!) explanation to this avalanche of fora actorum can be found in the idea that it is only by coincidence that the forum delicti allows the jurisdiction of the court of domicile35. The forum delicti relies on the localization of the factual elements of a situation, and it so happens that these factual elements point towards the territory of the Member State of the alleged victim domicile36. This finds massive support from as far back as the Mines de Potasse and Fiona Shevill judgements, that have been instrumental in enabling the multiplication of available tribunals, leading in turn to de facto forum actoris. Indeed, in these two seminal cases, as well as in the rest of the case law, the reasoning always follows the original localizing approach: the doubling of the claimant’s option and the limitation of the jurisdiction to the damage caused in the territory are presented as merely the result of geographical localization of the elements of the case (damage and event giving rise to it). This justification is not entirely satisfactory. First, even if it is indeed true, it still means that the forum rei is not actually the principle, the “jurisdictional protection of the defendant” principle no longer holds true. Another element of doubt is that the forum delicti is not the only rule at stake; as explained above, the derived jurisdictions of article 8 also play a role. This means that it is not only a question of localization but that there seems to be a broader, more complex, configuration of rules allowing the alleged victim to sue at home. More importantly, in many of the cases mentioned above the localization itself is not very convincing: for financial loss, for cybertorts, for infringements of personality rights or even of intellectual property rights, it is difficult to think that the localization offers indications strong enough 1.2.1. 35 See for instance the flyLAL case and the Tibor-Trans case (op. cit.). In the earlier CDC case (op. cit.), the Court had located the place where the damage occurred directly at the victim’s registered office, for an anticompetitive conduct. In those later cases, the Court located the place where the damage occurred by reference to the market affected by the conduct, admittedly a stricter localizing approach. 36 See for eg. the Löber case (op. cit.) in which the Court of Justice ruled that « the courts of the investor’s domicile, as the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred within the meaning of that provision, have jurisdiction to hear and determine that action, where the damage the investor claims to have suffered consists in financial loss which occurred directly in that investor’s bank account with a bank established within the jurisdiction of those courts and the other specific circumstances of that situation also contribute to attributing jurisdiction to those courts » (emphasis added), paragraph 36. Delendum est Forum Delicti 271 to effectively dictate the establishment of jurisdiction in one place or the other. If one takes the example of the infringement of personality rights on the internet, the Court ruled in eDate/Martinez that “the criterion of the place where the damage occurred, derived from Shevill and Others, confers jurisdiction on courts in each Member State in the territory of which content placed online is or has been accessible”. In so deciding, the Court subscribed to the so-called “accessibility theory”, holding that everywhere where a website is accessible there is a potential damage. Another approach was available, under the so-called “focalization theory” that requires the tribunal to check if the website was actually directed at a given population (through several factual elements such as language) in order to find a potential damage. Both approaches are framed in terms of localization and localization itself does not justify choosing one approach or the other, precisely because the localization of online activities is always artificial. To be perfectly thorough, it should be noted that the matter is complicated further by the notion, alluded to in Bolagsupplysningen, that the extra forum opened in the eDate/Martinez case at the victim’s centre of interest was actually related to the localization of the loss37. In this sense, AG Bobek opined in this case that the Fiona Shevill ‘mosaic approach’ should be discarded for infringements of personality rights on the internet38. The Court did not follow him on that particular issue, but it still gives a sense that the way the loss is located remains open for debates. 37 Bolagsupplysningen, op. cit., paragraph 33 : “As regards such content, the alleged infringement is usually felt most keenly at the centre of interests of the relevant person, given the reputation enjoyed by him in that place. Thus, the criterion of the ‘victim’s centre of interests’ reflects the place where, in principle, the damage caused by online material occurs most significantly, for the purpose of Article 7(2) of Regulation n°1215/2012”. 38 AG Bobek opinion in Bolagsupplysningen “95. The second possibility concerns the place where the harm occurred. The present case concerns harm allegedly caused to the reputation of a legal person. That harm is likely to be suffered in the place where that person does business or is otherwise professionally active. 96. If the Shevill ‘mosaic’ approach were to be discarded, the place where the harm occurred would be limited to one jurisdiction. As what is protected is the reputation of the claimant, that place should be where that protected reputation was most strongly hit. That is in turn likely to be in the place where that person, whether natural or legal, has his or its centre of interests. Such a place would then represent the place of the true centre of the dispute, to which a special ground of jurisdiction, based on the closest link, should properly lead”. Etienne Farnoux 272 This discussion is not complete without recalling, more broadly, the debate that was ongoing before the Fiona Shevill case about the localization of offline personality rights infringements: it was rather convincingly argued that this damage could be localized at the victim’s domicile. Instead, the court located it at the place of distribution of the publication, a criterion that was usually linked to the event giving rise to the damage rather than to the loss itself. This shows that from the very start, and well before the rise of cybertorts, the localization of the elements of the tort is unable to dictate the organization of the international jurisdiction of domestic tribunals. This is not only the case with the place of loss, but also with the place where the event giving rise to the harm occurs. Even in this case, localization is usually very artificial. In Fiona Shevill, the court ruled that in the case of defamation by means of a newspaper article distributed in several Member States, the victim may bring action for damages against the publisher, under the event giving rise to the damage, before the courts of the Member State of the place where the publisher of the defamatory publication is established, even though other factual elements might have been considered (such as the place of distribution). The localization of the event giving rise to the damage at the alleged tortfeasor domicile has become widespread in the case law39 but it remains artificial. To some extent, it might be argued that these difficulties are inherent to the localization of immaterial elements, and it is true that the difficulties are particularly acute in this case. However, even for “material” torts where both the damage and the event giving rise to it are material (that is they have a physical existence in the world, that makes it easy to locate them on the surface of the earth), the localization approach is facing difficulties. For instance, the ‘complex tort’ figure with the geographical dissociation of the causal event and the damage could in many cases be re-analyzed as territorial local torts (with local causal events and local damages). The mosaic principle can hardly be said to be dictated by localization either: it is not very convincing to slice the loss in territorial subsections, especially for infringement in the private life and defamation. In other words, it seems hard to believe that localization dictates any of these orientations within the jurisdictional system. Undeniably, there are choices that are made, choices that are not limited to taking into account the localization of the elements of the tort. 39 Especially for cyber counterfeits, see for instance Wintersteiger (op. cit.) and Hejduk (op. cit.). Delendum est Forum Delicti 273 But then, what explains these choices? What justifies the way the international jurisdiction of tribunals is organized? To a certain extent, this critical stance on the role of localization calls for a renewal of the approach to international jurisdiction. The starting point lies with the realization that, essentially, the question of international jurisdiction boils down to the opposition between the claimant and the defendant, and the allocation of the costs and inconvenience of litigating abroad between them. The question of the international jurisdiction is not that of the localization of the elements of the tort, but whether the plaintiff is allowed (or not) to attract the out-of-forum defendant into their home forum. It is not the localization, often artificial, of the factual elements of the case that provides the answer to this question but a political choice that either favours the claimant or favours the defendant. This proposition resonates, again, with AG Bobek’s opinion in Bolagsupplysningen in which he asked the Court to discard the Fiona Shevill construction and to offer a simple option between the domicile of the defendant and the centre of the interests of the victim40. At first glance this proposal seems to stop midstream: it does away with the localization approach and presents the question for what it is, an opposition between the forum rei and the forum actoris, but it stops short of choosing between them. In fact, in this case, leaving an option to the claimant amounts to allowing the claimant to litigate at home (which will happen in virtually all cases). The paradox is that, once the question of the international jurisdiction is framed as an opposition between the forum rei and the forum actoris, the Brussels I system readily offers an answer: actor sequitur forum rei; as a principle a person domiciled in a Member State shall be sued in the courts of that Member State. However, the study conducted above informs us otherwise thus provoking the question: has the principle of jurisdictional protection of the defendant been overturned? Was forum delicti granted as means of favouring the alleged victim? 40 AG Bobek opinion in Bolagsupplysningen “97. There would thus be two possible fora open to the claimant. The first one would be the domicile of the defendant as the general rule under Article 4(1) of Regulation No 1215/2012, which also corresponds to the place of the origin of the harm. The second would be the centre of interests of the claimant which corresponds to the place where the harm occurred. Both fora would confer upon the competent court full jurisdiction to adjudicate on the totality of the damages claimed and all the remedies available under the respective national laws, including the issue of a possible injunction if so requested”. Etienne Farnoux 274 Favouring the plaintiff? Looking at the rise in fora actorum in tort litigation, one may legitimately ask if the “jurisdictional protection of the plaintiff” has not replaced “the jurisdictional protection of the defendant”. This idea, that the forum delicti is actually a favour granted to the alleged victim, is an old idea. It has been present ever since the Mines de Potasse to justify the doubling of the claimant’s options. The Court of Justice seems to be reluctant, to say the least, towards that analysis. In the Folien Fischer case41, the Court of Justice held that an action for a negative declaration is not excluded from the scope of article 5.3/7.2 which undermines considerably the thesis of a forum actoris of the victim, since the alleged tortfeasor will be able to benefit from it. More specifically, the Court held that “The objectives, pursued by that provision and repeatedly stressed in case-law of ensuring that the court with jurisdiction is foreseeable and of preserving legal certainty are not connected either to the allocation of the respective roles of claimant and defendant or to the protection of either”42. The question here is whether when organizing the international jurisdiction of the courts, the legislator and the Court of Justice only have in mind the alleged victim as claimant. In many instances, it seems that the Court uses the term ‘defendant’ and ‘alleged tortfeasor’ indifferently. The most striking one is the eDate case. This would indicate that the current architecture of the international jurisdiction system is intended, at least primarily, to benefit the alleged victim taken as claimant. With this in mind, the ruling in Folien Fischer seems particularly unfortunate. The outcome is that very often in actions for a negative declaration of liability, the plaintiff (the alleged tortfeasor) will be able to benefit from a forum actoris against the alleged victim, whereas there are reasons to believe that this option was intended for the alleged victim only. It is not impossible to argue that actions for a negative declaration should be limited to the court of domicile of the defendant (the alleged non-victim). However, in Bolagsupplysningen, the Court doubled down on the idea that the jurisdictional system did not aim at protecting the alleged victim. Indeed, in order to allow legal persons to benefit from the additional forum at the centre of interests of the alleged victim, the Court ruled that “given that the option of a person who considers that his rights have been 1.2.2. 41 ECJ, Folien Fischer and Fofitec, 25 October 2012, C‑133/11. 42 ECJ, Folien Fischer, op. cit., paragraph 45. Delendum est Forum Delicti 275 infringed to bring an action before the courts of the Member State in which his centre of interests is located for all the alleged damage is justified in the interests of the sound administration of justice and not specifically for the purposes of protecting the applicant, the matter of whether the person is a natural or legal person is also not conclusive”. The Court added that “In that regard, the Court has pointed out that the rule of special jurisdiction in matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict does not pursue the same objective as the rules on jurisdiction laid down in Sections 3 to 5 of Chapter II of Regulation No 1215/2012, which are designed to offer the weaker party stronger protection (see, to that effect, judgment of 25 October 2012, Folien Fischer and Fofitec …)”. It concluded that “The criterion of the centre of interests is intended to determine the place in which damage caused by online content occurs and, consequently, the Member State whose courts are best able to hear and to rule upon the dispute”. This is not particularly convincing, if only because of the great uncertainty and, further, artificiality, concerning the localization of non-material loss: it is not clear at all what is in the “interests of the sound administration of justice”. Furthermore, it cannot be ignored that the reasoning has somewhat evolved between eDate/Martinez and Bolagsupplysningen. In eDate, the Court did mention that the reason behind the opening of a new option at the centre of interests of the alleged victim was the contrast between the reduced usefulness of the criterion relating to distribution in the context of internet and the serious nature of the harm thus inflicted. This, implicitly, amounts to an acknowledgement that the alleged victim needs to be protected, or at least that this solution has more to do with fairness than localization. It is therefore possible not to take the reasoning in Bolagsupplysningen at face value. If there is indeed a movement of favouring the plaintiff43, it would be legitimate to ask why. There are reasons of course to think that the plaintiff would be unfairly treated if the jurisdictional system strictly applied 43 To be fair, it should be noted that this phenomenon is not unequivocal. For instance, in cases dealing with financial loss, the Universal Music case (ECJ, Universal Music, 16 June 2016, C-12/15) on the localization of financial loss is closer to the logic of the Kronhofer case (ECJ, Kronhofer, 10 June 2004, C-168/02), in which the Court ruled that domestic courts should not take into account the consequential loss for localization purposes, effectively barring the way for a forum actoris. However, it could be argued that the judgement in the Kolassa case departed from the reasoning in Kronhofer. Etienne Farnoux 276 the actor sequitur forum rei, or even that the plaintiff is often weaker than the defendant, but it might not be sufficient to overcome the principle of protection of the defendant. Maybe the tendency to favour the claimant comes from the substance of the disputes, that is of the torts and tort law. The Replacement of the Forum Delicti by a Forum Victimae It has been shown that the Brussels I jurisdictional system showed a tendency to favour the plaintiff, notably through the forum delicti, undercover of localization of the factual elements of the case. If this is the case, then why not go ahead and envisage a forum actoris of the victim, a forum victimae. This proposal needs to state clearly the reasons why forum delicti should be turned into a forum actoris for the victim (2.1.) and how can it be done (2.2.). Reasons to Replace the Forum Delicti by a Forum Victimae The main reason to replace the forum delicti by a forum victimae is that the Court’s interpretation of the forum delicti often turns it into a forum actoris for the victim. However, one may wonder why the Court reaches such a result, why there seems to be an unescapable, irresistible push in favour of the alleged victim, in spite of the principle of jurisdictional protection of the defendant. At this point, there can only be hypotheticals because this discussion delves into the deeper aspects of the legal world, beyond recitals and judicial opinions. One hypothetical could be that it is the substantive tendencies at the core of tort liability that favour the victims and this creates an incentive both for the legislator and the court system to allow the plaintiff to litigate at home. These tendencies stem from the two functions of tort liability: the reparation/compensation function and the normative/regulatory function. The reparation/compensation function of tort law influences the jurisdictional rule to favour the plaintiff and allow him to recover his loss whereas the normative/regulatory function of tort law emphasizes that the claim for damages by the plaintiff is in the general interest of the commu- 2. 2.1. Delendum est Forum Delicti 277 nity by deterring harmful conduct. This mechanism borrows traits from the concept of private enforcement. These functions of tort law are inseparable from one another. They can be studied in substantive tort law, but also in private international law in the rules of conflict of laws. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss at length the influence of the reparation and normative functions of tort law on the rules of private international law. It should be noted however, that these functions do not dictate any connecting factor in particular. Take for instance the general rule in the Rome II Regulation that the law applicable to a non-contractual obligation arising out of a tort/delict shall be the law of the country in which the damage occurs. It is difficult to argue that such a choice of connecting factor derives exclusively from the reparation function of tort liability, if only because the law thus designated might not be the most favourable to the alleged victim. However, at the normative level, it clearly indicates the legitimacy of the law of the victim to regulate the conduct causing damage, even when that conduct takes place on the territory of another State. It could be argued that the substance of tort law influences the rules of international jurisdiction so that the alleged victim may sue at home the alleged tortfeasor. In this respect, the influence of the functions of tort liability on the jurisdictional rules is more straightforward than on the rules of conflict of laws. Conflict of laws rules are typically indirect and abstract, in the sense that the substantive content of the law that will eventually be applicable is not known when the connecting factor is chosen. As a result, the choice of a connecting factor, such as the law of the country in which the damage occurs, is not per se favourable to the alleged victim (except in the sense that it is the law that is best known to him). The only conflict of laws rules that directly favour the alleged victim are rules that offer him/her a discretionary choice between laws, such as article 7 in Rome II Regulation. These rules allow the plaintiff to compare the laws potentially applicable and to choose the law that is most favourable to his position. Jurisdiction rules, however, have a much more direct effect for several reasons. First, the Brussels I jurisdictional system usually offers the plaintiff a choice between jurisdictions. Any option open to the claimant is in itself a favour. Second, contrary to a conflict of laws rule, a jurisdiction rule that allows the plaintiff to litigate at home is always favourable to the plaintiff because of the practical advantages that it entails. It derives from that that a jurisdictional rule that allows the plaintiff to litigate at home is always favourable to both functions of tort liability: it enables the plaintiff to easily claim compensation (reparation function) which has a deterrent effect on potential tortfeasors (normative function). Etienne Farnoux 278 It may be argued that it is the reparatory and normative functions of tort law that incite the legislator and the courts to favour the plaintiff. It is this substantive element that overturns the principle of jurisdictional protection of the defendant. In the abstract, it should be noted that the influence of both functions at the jurisdictional stage is not beyond criticism. It has been argued that at this stage there is only an alleged victim and an alleged tortfeasor. There seems to be no reason at this early stage to favour the plaintiff at the expense of the defendant. This argument is precisely the base of the actor sequitur forum rei principle: since the alleged defendant does not owe anything to the claimant (until proven to the contrary), it is the latter that should bear the cost of litigating abroad, not the former. However, this criticism does not have the same clout against both functions of tort liability. It might be relevant when directed at the reparation function, because there is indeed no reason to believe that the defendant is liable at this point. It is therefore a question of fairness to determine who should bear the initial cost, and it is legitimate to argue that it should be the claimant. As far as the normative function is concerned, however, the perspective is no longer interpersonal or purely commutative; the interests at stake are not limited to those of a particular defendant against a particular claimant. The question here is whether it is in the general interest that, for the greater good, the claimant should bear the cost of litigating abroad, or the defendant. And here, it might be argued that even though there is no proof as of yet that the defendant is liable, the alleged tortfeasor should bear the cost nonetheless. The reason being that if it is the claimant who bears the costs, chances are that he/she will not claim compensation, failing to give to the deterrence effect its full power. It would be all the easier to replace the forum delicti by a forum victimae given that there are also good reasons to get rid of the forum delicti in any case. Firstly, the way it is interpreted makes it unforeseeable, and this even once the harmful event actually took place. This risk exists concerning cybertorts where the localization is artificial, as has been demonstrated above. Unfortunately, it is not only the case in that category of torts. For instance, if one looks at the Kronhofer-Kolassa stream of cases, it is not always easy to localize the factual elements of financial torts. In Kronhofer, the Court ruled that “the expression ‘place where the harmful event occurred’ does not refer to the place where the claimant is domiciled or where ‘his assets are concentrated’ by reason only of the fact that he has suffered financial damage there resulting from the loss of part of his assets Delendum est Forum Delicti 279 which arose and was incurred in another Contracting State”44. In line with this case, the French Cour de Cassation decided in the Luxalpha case that “the place where the harmful event took place should not be confused with the domicile of the victim where his assets are located”45. In the Kolassa case, the Court of Justice ruled that “Under Article 5(3) of Regulation No 44/2001, the courts where the applicant is domiciled have jurisdiction, on the basis of the place where the loss occurred, to hear and determine such an action, particularly when the damage alleged occurred directly in the applicant’s bank account held with a bank established within the area of jurisdiction of those courts”46. It proves quite difficult to reconcile these three cases: there were of course factual differences between them, but they were still quite close and the fact that they were decided differently exposes the risk of unforeseeability. Secondly, the forum delicti allows for forum shopping in ways a forum actoris does not. To be perfectly honest, even if one is convinced that forum shopping is harmful and offers an unjust advantage to the claimant, it is undeniable that offering an option to the claimant, especially one that multiplies into sub-options (that can be further manipulated because of the artificiality of localization in many cases), not only allows the claimant to shop, but quite literally forces him to do so. And the fact that actions for a negative declaration were brought within the forum delicti only makes it even between the alleged victim and the alleged tortfeasor by doubling forum shopping. Conversely, a forum victimae offers no opportunity for forum shopping (except of course if it comes as an alternative to a forum rei). Thirdly, a forum delicti is open to actions for a negative declaration which overturns the jurisdictional alternative intended to favour the victim whereas a forum victimae is not, being reserved to the victim. In any case, a plain forum actoris, open to both parties should be avoided. At the end of the day, one should come to the conclusion that it is for the legislator, and not for the Court, to replace the forum delicti by a forum victimae. Indeed, this evolution (or rather revolution) is not without thorny issues that have been validly touched upon by AG Bobek in his opinion in the Bolagsupplysningen case. AG Bobek sought to rebut the argument that the eDate solution only aimed at protecting weaker natural 44 ECJ, Kronhofer, op. cit., paragraph 21. 45 Cass. Com. 7 janvier 2014, Luxalpha, n° 11–24.157, “le lieu où s’est produit le fait dommageable ne saurait se confondre avec le lieu du domicile où est localisé le patrimoine de la demanderesse”. 46 ECJ, Kolassa, op. cit., paragraph 57. Etienne Farnoux 280 persons and should not be applied to stronger legal persons. AG Bobek disagreed for four reasons. The first aside47, they all relate to the practical difficulties that the protection of the weaker party would entail in tort litigations. Generally, AG Bobek wondered about the consequences of a systematic application of “the weaker party rationale” in the silence of Regulation No 1215/2012. Should natural persons be considered “by definition always weak and legal persons always strong, independently of the concrete ‘rapport des forces’ in a given dispute?” It is indeed easy to imagine counterexamples and borderline cases. The problem is that, in the cyberworld as well as in the real world (and even more so) there is a sheer diversity “on the side of the claimant, but also on the side of the potential defendant”. If “one were to embrace the logic of an individual assessment of mutual rapport de forces in concrete cases” this would have catastrophic consequences on the objective of the ‘high predictability’ of jurisdictional rules that Brussels I jurisdictional system pursues. Whatever the criteria, it is likely that a case by case approach would lead to a “laborious examination with an uncertain result (that) is perhaps not the best approach for deciding on international jurisdiction, which ought to be as swift and easy as possible”. Those are valid concerns that need to be addressed. A proposal to transform the forum delicti into a forum victimae shall not stop short of giving a few elements of its regime. Regime of the Forum Victimae It should be very clear that the forum victimae is a forum actoris for the victim and for the victim only. This is so because the main argument in favour of turning the forum delicti into a forum actoris is so that the alleged victim (not the alleged tortfeasor!) claims compensation more easily as part as a deterrence system. The alleged tortfeasor should only be allowed to initiate an action for a negative declaration at the domicile of the victim 2.2. 47 The first one is of dogmatic nature and, as such, is not entirely convincing for the reasons already stated above. AG Bobek noted that “the jurisdictional rule under Article 7(2) of Regulation No 1215/2012 does not aim at protection of the weaker party (…). (T)he ‘weaker party’ rationale is clearly not present within the special jurisdictional rule for tortious matters. That type of jurisdiction relies instead on the close connection between the claim and the court competent to adjudicate upon it” (§ 64). Delendum est Forum Delicti 281 (here the forum rei and the forum victimae coincide because the victim is the defendant). The second point, or rather question, is whether the forum victimae will be the only forum available to the victim. It is quite clear that the forum delicti should be eliminated, the last thing we need right now is yet another alternative forum. It cannot be ignored that in Bolagsupplysningen the Court refused to follow its Advocate General who was proposing a system along these lines. However, there would be no benefit, quite the contrary, in keeping the forum delicti if a forum victimae is opened. The thorniest issue remains that of the forum rei. Should it stay or should it go? It is a well-established rule and there is no reason to eliminate it since, if the claimant wishes so, it is in favour of the defendant. The only drawback is that it opens an alternative, and hence, forum shopping. At the end of the day, the claimant will only make use of it if he finds an advantage so powerful that it overcomes the advantage of litigating at home (for instance, enforcement of the decision, but within the Brussels system this concern might play a lesser role because cross-border enforcement is made considerably easier). The question that begs to be asked is whether the forum delicti should give way to a general forum victimae or a forum victimae only for the weaker party. It is tempting to envisage a general forum victimae for all alleged victims (weaker or not), notably in order to get rid of the forum delicti altogether. However, the risk of abuse should not be overlooked. One possibility would be to put in place a procedural control, maybe of the type that exists under English law for service out of the jurisdiction. The claimant could be required to establish, at a preliminary procedural stage (one that would not have to be contradictory, at first) that his claim has a reasonable prospect of success, that his domicile is not fraudulent (it is the basis of the jurisdiction). However, this should not lead to a forum non conveniens, a path barred by the Court of Justice, with good reasons, arguably. Another possibility would be to restrict the forum victimae to the weaker party only. This would have the serious advantage (to some at least) of not completely overturning the principle of jurisdictional protection of the defendant. It would only put it aside when it is feared that the alleged victim is too weak to bear the cost of litigating abroad. The situation would be very close to the classical hypothesis of jurisdictional protection of weaker parties. In this case, it would be possible to replicate the protection of the consumer where there is no contract: when the loss occurs outside the profession of the victim and the alleged tortfeasor is a professional. Etienne Farnoux 282 An argument in favour of this path is that in many of the cases where the Court seemed inclined to envisage a forum actoris, the alleged victim was in a weak position (Kolassa, eDate). However, the judgement in the Bolagsupplysningen case changes direction a bit. Nor is this path without drawbacks: it would leave professionals and small businesses without protection, and it might well be argued that they deserve it as well. The last issue to be settled is whether this forum victimae would be open only for individual actions, or if it would also be available for class actions. At the general level, one element to consider is that, if the reason to open a forum victimae in the first place is to protect a weaker party, there might not be any need for it when the weaker parties are made stronger by collective action. Another argument in favour of restricting class actions to the forum rei is that this would allow for broader EU-wide class actions whereas a class action initiated at the domicile of the victims would by definition be limited to forum victims. Ultimately, it is a policy question to determine if victims receive a protection that is sufficient through the collective redress or if it is necessary also to allow them to litigate at home. One difficulty is that not all Member States have collective redress mechanisms, and those collective redress mechanisms that exist have very different features. Allowing class actions only at the domicile of the defendant would encourage corporations to move their domicile to Member States that do not have a collective redress mechanism whereas allowing class actions at the victims’ domicile could put pressure on the national legislator to adopt an efficient collective redress mechanism. In conclusion, the rise in Fora Actorum seems hard to resist in cross-border tort litigations (with notable exceptions, such as Universal Music48). This paper argues that this can be explained by an incentive at the substantive level to favour the plaintiff. At the same time, there are reasons to eliminate the forum delicti, a jurisdiction rule that relies on a localization that often proves illusive and deceptive. However, if the true function of the forum delicti is to offer protection to the alleged victim, it should be possible to eliminate the forum delicti and replace it with a forum victimae. From this perspective, a forum victimae limited to the weaker party would not only realise this protection function but also allow for some protection of the defendant, when the alleged victim is not in a weak position. 48 ECJ, Universal Music, loc. cit. Delendum est Forum Delicti 283 CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion Lucilla Galanti* Table of Contents Introduction1. 285 Connected Claims and Irreconcilability between Judgments2. 288 The Same Situation of Fact and Law: An Early “Rigorous” Approach2.1. 293 The Evolution of the Concept of “Same Situation of Fact and Law”2.2. 297 The Confirmation of the Extensive Approach in Patent and Design Cases2.3. 300 The Position of the CJEU on Cartels2.4. 304 An Interim Conclusion2.5. 308 The Relevance of the Abuse in Excluding the Close Connection3. 310 Abuse and Real Claims: How to Apportion the Burden of Proof?3.1. 313 Some Final Remarks4. 315 Introduction Art 8(1) of Brussels Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 (BR Ibis)1 provides for a rule of special jurisdiction that applies to multiparty proceedings. In particular, it allows the claimant to sue the defendants before the court of the Member State in which one of them is domiciled, thus derogating the natural forum based on the domicile of the others, when the claims are so closely connected that there is a risk of irreconcilable judgements if not determined together.2 1. * Researcher in civil procedural law at the University of Florence, School of Law. 1 Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (2012) 55 OJ L 351, 1. 2 Art 8(1) BR Ibis states that a person domiciled in a Member State may be sued, when there are multiple defendants ‘in the courts for the place where any one of them is domiciled, provided the claims are so closely connected that it is expedient 285 Under this rule of jurisdiction, the anchor claim retains an attractive vis,3 addressing the purpose of consolidating connected actions, with the objective of assuring procedural economy and compatible judgments.4 The principle of forum connexitatis in fact meets ‘the wish to facilitate the sound administration of justice, to minimise the possibility of concurrent proceedings and thus to avoid irreconcilable outcomes if cases are decided separately’.5 The relevance of the provision has progressively increased.6 While the Regulation was grounded in the paradigm of traditional two-party litigato hear and determine them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings’. 3 As the claims against a number of defendants may be brought before a court of a Member State in whose jurisdiction at least one of them is domiciled, i.e. the ‘anchor defendant’, the provision establishes a kind of derived jurisdiction, based on the connection between the proceedings. See Trevor Hartley, Civil jurisdiction and judgments in Europe (Oxford University Press 2017) 9.06; Francesco Salerno, Giurisdizione ed efficacia delle decisioni straniere nel Regolamento (UE) n. 1215/2012 (Cedam 2015) 181 ff; Christoph Althammer, ‘Die Anforderungen an die «Ankerklage» am forum connexitatis’ [2006] Praxis des Internationalen Privat- und Verfahrensrechts, 558. 4 See Michele Angelo Lupoi, ‘Il regolamento UE n. 1215 del 12 dicembre 2012’, in Paolo Biavati and Michele Angelo Lupoi (eds), Regole europee e giustizia civile (3rd edn, Bononia University Press 2017) 41; Elena D’Alessandro, La connessione tra controversie transnazionali (2nd edn, Giappichelli 2009) 44 ff; Sergio Maria Carbone, Il nuovo spazio giudiziario europeo: dalla Convenzione di Bruxelles al Regolamento CE 44/2001 (4th edn, Giappichelli 2002) 100 ff; Sergio Maria Carbone, ‘Giurisdizione ed efficacia delle decisioni in materia civile e commerciale nello spazio giudiziario europeo: dalla Convenzione di Bruxelles al Regolamento (CE) n. 44/2001’, in Sergio Maria Carbone, Manlio Frigo, Luigi Fumagalli (eds), Diritto processuale civile e commerciale comunitario, (Giuffrè 2004) 27 ff; Paolo Vittoria, La competenza giurisdizionale e l’esecuzione delle decisioni in materia civile e commerciale nella giurisprudenza della Corte di Giustizia (Giuffrè 2005) 159 ff; Fabrizio Ravidà, ‘Il Regolamento n. 44/2001 sulla Competenza Giurisdizionale, il Riconoscimento e l’Esecuzione delle Decisioni in Materia Civile e Commerciale’, in Stefano Scarafoni (ed), Il processo civile e la normativa comunitaria (Utet 2012) 113, 218 ff. 5 Judgment of 20 April 2016, Case C-366/13, Profit Investment Sim SpA, in liquidation v Stefano Ossi and Others, ECLI:EU:C:2016:282, para 61; see also judgment of 21 May 2015, Case C-352/13, Cartel Damage Claims (CDC) Hydrogen Peroxide SA v Akzo Nobel NV and Others, ECLI:EU:C:2015:335, para 19; judgment of 12 July 2012, Case C-616/10, Solvay SA v Honeywell Fluorine Products Europe BV and Others, ECLI:EU:C:2012:445, para 19; judgment of 1 December 2011, Case C-145/10, Eva- Maria Painer v Standard VerlagsGmbH and Others, [2011] ECR I-12533, para 77. 6 See Burkhard Hess, ‘The Brussel I Regulation: Recent Case Law of the Court of Justice and the Commission’s Proposed Recast’, (2012) 49 Common Market Law Lucilla Galanti 286 tions, its implementation has gradually faced the proliferation of multiparty proceedings.7 The actual wording of the provision is the result of the CJEU’s case-law. Under the Brussels Convention (BC), the consolidation of claims was based on the mere presence of a plurality of defendants: the ‘so close connection’ was not part of the original version of the rule.8 This requirement was set out in the judgment in Kalfelis,9 confirmed by the subsequent case- Review, 1075, 1090, where it is stressed that ‘[s]ince the millennium, Article 6(1) Reg. 44/2001 has become one of the most important heads of jurisdiction’. 7 As the disposition applies by exception to the general rule laid down in art 4, it must be strictly interpreted; in fact, as the domicile of the defendant is involved as the general grounds of jurisdiction, it is only by way of derogation from it that BR Ibis provides for different (special) rules. See judgment in CDC (n 5), para 8; judgment in Profit Investment (n 5) para 63; judgment of 11 April 2013, Case C-645/11, Land Berlin v Ellen Mirjam Sapir and Others, ECLI:EU:C:2013:228, para 41; judgment in Solvay (n 5) paras 19–21; judgment in Painer (n 5) para 74; judgment of 11 October 2007, Case C-98/06, Freeport plc v Olle Arnoldsson [2007] ECR I-08319, paras 34–35; judgment of 13 July 2006, Case C-103/05, Reisch Montage AG v Kiesel Baumaschinen Handels GmbH [2006] ECR I-06827, paras 22–23; in relation to the Brussels Convention see also Judgment of 27 September 988, Case C-189/87, Athanasios Kalfelis v Bankhaus Schröder and Others [1988] ECR 5565, para 8; Judgment of 27 October 1998, Case C-51/97, Réunion européenne SA and Others v Spliethoff's Bevrachtingskantoor BV and the Master of the vessel Alblasgracht V002 [1998] ECR I-06511, para 16. 8 Art 6(1) of the Brussels Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters [1972] OJ L 299, 32 ff, stated that a person domiciled in a Contracting State ‘may also be sued’, ‘where he is one of a number of defendants, in the courts for the place where any one of them is domiciled’. See Antonietta Di Blase, Connessione e litispendenza nella Convenzione di Bruxelles (Cedam 1993) 39; Ana Quiñones Escámez, El foro de la pluralidad de demandados en los litigios internacionales (Eurolex 1996); Heredia Cervantes, Proceso internacional y pluralidad de partes (Comares 2002); Pierre Gothot and Dominique Holleaux, La Convention de Bruxelles du 27 septembre 1968 (Jupiter 1985) 62 ff. 9 In Kalfelis (n 7) para 13 the CJEU stated that between various actions brought by the same plaintiff against different defendants there must exist ‘a connection of such a kind that it is expedient to determine those actions together in order to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings’. See also Paul Jenard, ‘Report on the Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters’ (1979) 591 OJ, 26, where it is underlined that ‘[i]n order for this rule to be applicable there must be a connection between the claims made against each of the defendants’. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 287 law,10 and then expressly introduced by law in art 6(1) of Regulation(EC) No 44/2001 (BR I),11 as actually replaced by art 8(1) BR Ibis.12 However, the scope of the rule has proven to be problematic, since the content of the ‘close connection’ remains undefined in concrete terms. As the provision does not supply a definition, the close connection has been progressively identified through a case-by-case approach, which will be analysed in section 2. Section 3 will conversely examine if, beyond the close connection, further requirements are involved in order to implement the rule. Lastly, section 4 will draw some conclusions. Connected Claims and Irreconcilability between Judgments In the wording of art 8(1) the close connection between the claims is related to the risk of irreconcilable judgments. The provision does not expressly outline the notion of irreconcilability. In particular, it does not clarify when different judgments between linked claims could be regarded as incompatible,13 nor specify if the meaning of 2. 10 See Judgment in Réunion européenne (n 7) para 48. 11 Art 6(1) of the Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters [2001] OJ L 12, 1 ff, stated that a person domiciled in a Member State could also be sued ‘where he is one of a number of defendants, in the courts for the place where any one of them is domiciled, provided the claims are so closely connected that it is expedient to hear and determine them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings’. 12 In the analysis of art 8(1), CJEU case-law referring to the previous dispositions of the rule has to be taken into consideration. See recital (34), which affirms the continuity between the 1968 Brussels Convention (BC), the Regulation No 44/2001 and the BR Ibis and their CJEU interpretation. It should be noted that the provision also matches the rule comprised in the Lugano Convention (Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters of 30 October [2007] OJ L 339, 3), which at art 6(1) states that a person domiciled in a State bound by the Convention may also be sued ‘where he is one of a number of defendants, in the courts for the place where any one of them is domiciled, provided the claims are so closely connected that it is expedient to hear and determine them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings’. 13 At the same time the disposition must be interpreted independently, in accordance with the purpose of the Regulation, and without deriving its interpretation from the domestic law. See Judgment in CDC (n 5), para 16; CJEU Judgment in Reisch Montage (n 7) paras 29–30. On the theme of the inter-relationships between Lucilla Galanti 288 the provision has an equivalent in other provisions of the Regulation, where the concept of irreconcilability is considered also in the context of related actions and non-recognition.14 On the one hand, irreconcilability between judgments is considered as a ground for non-recognition under art 45(1), lett c.15 This rule is not perfectly comparable to art 8(1), since they have different objectives:16 while art 8(1) seeks to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments before they occur, non-recognition refers to already existing judgments.17 As a consequence, non-recognition, as an exceptional case, has to be narrowly interpreted, in relation to judgments entailing mutually exclusive legal consequences.18 Art 8(1) instead refers to judgments between the claimant and different defendants, which could not involve, by definition, European and national law under a procedural perspective, see Remo Caponi, ‘Addio ai controlimiti? (Per una tutela della identità nazionale degli Stati Membri dell’Unione Europea)’, in Elena Falletti and Valeria Piccone (eds), Il nodo gordiano tra diritto nazionale e diritto europeo (Cacucci 2012) 43, 44 ff. 14 For the purpose of the stay of connected actions under art 30(3), ‘actions are deemed to be related where they are so closely connected that it is expedient to hear and determine them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings’ (as, before, the related actions, under art 28(3) BR I, and, analogously, art 22 BC). Art 45, instead, in relation to the refusal of recognition, states that the recognition of a judgement shall be refused when characterized by irreconcilability with other judgments (similarly, art 34 BR I and, before, art 27 BC). On the concept of ‘irreconcilable judgments’ see Trevor Hartley (n 3) para 9.08; Michele Angelo Lupoi (n 4) 41–42. 15 According to art 45(1), lett c, on the application of any interested party, the recognition of a judgment shall be refused also ‘if the judgment is irreconcilable with a judgment given between the same parties in the Member State addressed’. This provision is equivalent to art 34(3) of BRI and 27(3) of BC. 16 See the opinion of AG Trstenjak in Painer, 12 April 2011, ECLI:EU:C:2011:239, para 61, in which it is affirmed that ‘Article 34(3) of the regulation and Article 6(1) concern different situations and therefore have a different objective’. 17 Ibid, para 63. 18 Ibid, para 62, where it is underlined that non-recognition is ‘an exceptional case, where a derogation from the principle of the virtually automatic recognition of judgments (…) is exceptionally justified. For that reason, that provision must be given a narrow interpretation and be restricted to judgments entailing legal consequences that are mutually exclusive’. In this perspective, in order to ascertain whether different judgments are irreconcilable ‘it should be examined whether they entail legal consequences that are mutually exclusive’: Judgment of 4 February 1988, Horst Ludwig Martin Hoffmann v Adelheid Krieg (Hoffman), C 145/86 [1988] ECR 645, para 22; Judgment of 6 June 2002, Italian Leather SpA v WECO Polstermöbel GmbH & Co., C-80/00 [2002] ECR I-4995, para 40. Since the rule ‘constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of one of the fundamental objectives CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 289 mutually exclusive consequences, only existing where the two judgments are given between the same parties.19 On the other hand, art 30(3) BR Ibis provides for the stay of proceedings referring to the risk of irreconcilable judgments.20 This provision also does not perfectly correspond to art 8(1).21 In fact, it does not have the effect of systematically removing the defendants from their ‘natural’ jurisdiction (i.e. the one of their domicile, according to art 4 BR Ibis): the court can decline jurisdiction only if the law of that court permits the consolidation of related actions, on the application of one of the parties. However, art of the Convention, which is to facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, the free movement of judgments by providing for a simple and rapid enforcement procedure’, it must be interpreted strictly: Judgment of the Court of 2 June 1994, Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH v Emilio Boch, C-414/92 [1994] ECR I-2237, para 20. 19 Referring to the previous version of art 8(1), see opinion AG Trstenjak in Painer (n 16) para 16: ‘A case where the legal consequences of two judgments are mutually exclusive will, as a rule, exist only where the two judgments are given between the same parties. Because Article 6(1) of the regulation does not apply to this case, however, but a case where the two judgments are given, first, between the applicant and the defendant in the anchor claim and, secondly, between the applicant and another defendant, there will not, as a rule, be legal consequences that are mutually exclusive within the meaning of Article 34(3) of the regulation. Even if the judgments were irreconcilable, they could nevertheless both generally be enforced’. 20 To the extent of art 30, which provides for the staying of proceedings where related actions are pending before the courts of different Member States, any court other than the court first seised may stay its proceedings where related actions are pending in the courts of different Member States. As the provision states, ‘actions are deemed to be related where they are so closely connected that it is expedient to hear and determine them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings’. The article is the same as art 28(3) BRI and 22(3) BC. 21 The original provision outlined in art 6(1) BC did not contain any reference to irreconcilability, introduced by the judgment in Kalfelis referring to the connection between the actions as considered under art 22 BC. On this point, see opinion AG Trstenjak in Painer (n 16) para 67: ‘the wording of Article 6(1) of the regulation stems from the Court’s case-law on Article 6(1) of the Brussels Convention and the Court took the predecessor provision to Article 28(3) of the regulation, the third paragraph of Article 22 of the Brussels Convention, as its reference point’. See also the opinion of AG Léger of 8 December 2005 in Roche Nederland, ECLI:EU:C:2005:749, para 73. Even if art 8(1) has been modelled on art 22 BC, which represents the original version of art 30 BR Ibis, the content of the dispositions is not equivalent. Lucilla Galanti 290 8(1) automatically leads to the result of derogating the general rule of jurisdiction.22 Furthermore, under art 30(3) the reasons for the proceedings to be consolidated are established by the court – and, thus, they should be inspired by considerations regarding the proper administration of justice – while the option rests with the claimant under art 8(1).23 Therefore, even if the Court broadly interprets the irreconcilability for the purpose of the stay of proceedings,24 as a notion which does not necessarily involve the risk of mutually exclusive legal consequences, the more invasive effects of art 8(1) on the scope of art 4 justifies a narrower interpretation of the rule.25 Accordingly, the notion of irreconcilability under art 8(1) cannot be defined by comparison to art 30(3), nor to art 45(3), since it is narrower than the former and broader than the latter. Even if the rule excludes that 22 Ibid, paras 81–82: ‘[t]he end result of such a mechanism for extending jurisdiction’ is ‘systematically’ to deprive the defendants ‘of their natural jurisdiction’, while ‘the effect of the mechanism’ provided for in the rule related to stay of proceeding on the general rule of jurisdiction ‘is not systematic’. 23 In fact, while ‘the option for the second court seised to decline jurisdiction pursuant to Article 22 of the Brussels Convention rests entirely with that court, and not with the applicant, who may only make application to that effect’, the decision ‘to apply Article 6(1) of the said Convention rests solely with the applicant, and not with the court’: Ibid, paras 92 and 95. The ‘national court will take the decisions (…) having regard to the need for the harmonious administration of justice’; on the contrary, the applicant will not ‘be guided by the need for the harmonious administration of justice, but according to the jurisdiction which is more favourable to him’: opinion AG Trstenjak in Painer (n 16) paras 70–71. 24 In Tatry (judgment of 6 December 1994, The owners of the cargo lately laden on board the ship ‘Tatry’ v the owners of the ship ‘Maciej Rataj’, C-406/92 [1994] ECR I-5439, paras 51–52 and 57), referring to art 22 BC, the Court held that ‘[t]he purpose of that provision is to avoid the risk of conflicting judgments and thus to facilitate the proper administration of justice in the Community’; ‘[i]n order to achieve proper administration of justice, that interpretation must be broad and cover all cases where there is a risk of conflicting decisions, even if the judgments can be separately enforced and their legal consequences are not mutually exclusive’. 25 In this perspective, the difference between the provisions regarding their effect on the general rule of jurisdiction justifies ‘the different conditions of connectedness required for their respective application’; a broad interpretation of art 8(1) ‘would inevitably lead to a significant reduction’ of the situations in which the general rule of jurisdiction would be applied: opinion AG Léger in Roche Nederland (n 21) paras 88–89 and 91, where it is considered ‘preferable not to transpose […] the broad interpretation of the concept’ of related actions. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 291 proceedings could be consolidated solely for reasons of expediency and proper administration of justice26, it ‘may be interpreted in many ways’.27 26 The ‘possibility for the national court to extend its jurisdiction to co-defendants domiciled abroad solely for reasons of expediency, however legitimate they may be, based on the needs of the proper administration of justice’ is excluded: opinion AG Bot of 23 April 2015 in Profit Investment ECLI:EU:C:2015:274, para 95. As stated also by CJEU in Profit Investment (n 5) paras 66–67, the mere fact that the result of one of the procedures may have an effect on the result of the other ‘does not suffice to characterise the judgments to be delivered in the two procedures as “irreconcilable”’. On the case, see Luca Penasa, ‘Corte di giustizia: decisioni in materia di giurisdizione’ [2016], Il Corriere giuridico, 117; Sabine Corneloup, ‘Investor Issuer Disputes under the Brussels I Regulation. The CJEU Profit Investment Sim Ruling on Enforceability of Jurisdiction Clauses’, (2016) 3 Revue Internationale des Services Financiers 24. 27 As explained by AG Maduro in the opinion of 17 January 2008 in GlaxoSmithKline, Laboratoires GlaxoSmithKline v Jean-Pierre Rouard, ECLI:EU:C:2009:40, paras 29 ff, on a ‘strict’ interpretation, the application of the rule depends on a risk that separate judgments might give rise to mutually exclusive legal consequences, while, under a ‘broad’ interpretation, the notion would involve the risk of conflicting decisions. The strict approach seems to be adopted by AG Léger in Roche Nederland, where it is affirmed that there could be a consolidation of claims where it is ‘expedient to hear and determine them together in order to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments’ (in the perspective attributed to Kalfelis) and not just ‘conflicting ones’ (within the meaning of the judgment in Tatry). In the perspective of the AG there is no irreconcilability where the defendants concerned by the judgments are different, as the decisions ‘may be enforced separately and simultaneously for each of them’. At the same time, there is no mutual exclusion between the judgments when their legal consequences cover a different territory, as happens where the court rules only on the alleged infringements of the rights of the patent holder in each of the States over which these courts have jurisdiction: opinion AG Léger in Roche Nederland (n 21) paras 101 and 109. On the contrary, in the opinion of AG Trstenjak in Painer (n 16) para 68, the rule is considered to be interpreted ‘to the effect that it is sufficient for the existence of a connection between two questions that separate judgment would involve the risk of conflicting decisions’, without necessarily involving the possibility of giving rise to mutually exclusive legal consequences. Yet in Kalfelis, the opinion of AG Darmon of 15 June 1988 [1988] ECR 5565, para 15 emphasized that the expression ‘contradictory decisions’ stresses ‘unequivocally, that the choice made favours a solution of sufficient breadth’ instead of requiring the impossibility of enforcing two decisions simultaneously. The same broad approach seems (incidentally) to emerge also in other cases, where the irreconcilability seems to be linked to a mere divergence between the judgments. See judgment in CDC (n 5) para 20; judgment in Sapir (n 7) para 43; judgment in Painer (n 5) para 79; judgment in Freeport (n 7) para 40; judgment of 13 July 2006, Case C-539/03, Roche Nederland BV and Others v Frederick Primus and Milton Goldenbergin [2006] ECR I-6535, para 26. Lucilla Galanti 292 On these bases, an analysis focused only on the notion of irreconcilability could not lead to a clear individuation of connected claims.28 As indicated by case law, irreconcilability represents a part of a more comprehensive examination. From this perspective, a divergence in the outcome of the disputes does not suffice for judgments to be regarded as irreconcilable ‘but that divergence must also arise in the context of the same situation of fact and law’.29 This requirement – the same situation of law and fact – seems to represent the very core issue in defining the close connection and to individuate the scope of the rule.30 The Same Situation of Fact and Law: An Early “Rigorous” Approach The interpretation of this requirement has sensibly changed in CJEU case law. At first, the CJEU adopted a rigorous approach in assessing the existence of a same situation of fact and law, requiring a strict identity: there was not a same situation of law when the provisions of different national laws were applicable, and a same situation of fact was to be excluded in the existence of different misconducts. This approach emerges from the judgements in Réunion européenne as well as in Roche Nederland. 2.1. 28 In fact, the ‘general guidelines’ established by the Court ‘do not provide a very clear indication of the scope of the condition as to the irreconcilability of judgments’; this also because ‘the assessment of the connecting link depends in large measure on the factual circumstances of each case, which makes it difficult to establish a clear criterion’: See the opinion AG Bot of 23 April 2015 in Profit Investment (n 26) para 94. 29 Judgment in CDC (n 5) para 20; judgement in Sapir (n 7) paras 42–43; judgement in Solvay (n 5) para 24; judgement in Painer (n 5) para79; judgement in Freeport (n 7) para 40; judgment in Roche Nederland (n 27) para 26; most recently see also judgement in Profit Investment (n 5) para 65 and judgement of 27 September 2017, Joined Cases C-24/16 and C-25/16, Nintendo Co. Ltd v BigBen Interactive GmbH and BigBen Interactive SA, ECLI:EU:C:2017:724, para 45. 30 Individuating the requirement of close connection ‘is no doubt the most difficult issue of interpretation in respect of the text of Art 8 (1)’: See Horatia Muir Watt, ‘Art 8’, in Ulrich Magnus, Peter Mankowski (eds), Brussels Ibis Regulation (Otto Schmidt 2016) para 25. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 293 In Réunion européenne31 the existence of a same situation of law was denied regarding claims based on contractual lability and liability in tort or delict.32 Both sides of the notion were considered in Roche Nederland, where the Court equally excluded the application of what is now art 8(1),33 showing a similar strict approach.34 31 The case was related to proceedings brought by nine insurance companies (and, as lead insurer, Réunion Européenne), which, after paying compensation for the damages suffered by a company, were subrogated to its rights; the insurers claimed that the dispute was indivisible since the proceedings involved the same transport operation. In such a context, the Court excluded the so close connection; in fact, it held that various claims ‘directed against different defendants and based in one instance on contractual liability and in the other on liability in tort or delict cannot be regarded as connected’: CJEU judgement in Réunion européenne (n 7) para 50. However, as should be noted, in that case the applicability of what is now art 8(1) was to be excluded in advance as the proceedings were not brought before the courts of the defendant’s domicile, while the forum connexitatis relies only on that grounds for jurisdiction. As the Court underlines (paras 44–45), it is clear from the very wording of the provision that it applies ‘only if the proceedings in question are brought before the courts for the place where one of the defendants is domiciled’, which was not in that case, where the jurisdiction was founded on art 5(3). 32 The Court’s ruling in Réunion européenne has been criticized for its strict interpretation of the ‘same situation of law’. See Horatia Muir Watt, ‘Art 6’, in Ulrich Magnus, Peter Mankowski (eds), Brussels I Regulation on Jurisdiction and Recognition in Civil and Commercial Matters (2nd edn, Sellier 2012) para 13, who underlines the ‘practically undesirable results’ deriving from this interpretation. On this case, see Trevor Hartley, ‘Carriage of goods and the Brussels Jurisdiction and Judgments Convention’ [2000] European Law Review, 89–93; Marco Lopez De Gonzalo ‘Questioni di giurisdizione in tema di concorso di azione contrattuale ed extracontrattuale’ [1999] Diritto del commercio internazionale, 517; Ana Crespo Hernández, ‘Delimitación entre materia contractual y extracontractual en el Convenio de Bruselas: Implicaciones en orden a la determinación de la competencia judicial internacional’ (1998) 4681, La ley – Unión Europea 1998, 1 ff. 33 The case was related to proceedings brought against Roche Nederland BV and other companies of the Roche group in respect of an alleged infringement of an European patent. On this case, see Annette Kur, ‘A Farewell to Cross-Border Injunctions? The CJEU Decisions GAT v Luk and Roche Nederland v Primus and Goldenberg’ [2006] International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law, 844; E. Bodson, ‘Le brevet européen est-il différent?: L’arrêt Roche Nederland de la Cour de justice: vers une révision du réglement de Bruxelles en ce qui concerne la concentration de litiges transfrontaliers en matière de contrefaçon de brevets européens?’ (2007) 84 Revue de droit international et de droit comparé, 447; Michael Wilderspin, ‘La compétence juridictionnelle en matière de Lucilla Galanti 294 In that case, related to an alleged infringement of European patent law, the Court excluded the existence of the same situation of law. Since under the Munich Convention a European patent continues to be governed by the national law of each of the Contracting States for which it has been granted, even if some common rules are laid down, any action for infringement must be examined in light of the relevant national law in force in each of these States.35 Thus, where infringement proceedings are brought against defendants domiciled in various Contracting States in respect of acts allegedly committed in each of those States in which the patent is granted, ‘any divergences between the decisions given by the courts concerned would not arise in the context of the same legal situation’.36 At the same time, the Court also excluded the existence of the same situation of fact. This requirement could not be inferred in the case of European patent infringement proceedings involving a number of companies established in various States with respect to acts committed in various territories, as, in the adopted perspective, ‘the defendants are different and the infringements they are accused of (…) are not the same’.37 It should be noted that in that case the defendants were companies belonging to the same group. Notwithstanding, the conclusion does not change even if the defendant companies have acted in an identical or similar manner in accordance with a common policy elaborated by one of litiges concernant la violation des droits de propriété intellectuelle’, [2006] Revue critique de droit international privé, 777. 34 The Court in fact stated that the rule ‘does not apply in European patent infringement proceedings involving a number of companies established in various Contracting States in respect of acts committed in one or more of those States even where those companies, which belong to the same group, may have acted in an identical or similar manner in accordance with a common policy elaborated by one of them’: judgment in Roche Nederland, (n 27) para 41. 35 Ibid, paras 29–30. 36 The context of a same situation of fact and law is excluded since ‘any action for infringement of a European patent must be examined in the light of the relevant national law in force in each of the States for which it has been granted’: Judgment in Roche Nederland (n 27) paras 30–31. As referred also by AG Léger (n 21) paras 114 and 117, ‘outside the scope of the common rules laid down in the Munich Convention (…), such a patent continues to be governed by the national legislation’, and, one granted, it becomes ‘a bundle of national patents’. 37 Judgment in Roche Nederland (n 27) para 27, where it is specified that the same situation of fact cannot be inferred where ‘the defendants are different and the infringements they are accused of, committed in different Contracting States, are not the same’. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 295 them: even assuming that in this perspective ‘the factual situation would be the same’, nevertheless ‘the legal situation would not be the same’.38 In that conclusion, the predictability of the consolidation between the claims also has a role.39 Since art 8(1) derogates the natural forum of the defendant’s domicile and represents an exception to the general rule provided for in art 4,40 it is expedient that the defendants are able to foresee they may be sued in a different (and presumably more cumbersome) forum.41 According to the early strict perspective, the consolidation of the claims was not considered foreseeable if different legal bases were involved: pre- 38 Ibid, paras 34–35. 39 Within the wording of BC no reference to the notion of predictability is made; notwithstanding, the CJEU used to link this concept to the provisions on legal certainty. In this perspective, in the judgment in Roche Nederland (n 27) para 37 the potential undermining of the predictability of the rules of jurisdiction laid down by the Convention is associated to the undermining of the principle of legal certainty. An express indication on predictability is firstly introduced in BR I, at recital(11), where it is stated that ‘[t]he rules of jurisdiction must be highly predictable and founded on the principle that jurisdiction is generally based on the defendant’s domicile’. That principle, enhanced by case-law – see judgment in Painer (n 5) para 75; judgment in Freeport (n 7) para 36; judgment in Solvay (n 5) paras 19–20; judgment in Profit Investment (n 5) para 62 – is considerably implemented by BR Ibis. In this context, in addition to recital (15) BR Ibis – replacing the previous version of recital (11) – recital (16) affirms that, in relation to the alternative grounds of jurisdiction based on close connection between the court and the action or in order to facilitate the sound administration of justice, legal certainty should be ensured avoiding ‘the possibility of the defendant being sued in a court of a Member State which he could not reasonably have foreseen’. 40 It is underlined that the lack of predictability ‘is still a problem’ under the rule: see Thomas Pfeiffer ‘Jurisdiction’, in Burkhard Hess, Thomas Pfeiffer and Peter Schlosser (eds), Report on the Application of Regulation Brussels I in the Member States (Study JLS/C4/2005/03, Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privat- und Wirtschaftsrecht 2007, para 223. 41 In this perspective, predictability seems to have an equivalent value – when not even greater – with respect to procedural economy and to the avoidance of legal inconsistencies, objectives to be pursued without prejudice to the former. See opinion in Painer (n 16) paras 96 and 98, where AG Trstenjak notes that the avoidance of legal inconsistencies can justify a transfer of jurisdiction ‘only where this is predictable for the defendant’, and also considerations of procedural economy can be taken into account but ‘strict regard must be had to the defendant’s interest in the predictability of jurisdiction’. See Paul Torremans, ‘Jurisdiction for Cross-Border Intellectual Property Infringement Cases in Europe’ (2016) 53 Common Market Law Review 1625, 1641, where the predictability is considered ‘one of the foundations’ of the regulation. Lucilla Galanti 296 dictability was automatically excluded if the laws applicable to the claims were not identical. In Roche Nederland, the CJEU stated that a rule of jurisdiction based solely on factual criteria, which are concretely set out by the national courts, would be liable to undermine the predictability of the Brussels system.42 The same perspective emerges from the opinion of AG Léger. To ensure predictability, it is the view of the AG that the same situation of fact will not suffice, nor in a context where the defendant companies belong to a same group and committed identical or similar infringements.43 The Evolution of the Concept of “Same Situation of Fact and Law” This interpretation was not completely satisfying as it could lead to the undesirable result of determining separately claims presenting a connection44. Thus, at a later stage, CJEU case-law came to a less formalistic approach in relation to both the requirements. When it could be said that the same situation of law exists, this means that a legal framework, even if not fully harmonized, would suffice for the application of the rule. This perspective emerges from the judgement in Freeport.45 The Court, notwithstanding that it referred to its precedent case-law where it pointed out that the divergence in the outcome of the dispute must arise in the context of same law and fact,46 stated that the rule applies not only when a 2.2. 42 Judgment in Roche Nederland (n 27) paras 37–38. 43 Opinion of AG Léger in Roche Nederland (n 21) paras 127–129; thus, expressly rejecting ‘the spider in the web’ theory. The AG also underlines the importance of interpreting the rules of the BC ‘in such a way as to enable a normally wellinformed defendant reasonably to foresee before which courts, other than those of the State in which he is domiciled, he may be sued’: Ibid, para 126. 44 Horatia Muir Watt (n 30) para 27, where it is underlined that the previous approach was ‘overly dogmatic’. 45 The case was related to an action brought seeking an order against two linked companies for the payment of a sum that only one of them had expressly agreed on: see Judgment in Freeport (n 7) paras 12–13. On this case, see Andrew Scott, ‘Réunion Revised? Freeport v. Arnoldsson’ [2008] Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly, 113. 46 As held in Roche Nederland (n 27) para 26. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 297 single law is involved, but also when different legal bases are involved in the claims brought against a number of defendants.47 In the subsequent case-law this interpretation has been confirmed48, particularly from the judgements in Painer and in Sapir. In the latter, the Court further specifies that even if the claims do not have a single legal basis, they could have an origin in a single situation of law and fact and an identical nature when directed at the same interest. In that case, the common origin and interest was represented by the repayment of an erroneously transferred surplus amount.49 In Painer, where the case was related to proceedings for copyright infringements50 and the actions brought against the defendants were based on differing national legal grounds, the ‘enlarged’ notion of identical legal basis has been confirmed. The Court also recognized the existence of a same situation of law, since the essential elements were the same in their substance.51 47 Judgment in Freeport (n 7). As held by the Court para 38 and 47, it is not apparent from the wording of the article ‘that the conditions laid down for application of that provision include a requirement that the actions brought against different defendants should have identical legal bases’, thus the rule ‘is to be interpreted as meaning that the fact that claims brought against a number of defendants have different legal bases does not preclude application of that provision’. 48 Interpretation which has been appreciated also by legal literature; see Michele Angelo Lupoi (n 4) 42; Francesco Salerno (n 3) 186. 49 Ibid, paras 45 and 47–48. In that case, related to a request concerning the repayment of an amount overpaid in error following an administrative procedure, the claims were based on the recovery of the sum unduly paid and, regarding one of the defendants, on a tortious act. The Court, restating that the same legal basis is not a necessary requirement for the application of the article, affirmed that the rule ‘must be interpreted as meaning that there is a close connection […] in circumstances such as those at issue in the main proceedings, rely on rights to additional compensation which it is necessary to determine on a uniform basis’. 50 The case was related to proceedings between a freelance photographer, Ms Painer, as applicant, and five newspaper publishers, as defendants, concerning some photographs produced and sold by the former without conferring on third parties any rights nor providing consent to their publication. 51 In fact, as the Court notes, ‘a difference in legal basis between the actions brought against the various defendants, does not, in itself, preclude the application’, reasoning which is even stronger if ‘the national laws on which the actions against the various defendants are based are (…) substantially identical; thus, the article ‘must be interpreted as not precluding its application solely because actions against several defendants for substantially identical copyright infringements are brought on national legal grounds which vary according to the Member States concerned’: judgment in Painer (n 5) paras 81–82 and 84. In fact, in cases governed by a law which is the same in substance even if not fully harmonized, a ‘suf- Lucilla Galanti 298 A similar trend characterizes the factual situation. The formalistic perspective, in which differences between the plurality of infringements committed in various States could exclude the existence of a same situation of fact, appears dismissed in favour of a “substantial” appraisement of the fact. From this perspective, it seems that different misconducts could be deemed as a same situation of fact when concerted. If in Roche Nederland the Court had already incidentally considered if the defendants acted ‘in accordance with a common policy’,52 in Painer it expressly holds that ‘the fact that defendants against whom a copyright holder alleges substantially identical infringements of his copyright did or did not act independently may be relevant’. Thus, in determining whether there is a connection between different claims, the evaluation has to be carried out in the light of all the elements of the case, also considering the presence of independent or concerted actions.53 The more extensive approach in the evaluation of the same situation of fact and law has some consequences also on predictability. The Court explained that a difference in the legal basis does not in itself preclude the consolidation of proceedings if foreseeable by the defendants, meaning that predictability is no longer exclusively connected to the existence of the same law.54 Thus, when claims are not based on the same legal basis, predictability involves consideration of the fact: in these cases, the existence of concerted actions seems to become the crucial factor in the evaluation of predictability. If the defendants have previously coordinated their actions, ficient legal connection’ may equally exist: opinion AG Trstenjak in Painer (n 16) para 80 and 105. 52 Judgment in Roche Nederland (n 27) para 34. 53 Judgment in Painer (n 5) para 83. The importance of an agreement between the defendants emerges, a contrario, also from the opinion of AG Trstenjak (n 16) para 104, where it is affirmed that a single factual situation ‘cannot be taken to exist where the contested conduct of the anchor defendant and of the other defendant appears to be unconcerted parallel conduct’. See Paul Torremans (n 41) 1642, where it is underlined that ‘after Painer, neither the first nor the second condition established in Roche Nederland remains intact.’ See also Beatriz Campuzano Diaz, ‘The CJEU Again with the Forum of the Plurality of Defendants’, (2012) 4 Cuadernos Derecho Transnacional 245, 255. 54 Judgement in Painer (n 5) para 81. In fact, ‘a difference in legal basis between the actions brought against the various defendants, does not, in itself, preclude the application’ of the article, ‘provided however that it was foreseeable by the defendants that they might be sued in the Member State where at least one of them is domiciled’. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 299 they have to be considered as being reasonably able to foresee the consolidation of the proceedings.55 The Confirmation of the Extensive Approach in Patent and Design Cases The more extensive approach has been recently confirmed in Solvay, a case related to proceedings regarding alleged infringements of a European patent – i.e. the very same field where the judgment in Roche Nederland took a strict approach – where the Court, even without overruling its precedent,56 adopted a less formalistic perspective.57 2.3. 55 While in Roche Nederland predictability of consolidation between proceedings was exclusively related to law, excluding the possibility to foresee the consolidation of claims when the legal basis was not identical, this element is no longer necessary. As emerges from the judgment in Painer, a difference in legal basis between the actions brought against various defendants does not preclude the application of what is now art 8(1), recognizing that such a difference does not, in itself, preclude predictability. When not related to the same law, predictability seems to be related to the fact, and, in particular, to the existence of concerted actions. On these bases, the Court states that what is now art. 8(1) ‘must be interpreted as not precluding its application solely because actions against several defendants for substantially identical copyright infringements are brought on national legal grounds which vary according to the Member States concerned’ (para 84). 56 The judgment in Solvay (n 5) para 25 in fact recalls the principle ruled in Roche Nederland that the existence of the same situation of fact ‘cannot be inferred where the defendants are different and the infringements they are accused of […] are not the same’. Notwithstanding, the Court distinguished the conclusion to be reached on the case in relation to its ‘specific features’, since the case was related to the ‘same national part’ of the patent. For this reason, the two cases could be distinguished: see Trevor Hartley (n 3) para 9.19. 57 In this perspective, the Court stated that ‘[i]t follows from the specific features of a case such as that in the main proceedings that potential divergences in the outcome of the proceedings are likely to arise in the same situation of fact and law’ and that connection between the different claims has to be established also taking into account ‘the dual fact that, first, the defendants in the main proceeding are each separately accused of committing the same infringements with respect to the same products and, secondly, such infringements were committed in the same Member States, so that they adversely affect the same national parts of the European patent at issue’: judgment in Solvay (n 5) paras 27 and 29. On these bases, the CJEU held that what is now art 8(1) applies where two or more companies from different Member States are accused of committing an infringement ‘of the same national part of a European patent which is in force in yet another Member State by virtue of their performance of reserved actions with regard to the same Lucilla Galanti 300 In this particular matter, there could not be in existence, by definition, an identical legal basis, if strictly considered since under the Munich Convention a European patent appears as a bundle of national patents. On the contrary, as the alleged infringements were related to the ‘same national part’ of a patent, if the forum connexitatis were not applicable the infringements would have been examined by the courts in the light of the different national legislations governing the various national parts of the patent. This perspective seems to be (even more) suitable to the new Unitary Patent.58 In light of the rules laid down by the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, the coordination between art 8(1) and the rule of exclusive jurisdiction in this matter, i.e. art 24(4) BR Ibis, could also be (re)examined:59 contrary to the previous interpretation, the question of validity of product’: Ibid, para 30. As AG Villalón said in the opinion in Solvay, 29 March 2012, ECLI:EU:C:2012:193, para 23, this interpretation could be confirmed also because it is possible to adopt a more ‘nuanced’ approach, carefully circumscribing the scope of the ruling in Roche Nederland. 58 See the EU regulations providing the legal framework for the Unitary Patent system (patent package): Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection [2012] OJ L 361, 1 ff, creating the European patent with unitary effect, and Council Regulation (EU) No 1260/2012 of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements [2012] OJ L 361, 89 ff. It has to be emphasized that the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court [2013] OJ C 175, 1 ff also established a Unified Patent Court. Subsequently to its establishment the BR Ibis has been amended: see the Regulation (EU) No 542/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 regarding the rules to be applied with respect to the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice [2014] OJ L 163, 1 ff. On the developments related to this point, see Peter Schlosser, ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ in Burkhard Hess, Thomas Pfeiffer and Peter Schlosser (n 40) paras 828–832. 59 Art 24(4) BR I bis (as well as its previous version in BR I, art 22(4) 4 and 16(4) BC) provides for a rule of exclusive jurisdiction in relation to proceedings concerned with the registration or validity of patents, trademarks, designs, or other similar rights, irrespective of whether the issue is raised by way of an action or as a defence. On the basis of this rule, there could be a fragmentation of the consolidated proceedings when the issue of validity of patent is raised, also determining problems of ‘torpedo’ and ‘super torpedo’ cases: Peter Schlosser, ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ in Burkhard Hess, Thomas Pfeiffer and Peter Schlosser (n 40) paras 804 ff. See also Marketa Trimble, Global Patents: Limits of Transnational Enforcement (Oxford university press 2012) 47 ff; Benedetta Ubertazzi, Exclusive Jurisdiction in Intellectual Property (Mohr Siebeck 2012) 45. The problem of ‘tor- CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 301 the patent must be expressly raised in order to fall within the scope of the rule.60 The Court also confirmed the same principle in the judgment in Nintendo, where the proceedings were related to an infringement of a Community design.61 In that case, the prerequisite of a same situation of law would not have been recognized according to the previous ‘strict’ pedo’ was intensified since the Court gave a wide interpretation of the rule in GAT (Judgment of 3 July 2006, Gesellschaft für Antriebstechnik mbH & Co. KG v Lamellen und Kupplungsbau Beteiligungs KG, Case C-4/03 [2006] ECR 2006 I-6509), para 25, where stated that the exclusive jurisdiction provided for by that provision should apply when the issue of a patent’s validity is raised by way of an action or a plea in objection. The principle was restated in Roche Nederland (n 27), para 40. The problem has been again faced in judgment in Solvay (n 5) paras 34, 36 and 40, where the Court seems to partially mitigate its previous interpretation, stating that the rule of exclusive jurisdiction must be interpreted as not precluding the request for provisional measures even if the courts of another Member State have exclusive jurisdiction as to the substance of the matter. To this conclusion the Court also considers that there is no risk of conflicting decisions since the provisional decision taken by the court before which the interim proceedings have been brought will not in any way prejudice the decision to be taken on the substance by the court having jurisdiction: ibid, paras 49–50. This interpretation has to be verified under the new Agreement on a Unified Patent Court: according to art 32 lett c, in fact, the Court has exclusive competence on interim measures. 60 See Paul Torremans (n 41) 1644: ‘de facto the Gat v. LuK approach will not be followed. Inside the common Unitary Patent Court, the division before which the validity is raised during infringement proceedings will have the option to continue with the infringement case and rule on validity too. The question does, then, need to be raised whether it makes sense to keep the strict Article 24(4) rule for national patents and other registered intellectual property rights. It should be noted also that art 32(1) of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, which provides for the exclusive competence of the Court, deals with claims and counterclaims for revocation of patents and declaration of invalidity, without any express references to what emerges from defences as plea in objection. Art 33, instead, provides for a rule of connection very similar to art 8(1), stating that an action may be brought against multiple defendants only where the defendants have a commercial relationship and where the action relates to the same alleged infringement. 61 These proceedings referred to claims brought against two linked companies for infringement of the rights conferred by the Community designs, which were presented as connected because of a supply chain of the allegedly infringing goods. On this case see Annette Kur, 'Unionsweite Zuständigkeit in Gemeinschaftsgeschmacksmustersachen’ [2017] Gewerblicher Rechtsschutz und Urheberrecht, 1127; Dominique Berlin, ‘La protection européenne de Super Mario’ (2017) 42 La Semaine Juridique, 1897; Sebastian Kubis, ‘Die Verletzung unionsweiter Schutzrechte in grenzüberschreitenden "Lieferketten"’ [2017] Zeitschrift für Lucilla Galanti 302 approach’, as the infringement proceedings involved different national laws. Notwithstanding this, since by bringing the claims ‘the holder seeks to protect his exclusive right to use the Community design’, which has the same effect throughout the EU, the Court recognized the existence of the same situation of law.62 In Nintendo the appraisement of the fact also comes into consideration. The CJEU – endorsing the view of the referring court, which considered that such a requirement was met – confirmed the importance of concertation. Where the defendants are a parent company and its subsidiary, and they are accused ‘of similar, if not identical, acts that infringe the same protected designs and relate to identical allegedly infringing goods’, there exists a same situation of fact.63 As particularly emerges from the judgments in Painer, Solvay and Nintendo, the more extensive approach is undoubtedly useful in relation to cases where the plurality of parts and infringements are involved in a substantially similar situation, as when Intellectual Property (IP) rights violation cases occur. In this field of law, where both the exploitation of property rights as well as the infringements normally extend beyond national boundaries, a further improvement of the ‘close connection’ rule would be geistiges Eigentum, 471; Laurence Idot, ‘Contrefaçon de dessins ou modèles’ (2017) 11 Europe, 54. 62 In fact, even if ‘it follows from the Court’s case-law on patents that, where infringement proceedings are brought before a number of courts in various Member States in respect of a European patent granted in each of those States, against defendants domiciled in those States in respect of acts allegedly committed in their territory, any divergences between the decisions given by the courts concerned would not arise in the context of the same situation of law’. Since that right ‘has the same effect throughout the European Union, the fact that some of the orders that may be adopted by the court having jurisdiction with a view to ensuring that that right is respected depend on provisions of national law is irrelevant to the existence of the same situation of law’: Judgment in Nintendo (n 29) paras 46, 48–49. 63 In relation to the same situation of fact, ‘it is apparent from the orders for reference that the referring court starts from the premise (…) that requirement is met’. The existence of a same fact ‘must in such circumstances — if proven, which is for the referring court to verify, and where an application is made to that effect — cover all the activities of the various defendants, including the supplies made by the parent company on its own account, and not be limited to certain aspects or elements of them’: Ibid, paras 50–52. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 303 convenient.64 In this perspective, in relation to IP cases, it has been proposed to amend the rule taking into consideration if the defendants have acted in an identical or similar manner in accordance with a common policy.65 What is more, it has been suggested to enhance the role of the management epicentre of the group in the individuation of the grounds of jurisdiction according to the ‘spider in the web’ theory.66 Thus, if one defendant has coordinated the relevant activities or is otherwise more closely connected with the dispute in its entirety, jurisdiction would be only conferred on the courts in the State where that defendant is habitually domiciled.67 The Position of the CJEU on Cartels The implementation of the rule could also be developed in relation to competition law. In this field of law, since the infringements are normally put in place under a coordinated policy involving several jurisdictions, the forum connexitatis is also particularly useful even if not considerably enhanced by the 2.4. 64 Paul Torremans (n 41) 1637. It is in fact ‘easily intelligible that it would be particularly cumbersome and costly to institute proceedings for infringement of patents in several jurisdictions’: Peter Schlosser, ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ in Burkhard Hess, Thomas Pfeiffer and Peter Schlosser (n 40) para 729. 65 See the Principles on Conflict of Laws in Intellectual Property Prepared by the European Max Planck Group on Conflict of Laws in Intellectual Property [2011] www.ip.mpg.de/fileadmin/ipmpg/content/clip/Final_Text_1_December_2011.pd f, art 2:206. With respect to the shortcomings in the system of patent litigation also the Green Paper in the Review of Council Regulation (EC) No44/2001 on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters, Brussels, 21.4.2009, COM(2009) 175 final, proposed an extension of the rule contained in art 6(1). 66 On this point see Cristina Gonzalez Beilfuss, ‘Is there any Web for the Spider? Jurisdiction over Co-defendants after Roche Nederland’, in Arnaud Nuyts (ed), International Litigation in Intellectual Property and Information Technology, (Kluwer Law International 2008) 79, 83; Paul Torremans (n 41) 1637–1639; Thomas Jaeger, ‘The EU Patent: Cui bono et quo vadit?’ (2010) 47 Common Market Law Review EU, 63, 92; Stefan Luginbuehl, European Patent Law: Towards a Uniform Interpretation, (Edward Elgar Publishing 2011) 96. 67 Principles on Conflict of Laws (n 65) art 2:206. Lucilla Galanti 304 legislator.68 With respect to the CDC case – the first in which the CJEU has adjudicated concerning the interaction between competition law and jurisdictional aspects in regard to damages actions against cartel members – it has been affirmed that the Brussels system ‘is not fully geared towards ensuring effective private implementation of the Union’s competition law’.69 68 On this matter, see David Ashton, Competition Damages Actions in the EU (2nd edn, Elgar Competition Law and Practice, 2018) para 12.10; Mihail Danov, Jurisdiction and Judgments in Relation to EU Competition Law Claims (Hart Publishing 2011) 53; Michael Wilderspin, ‘Jurisdiction Issues: Brussels I Regulation Articles 6(1), 23, 27 and 28’ in Jürgen Basedow, Stéphanie Francq and Laurence Idot (eds), International Antitrust Litigation (Hart Publishing 2012) 51 ff. The plurality of defendants is not considered in the White Paper on Damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules, Brussels, 2.4.2008 COM(2008) 165 final, nor in the Directive 2014/104/EU on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union. Art 15 instead expressly refers to the hypothesis of actions for damages brought by various claimants. On the applicability of art 8(1) see Marco De Cristofaro, Il private enforcement antitrust ed il ruolo centrale della disciplina processuale, di nuovo conio legislativo o di nuova concezione giurisprudenziale, [2015] Int’l lis, 123, 125. 69 Opinion AG Jääskinen in CDC, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2443, para 7–8 and 10. The suggestion drawn by the AG is that, de lege ferenda, it would be advisable to incorporate in the Regulation a rule of jurisdiction that is apt to cover cross-border anticompetitive practices; in fact, the AG proposes to take into consideration the lines of the conflict-of-laws provision which applies to obligations deriving from acts restrictive of competition under the Rome II Regulation, art 6(3). In cases related to cartel agreements it has also been suggested to take into consideration the unity of various misconducts, even if concerning a different spatial and temporal context, when they are coordinated by one of the firm’s companies, even accepting the domicile of the parent company as the sole ground for jurisdiction. Michael Wilderspin (n 68) 51–52; Wolfgang Wurmnest, ‘International Jurisdiction in Competition Damages Cases Under the Brussels I Regulation: CDC Hydrogen Peroxide’ (2016) 53 Common Market Law Review 225, 233, where it is considered the ‘more controversial (…) question whether also a subsidiary of a firm that has participated in a cartel – and which has distributed the cartelized product in a Member State without being aware of the cartel agreement concluded by its parent company – may serve as an anchor defendant’. On these matters, see also Mihail Danov, ‘Jurisdiction in Cross-Border EU Competition Law Cases: Some Specific Issues Requiring Specific Solutions’, in Mihail Danov, Florian Becker, Paul Beaumont (eds), Cross-Border EU Competition Law Actions (Hart Publishing 2013) 170–173; Mihail Danov, Florian Becker, ‘Conclusion: Proposing Specific Solutions To Promote Regulatory Competition And Address The Enforcement Gap’, ibidem, 287; Richard Whish, David Bailey, Competition law (8th edn, Oxford University Press 2015) 330; Jürgen Basedow, ‘Jurisdiction and CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 305 The case was related to proceedings concerning actions for damages – which were directly or indirectly transferred to CDC by 71 damaged subjects – linked to an infringement of art 101 TFEU and art 53 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area. Before the introduction of the proceedings, a decision of the Commission had already established the existence of a singular infringement of EU law and found the participation of several undertakings in a single and continuous cartel.70 The Court stated that the requirement of the same situation of fact and law was satisfied. On the one side, since different misconducts were involved in the proceedings, the presence of the decision of the Commission finding a singular infringement seems sufficient to recognize the same situation of fact.71At the same time, the Court considered that predictability is also satisfied in the case of a decision of the Commission finding the existence of a single infringement of EU law and holding each participant liable for the consequent loss resulting from the infringement. In fact, in such circumstances, the participants could have expected to be sued in the courts of a Member State in which one of them is domiciled.72 choice of law in the private enforcement of EC Competition Law’, in Jürgen Basedow (ed), Private enforcement of EC Competition Law (Kluwer Law International 2007) 229 ff; Jonathan Fitchen, ‘Allocating jurisdiction in private competition law claims within the EU’ [2006] Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, 381 ff; Christopher Withers, ‘Jurisdiction and applicable law in antitrust tort claims’ [2002] Journal of Business Law, 250 ff. 70 On this case, see Thomas Thiede, Gerhard Klumpe, ‘A Christmas Carol – strongly inspired by Charles Dickens and CDC Hydrogen Peroxide’ [2017] Neue Zeitschrift für Kartellrecht 643; Nicole Boyle, Gurpreet Chhokar, Stella Gartagani, ‘Jurisdiction in follow-on damages claims: update on the judgment of the European Court of Justice in the hydrogen peroxide cartel claim’ (2015) 8 Global Competition Litigation Review 58 ff; Oliver Geiss, Horst Daniel, ‘Cartel Damage Claims (CDC) Hydrogen Peroxide SA v Akzo Nobel NV and Others: A summary and critique of the judgment of the European Court of Justice of May, 21 2015’, [2015] European Competition Law Review, 430. 71 As the Court states, ‘[t]he requirement that the same situation of fact and law must arise is satisfied in circumstances such as those of the case in the main proceedings. Despite the fact that the defendants in the main proceedings participated in the implementation of the cartel at issue by concluding and performing contracts under it, in different places and at different times’, according to the decision of the Commission ‘upon which the claims in the main proceedings are based, the cartel agreement amounted to a single and continuous infringement’: Judgment in CDC (n 5) para 21. 72 In this case, predictability is directly linked to the decision of the Commission. In fact, the condition ‘is fulfilled in the case of a binding decision of the Commis- Lucilla Galanti 306 On the other side, regarding the same situation of law, the Commission’s decision did not specify the requirements for holding the defendants liable in tort, which were to be determined by national law. Notwithstanding, the Court confirmed the principle that the same situation of law is not excluded by the presence of different legal bases. In fact, ‘even in the case where various laws are, by virtue of the rules of private international law of the court seised, applicable to the actions for damages brought by CDC against the defendants in the main proceedings’, such a different legal basis does not, in itself, preclude the application of what is now art 8(1).73 The Court’s thinking seems to go even further. Since the requirements for determining the liability for cartel infringement may differ between the various national laws, there would be a risk of irreconcilable judgments if the actions were not determined together. Thus, from the previous standpoint where the difference in the legal bases would necessarily exclude the application of the rule, that divergence becomes an element that may be relevant for the consolidation of the claims, when it could lead to irreconcilable judgments.74 sion finding there to have been a single infringement of EU law and, on the basis of that finding, holding each participant liable for the loss resulting from the tortious actions of those participating in the infringement’: see judgment in CDC (n 5) para 24. In fact, ‘they could reasonably expect subsequently to be sued together for compensation’: opinion AG Jääskinen (n 69) para 67. See Wolfgang Wurmnest (n 69) 231 and 236 where it is underlined that CJEU ‘“upgraded” the criterion of foreseeability’, even if the recourse to the Commission’s decision ‘is not very convincing’. 73 Even if the decision of the Commission did not determine the requirements for holding the defendants liable in tort, ‘such a difference in legal basis does not, in itself, preclude the application’ of the rule: ibid, para 23. 74 Judgment in CDC (n 5) para 22. On this basis, the Court held that the article in comment must be interpreted as the rule on centralisation of jurisdiction in the case of several defendants ‘can apply in the case of an action for damages (…) brought jointly against undertakings which have participated in different places and at different times in a single and continuous infringement, which has been established by a decision of the Commission’: ibid, para 33. See Wolfgang Wurmnest (n 69) 235, underlying the ‘CJEU’s victim-friendly interpretation’ which ‘opens ample possibilities for persons harmed by horizontal cartels to shop for the best forum’. See also Marcella Negri, ‘Una Pronuncia a Tutto Campo sui Criteri di Allocazione della Competenza Giurisdizionale nel Private Antitrust Enforcement Transfrontaliero: il Caso Esemplare delle Azioni Risarcitorie c.d. Follow-on Rispetto a Decisioni Sanzionatorie di Cartelli pan-europei [2015] Int’l lis 78, 80. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 307 An Interim Conclusion The foregoing considerations lead to some interim conclusions. Firstly, the ‘so close connection’ represents an objective element of connection,75 existing when the claims lie on a same substantial situation of fact and law.76 Thus, irreconcilability between the judgments emerges from a comprehensive evaluation that has to be related to the same situation of fact and law, as defined by case law in a non-formalistic but substantial approach. There is a same situation of fact also in the presence of different misconducts, when concerted, and concertation could also occur when the defendants are companies of the same group that have acted in a similar manner in compliance with a common policy, as is particularly shown by Nintendo. What is more, when the unity of fact had already been found before the introduction of the proceedings, as happened in CDC in relation to the decision of the Commission, the same situation of fact can be assumed as unitary without requiring further investigations by the referring court. At the same time, a legal framework could be relevant even if not fully harmonized. There could be a unitary consideration of the matter, also having regard to the interest pursued by the defendants, as stated in Sapir. Furthermore, there are identical facts justifying a consolidation between the claims without the necessity of a sole legal basis. Independently from the applicable law, there are differences between the judgments on linked cases that can be attributed exclusively to a different appraisement of a fact; with respect 2.5. 75 In the view of AG Trstenjak in Painer (n 16) para 97, a close connection ‘first and foremost’ emerges in ‘cases where the outcome of one claim is dependent on the outcome of the other claim’ as where there is a ‘contingent liability (alternative liability)’ or ‘the defendants are jointly and severally liable, co-owners or a community of rights’. The relevance of joint liability is also underlined in the opinion AG Jääskinen (n 69), para 68. 76 On these bases, the disposition regulates the jurisdiction referring to an element of objective connection that excludes a joinder of parties in merely cumulative proceedings: see Caterina Silvestri, ‘Il regolamento (CE) n. 44/2001 del Consiglio, del 22 dicembre 2000, concernente la competenza giurisdizionale, Il riconoscimento e l’esecuzione delle decisioni in materia civile e commerciale. La competenza giurisdizionale’, in Michele Taruffo and Vincenzo Varano (eds), Manuale di diritto processuale europeo (Giappichelli 2011) 28. Lucilla Galanti 308 to them the difference of the law does not retain any significance.77 Thus, as underlined in Painer, the identical legal basis, which in the previous ruling represented an essential element, becomes only one of the relevant factors, thus relegated to a possible one.78 There are cases in which the connection between claims hardly depends on whether the same law is applicable.79 The rule can not be applied when the defendants are not able to reasonably foresee the consolidation of the claims. So far as concerns predictability, from a starting point where this condition was to be excluded if different laws were applicable, the consolidation between the claims is foreseeable even when a single law is not involved.80 In such cases, the concertation seems to represent the crucial factor, compensating for the lack of the same legal basis.81Thus, predictability may depend on concerted actions, which could also be supposed as existent when the defendants belong to a same group of companies or when the unity of the misconducts had already been found. 77 As underlined by AG Trstenjak, opinion in Painer (n 16) para 79; thus, even if different courts apply essentially comparable laws, they can reach different conclusions because they differently appraise the facts. 78 See judgment in Painer (n 5) para 80; in Freeport (n 7) para 41; in Sapir (n 7) para 44. The CJEU in fact underlines that the identical legal basis between the actions brought against different defendants is not included among the conditions laid down for application of the provision in the wording of art 6(1): Judgment in Painer (n 5) para 76 and in Freeport (n 7) para 38. 79 AG Trstenjak, opinion in Painer (n 16) para 78, considers the requirement of the same legal situation as based on the incorrect ‘mental assumption’ that no irreconcilable judgments ‘can exist where different laws are applicable to the actions and those laws are not fully harmonised’. This assumption would be correct only where all inconsistencies between the judgments could be attributed solely (which is not) ‘to the differences between the two applicable laws’. In cases ‘of contingent liability (alternative liability) in which one of the defendants is liable only where the other defendant is not liable, there is (…) a clear interest that the case is decided by the same court in order to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments. In such a case, the legal connection between both claims is not dependent on whether the same law is applicable to both claims’: Ibid, para 83. 80 See Paul Torremans (n 41) 1641 where it is noted that the Court links the predictability ‘specifically to a discretional appreciation of the legal situation and to the absence of the requirement of an identical legal basis’. 81 As emerges a contrario also from the opinion of AG Trstenjak in Painer (n 16) paras 91–92, in the case of ‘unconcerted parallel conduct’ this condition is not fulfilled since for the other defendants it is not sufficiently predictable that they can also be sued ‘at a court in the place where the anchor defendant is domiciled’. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 309 The risk of irreconcilable judgements has to be assessed in concrete by the referring court according to the indications given by the CJEU: where the conditions defined by case law for the existence of a same situation of fact and law are met, the outcomes of the proceedings could be irreconcilable if separately determined.82 The Relevance of the Abuse in Excluding the Close Connection The analysis would not be complete without considering if the consolidation of the claims is based solely on the objective element of connection outlined above or if the application of the rule further requires any subjective condition. Art 8(1) does not specify what happens if the choice of forum amounts to an abuse.83 While to the extent of art 8(2) BR Ibis the proceedings could not be consolidated if they were instituted solely with the purpose of unlawfully removing the defendants from their natural forum,84 art 8(1) does not contain any express wording on this point.85 3. 82 In order for art 8(1) to apply, such a risk of irreconcilable judgments has to be established in concrete by the national court: judgment in CDC (n 5) para 20; judgment in Solvay (n 5) para 23; judgment in Profit Investment (n 5) para 66; judgment in Sapir (n 7) para 42; judgment in Freeport (n 7) para 39; judgment in Painer (n 5) para 84, where it is affirmed that it is for the referring court to assess, ‘in the light of all the elements of the case, whether there is a risk of irreconcilable judgments if those actions were determined separately’. The judgment in Kalfelis (n 7) para 12 also stated that it is for the national court ‘to verify in each individual case whether that condition is satisfied’. 83 On this matter, see Thomas Pfeiffer ‘Jurisdiction’, in Burkhard Hess, Thomas Pfeiffer and Peter Schlosser (n 40) para 222; Trevor Hartley (n 3) para 9.22 ff; Laurence Usunier, ‘Le règlement Bruxelles I bis et la théorie de l’abus de droit’, in Emmanuel Guinchard (ed), Le nouveau règlement Bruxelles I bis, Règlement no 1215/2012 du 12 décembre 2012 concernant la compétence judiciaire, la reconnaissance et l’exécution des décisions en matière civile et commerciale (Bruylant, 2014) 449 ff; Laurence Idot, ‘Pluralité de défendeurs et fraude à la compétence juridictionnelle’ (2007) 12 Europe 2007, 35; Arnaud Nuyts L'exception de forum non conveniens: étude de droit international privé comparé (Bruylant, 2003) 527 ff. 84 As well as the previous versions contained in art 6(2) BR I and BC. 85 The opportunity to extend the provision contained in the wording of what is now art 8(2), by analogy, to art 8(1) has also been affirmed, thus precluding its application ‘to situations which do not fall within its natural scope as well as to prevent the basis for jurisdiction which it lays down being relied on if that is designed to serve interests which do not merit protection’: see opinion AG Mengozzi in Freeport [2009] ECR I-03327, paras 64–65. In fact, the AG sees ‘no reason – linked Lucilla Galanti 310 Notwithstanding this, the Jenard Report stated that the actions cannot be brought with the sole object of ousting the general rule of jurisdiction.86 The same principle was upheld in Kalfelis87 and then restated in the subsequent case-law.88 Even if the relevance of an abuse is stated in terms of principles, the Court shows some hesitation in concretely implementing the proposition that an abusive misconduct in the introduction of the proceedings against a plurality of defendants could preclude the applicability of art 8(1). In this perspective, the judgment in Reisch Montage considered the special rule of jurisdiction to also be applicable when one of the linked claims has to be regarded as inadmissible from the time it is brought against the defendant under a national provision.89 Notwithstanding, in this way it would be very easy to oust the general rule of jurisdiction by bringing inadmissible claims, which would create the appearance of a connection with the purpose of choosing the forum. Where under national law a claim must be ruled inadmissible at the outset, the plurality of defendants is based on artificial reasons: ‘there are not a number of defendants in the in particular to the need for a uniform application and independent interpretation of the regulation’s provisions – that would prevent it from applying to the cases regulated by Article 6(1)’, and, thus, by actual art 8(1). 86 Paul Jenard (n 9) 26. 87 In that case the CJEU excludes the possibility for the plaintiff to make a claim against a number of defendants, before the court of the anchor defendant, with the sole object of ousting the jurisdiction of the courts of the States where the others are domiciled: see judgment in Kalfelis (n 7) para 8. 88 In fact, the Court held that the exceptional rule of jurisdiction provided for in what is now art 8(1) ‘must be construed in such a way that there is no possibility of the very existence of that principle being called in question, in particular by allowing a plaintiff to make a claim against a number of defendants with the sole purpose of ousting the jurisdiction of the courts of the State where one of those defendants is domiciled’: see judgment in Réunion européenne (n 7) para 47. In the same perspective, see the judgment in Painer (n 5) para 78 and in Solvay (n 5) para 22. 89 In this case, concerning the repayment of a debt, the action brought against one of the defendants was dismissed as inadmissible by the time the claim was brought because of the commencement of bankruptcy proceedings. The CJEU stated that the rule must be interpreted as meaning that it ‘may be relied on in the context of an action brought in a Member State against a defendant domiciled in that State and a co-defendant domiciled in another Member State even when that action is regarded under a national provision as inadmissible from the time it is brought in relation to the first defendant’: judgment in Reisch Montage (n 7) para 33. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 311 true sense and, therefore, the prerequisite for the choice of jurisdiction is not satisfied’.90 In Freeport the relevance of abuse is put into discussion also as a matter of principles, since the Court excluded the consideration of abusive misconducts. The judgment states that what is now art 8(1) applies where the claims brought against different defendants are connected ‘without there being any further need to establish separately that the claims were not brought with the sole object of ousting the jurisdiction of the courts of the Member State where one of the defendants is domiciled’.91 As an argument, it also considered the different wording between art 8(1) and art 8(2). This approach has been reconsidered in CDC, where the Court for the first time finds a precise misconduct that is deemed to reveal, if proved, a circumvention of the rule.92 In that particular case, some of the parties alleged that, before bringing the action in the main proceedings, the applicant and the anchor defendant had reached an out-of-court settlement, but the formal conclusion of the agreement was ‘purposefully delayed’ until the institution of the proceedings to the extent of securing the jurisdiction of the court. Then, after the introduction of the proceedings, the claimant withdrew the anchor claim. 90 See the opinion AG Colomer in Reisch Montage of 14 March 2006 [2006] ECR I-06827, paras 42–45. In the same manner, the consolidation of proceedings does not fulfil its function: the possibility of conflicting decisions is excluded by the same fact that there will be no decision from the court of the disqualified defendant’s domicile. On these bases, the AG concludes that it is not possible to rely on the article when the claim against the anchor defendant ‘must be ruled inadmissible at the outset of the proceedings’: ibid, para 52. See Horatia Muir Watt (n 30) para 35. 91 Judgment in Freeport (n 7) para 54. 92 The possibility of a circumvention of the rule is found after recalling its previous ruling on the matter: Judgment in CDC (n 5) paras 27–28. On the one side, the Court affirms that the provision cannot be interpreted as allowing an applicant to make a claim against a number of defendants for the sole purpose of removing one of them from the jurisdiction of the courts related to the domicile. On the other side, if claims brought against various defendants are connected within the meaning of the article ‘when the proceedings are instituted, the rule of jurisdiction laid down in that provision is applicable without there being any further need to establish separately that the claims were not brought with the sole object of ousting the jurisdiction of the courts of the Member State where one of the defendants is domiciled’. Lucilla Galanti 312 Even if it is certain that a transaction where intentionally postponed with the aim of obtaining a prolongation of the applicability of the rule may be regarded as abusive, the Court denied the concrete relevance of that specific agreement in order to exclude the applicability of the special rule of jurisdiction.93 In fact, allegations concerning an abusive behaviour of the claimant must be supported by ‘firm evidence’ of collusion: the defendants have to demonstrate that ‘at the time that proceedings were instituted, the parties concerned had colluded to artificially fulfil, or prolong the fulfilment of, that provision’s applicability’.94 Notwithstanding, ‘simply holding negotiations with a view to concluding an out-of-court settlement’ does not in itself prove a collusion.95 Abuse and Real Claims: How to Apportion the Burden of Proof? The judgment in CDC shows that cases involving abuse raise a problem regarding the allocation of the burden of proof. On the one side, it seems very tough to prove collusion in the introduction of the proceedings if the burden of proof lying on the defendants requires a ‘firm evidence’ related to such a collusive intent: the possibility that the defendants could ever realistically supply such evidence could be questionable.96 3.1. 93 Wolfgang Wurmnest (n 69) 238–239 considers that ‘[f]or good reasons, the CJEU set the hurdles very high for showing such a circumvention’ as ‘[a]ny rule that weakens the willingness of the parties to settle would have a negative impact on the sound administration of justice’. 94 Judgment in CDC (n 5) paras 29–31. 95 Ibid, para 32. Thus, the Court held that there is no concrete circumvention of the rule where the applicant withdraws its action ‘against the sole co-defendant domiciled in the same State as the court seised, unless it is found that, at the time the proceedings were instituted, the applicant and that defendant had colluded to artificially fulfil, or prolong the fulfilment of, that provision’s applicability’: Judgment in CDC (n 5) para 33. As also expressed by AG Jääskinen, opinion in CDC (n 69) paras 78 ff, the applicant’s withdrawal of its action against the anchor defendant does not in itself have the effect of terminating the jurisdiction established under what is now art 8(1). That withdrawal does not retain any relevance when it is subsequent to the date on which the court was validly seised and a connecting link between the claims against several defendants had been established at the time the action was brought. 96 Horatia Muir Watt (n 30) para 49 underlines that the burden of proving by the defendant represents ‘a very demanding task’. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 313 On the other hand, if an abusive misconduct is alleged by the defendants, it appears equally hard for the claimant to demonstrate the absence of the abuse. In this perspective, it could be asked whether, when an abusive misconduct is alleged, and proved in its objective content, the burden of proof could be shifted to the claimant, who should demonstrate that the claim is ‘real’.97 For a ‘real claim’ to exist, there must be an effective interest at the time of institution of proceedings, which is not the case when the action against the anchor defendant appears to be ‘manifestly unfounded in all respects […] or devoid of any real interest for the claimant’.98It is self-evident that when there is no real claim, there is neither a plurality of claims and consequently there could not be a connection between them. In this perspective the existence of a ‘real claim’ could represent a limit to the scope of art 8(1), whose application has to be excluded when the close connection between the claims is the result of an abuse.99 In fact, if the plurality of claims and their connection is the result of an abusive mis- 97 See Mihail Danov (n 68) 103, where it is underlined that to rely on the article ‘a plaintiff has to show that there is a “real issue”’. See also Thomas Pfeiffer ‘Jurisdiction’, in Burkhard Hess, Thomas Pfeiffer and Peter Schlosser (n 40) para 221, where it is underlined that ‘[t]here must be a “real claim” against the anchor defendant’, even if without ‘need to show a good arguable case on the merits against the anchor defendant’. In that perspective, it has been proposed to add ‘a requirement that the claim against the anchor defendant should not be manifestly inadmissible or unfounded’: Michael Wilderspin (n 68) 53. On evidence and burden of proof see Paolo Biavati, Diritto processuale dell’Unione Europea (5th edn, Giuffrè 2015) 217 ff; Paolo Biavati, ‘Il diritto delle prove nel quadro normativo dell'Unione europea’ [2006] Rivista trimestrale di diritto e procedura civile 483. 98 Opinion AG Mengozzi in Freeport (n 85) para 66. If considered solely from an objective view, the element of connection between the claims does not prevent the claimant from bringing an action against a fictitious co-defendant, with the exclusive purpose of removing the other defendants from the courts of their domicile. The risk of a fraud or abuse could emerge from the institution of proceedings which, even if objectively connected, are ‘manifestly unfounded’ or of ‘no real interest’ for the claimant: Ibid, paras 61 and 54, where the AG underlines that ‘there must be a real and current interest in the disputes being heard together’. 99 AG Mengozzi (n 85) paras 62 and 65, suggests the consideration of a general limit to the applicability of the uniform rules on conflict laid down in the Brussel system, whose implementation has to be excluded by ‘fraud relating to the jurisdiction of the courts’; this fraud also occurs in the presence of ‘manipulation on the part of the claimant’ with the effect of ousting the rules of jurisdiction. Thus, the interpretation of art 8(1) would require an additional element, avoiding its application ‘to situations which do not fall within its natural scope as well as to pre- Lucilla Galanti 314 conduct, the application of the rule would be based on artificial reasons since the requirement for the choice of forum under art 8(1) does not concretely exist. Some Final Remarks The irreconcilability between judgments arising in the context of a same situation of fact and law, if properly considered according to CJEU interpretation, also seems a suitable concept for those fields where a plurality of parties and infringements are naturally involved.100 Accepting the notion of close connection with respect to the requirement of the same situation of fact and law, as it emerges from the abovementioned case-law, would ensure greater certainty in the concrete application of the rule. To deal with the increasing occurrence of multi-party proceedings, an improvement of the rule also may be convenient, even enhancing the relationship between the defendants, as where they are companies belonging to the same group and acting in accordance with a common policy. Concerning the relevance of the abuse, a clarification of the applicability of the rule would be advisable, specifying if the existence of abusive misconducts in the introduction of the proceedings has the effect of excluding the close connection between claims and, thus, the special rule of jurisdiction.101 4. vent the basis for jurisdiction which it lays down being relied on if that is designed to serve interests which do not merit protection’. 100 A clarification on the scope of art 8(1), according to the abovementioned caselaw, would pursue the aim of preventing national courts from applying the rule in accordance to their procedural concepts; which seems remarkable even considering that the concept of derived jurisdiction in cases of connected claims ‘is not familiar to all national systems’ and that ‘connexity as a procedural concept does not necessarily coincide with categories of substantive law’: Horatia Muir Watt (n 30) para 26. 101 In this perspective, according to the rules laid down by the Brussels system, it is necessary to avoid the exercise of that choice ‘in a fraudulent or wrongful manner’: see the opinion AG Mengozzi in Freeport (n 85) paras 52–53 and 72. CJEU Case-Law and Forum Connexitatis: an Analysis of the Close Connection Criterion 315 Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime: Horizontal vs Sectoral Approach Cinzia Peraro* Table of Contents Introduction1. 317 The Horizontal Approach: Common Principles for Collective Redress2. 320 The Sectoral Approach: Specific Rules for Collective Redress in Specific Policies 3. 328 The Jurisdictional Regime for Cross-Border Collective Redress4. 335 Concluding Remarks5. 347 Introduction The issue of collective redress in cross-border contexts is topical given the political debates, legislative developments and the controversial (scant) case law of the Court of Justice, mainly concerned with the consumer protection, where it assessed the existence of collective proceedings under national law and the applicability of the Brussels I or I bis Regulation1 over such collective proceedings. Member States’ procedural laws present divergences on collective mechanisms and the absence of European rules on collective redress in general or in specific sectors requires solutions, also under a private international law perspective, whenever transnational elements characterise the dispute. 1. * Ph.D., Post-doc research fellow in European Union Law, University of Verona, Italy. 1 Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, now Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters [2012] OJ L351/1. 317 At European Union level, the Commission attempted to provide a horizontal framework by establishing common principles on collective redress contained in the 2013 Recommendation2, aimed at ensuring that collective redress and minimum procedural requirements are granted in all Member States in mass harm situations3 occurring in various sectors specifically but not exclusively dealing with the infringement of consumer rights4. Collective mechanisms have been introduced in certain fields, such as competition and consumer protection, where private means of enforcement to protect collective interests are regulated5. The sector-specific approach may however be implemented also in other fields taking into account the respective specificities and with a view to offering effective means of protection to weaker parties. This could be the case for employees. Indeed, forms of collective action should be ensured in national legal orders given the recognition of the fundamental right to collective action (Article 28 of the Charter), implemented in general provisions in the relevant legislation on the protection of workers. Trade union action may be qualified as a collective redress mechanism according to the definition adopted by the Commission that determines it as a representative action. The arising necessity to establish a European framework on collective redress as a means for an effective and efficient enforcement of rights granted under Union law stems from the mass harm situations that occurred in recent decades and that are increasing in transnational context due to different factors, such as use of internet and free movement that facilitates trade across Europe. Consumers are mainly involved, for instance in the case of car emissions, passenger rights, and financial services. However, mass cases may also occur around environmental issues, antidiscrimination law, or employment matters. The practical relevance of collective mechanisms meets the need to enhance effective protection for low value claims which are seldom brought before the courts, and to reduce the costs, length and complexity of cross-border litigation. Judicial collective redress also ensures legal certainty for claimants, defendants and the judicial system alike by avoiding parallel litigation of similar claims. 2 Commission Recommendation on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms concerning violations of rights granted under EU law (2013/396/EU) [2013] OJ L201 (from now onwards: ‘Recommendation on common principles’). 3 Ibid, para. 1. 4 Ibid, Recitals 4 and 7. 5 See infra paragraph 3. Cinzia Peraro 318 Differences among national collective procedural mechanisms that are mostly made available to consumers6 have a negative impact on cross-border litigation because of the divergent criteria to admissibility, legal standing, funding, and fees. A European Union action in the procedural field is thus welcome whenever it may better pursue the objectives of justice efficiency and effectiveness in order to protect rights granted under EU law across Member States. In compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, any such action must respect national legal traditions and procedural autonomy7. In this context, two perspectives may be identified: on the one side, the protection of national prerogatives and legal orders and, on the other side, the protection of individual rights granted under Union law. The Commission’s activities related to collective redress matters started early in the 1990s and aimed at understanding and assessing the national systems and the opportunity for an EU action. The documents and proposals adopted in this field can be considered in two categories based on a horizontal and sectoral approach. The two-fold approach may reflect uncertainty in the determination of a European procedural framework, which as a result is inconsistent, as observed by stakeholders during the 2011 public consultation on a coherent European framework for collective 6 See the outcomes of the ‘An evaluation study of national procedural laws and practices in terms of their impact on the free circulation of judgments and on the equivalence and effectiveness of the procedural protection of consumers under EU consumer law – Report prepared by a Consortium of European universities led by the MPI Luxembourg for Procedural Law as commissioned by the European Commission, JUST/2014/RCON/PR/CIVI/0082, National Reports – Consumer Protection Strand and Strand 2 – Procedural Protection of Consumers’, June 2017 and May 2018, all available at http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/just/item-detail.cfm? item_id=612847. 7 On national procedural autonomy, see Maria Caterina Baruffi, ‘Art. 4 TUE’, in Fausto Pocar, Maria Caterina Baruffi (eds), Commentario breve ai Trattati dell’Unione europea (CEDAM 2014), 13–24; Chiara Favilli, ‘I ricorsi collettivi nell’Unione europea e la tutela antidiscriminatoria: verso un autentico approccio orizzontale’ (2014) 3 Il Diritto dell’Unione europea 439, 440 f.; Burkhard Hess, ‘A coherent approach to European collective redress’, in Duncan Fairgrieve, Eva Lein (eds), Extraterritoriality and collective redress (Oxford University Press 2012) 107, 110; Giuseppe Tesauro, Diritto dell’Unione europea (CEDAM 2012), 112; Diana Urania Galetta, L’autonomia procedurale degli Stati membri dell’Unione Europea: «Paradise Lost?» (Giappichelli 2009). Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 319 redress8. In the 2013 Communication, the Commission admitted that ‘it adopted a balanced approach by issuing in 2013 a horizontal Recommendation and a proposal for antitrust damages actions9 and, on the other, committed itself to take a horizontal approach on collective redress that is necessary to increase policy coherence’. In this last regard, it recognised the need to shape a European framework on a collective procedural mechanism based on a horizontal approach ‘in order to avoid the risk of uncoordinated sectorial EU initiatives and to ensure the smoothest interface with national procedural rules, in the interest of the functioning of the internal market’10. The scope of the present paper is thus to evaluate the horizontal and sectoral approaches on collective redress procedures, and the private international law issues, in particular with regard to the jurisdictional regime. The Horizontal Approach: Common Principles for Collective Redress Collective redress, as a procedural mechanism that facilitates access to justice, improves justice efficiency and strengthens the power to act, has been addressed in certain legislative acts related to antitrust and consumer law and, lately, as a general procedural means of private enforcement in nonlegislative initiatives to be applied in any areas where collective claims for violations of the rights granted under Union law would be relevant11. These initiatives rely on the horizontal approach adopted by the Commission with a view to establishing a coherent framework applicable in various sectors. Based on the Information Note of 2010 on the need for a coherent European approach to collective redress12, the Commission promoted a series of initiatives aimed at assessing the opportunity to submit a legislative proposal on collective redress in the EU. 2. 8 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Towards a European Horizontal Framework for Collective Redress, COM(2013)401 final of 11 June 2013 (from now onwards: ‘Commission Communication’), 5. 9 Ibid, 4, fn. 10. 10 Ibid, 16, para. 4. 11 Recommendation on common principles cit., Recital 7. 12 Towards a Coherent European Approach to Collective Redress: Next Steps, Joint information note by Vice-President Viviane Reding, Vice-President Joaquín Almunia and Commissioner John Dalli, SEC(2010)1192 of 5 October 2010. Cinzia Peraro 320 In 2011 the Commission carried out a public consultation ‘Towards a coherent European approach to collective redress’ with the purpose of identifying common legal principles on collective redress and evaluating the fields in which the different forms of collective redress could have an added value for better protecting the rights of EU citizens and businesses, and for improving the enforcement of EU law. The European Parliament contributed to the debate by adopting the 2012 Resolution based on a comprehensive own-initiative report on collective redress13. It determined various aspects of collective redress and specified that such ‘legally binding horizontal framework must cover the core aspects of obtaining damages collectively’, and that ‘procedural and international private law issues must apply to collective actions in general irrespective of the sector concerned’14. It clearly recognised that ‘in the European area of justice, citizens and companies must not only enjoy rights, but must also be able to enforce those rights effectively and efficiently’15. Effectiveness was then emphasised in the 2013 Communication of the Commission, which reported the main findings of the public consultation launched in 2011 and addressed some central issues regarding collective redress16. Taking into account common features of national collective systems, it first defined collective redress as ‘a procedural mechanism that allows, for reasons of procedural economy and/or efficiency of enforcement, many similar legal claims to be bundled into a single court action. Collective redress facilitates access to justice in particular in cases where the individual damage is so low that potential claimants would not think it worth pursuing an individual claim. It also strengthens the negotiating power of 13 European Parliament resolution of 2 February 2012 on ‘Towards a Coherent European Approach to Collective Redress’, 2011/2089(INI) (from now onwards: ‘European Parliament resolution’). It called on the Commission to propose legislation on a harmonised system of collective redress for EU consumers also in the Recommendation of 4 April 2017 to the Council and the Commission following the inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector (2016/2908(RSP), P8_TA(2017)0100). 14 Ibid, point 17, where it added that ‘while a limited number of rules relevant to consumer protection or competition law, dealing with matters such as the potential binding effect of decisions adopted by national competition authorities, could be laid down, for instance, in separate articles or chapters of the horizontal instrument itself or in separate legal instruments in parallel or subsequent to the adoption of the horizontal instrument’. 15 Ibid, letter A. 16 Commission Communication (n 8). Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 321 potential claimants and contributes to the efficient administration of justice, by avoiding numerous proceedings concerning claims resulting from the same infringement of law’17. The Commission called upon the Member States to follow its 2013 Recommendation on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms concerning violations of rights granted under EU law18. This was based on the consideration that collective redress is intended ‘to facilitate access to justice in relation to violations of rights under Union law and to that end to recommend that all Member States should have collective redress systems at national level that follow the same basic principles throughout the Union, taking into account the legal traditions of the Member States and safeguarding against abuse’19. Indeed, thanks to a horizontal approach the alignment of national systems on some central issues regarding collective redress may be better achieved. Such principles should be common across the EU to ‘ensure that fundamental procedural rights of the parties are preserved and to prevent abuse through appropriate safeguards’20. Briefly, the Recommendation lays down principles common to injunctive and compensatory collective redress, followed by more principles specifically applicable to each individual category21. These principles are 17 Ibid, 4, para. 1.2. 18 Recommendation on common principles cit. In the present analysis attention is paid only to the concept of collective redress as a procedural means for the protection of rights in court proceedings, therefore no reference is made to collective out-of-court settlements, that are also covered by the Recommendation. On the policy process that led to the Recommendation, see Alexandre Biard, ‘Collective redress in the EU: a rainbow behind the clouds?’ (2018) ERA Forum; Christopher Hodges, Stefan Voet, Delivering Collective Redress. New Technologies (Hart Publishing 2018) 20 ff. 19 Recommendation on common principles cit., Recital 10. 20 Ibid, Recital 13. 21 The first set of common principles applicable to injunctive and compensatory collective redress deals with issues such as standing, the admissibility of actions, adequate information for potential claimants, funding of collective actions, and the application of the ‘loser pays’ principle to the costs of lawsuits (paragraphs 4 to 18). In relation to the injunctive procedure, it is recommended that the Member States ensure expedient procedures and appropriate sanctions (paragraphs 19– 20). For compensatory redress, other features are proposed, such as the constitution of the claimant party on the basis of express consent (opt-in principle), the recourse to alternative dispute resolution and settlements, limits on lawyers’ fees, the prohibition of overcompensation and punitive damages, and the coordination with public enforcement proceedings (paragraphs 21 to 34). Cinzia Peraro 322 supposed to represent the ‘minimum standards’ that Member States are encouraged to apply in the national legislation governing collective procedures. In the Commission’s opinion, compliance with these standards would improve the judicial protection offered to group rights by means of procedures that are ‘fair, equitable, timely, and not prohibitively expensive’22. In the Recommendation, under paragraph 3, collective redress is defined as ‘(i) a legal mechanism that ensures a possibility to claim cessation of illegal behaviour collectively by two or more natural or legal persons or by an entity entitled to bring a representative action (injunctive collective redress); (ii) a legal mechanism that ensures a possibility to claim compensation collectively by two or more natural or legal persons claiming to have been harmed in a mass harm situation or by an entity entitled to bring a representative action (compensatory collective redress)’. Then, in paragraph 4, collective redress is conceived of as a representative action, because standing to sue is granted only to the representative entities identified in advance by Member States or to the public authorities: both shall act on behalf of a group of individuals (or legal persons) equally affected by unlawful acts performed by the same defendant. Collective redress is thus considered as an instrumental means of furthering economic and social objectives23. It constitutes a procedural tool that encourages injured individuals to act so that their rights are respected and ensures that courts will be able to manage mass actions effectively and in a reasonable timeframe. Among national systems, the terminology24 may vary and the definition offered by the Commission clarifies the nature and the aims of this procedural mechanism to be commonly accepted. Focusing on the Recommendation, the fact that it is a non-binding act based on Article 292 TFEU, containing common principles and guidelines for injunctive and compensatory collective mechanisms, has been criti- 22 Recommendation on common principles cit., paragraph 2. 23 Rebecca Money-Kyrle, ‘Legal Standing in Collective Redress Actions for Breach of EU Rights: Facilitating or Frustrating Common Standards and Access to Justice?’, in Burkhard Hess, Maria Bergstrӧm, Eva Storskrubb (eds), EU Civil Justice. Current issues and Future Outlook (Hart Publishing 2016) 223, 231. 24 For comments on the terminology, see Favilli (n 7) 448 f.; Rebecca Money-Kyrle, Christopher Hodges, ‘European Collective Action: Towards Coherence?’ (2012) 19, 4 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 477, 479 ff. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 323 cised25 due to its limited practical influence in improving effectiveness26 and thus concretely interfering with national justice systems. The Commission clearly affirmed and repeated throughout the Recommendation that the legal systems and traditions of the Member States must be respected27 and that the common principles should be integrated in the existing national legal systems. In any case, the flexibility of the principles and the discretion given Member States to provide exceptions may increase heterogeneity across national mechanisms28. Even if the Recommendation is not legislative, on the one hand, it is a first (welcome) initiative suggesting a horizontal harmonisation of a selected area of civil procedure, i.e. collective mechanisms, for private enforcement in various EU fields. On the other hand, however, if Member States do not provide for effective remedies, they may violate other duties enshrined in the Treaties, such as under Article 19 TEU and Article 47 of the Charter, which require them to provide access to justice29. Collective procedures are deemed to be a viable means of protection favouring (mostly) weaker parties, although no express reference (to categories of weaker parties, except for consumers) is made in the Communication or in the Recommendation of the Commission. The scope of application of the common principles enshrined in the Recommendation is determined in its Recital 7, according to which ‘amongst [the] areas where the supplementary private enforcement of rights granted under Union law in the form of collective redress is of value, are consumer protection, competition, environment protection, protection of personal data, financial services legislation and investor protection’. Nonetheless, the horizontal application of the common principles may cover ‘any other areas where collective claims for injunctions or damages in respect of violations of the 25 See Burkhard Hess, ‘The Role of Procedural Law in the Governance of Enforcement in Europe’, in Hans-Wolfgang Micklitz, Andrea Wechsler (eds), The Transformation of Enforcement. European Economic Law in Global Perspective (Hart Publishing 2016) 343, 350, where the author commented: ‘Neither minimum procedural standards of collective actions, nor a maximum harmonisation have been proposed. The Recommendation and the Communication of the Commission appear as a kind of ‘position paper’ in an on-going political discussion’. 26 Iris Benöhr, ‘Collective Redress in the Field of European Consumer Law’ (2014) 41, 3 Legal Issues of Economic Integration 243, 252 ff. 27 Cf. Recommendation on common principles cit., Recitals 10 and 13, para. 2, as already claimed by the European Parliament Resolution cit. (point 16). 28 Biard (n 18) para. 1.1. 29 Favilli (n 7) 453 f. Cinzia Peraro 324 rights granted under Union law would be relevant’30. Cases involving differences between the victims and the actor, such as a violation of human rights31 or employment terms and conditions may thus be governed. Such finding also follows from paragraph 1, that refers generally to ‘mass harm situations caused by violations of rights granted under Union law’. This formula reflects the commitment of the Commission to rely on a horizontal approach in establishing a common European framework for collective redress with a broad scope. Two paragraphs (17 and 18) of the Recommendation concern cross-border situations by proposing the mutual recognition of representative entities officially designated in the Member States, i.e. the lex fori may not limit the power conferred to the representative entity under its lex causae. This principle is meant to assure the possibility for the representative entity to act across borders; however, the Recommendation does not provide sufficient clarifications on private international law issues to solve transnational cases32. Overall, the principles do not attempt to affect national procedural autonomy and pursue the objective of offering a (first) solution to the divergences among Member States’ systems. The reason for inviting Member States to adopt common principles governing collective mechanisms is the need to align their procedural systems so that thanks to similar requirements access to justice and enforcement of EU law would be improved. As envisaged under paragraph 41 of the Recommendation, the Commission published on 25 January 2018 the Report on its implementation33. 30 See also Xandra E. Kramer, ‘Cross-border Enforcement in the EU: Mutual Trust versus Fair Trial? Towards Principles of European Civil Procedure’ (2011) 2 International Journal of Procedural Law 202, 228, where the author noted that ‘The recent legislative action in the area of collective redress may also offer a valuable contribution to a uniform recovery of (probably both domestic and cross-border) claims’. 31 Favilli (n 7) 446. On business-related human rights abuse, see EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, Improving access to remedy in the area of business and human rights at the EU level, Opinion of 10 April 2017, available at http://fra.europa.eu/en/opinion/2017/business-human-rights. 32 Biard (n 18) para. 1.1. See infra, paragraph 4. 33 Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on the implementation of the Commission Recommendation of 11 June 2013 on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms in the Member States concerning violations of rights granted under Union law (2013/396/EU), COM(2018)40 final of 25 January 2018 (from now onwards: ‘Report on the implementation of the common principles’). Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 325 According to the outcomes of the questionnaire and the assessment studies34, the impact of the Recommendation has been limited and the legislative activities promoted in just a few Member States mostly related only to consumer matters. Divergences still remain in terms of the availability of collective redress procedures and of their nature (injunctive or compensatory) and, where such means exist, difficulties are linked to the complexity and length of the proceedings and the restrictive criteria on admissibility35. Certainly, national political realities and policy-making have influenced the legislative development. The adoption of common principles may indeed facilitate the alignment of national systems governing collective procedures, and thus have positive outcomes, while respecting national procedural autonomy. The EU may intervene in the civil procedure field whenever a European action may better pursue the objectives of justice efficiency and effectiveness in order to protect rights granted under EU law. Similar to the legal basis of the existing sector-specific acts, the adoption of a legislative framework providing for a horizontal approach may be based on Article 114 TFEU aimed at approximating the national provisions on collective procedures, which allows, on the one hand, the safeguarding of national priorities and sovereignty and, on the other, the harmonising of the different legal systems36. However, another remark on the Recommendation concerns its doubtful applicability to transnational disputes. In other words, the Commission invited Member States to implement these principles in their legal order; whereas no reference is made to cross-border-related issues, apart from the two paragraphs on the mutual recognition of foreign representative entities. Even if uniformity will be achieved with the implementation of common procedural principles, private international law issues still remain in the absence of European rules. In the optimistic scenario where all Member States did fully implement the Recommendation, it could have been asserted that by having similar 34 State of Collective Redress in the EU in the Context of the Implementation of the Commission Recommendation, JUST/2016/JCOO/FW/CIVI/0099, prepared by The British Institute of International and Comparative Law, November 2017, available at http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/just/item-detail.cfm?item_id=612847; and ‘An evaluation study’ (n 6). 35 Report on the implementation of the common principles cit., 3–4. 36 See Hess (n 7) 111; Gerhard Wagner, ‘Harmonisation of Civil Procedure: Policy Perspectives’, in Xandra E. Kramer, C.H. van Rhee (eds), Civil Litigation in a Globalising World (T.M.C. Asser Press 2012) 93, 107. Cinzia Peraro 326 conditions on collective mechanisms, their harmonisation would have been facilitated, especially the circulation of decisions. However, in the negative reality, according to the 2018 Report on the implementation of the 2013 Recommendation, not very many legislative developments have been enacted and only little progress has been realised. This demonstrates that the harmonisation has not yet been achieved. All these findings may be considered by the Commission with a view to developing further initiatives. On the one side, difficulties and the inactivity of some Member States may not be basically justified because the proposed principles summarised the existing national legal traditions by identifying common minimum procedural guarantees. Therefore, such principles could result in an added value to the national systems, promoting similar standards across all EU Member States and facilitating litigation when moving across borders. On the other side, the Recommendation was a first step towards the adoption of legislative proposals and thus a motion for raising awareness at national level about the need to comply with certain standards in collective proceedings. The horizontal approach adopted by the Commission with the abovementioned initiatives is certainly welcome because it pursued the objective of effectively providing common requirements for collective mechanisms as a transversal instrument irrespective of the sector concerned. It is nevertheless true that having regard to the majority of the national legal orders such collective systems are (at the moment) made available for specific fields, such as consumer protection and antitrust law, also because the respective legislation transposes EU directives. This is linked to the fact that it is more likely in these sectors that mass harm situations occur and individuals are able to act collectively, mainly through representative actions. In light of the above, the adoption of a horizontal European framework on collective redress may meet the need to provide similar minimum requirements and avoid procedural difficulties in collective litigation. However, the peculiarities that characterise certain sectors may be undermined, and specific rules should be introduced in the respective legislation. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 327 The Sectoral Approach: Specific Rules for Collective Redress in Specific Policies Provisions on collective redress as a private enforcement means are included in certain legislative acts concerning antitrust law and consumer protection, whose adoption was promoted by the Commission with the aim of ensuring access to justice to protect collective interests. A series of initiatives by the Commission has addressed the need to provide consumers with effective remedies since 1993 with the publication of the Green Paper on access of consumers to justice, in which national systems for the protection of collective interests and the related difficulties were assessed37. After the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, binding measures to promote access to justice were enacted, including the first Injunctions Directive of 199838, which was aimed at the approximation of national laws by establishing a common procedure to allow qualified entities to bring injunctive actions in order to stop unlawful practices that harm collective interests of consumers anywhere in the EU. The debate on effective protection and collective redress mechanisms has intensified since the adoption of the Consumer Policy Strategy for 2007–201339. In November 2008, the Commission published the Green Paper on Consumer Collective Redress40, in which it proposed possible future actions on collective procedures to be undertaken with a view to providing concrete and effective solution at EU level for the protection of collective interests, including injunctive as well as compensatory measures. The proposal was welcomed by the European Parliament41, which deemed that collective redress, as a means to facilitate access to justice, is also an important deter- 3. 37 Green Paper Access of consumers to justice and the settlement of consumer disputes in the Single Market, COM(93)576 final of 16 November 1993. 38 Directive 98/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 1998 on injunctions for the protection of consumers’ interests, in OJ L 166 of 11 June 1998, 51–55. See Benöhr (n 26) 248 ff. 39 Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee, EU Consumer Policy Strategy 2007–2013, Empowering consumers, enhancing their welfare, effectively protecting them, COM(2007)99 final of 13 March 2007. 40 Green Paper on Consumer Collective Redress, COM(2008)794 final of 27 November 2008. 41 European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on the White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules (2008/2154(INI)), P6_TA(2009)0187, spec. point 4. Cinzia Peraro 328 rent to unlawful practices42. Still, the Directive on injunctions adopted in 2009, replacing the 1998 Directive, does not allow collective redress for damages, which would compensate consumers for the harm or loss they have suffered43. The institutions have engaged in many reflections about the legal context of collective actions in the EU, where the need of claimants to access to justice and the risk of litigation abuse must be balanced44. The common starting point is the need to protect the fundamental rights, which is an objective that EU law must pursue. Similarly, remedies in antitrust law were addressed by the Commission starting with the Green Paper of 2005, in which it identified the obstacles to a more efficient system for bringing claims and proposed options for problem solving to benefit consumers, as well as to improve the enforcement of antitrust law45. The Commission indeed recognised that it was unlikely that small claims by consumers or purchasers would be initiated, and that collective actions consolidating a large number of smaller claims into one action, thereby saving time and money, could better protect their interests46. As a follow up47, the European Parliament, assuming private actions to be complementary to and compatible with public enforcement48, stressed that ‘in the interests of justice and for reasons of economy, speed and consistency, victims should be able voluntarily to bring collec- 42 Ibid. 43 Directive 2009/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on injunctions for the protection of consumers’ interests (Codified version) [2009] OJ L110/30. 44 On the relevant developments see, inter alia, Thijs Bosters, Collective Redress and Private International Law in the EU (T.M.C. Asser Press 2017), 241 ff.; Favilli (n 7) 443 ff.; Lukasz Gorywoda, ‘The Emerging EU Legal Regime for Collective Redress: Institutional Dimension and its Main Features’, in Arnaud Nuyts, Nikitas E. Hatzimihail (eds), Cross-border Class Actions: the European Way (Sellier European Law Publishers 2014) 59; Christopher Hodges, The Reform of Class and Representative Actions in European Legal Systems. A new Framework for Collective Redress in Europe (Hart Publishing 2008) 102; and Commission Communication cit., spec. para. 1.3 ff. 45 Green Paper Damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules, COM(2005)672 final of 19 December 2005, accompanied by SEC(2005)1732. 46 Ibid, para. 2.5. 47 European Parliament resolution of 25 April 2007 on the Green Paper on Damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules (2006/2207(INI)), P6_TA(2007)0152. 48 Ibid, point 6. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 329 tive actions, either directly or via organisations whose statutes have this as their object’49. The findings in the 2005 Green Paper demonstrated that the obstacles to enforcement arose from the various legal and procedural rules of the Member States governing actions for antitrust damages before the national courts. The main problem was legal uncertainty. Thus, in the following White Paper of 2008 on damages actions for breach of the EU antitrust rules, the Commission went further50. It proposed two collective redress mechanisms that shall be complementary, which are (i) representative actions brought by qualified entities, such as consumer associations, state bodies or trade associations, on behalf of identified or, in rather restricted cases, identifiable victims; and (ii) opt-in collective actions, in which the victims expressly decide to combine their individual claims for the harm they suffered into one single action51. The outcomes of the consultation launched with this White Paper were considered for the development of the proposal on remedies for violations of antitrust law. The following Directive 2014/104 on antitrust damages actions52 provides that any natural or legal person who has suffered harm caused by an infringement of competition law can effectively exercise the right to claim full compensation for that harm53 through individual or collective (representative) actions54. However, it does not regulate procedural conditions concerning the admissibility of collective redress. Moreover, this Directive does not require Member States to introduce collective redress mechanisms for the enforcement of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU55. 49 Ibid, point 21. 50 White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules, COM(2008)165 final of 2 April 2008, accompanied by SEC(2008)404, SEC(2008)405, SEC(2008)406. See also the impact assessment of group litigation in Final Report, Making antitrust damages actions more effective in the EU: welfare impact and potential scenarios, 21 December 2007, 268 ff., available at https://ec.europa.eu/competition/antitrust/actionsdamages/documents.html; Tiffany Chieu, ‘Class Actions in the European Union?: Importing Lessons Learned from The United States’ experience into European Community Competition Law’ (2010) 18 Cardozo Journal of International & Comparative Law 123, 143 ff. 51 White Paper cit., section ‘Standing: indirect purchasers and collective redress’. 52 Directive 2014/104/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union [2014] OJ L349/1. 53 Ibid, Article 1. 54 Ibid, Article 2(4). 55 Ibid, Recital 13. Cinzia Peraro 330 In relation to EU competence in the field of procedural law, it must be noted that the sector-specific legislation was adopted on the basis of Article 114 TFEU, with the aim of achieving the approximation of national laws and a high level of protection of rights granted under Union law to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market. Against this context, the Commission has promoted studies and initiatives concerning in general the procedural means of collective redress, as the Communication and the Recommendation of 2013 described above under the horizontal approach analysis56. It appears that the Commission tried, in those fields where legislation on collective actions already exist, to further develop the procedural mechanisms, also in light of the evolving scenario of the internal market due to increasing transnational commercial activities, and, at the same time, to propose general principles on procedural requirements for collective redress that would facilitate and improve access to justice in different sectors. On the basis of the outcomes of the 2018 Report on the implementation of the said Recommendation and as a follow-up to the REFIT Fitness Check of EU consumer and marketing law57, in April 2018 the Commission submitted the Proposal for a Directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers58 in the context of its ‘New deal for consumers’59. This Proposal is aimed at defining at Union level a common framework for representative actions to ensure effective and efficient treatment of infringements of Union law arising from domestic or cross-border transactions in a variety of sectors, such as data protection, financial services, energy, telecommunications, health and the envi- 56 See supra paragraph 2. 57 See the Report SWD(2017)209 final of 25 May 2017. 58 Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, and repealing Directive 2009/22/EC, COM(2018)184 final of 11 April 2018 (from now onwards: ‘Proposal on representative actions’). 59 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee, A New Deal for Consumers, COM(2018)183 final of 11 April 2018, which also includes the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993, Directive 98/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules, COM(2018)185 final. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 331 ronment60. Contrary to the common principles set forth in the 2013 Recommendation, this Proposal only regulates certain procedural aspects of mechanisms for the protection of consumers interests61. Moreover, the proposed framework is not meant to replace the national systems for collective redress, but Member States are required to design the representative action set out by the Proposal as an alternative procedure or to integrate their national provisions62. The described legislation on procedural means aimed at ensuring effective consumer protection relies on a sectoral approach, which takes into account the peculiarities of the category and the existing legal traditions of the Member States, whose majority already provides for collective procedures in this field. Focusing on the specificities of certain policies may better pursue the assessment of the opportunity to establish collective procedures, rather than applying horizontal principles with a broad scope. Nevertheless, if this sector-specific approach is to be welcomed, on the basis of the developments in the legislative and jurisprudential context related to consumer protection, a European collective redress procedure would prove to be useful in other sensitive policy fields, as mentioned above, which could be the case of human rights violations or employment law. In respect of the latter, similar to consumer actions, collective proceedings involving workers usually take the form of representative actions, promoted by trade unions acting on their behalf. It is thus significant to evaluate in the context of the protection of workers’ rights the application of common principles or the inclusion of specific provisions on collective redress systems. As a preliminary consideration, it must be noted that in the relevant legislation on workers there are no clear provisions on procedural means of private enforcement, but Member States are required to provide for effective remedies to ensure respect for the rights granted under Union or national law, among which collective procedures may be included. A second issue concerns the fact that workers’ rights are connected to the freedom of movement of persons and the free provision of services across the EU. This connection entails a twofold consideration: on the one side, workers enjoy rights under Union law because of their freedom to move and work across borders, they are entitled to claim the protection of such rights and thus, according to the relevant legislation, to bring actions, 60 Proposal on representative actions cit., Recital 6. 61 Ibid, section ‘Consistency with existing policy provisions in the policy area’, 4. 62 Ibid, Recital 24. Cinzia Peraro 332 also collectively, as granted under Article 28 of the Charter; on the other side, the protection of workers’ rights and their exercise may be subject to the balancing test with the economic freedoms, and as such to the primary principles governing the European integration process, where for instance the exercise of the right to collective action has been undermined vis-à-vis the freedom of establishment or to provide service63. Thus, in the law-making process, attention shall be paid to the need to protect the weaker parties, on the one side, and businesses’ interests, on the other side. In EU legislation on the protection of workers, the right to collective action is included in Directive 2014/5464, which was adopted in the framework of the free movement for workers65 and requires national authorities to ensure that judicial procedures are available for all EU workers in cases of discrimination or violations of EU or national law, provided that collective actions comply with national laws and practice66. In addition, organisations, associations, trade unions or other entities may represent or support EU workers and their families67. No specific procedural requirements are established, but only a generic clause on respecting the right to take action is included. It is worth noting that under Recital 15 of Directive 2014/54 Member States are invited ‘to examine the implementation of common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms, with a view of ensuring effective legal protection, and without prejudice to the existing collective defence mechanisms available to the social partners and to national law or practice’. Such a statement is not 63 Cf. Court of Justice (Grand Chamber), judgment of 18 December 2007, Case C-341/05, Laval un Partneri Ltd v Svenska Byggnadsarbetareförbundet, Svenska Byggnad-sarbetareförbundets avdelning 1, Byggettan and Svenska Elektrikerförbundet, EU:C:2007:809; Court of Justice (Grand Chamber), judgment of 11 December 2007, Case C-438/05, International Transport Workers’ Federation and Finnish Seamen’s Union v Viking Line ABP and OÜ Viking Line Eesti, EU:C:2007:772. 64 Directive 2014/54/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on measures facilitating the exercise of rights conferred on workers in the context of freedom of movement for workers [2014] OJ L128/8. 65 The relevant rules are contained in Regulation (EU) No 492/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on freedom of movement for workers within the Union [2011] OJ L141/1, that updates (and codifies) earlier legislation on the freedom to move and work of EU citizens in another EU country. 66 Directive 2014/54/EU, Article 3, paras. 2–4. 67 See Directive 2014/54/EU, Recitals 15 and 29 that ensure the possibility for entities to represent workers and the respect for the right to collective action; and in general Article 3 on the defence of rights. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 333 mentioned in the Directive on antitrust damages actions, of nearly the same period, nor in the consumer legislation cited above. The latter consideration is significant in so far as it highlights the different approaches (horizontal or sectoral) adopted by the European legislator when dealing with collective means of protection. A clear reference to the common principles set out by the 2013 Recommendation is added only in Directive 2014/54 on employment matters. For the purpose of the present analysis, it is indeed relevant that even if the employment field was not mentioned in the said Recommendation, the reference to common principles included in the respective legislation assumes that workers’ collective actions may be covered by the future European collective redress framework. Provisions on the right to collective action can then be found in the legislation concerning posted workers that includes Directive 96/71 (amended by Directive 2018/957)68 and the Enforcement Directive 2014/67 which complements the former with control mechanisms69. Collective actions are envisaged as remedies for workers that may be undertaken in judicial or extra-judicial proceedings by trade unions acting on behalf of them. In any case, except for the obligation upon Member States to ensure effective remedies, collective redress is not outlined with procedural requirements that are accordingly governed by national legislation. In conclusion, if the sectoral approach is further developed, the opportunity to establish a collective redress procedure for workers should also be evaluated taking into account the peculiarities of the employment field, especially those related to increasing labour mobility and the phenomenon 68 Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services [1997] OJ L18, cf. Recital 22 and Article 1a, introduced by Directive 2018/957/EU [2018] OJ L173/16. 69 Directive 2014/67/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the enforcement of Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System (‘the IMI Regulation’) [2014] OJ L159/11, cf. Article 11: ‘Member States shall ensure that trade unions and other third parties, such as associations, organisations and other legal entities which have, in accordance with the criteria laid down under national law, a legitimate interest in ensuring that this Directive and Directive 96/71/EC are complied with, may engage, on behalf or in support of the posted workers or their employer, and with their approval, in any judicial or administrative proceedings with the objective of implementing this Directive and Directive 96/71/EC and/or enforcing the obligations under this Directive and Directive 96/71/EC’. Cinzia Peraro 334 of posting, and specific provisions should be included in the relevant legislation. The Jurisdictional Regime for Cross-Border Collective Redress Collective redress mechanisms in the transnational context are not sufficiently or completely addressed in both the horizontal approach, including the 2013 Recommendation on common principles and the existing private international law Regulations, as well as in the sectoral legislation. As for the Regulations, it can be noted that the collective dimension of the disputes was not new and subject to discussion within the review process of the Brussels I Regulation. According to the Explanatory Statement accompanying the Proposal for the recast of the Brussels I Regulation70, the Commission acknowledged that within the preliminary public consultation specific concerns were expressed with respect to the abolition of exequatur, not only in defamation cases but also in collective redress proceedings71. It then clarified that the Proposal abolishes the exequatur procedure for all judgments covered by the Regulation with the exception of judgments in defamation and compensatory collective redress cases72. In particular, the exequatur procedure is maintained for judgments issued in collective ‘proceedings brought by a group of claimants, a representative entity or a body acting in the public interest and which concern the compensation of harm caused by unlawful business practices to a multitude of claimants’73. Having ascertained the differences among Member States as to the collective mechanisms established in various areas with diverse requirements, the Commission asserted that ‘the required level of trust cannot be presumed at this stage’ and reported that the issue of collective redress was under discussion74. Finally, in the present text of the Brussels I Recast Regulation there are no provisions on the recognition and enforce- 4. 70 Proposal for a Regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (recast), COM(2010)748 final of 14 December 2010. 71 Ibid, para. 2. 72 Ibid, para. 3.1. 73 Ibid, para. 3.1.1. 74 Ibid, where it recalled the initiative on a European approach to collective redress to identify which forms of collective redress could fit into the EU legal system and into the legal orders of the EU Member States. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 335 ment of collective judgments, that are thus subject to the general principles, including the public policy exception. As reported by the Commission in its 2013 Communication, within the 2011 public consultation on a coherent approach to collective redress in the EU, stakeholders highlighted the need for European provisions tackling cross-border issues with regard to the jurisdictional rules. They suggested different solutions: the introduction of specific connecting criteria, being the domicile of the majority of parties who claim to have been injured or the domicile of the defendant because it is easy to identify; the extension of jurisdiction for consumer contracts to representative entities; the creation of a special panel for cross-border collective actions with the Court of Justice75. Such proposals however have not been included in the initiatives of the Commission. The crucial issues about jurisdiction and applicable law were pointed out by the European Parliament in its 2012 Resolution76. As to jurisdiction, it stressed that the horizontal framework should have laid down rules to prevent a rush to the courts (forum shopping) and that rules for determining jurisdiction should have taken into account the provisions of the Brussels I Regulation in order to assure a coherent European approach77. Ultimately, no response was found in the Commission’s text. In the 2013 Recommendation on common principles, paragraphs 17 and 18 concern cross-border cases by proposing the mutual recognition of representative entities officially designated in the Member States by affirming the principle of non-discrimination in the context of civil proceedings. However, the application of this (common) principle in all national legal orders does not seem to sufficiently ensure coherence and certainty in transnational litigation, because it only relates to admissibility and legal standing of the entities. There may be the case of a conflict of laws applicable to the constitution of the collective redress and to the merits, given that the competent court should assess different laws, whether on contractual or extra-contractual obligations, or the issue of forum shopping may be faced, which is more relevant for the purposes of the present analysis. Forum shopping means that representative entities may look for the most suitable court to promote a collective redress, because of procedural requirements, other than the ones implementing the 2013 European com- 75 Commission Communication cit., 13. 76 European Parliament resolution cit. (n 13). 77 Ibid, para. 26. It then suggested the application of the law of the place where the majority of the victims are domiciled, without prejudice to individual claims (para. 27). Cinzia Peraro 336 mon principles, that may be more favourable. Such rush to the courts however will not comply with the respect for procedural guarantees recognised at European and national levels as general principles, including the right to defence, and in contrast with the principle of legal certainty. In particular, the mutual recognition of foreign groups and representative entities is outlined in paragraph 17, where the Commission called upon the Member States to ensure that foreign claimants are not excluded by the national rules on admissibility or standing78. These cases may occur when claimants are from several Member States, or foreign groups of claimants or representative entities originate from other national legal systems. In other words, the courts shall recognise procedural standing of foreign groups or entities granted them by the law of their State of origin. This rule is consistent with the fact that, otherwise, due to restrictive criteria provided by the legislation on locus standi in the State where the claim is initiated, representative organisations may be prevented from bringing actions79. When a diversity of requirements occurs, the public policy exception may also be invoked against the recognition of decisions issued within a collective procedure. Under the following paragraph 18, the Commission required that any officially designated representative entity shall be permitted to seise the court in the Member State having jurisdiction to consider the mass harm situation. This complements the principle under paragraph 17 stating that the procedural requirements set forth in the lex fori cannot limit the power of a foreign representative entity to act before the courts of a different Member State. In general, the principles at stake do not sufficiently address the implications under the private international law perspective because they merely relate to admissibility and legal standing of representative entities. With regard to the jurisdictional regime, the Commission affirmed that the (then) existing Brussels I Regulation ‘should be fully exploited’ (even though it covers individual disputes) and thus postponed the assessment of the need to introduce specific rules in light of the further experience involving cross-border cases80. 78 On this issue see Bosters (n 44) 244 ff.; Astrid Stadler, ‘The Commission’s Recommendation on Common Principles of Collective Redress and Private International Law Issues’, in Eva Lein, Duncan Fairgrieve, Marta Otero Crespo, Vincent Smith (eds), Collective Redress in Europe: Why and How? (The British Institute of International and Comparative Law 2015) 235. 79 Money-Kyrle (n 23) 240. 80 Commission Communication cit., 13. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 337 According to the 2018 Report on the implementation of the common principles, Member States do not have general obstacles to or limitations on the participation of foreign persons in group actions before their courts81, even if the principle of the mutual recognition of the status of foreign representative entities is not expressly included in some legal orders, except for the provisions implementing the Injunctions Directive82. As marginally noted, two respondents criticised the lack of any provision regarding the applicability of the protective consumer jurisdiction rule to representative entities83. Such consideration is now (apparently) overcome by the 2018 proposal on representative actions for consumers. The lack of any specific provisions included in the 2013 Recommendation on jurisdiction on collective disputes with cross-border implications raises difficulties, because the mutual recognition of foreign entities as a common principle does not solve the question of which is the competent court to hear the case. In addition, the existing uniform private international law rules of the relevant Regulations are not suitable for collective redress procedures. The general principles of private international law aimed at ensuring proper coordination of national systems shall be fulfilled by introducing (in the Regulations or in a European comprehensive framework) provisions that take into account the peculiarities of transnational collective proceedings. As to the sectoral legislative framework analysed with regard to antitrust law, consumer protection, and workers, no precise provisions on jurisdiction, either on the law applicable to the merits or on the recognition and enforcement of collective judgments are included. The Court of Justice has rarely addressed the issue of collective redress, the jurisdictional regime and the applicability of the Brussels I Regulation with regard to consumers. In its judgment delivered in the Schrems case84, the Court preliminarily assessed whether the proceedings were to be defined as a collective redress according to the national law or if they consisted of other forms such as an assignment of claims or joined claims85. It then analysed the applicability of the protective rules on jurisdiction under the (then) Brussels I Regulation. Indeed, this Regulation (as well as Brussels I bis) does not contain specific rules concerning jurisdiction over cross- 81 Report on the implementation of the common principles cit., 10. 82 Ibid, 11. 83 Ibid, 11, fn. 31. 84 Court of Justice, judgment of 25 January 2018, Case C-498/16, Maximilian Schrems v Facebook Ireland Limited, EU:C:2018:37. 85 See also Report on the implementation of the common principles cit., 2. Cinzia Peraro 338 border collective redress in general86 or for specific matters. This absence may thus require (i) the extension of the application of the existing grounds where similar claims should be treated in the same way as the actions falling within the scope of the Regulation, or (ii) the introduction of specific connecting factors considering the peculiar features characterising collective proceedings87. Among the case law, already in the Henkel judgment of 200288, the Court clarified, in relation to the assignment of claims, that ‘a legal person which acts as assignee of the rights of a private final consumer, without itself being party to a contract between a professional and a private individual, cannot be regarded as a consumer within the meaning of the Brussels Convention and therefore cannot invoke Articles 13 to 15 of that Convention’. It also added that ‘that interpretation must also apply in respect of a consumer protection organisation (…) which has brought an action as an association on behalf of consumers’89. An action to fall within the scope of application of the Brussels system must be of contractual nature, therefore a contractual relationship must exist between the parties of a dispute90, and if a consumer protection organisation acts on behalf of individuals this contractual link does not exist. It follows that consumers’ special rules of jurisdiction may not be invoked by the representative organisation, or the 86 Peter Mankowski, Peter Arnt Nielsen, ‘Introduction to Articles 17–19’, in Ulrich Magnus, Peter Mankowski (eds), European Commentaries on Private International Law. Brussels Ibis Regulation (Sellier European Law Publishers, Ottoschmidt 2016) 450; on private international law issues, mainly with regard to consumers’ protection, see Stefania Bariatti, ‘Le azioni collettive dell’art. 140-bis del codice del consumo: aspetti di diritto internazionale privato e processuale’ (2011) 1 Rivista di diritto internazionale privato e processuale 19; Laura Carballo Piñeiro, Las acciones colectivas y su eficacia extraterritorial. Problemas de recepción y transplante de las class actions en Europa (Universidad de Santiago de Compostela 2009) 105 ff. European Parliament resolution of 7 September 2010 on the implementation and review of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (2009/2140(INI)), P7_TA(2010)0304, point 32, stressed that ‘the Commission’s forthcoming work on collective redress instruments may need to contemplate special jurisdiction rules for collective actions’. Collective redress proceedings were taken into account within the Proposal for a Regulation, COM(2010)748 final, cit., mainly with regard to recognition and enforcement aspects. 87 Mihail Danov, ‘The Brussels I Regulation: cross-border collective redress proceedings and judgments’ (2010) 6, 2 Journal of Private International Law 359, 364 ff. 88 Court of Justice, judgment of 1 October 2002, Case C-167/00, Verein für Konsumenteninformation v Karl Heinz Henkel, EU:C:2002:555. 89 Ibid, para. 33. 90 Ibid, para. 38. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 339 assignee. However, the specific case concerned a non-contractual situation. The Court ruled that the preventive action submitted by the organisation in the main proceedings was covered by Article 5(3) of the Brussels Convention on jurisdiction over tort disputes because that action was aimed at preventing a trader from using terms considered unfair meaning it was a matter related to torts and according to a broad interpretation of that Article not only damages in individual situations are included, but also ‘the undermining of legal stability by the use of unfair terms which it is the task of associations (…) to prevent’91. The finding on the extension of the scope of the Brussels I Regulation was upheld by Advocate General Bobek in the Schrems case92. In his opinion, he addressed the question of whether the forum actoris of the consumer under Article 16 of the Brussels I Regulation is applicable to assignees of consumer claims that are not themselves parties to a contract93. First, he defined the main proceedings not to be a collective redress as alleged by the claimant, but as an assignment of claims according to the lex fori (Austrian law). The exclusion of the applicability of the Brussels jurisdictional rules is based on the following arguments. The wording of Articles 15 and 16 thereof clearly refers to the other party to a contract, and thus the special forum is always limited to the concrete and specific parties to the contract94. Interpreting Article 16 as including claims made by a consumer-assignee on the basis of consumer contracts concluded by other consumers would weaken the link between the consumer status and a given contract, thus producing a paradoxical result95, and enlarge the scope of the special head of jurisdiction beyond the cases explicitly provided for by those Articles96. The aim of the jurisdictional rules relating to consumers is to protect a person in his capacity as a consumer to a given contract. Then, since Articles 15 and 16 are derogations from the general rule and the special rules for contracts, their interpretation must be narrow and should not be extended to include other situations97. 91 Case C-167/00, Henkel, para. 42. 92 Opinion of Advocate General Bobek delivered on 14 November 2017, Case C-498/16, Maximilian Schrems v Facebook Ireland Limited, EU:C:2017:863. 93 Ibid, para. 77 ff. 94 Ibid, para. 82. 95 Ibid, para. 86. 96 Ibid, para. 85. 97 Ibid, para. 88. Cinzia Peraro 340 The Advocate General recalled the abovementioned Henkel judgment and the earlier Shearson Lehman Hutton judgment98 on the non-applicability of the special consumer jurisdiction to legal persons acting as assignees of the rights of a consumer because those legal persons (a private company and a consumers’ association) were not weaker parties and were not themselves parties to the contract99. Furthermore, he referred to the ruling in the CDC Hydrogen Peroxide case of 2015100, according to which the Court declared that in relation to Article 5, point 3 of Regulation No. 44/2001 ‘the transfer of claims by the initial creditor cannot, by itself, have an impact on the determination of the court having jurisdiction. As a consequence, (…) the requirement for the application of that head of jurisdiction (the location of the harmful event) must be assessed for each claim for damages independently of any subsequent assignment or consolidation’101. With regard to the Schrems case, he then argued that in the absence of any contractual relationship between the assignee and the other party to the original contract, the special consumer fora could not be invoked, nor could the creation of a new forum for the assignee-consumer be sought102. Contrary to what the Commission argued in its opinion with a view to protecting consumers residing within the same State, the Advocate General held that the local (internal) jurisdiction under Regulation No. 44/2001 (the competent courts are those of the place where the consumer is domiciled) may not be disregarded103 and that it even excludes the consolidation of claims of other consumers domiciled in the same country. Notwithstanding, a new special jurisdiction may be internally provided for by the national law104. It was then recognised that the Brussels I Regulation does not provide for specific provisions on the assignment of claims or collective redress procedures105. 98 Court of Justice, judgment of 19 January 1993, Case C-89/91, Shearson Lehmann Hutton Inc. v TVB Treuhandgesellschaft für Vermögensverwaltung und Beteiligungen mbH, EU:C:1993:15. See also Biard (n 18) para. 1.2. 99 Opinion of Advocate General Bobek, Schrems (n 92), para. 96. 100 Court of Justice, judgment of 21 May 2015, Case C-352/13, Cartel Damage Claims (CDC) Hydrogen Peroxide SA v Evonik Degussa GmbH and Others, EU:C:2015:335. 101 Opinion of Advocate General Bobek, Schrems (n 92), para. 109. 102 Ibid, para. 110. 103 Ibid, paras. 115–116. 104 Ibid, para. 117. 105 Ibid, para. 119, where the Advocate General affirmed that ‘judicial legislation would be inappropriate’ and, in para. 123, ‘the issue is too delicate and complex. It is in need of comprehensive legislation, not an isolated judicial intervention Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 341 The Court delivered its judgment on 25 January 2018106 and upheld the findings of the Advocate General. First, it agreed with the interpretation given to the notion of consumer for the purposes of social media platforms107. Consequently, it acknowledged the derogative nature of the special provisions related to individual contracts of employment, that must be interpreted narrowly108 and that the necessary existence of a contractual link between the parties in the disputes serves to ensure the predictability of the forum actoris109. Second, as to the assignment of claims, in line with its previous case law, the Court held that the consumer cannot bring the assigned claims within the jurisdiction of the courts of the place of his domicile. Situations other than those provided for by the Regulation cannot be included in its scope of application. Thus, ‘an assignment of claims cannot provide the basis for a new specific forum for a consumer to whom those claims have been assigned’110, regardless of whether the other consumers are domiciled in the same Member State, in another EU Member State or in a third country111. Finally, the Court did not refer to any possible forum for assigned claims that may be established under national law and that may nevertheless be in compliance with the objectives of the Regulation. It might have assumed that it is for the national procedural law of the courts having jurisdiction on the basis of a general (defendant’s domicile) or special (consumer’s domicile) ground to allow the consolidation of claims or the establishment of a collective redress procedure. From a first appraisal, the European judges seem to have limited their ruling to the referred questions by strictly interpreting the Brussels provisions, without addressing the issue of collective litigation, in particular the cross-border collective redress procedure and the related jurisdictional aspects. This presumably relies on the fact that, in accordance with the lex fori, the case in the main proceedings was not regarded as a collective redress, but as an assignment of claims, which has already been defined by the Court. within a related but somewhat remote legislative instrument that is clearly unfit for that purpose’. 106 Court of Justice, judgment of 25 January 2018, Case C-498/16, Maximilian Schrems v Facebook Ireland Limited, EU:C:2018:37. 107 Ibid, paras. 25–41. 108 Ibid, para. 43. 109 Ibid, paras. 44–46. 110 Ibid, para. 48. 111 Ibid, para. 49. Cinzia Peraro 342 In conclusion, according to the case law, the Brussels system is not applicable to collective disputes, whether in the form of collective redress or assignment of claims, because the instrument is not fit for purpose. Against this background, in the recent legislative developments related to consumers, the objective of establishing mechanisms for the protection of collective interests, and related provisions aimed at handling transnational litigation, appears to have been achieved by introducing other forms of collective proceedings, such as a collective action based on a mandate. The case of a party acting on behalf of a number of individuals on the basis of a mandate is considered in Regulation No. 2016/679 on consumer data protection, which provides for the right to bring an action of organisations or other similar entities (not-for-profit) on behalf of other members when it is based on the data subject’s mandate112. The wording of Article 80 may lead to the mandate-based action being treated like a representative action, thus being qualified as a collective redress, even if the determination of such an action is left to national law (without recognising it as a European collective action)113. In particular, pursuant to said Article the representative organisation may exercise the actions set forth in Articles 77 to 79, where specific fora are also established. These grounds for jurisdiction prevail over the general rules contained in the Brussels Regulation pursuant to Recital 147. Accordingly, the application of the specific grounds for jurisdiction available to data subjects (individually) is 112 Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation) [2016] OJ L119/1, in particular see Recital No. 142 and Article 80. Heads of jurisdiction are provided for in Articles 77–79. See Biard (n 18) para. 2.3. The question of whether Article 22 on the right of every person to a judicial remedy for any breach of the rights guaranteed him by the national law applicable to the processing in question (jointly with Articles 23 and 24) of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, allows public-service associations to take action against the infringer in the event of an infringement in order to safeguard the interests of consumers has been referred to the Court of Justice: see Request for a preliminary ruling from the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (Germany) lodged on 26 January 2017, Case C-40/17, Fashion ID GmbH & Co.KG v Verbraucherzentrale NRW eV. 113 Rafael Amaro, Maria José Azar-Baud, Sabine Corneloup, Bénédicte Fauvarque- Cosson, Fabienne Jault-Seseke, Collective Redress in the Member States of the European Union, Study PE 608.829, 2018, 44, available at www.europarl.europa.eu/ supporting-analyses. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 343 extended to the actions of the representative organisation, thus resulting in a collective redress procedure as conceived of in the earlier initiatives of the Commission, where only designated entities should have the right to act on behalf of a group of consumers. As a concrete progress in the field of collective redress, the 2018 Proposal for a Directive on consumer representative actions represents a step forward. According to this, qualified entities are empowered to act in defence of the collective interests of consumers. This Directive introduces procedural requirements for such actions. As to cross-border cases, Article 16 affirms the mutual recognition of the status of the foreign representative entities, as originally proposed in the 2013 Recommendation, and, what is more significant, it clearly states the application of the existing private international law rules (on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments and applicable law) to such representative actions, although this statement is contained in Recital 9 and not in a binding article. However, at the interpretative level, it follows that representative entities may enjoy the protective criteria established in favour of consumers. Finally, from a practical and individual’s perspective, it appears that a general clause on the extension of the application of the existing private international law rules to representative entities does not do enough to satisfy the need for legal certainty as it still leaves unsolved the questions on jurisdiction, as well as recognition and enforcement of judgments and applicable law. As far as the jurisdictional regime is concerned, the extension of the scope of application of the Brussels Regulation to cover collective redress is allowed when the collective disputes in the form of representative actions regard matters that fall within its scope of application. At the moment, this finding is only applicable to consumers; nevertheless, it is arguable whether such a principle may be also applied analogically to other matters covered by the Regulation, relying on the fact that similar provisions thereof pursue the protection of the weaker parties, such as those on employment. Indeed, in this context, it is common to some Member States’ legal orders that trade unions as representative entities acting on behalf of or in support of workers are empowered to bring judicial actions114. 114 See Report on the implementation of the common principles cit. On trade union functions in national context see Rebecca Zahn, New Labour Laws in Old Member States. Trade Union Responses to European Enlargement (Cambridge University Press 2017) 17 ff.; D. Schiek, L. Oliver, C. Forde, G. Alberti, EU Social and Labour Rights and EU Internal Market Law, PE 563.457, September 2015, spec. Cinzia Peraro 344 Few cases involving trade unions have been addressed by the Court of Justice, mainly those concerning the exercise of the right to collective action vis-à-vis the economic freedoms or the protection of posted workers’ rights. In these decisions, no question concerned the problems related to cross-border collective redress involving workers, except for the Sähköalojen ammattiliitto (a Finnish trade union) case of 2015115, where the Court was requested to determine the law applicable to the constitution and admissibility of the trade union’s action in so far as it included also posted workers. The case concerned a Polish undertaking that was sued before a Finnish court by the Finnish trade union, which claimed the minimum pay in accordance with the Finnish collective agreement and with Directive 96/71 on the posting of workers, because that collective agreement provided for more favourable conditions than those under Polish law. The dispute focused on the legal standing of the Finnish trade union and its power to represent posted (Polish) workers. In this regard, the Polish undertaking claimed the application of the law of the State of origin of the posting undertaking (Polish law), which required different conditions for the trade unions’ legal standing (in particular, it prohibits the assignment of claims arising from an employment relationship), and asked for the dismissal of the action. The Court did not uphold this argument and applied the lex fori (Finnish law), as it was a matter for the national legislation of the court seised. Indeed, in light of Directive 96/71 and Article 47 of the Charter, the law of the State of the posting undertaking must not prevent a trade union of a different State from bringing an action before the courts of its State of origin, in which the workers are posted, in order to recover pay claims that relate to the minimum wage and have been assigned to the trade union in accordance with the law of that second State116. 30 ff., available at www.europarl.europa.eu/supporting-analyses, noted that ‘effective collective industrial action is a precondition of a functioning system of collective bargaining. However, generally wage levels and levels of employment protection are more favourable for workers where trade union representation is effective, which again depends on the scope for collective industrial action’; Jan Cremers, Martin Bulla, Collective redress and workers’ rights in the EU, AIAS Working Paper 118, March 2012, 19 f., available at www.uva-aias.net. 115 Court of Justice, judgment of 12 February 2015, Case C-396/13, Sähköalojen ammattiliitto ry v Elektrobudowa Spolka Akcyjna, EU:C:2015:86. 116 Ibid, para. 26. See Massimo Roccella, Tiziano Treu, Diritto del lavoro dell’Unione europea (Wolters Kluwer CEDAM 2016) 448 f.; Alberto Mattei, ‘La Direttiva Enforcement n. 2014/67/UE e il recepimento nell’ordinamento italiano’ (2017) 1 Rivista giuridica del lavoro e della previdenza sociale 147, 156 f. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 345 In this case the Court did not address the issue of jurisdiction because, according to the Directive on posting of workers (Article 6) and the Enforcement Directive (Article 11), the courts of the State where the workers are posted shall be competent. In particular, Article 11, paragraph 3 states the right of trade unions to lodge complaints on behalf of posted workers and, even if it is not clearly expressed, the ground of jurisdiction laid down in paragraph 1 shall also be applied to the collective proceedings on the basis of a systematic interpretation of the provisions thereof. According to the sector-specific legislative framework and the case law of the Court of Justice, the differences in the national laws on collective redress procedures may cause difficulties in initiating proceedings, and in general in granting access to justice and effective remedies in situations with cross-border implications. The determination of the courts having jurisdiction may thus be solved by introducing provisions that (i) affirm the extension of the application of the existing rules of private international law or (ii) establish tailored connecting criteria for collective procedure. A clear rule is thus needed, whether stating a general principle or specific criteria. In comparison with the horizontal approach analysis, new provisions shall be identified according to the specific sector, and not in abstracto having regard to the collective dimension of the dispute. In respect of the latter option (rules applicable in general to collective redress irrespective of the subject matter), as registered within the 2011 public consultation, a new (general) factor has been proposed by stakeholders that could be suitable for the determination of the competent court to hear the case, which is the domicile of the majority of the claimants. This may be valid whenever no representative entities act before the courts and a group of individuals wish to bring an action that does not constitute a representative action. Nevertheless, problems may be faced relating to the right to defence of the residual part of the group or to the possibility of having the decision recognised and enforced in their own Member States. However, in line with the Commission’s arguments, in the European context representative actions may better pursue the objective of improving access to justice and offering guarantees in collective redress procedures, thus avoiding the risk of abusive litigation. Cinzia Peraro 346 Concluding Remarks The path towards the creation of a European framework on collective redress demonstrates that harmonisation among national legal orders as far as procedural remedies are concerned requires efforts from both the European legislator and the Member States to combine principles of procedural law and national legal traditions. Although a consensus on the need to grant effective remedies and to protect individuals’ rights can be identified, difficulties in developing and implementing minimum (and common) procedural requirements still remain. The inconsistency of the approaches adopted by the Commission in providing a horizontal framework or solutions in specific sectors can be justified by the fact that the EU does not retain exclusive competence in the procedural field and the approximation of laws shall respect national legal traditions, whose divergencies represent an obstacle to achieve a highlevel of uniformity. A positive outcome in this evolving scenario on collective redress is that, as a benchmark in the relevant legislation and in the two different approaches, this procedural remedy has been conceived of as a representative action, being the form that most complies with the procedural guarantees needed in judicial litigation and is present both in the 2013 Recommendation on common principles and in the recent 2018 Proposal. On the one hand, the horizontal approach seems to be too far reaching because of the limited implementation in the national legal orders, whose divergences may still hamper an effective judicial protection. On the other hand, the sectoral approach seems to be the most feasible solution in practice that may be adopted in specific legislation and thus shaped accordingly as in the majority of Member States mechanisms of collective redress already exist in the field of consumer protection and to whose development European directives have contributed. However, as demonstrated above, collective redress should be made available in other sectors, such as in the employment context where collective litigation is not new because of the right of trade unions or other representative organisations to take collective action recognised under Union law. As to the jurisdictional regime, in the legislation and other soft-law initiatives, no provisions tackle the issue of which court shall be competent for cross-border collective redress procedures. The application of the existing private international law rules to representative actions at the moment introduced with the 2018 Proposal implies an extension of the scope of application of the Regulations concerned. In the absence of specific provisions, such principle may also be applied analogically to collective redress 5. Cross-border Collective Redress and the Jurisdictional Regime 347 relating to other fields where weaker parties are involved and may be a viable means for the protection of collective interests and enforcement of rights EU-wide. Moreover, it can be noted that the proposed extension of the application of the existing private international law rules somehow differs from the findings in the abovementioned case law concerning consumers and assignment of claims allegedly qualified as collective action. This extension included in the 2018 Proposal could be considered as a follow-up to the few judicial interventions that have dealt with issues related to collective redress. In those cases, a restrictive interpretation of the Brussels rules has been implemented due to their derogative nature from the general rule of jurisdiction. As observed by Advocate General Bobek, the issue of collective redress is ‘too delicate and complex’, and it calls for a comprehensive legislation, moreover an ‘isolated judicial intervention’ that interprets a ‘remote legislative instrument that is clearly unfit for that purpose’ would be inappropriate117. These considerations may be regarded as a motion for legislative intervention, even more needed because of the unfit existing instruments and the increasing mass situations across Europe. Future developments are then expected in relation to the legislative process regarding the 2018 Proposal on consumers representative actions as well as, at jurisdictional level, with regard to the Fashion ID case on data protection118. In conclusion, the issue of collective redress appears to be at the crossroads between a horizontal and sectoral approach, where, regardless of the adopted form, clear provisions on private international law issues to avoid risk of different and incoherent interpretations should be included. 117 Opinion of Advocate General Bobek, Schrems (n 92), para. 119 ff., spec. 123. 118 Case C-40/17, Fashion ID (n 112). Cinzia Peraro 348 Your Place? Mine? Or Theirs? A Legal and Policy-orientated Analysis of Jurisdiction in Cross-Border Collective Redress Stephanie Law* Table of Contents Introduction1. 350 The Development of Mechanisms to Redress Mass Harms2. 352 The Legal and Political Framework of Collective Redress and its PIL Dimensions 2.1. 352 A Short Comparative Overview: The Procedural Design of Collective Redress Mechanisms 2.2. 357 The Austrian system2.2.1. 357 The Belgium system2.2.2. 358 The Dutch system2.2.3. 359 The system adopted in England and Wales2.2.4. 360 Three Models of Collective Redress2.3. 362 Towards a Harmonised Approach? The 2018 Proposal of the European Commission 3. 363 The Characteristics of the Representative Action Model Advanced by the Commission 4. 365 The Intended Means of Operation of the Representative Action Mechanism5. 367 Founding Jurisdiction in Cross-Border Collective Redress6. 371 The Default Approach of Brussels I bis – To the Courts of the Defendant’s Domicile 7. 372 A (First) Rule of Special Jurisdiction for Contracts8. 374 Protective Jurisdiction: Collective Redress and Consumer Protection9. 380 A (Second) Rule of Special Jurisdiction for Torts10. 383 * Lecturer in Law, University of Southampton. All errors remain mine. I would however like to thank Professors Burkhard Hess and Marta Requejo Isidro, as well as Dr Vincent Richard and Janek Nowak for considerable discussions on the topic over a number of years. Indeed, this chapter is intended to be read in line with that of Janek Nowak. Thanks also to the organisers of the conference. The content of the chapter is up-to-date as of July 2018. It is worth noting that the 2018 Proposal of the European Commission for a Directive on Representative Actions was due to be subject to interinstitutional trilogue negotiations in March 2020. 349 Preliminary Conclusions on Jurisdiction11. 387 Introduction The relationship between collective redress and the Brussels I bis regime has been highlighted as problematic in academic and political discourses since the mid-2000s; at this time, the European Commission began to contemplate collective consumer redress as a viable means to bolster its consumer law policy but still identified a ‘justice gap’ in the protection of EU law via collective redress, arising from the piecemeal nature of national collective redress mechanisms and absence of an EU-wide regime.1 While the EU policymaker has engaged in extensive discussions on mass harms and on the different mechanisms that might ensure redress is available for consumers, it has devoted comparably little attention to cross-border collective redress and the interaction of national mechanisms with private international law (PIL) rules. Indeed, the Commission’s Green Paper on Collective Redress,2 the 2013 Communication and Recommendation3 as well as the European Commission’s 2018 Proposal for a Directive on Representative Actions4 only briefly touch upon these issues. One can ask whether there is a lack of understanding of these concerns, or a deliberate choice on the part of the institutions not to identify a European solution. Regardless, it appears that the lack of a proper PIL framework for collec- 1. 1 European Commission, ‘Green Paper on Consumer Collective Redress’ COM(2008) 794 final, p.3. The Commission first broached the issue of collective redress with the completion of a 2004 study concerning damages claims for the infringement of EU competition rules; Ashurst, ‘Study on the Conditions of Claims for Damages in Case of Infringement of EC Competition Rules’ (August 2004). 2 European Commission, ‘Green Paper on Consumer Collective Redress’ COM(2008) 794 final. 3 European Commission, ‘Recommendation 2013/396/EU on Common Principles for Injunctive and Compensatory Collective Redress Mechanisms in the Member States Concerning Violations of Rights Granted under Union Law’ (http://eur-lex.e uropa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=OJ:JOL_2013_201_R_NS0013) and European Commission, ‘Communication – Towards a European Horizontal Framework for Collective Redress’ COM(2013) 401 final (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/E N/TXT/?uri=celex:52013DC0401). 4 European Commission, ‘Proposal for a Directive on Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers and Repealing the Injunctions Directive 2009/22/EC’ COM(2018) 184 final (hereinafter 2018 Proposal for a Directive on Representative Actions). Stephanie Law 350 tive redress thwarts the development of collective redress as a means to enforce rights and obligations deriving from EU law across the Member States. From this perspective, the Schrems II5 case is no more than the latest manifestation of the problematic relationship between collective redress and PIL. This chapter aims to set out the key problem of the modus operandi of the EU in regulating civil procedure, and indeed the rapport between substance and procedure; what is identified is a patchwork of uncoordinated measures lacking an overarching approach to collective redress. Delving deeper, the problematic situation reflects the lack of a comprehensive competence on the part of the EU to regulate civil procedure in both national and cross-border cases. This results in different dynamics with conflicting outcomes, with instruments in one area potentially depriving instruments in another of their effectiveness. The relationship between EU initiatives concerning collective redress and their integration into the Brussels I bis regime is a prime example in this regard. The situation is further complicated when we also bring national mechanisms of collective redress into the equation; the existence, scope and form of such mechanisms diverge across the Member States. The issues that have been highlighted in EU policy documents concerning the relationship between the national and cross-border dimensions of collective redress only scratch the surface of the problem. That is to say, it is not only a question of the recognition and standing of the class representative, or of jurisdiction, but also of the interpretation of connecting factors, lis pendens, the notion of related actions, and the recognition and enforcement of decisions rendered in other Member States. The potential for the refusal of recognition and enforcement on public policy grounds is considerable (on the basis of the type of national collective redress mechanism, on the determination of notification, and of the protection of procedural rights).6 Moreover, even these considerations do not extend to the thorny issues of third-state elements, or the problems posed by rules on applicable law. One must ask whether the Brussels I bis regime is really ready to accommodate the policy move at both the EU and the Member State level to establish cross-border and potentially horizontal collective redress mechanisms. It appears not to be. In responding to this question, this chapter will examine firstly the correlation between the European Commission’s 2018 Proposal for a Direc- 5 Case C-498/16 Schrems EU:C:2017:863. 6 On these latter issues, see the chapter of Janek Nowak. Your Place? Mine? Or Theirs? 351 tive on Representative Actions and the Brussels I bis Regulation. Thereafter, the difficulties of integrating the proposal into the Brussels regime are identified; key preliminary conclusions on the options available to resolve these problems of jurisdiction are then set out. The chapter concludes with a proposal for non-action on the part of the Union legislature until such a time as a culture of collective redress has been established and can be identified across the Member States. The Development of Mechanisms to Redress Mass Harms The Legal and Political Framework of Collective Redress and its PIL Dimensions Collective redress mechanisms constitute legal procedures that aim to allow consumers to stop or deter a violation of EU consumer law or to obtain compensation where they have suffered the same harm as a result of an action or omission of the same trader. These procedures purport to facilitate the enforcement of EU consumer law by ensuring that individual consumers are not precluded by the typical constraints that they might face in individual litigation – discussed below – from obtaining redress for the harm they have suffered. Collective redress mechanisms aim to deal with mass infringements of consumer law by the same trader; recent examples of such mass harms include the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal, Ryanair mass cancellations, and the Fipronil egg scandal, to name only a few.7 In this paper, the discussion is largely focused on compensatory collective redress. Currently, there is no harmonised regime for compensatory collective redress at the EU level; however, the EU institutions have entertained considerable political, policy-orientated and legal discussions on the matter. Nevertheless, the measures adopted are limited in their scope (in terms of the substantive law covered, and their cross-border application) 2. 2.1. 7 See for example, BEUC, ‘A New Deal for Consumers – Revision of the Injunctions Directive’ (January 2018). See also, Chris Hodges and Stefan Voet, ‘Response to the European Commission’s Inception Impact Assessment, ‘A New Deal for Consumers – Revision of the Injunctions Directive’, Ares(2017) 5324969, who suggest a model of collective redress for mass harms based not only private enforcement via courts but who highlight the need for the integration of public enforcement via public authorities and non-for-profit ombudsmen. Stephanie Law 352 and as regards their binding nature; these measures amount to sector-specific rules and non-binding recommendations.8 Collective redress can be said to have two goals, namely deterrence and compensation.9 As to the satisfaction of the former, the EU has legislated for injunctive collective relief10 for infringements of consumer rights. As to the satisfaction of the latter goal, namely compensation, the European Commission introduced in 2013 a non-binding Recommendation setting out minimum standards to guide Member States in their adoption of compensatory collective redress mechanisms.11 While some individual Member States have adopted their own unique approaches to compensatory collective redress, not all have done so, generating further diversity across the EU, particularly as regards the model of collective redress adopted. Some Member States have established a test case model, some a representative 8 For example, the Injunctions Directive 2009/22/EC obliges Member States to provide mechanisms for injunctive relief for violations of EU consumer law. Further examples of sector-specific measures include the Late Payment Directive 2011/7/EU, in the field of commercial transactions and the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 for data protection. While it was initially anticipated that collective redress might be included in Directive 2014/104/EU on antitrust damages, ultimately this directive harmonises procedural law issues concerning private enforcement other than collective redress. In 2017, in discussions on the emissions scandal in the automotive sector, the European Parliament specifically urged the Commission to introduce a harmonised system of collective redress for consumers (European Parliament, ‘Recommendation of 4 April 2017 to the Council and the Commission following the Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector’, 2016/2908(RSP), paras 58–67) and encouraged it to examine the possibility of introducing collective redress mechanisms for breaches of EU environmental rules (European Parliament, ‘Resolution of 26 October 2017 on the Application of Directive 2004/35/EC on Environmental Liability with regard to the Prevention and Remedying of Environmental Damage (the ‘ELD’)’, 2016/2251(INI), para 48). 9 On the need for a balance between the protection of the interests of individual claimants and the regulatory interests in avoiding future violations of rights, see Brigitte Haar, 'Regulation Through Litigation — Collective Redress in Need of a New Balance Between Individual Rights and Regulatory Objectives' (2018) 19 Theoretical Inquiries in Law 203. Relatedly, collective redress may play a market correction role, fundamental to the development of the EU’s internal market. 10 All Member States now provide for mechanisms for injunctive relief to prevent the continued violation of EU consumer rights (per the Injunctions Directive 2009/22/EC); notwithstanding that each Member State is now obliged to ensure that injunctive relief is available, the Member States nevertheless continue to provide for different mechanisms for such relief. 11 European Commission, ‘Communication – Towards a European Horizontal Framework for Collective Redress’ COM(2013) 401 final. Your Place? Mine? Or Theirs? 353 action-based model and others still, a group action model. Moreover, certain Member States have chosen to adopt a combination of these models.12 As a result, the operation of compensatory collective redress mechanisms in respect of cross-border mass harms is particularly problematic. The challenges arising between the operation of national and European collective redress mechanisms and Brussels I bis have thus long been at the forefront of academic debate; the same is true of discussions surrounding on the one hand, the introduction of collective redress mechanisms at the EU level (whether horizontal or sector-specific) and on the other, the review and revision of EU PIL instruments, most notably, those of the Brussels regime. The discussions at the EU level – including for example, the 2010 Resolution of the European Parliament, in which the need for rules of jurisdiction for cross-border collective redress was recognised13 – have not come to fruition as regards the implementation of a coherent legal and policy framework for cross-border compensatory collective redress.14 That is to say, neither the measures promoting the implementation of collective redress mechanisms within the Member States15 nor the Brussels I bis Regulation provides for specific rules concerning jurisdiction for cross-border collective redress. These two sets of instruments can be examined briefly. The Brussels Convention as introduced in 1968 was predicated on the existence of two-party (individual, legal or natural persons) proceedings; the same is true of the Regulations. The Brussels I bis Regulation does not include specific rules for jurisdiction for cross-border collective redress. Indeed while the significance of collective redress, and the different forms that it might take, was recognised in the 2010 Proposal for the 12 See Section 2.2. 13 European Parliament, ‘Resolution on Delivering a Single Market to Consumers and Citizens’ (2010/2011(INI)). 14 See Alexandre Biard, ‘Collective Redress in the EU: A Rainbow Behind the Clouds?’ (2018) 19 ERA Forum 189. 15 European Commission, ‘Green Paper on Consumer Collective Redress’ COM(2008) 794 final (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CO M:2008 :0794 :FIN:EN:PDF ); European Commission, ‘Recommendation 2013/396/EU on Common Principles for Injunctive and Compensatory Collective Redress Mechanisms in the Member States Concerning Violations of Rights Granted under Union Law’ (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri= OJ:JOL_2013_201_R_NS0013) and European Commission, ‘Communication – Towards a European Horizontal Framework for Collective Redress’ COM(2013) 401 final (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:52013DC040 1). Stephanie Law 354 revision of the Brussels I Regulation,16 this was limited to an ultimately unsuccessful proposal to exclude judgments from collective proceedings from the proposed abolition of exequatur. This exclusion of collective redress proceedings from the abolition of exequatur was made on the basis that the existence (indeed, if at all) of different approaches and procedural requirements for collective redress in the Member States were still considered to be sufficiently significant so as to undermine the possibility for mutual trust, and generate public policy concerns when it comes to recognition and enforcement. This is a matter to which the paper returns in Section 4 below. While the 2008 Green Paper on Collective Redress made a recommendation – without referring to classification or characterisation – on crossborder collective redress and its integration into the Brussels I bis regime, neither the 2013 Recommendations nor the 2018 Proposal introduce concrete rules on cross-border collective redress, either as regards characterisation, jurisdiction or issues of recognition and enforcement. Instead, in each instrument, there are limited rules on the mutual recognition and standing of the class representative in cross-border cases.17 For example, the 2018 Proposal is deemed to apply ‘without prejudice to the Union rules on private international law’.18 A number of key PIL issues, concerning standing and admissibility, determination of jurisdiction, the constitution of the class (whether opt-in or opt-out), costs and funding and the determination of the law applicable, therefore remain unclear. The determination at the level of the EU policymaker not to introduce rules that regulate the relationship between collective redress and PIL suggests that certain political choices have been made.19 These choices are reflective of the limitations of the Union’s limited legislative competences in the field of civil procedure; as a result of its limited competence, the approach of 16 European Commission, ‘Proposal for a Regulation on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters’ COM(2010) 748 final, 14 December 2010, Art 37(3)(b). 17 2013 Recommendations, paras 17–18 and 2018 Proposal, Art 16. 18 2018 Proposal, Art 2(3). 19 The way in which the Union legislature deals with such issues is fundamentally important for several reasons; against this background, it must be recognised that the legal and policy research and review on all options must be undertaken in light of the EU’s commitment to Better Regulation; European Commission, ‘Communication on Better Regulation for Better Results: An EU Agenda’ COM(2015) 215 final and European Commission, ‘Communication on Better Regulation: Delivering Better Results for a Stronger Union’ COM(2016) 615 final. Your Place? Mine? Or Theirs? 355 the Union legislature often ends up being piecemeal, leading to fragmentation within the national systems, as well as at the EU level. The absence of EU legislative measures on cross-border compensatory collective redress has not only been at the fore of policy and academic discussions but has recently been subject to litigation before the ECJ, in the case of Schrems II, a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Austrian Supreme Court. Following the Opinion of AG Bobek, the Court ruled that an assignee may not bundle claims assigned to him in the protective forum established under Art 18 of the Brussels I bis Regulation (previously, Art 16 Brussels I Regulation). While both the AG and the Court acknowledged that the current European, cross-border legal framework is not adequately adapted to collective redress, it is nevertheless clear from both the Opinion of the AG and the judgment of the Court that the steps that would be necessary to remedy this lack of collective redress in consumer matters can only be taken by the EU lawmaker. Reference can be made to the words of AG Bobek who wrote of ‘the dangers of judicial legislation’ and highlighted that the need for an EU-wide instrument ‘belong[s] to the de lege ferenda sphere’; moreover, AG Bobek recognised that a judicial decision providing for jurisdiction to facilitate cross-border collective redress would go against the wording and logic of the Brussels I regime, and undermine the complexity of the issue. The AG further acknowledged the need for ‘comprehensive legislation, not an isolated judicial intervention’,20 recognising that at the time that the Opinion and judgment in Schrems II were rendered, the EU lawmaker was already engaged in deliberations which led to the Commission’s 2018 Proposal, a process that the AG considered should not be pre-empted or undermined by the judiciary. It is worth noting that the Schrems II decision is indeed a reflection of only some of the issues that arise from the lack of a coherent PIL framework for collective redress, accentuated in light of the absence of a coherent framework of collective redress at the level of and across the Member States. Before examining the fruits of discussions of the EU lawmaker in Section 2.3, the paper will firstly provide a brief overview of the different models of collective redress that have been adopted in the national legal systems. 20 Case C-498/16 Schrems EU:C:2017:863, paras 119–123. Stephanie Law 356 A Short Comparative Overview: The Procedural Design of Collective Redress Mechanisms21 Here, the intention is to provide a brief overview of the divergent procedural designs adopted within a limited number of national legal systems, namely Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and England and Wales. The aim of this section is not to provide a comprehensive comparative analysis of the models adopted but to highlight the existence of different models across Europe in light of the Commission’s 2013 Recommendations.22 It is important to note that this diversity is of particular significance given that the 2018 Proposal of the Commission for a binding directive is intended to provide for a system of cross-border collective redress, based on a particular political determination of the institutions, reflective of a repres