Monthly Archives: October 2013

Suing for the climate – Dutch style. Is there a maverick judge in the courtroom?

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As has been more or less widely reported, the Dutch NGO Urgenta is planning to serve proceedings upon the Dutch State some time in November, seeking a court order obliging the State to present within 6 months, a realistic plan to reduce drastically The Netherlands’ CO2 emissions, and actively to inform the public of the causes and consequences of climate change. The draft proceedings (in Dutch only) review summarily (well, still leading to a 114 page document) the State’s obligations under public international law, and EU law, and the proposed consequential liabilities.

Trail Smelter, Minnes de Potasse, the Stern Report….: they all are mentioned. Of specific interest is the emphasis put on human rights, and the emphatic defence of the argument that The Netherlands also has a duty of care vis-a-vis damage occurring elsewhere (in particular: the developing world).

A maverick action? No doubt, and no doubt so intended…

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SPS meets Geopolitics: the Lithuanian WTO complaint against Russia’s restrictions on dairy

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Lithuania is suspecting that a combination of its currently holding the rotating presidency of the European Union, and Russian jittery over an impending trade and association agreements with the Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia (Armenia has pulled out under Russian pressure), explains the actions taken by Russia against Lithuanian Diary imports.

Russia notified the measure to the WTO on 11 October. Not much detail is given in the notification as to the health hazard identified, other than ‘due to detection of incompliance to microbiology, sanitary chemical and organoleptic requirements.’ – a fault which it had recently found in Russian dairy products, too and which of course Lithuania are denying.

How and where the Lithuanian complaint is currently developing is a little bit fuzzy: the EC has reportedly spoken at the WTO against the Russian action, on behalf of Lithuania (and of course to the dislike of Russia) , however I…

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Metamorphosis: Can an investment loose such qualification because of its negative externalities? The Philip Morris v Uruguay arbitration

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Update 9 July 2016: the panel sided with Uruguay on the merits, in a move which must boost those rejecting criticism that international trade law, including BITs, MITs and TTIP, deny States’ regulatory autonomy.

A very interesting debate in the PMI v Uruguay arbitration on plain packaging. The decision on jurisdiction (which was taken in July this year) rejected the notion that an ‘investment’ under a BIT looses such qualification as a result of, in effect, its negative externalities. Uruguay had argued that PMI’s interests in Uruguay do not constitute a protected investment since not only do they fail to make any contribution to the Country’s development, but they actively prevent and interfere with such development, due to the health impact of tobacco consumption.

The Panel, having to establish its subject-matter jurisdiction, gave the notion ‘investment’ a broad meaning, in the absence of express language to the contrary in the…

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French Constitutional court rejects challenge to fracking

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As I tweeted earlier, the French Constitutional Court has  rejected the challenge to its moratorium on fracking.  The precautionary principle was not quite addressed head on by the Court – it simply noted that in the current state of scientific insight, the ban was not disproportionate. The non-discrimination principle was also addressed: Schuepbach Energy had argued that in allowing geothermal projects and disallowing shale gas exploration, this principle was infringed. The Court disagreed: its review of the preparatory works of the Government Order showed that the government considered the two risks involved to be very different. Note the high degree of deference to the Government’s conclusions from scientific opinion. France is not by chance the state of origin of the ‘Bouche de la Loi’ theory!

Marjolein de Ridder and Sijbren de Jong report here on the geopolitical implications of shale. Legal arguments like the ones discussed in the French litigation…

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Fracking – Now Canada joins the fray in Nafta Chapter 11 claim

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In Lone Pine Resoures v Canada, the company involved has filed a claim under NAFTA’s Chapter 11, which protects investors against ‘regulatory takings’. Quebec has placed a moratorium on fracking (shale gas exploration) by revoking all permits pertaining to oil and gas resources under the St Lawrence river.

I shall be reporting tomorrow on the rejection by the French Constitutional Court of the challenge to the French moratorium. In a related (not to fracking but to regulatory takings) development, the European Commission has posted an interesting defence of Biltateral Investment Treaties here. Reference is made ia to the ongoing Philip Morris and Vatenfall (Nuclear energy) issues, both high profile cases of alleged regulatory taking.

Geert.

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Prove it if you can? E-commerce and jurisdiction: the ECJ further completes the jigsaw in Emrek

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As tweeted last week, the Court of Justice has clarified the scope of the consumer title of the Brussels-I Regulation in Case C-218/12 Emrek. In Spicheren, a town close to the German border, Mr Sabranovic sells second-hand motor vehicles. He had an internet site on which French telephone numbers and a German mobile telephone number were mentioned, together with the respective international codes. Mr Emrek, who resides in Saarbrücken (Germany) and who learned through acquaintances (not via the internet) of Mr Sabronovic’s business went there and purchased a second-hand motor vehicle.

Subsequently, Mr Emrek made claims against Mr Sabronovic under the warranty before the Amtsgericht (District Court) Saarbrücken. Mr Emrek took the view that, under Regulation No 44/2001, that court had jurisdiction to hear such an action. It was clear from the set-up of Mr Sabranovic’s website that his commercial activity was also directed to Germany. However, it was…

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Unamar: Better get those travaux préparatoires out. The ECJ does not rule out gold-plating as being ‘mandatory rules’ however the final judgment is up to the forum. Legality of arbitration rules undecided.

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I reported earlier on the AG’s Opinion in Unamar, Case C-184/12.  The Court held this morning.

The facts  of the case were as follows:  in 2005, Unamar, as commercial agent, and NMB, as principal, concluded a commercial agency agreement for the operation of NMB’s container liner shipping service. The agreement was for a one-year term and was renewed annually until 31 December 2008. It provided that it was to be governed by Bulgarian law and that any dispute relating to the agreement was to be determined by arbitration in Bulgaria. On 19 December 2008, NMB informed its agents that it was obliged, for financial reasons, to terminate their contractual relationship. The agency contract concluded with Unamar was extended only until 31 March 2009.

Unamar brought an action on 25 February 2009 before the Antwerp Commercial Court for an order that NMB pay various forms of compensation provided for under the…

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