The much-debated Rome II Proposal for a regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual civil liability now looks set to be formally adopted, following an agreement between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on 15 May 2007.

The Regulation will, for the first time, introduce a single set of rules throughout the European Union to determine which country’s law applies to claims for non-contractual civil wrongs. This is significant for anyone with an online presence, thanks to the inherently cross-border character of the internet.

However the impact of the Regulation is diluted by the omission of defamation and privacy. These were excluded mainly because it proved impossible to agree on a text that adequately addressed publication online. The law applicable to defamation and privacy will continue to be governed by the private international law rules of individual Member States.

Assuming that the agreed text of the Regulation is formally adopted, the Regulation is likely to come into force at the beginning of 2009. Meanwhile the parallel proposal for a Regulation governing the law applicable to contract liability, Rome I, continues to be considered by the European Parliament and in the Council of Ministers.