One of our new clients suffered head injuries while skiing in Austria. Due to where the accident took place, the case has already raised some interesting issues on jurisdiction and applicable law.
Our client, who lives in London, was attending a trip organised by her school in Croydon. The trip was booked with a tour operator in England but whose registered office is in Austria. Notably the accident and injuries sustained also occurred in Austria.
Notwithstanding the benefit to our client in being able to bring proceedings in England and Wales, there is a clear argument that the claim is more manifestly connected with Austria and that Austrian law ought to apply; namely because the accident occurred in Austria and at least one of the potential defendants (the tour operator) is a company registered there.
Fortunately the “Brussels I (recast)” EU regulations on jurisdiction applies to all claims issued on or after 10 January 2015. Article 7 reaffirms the previous rule that in tort claims, jurisdiction is where the harmful event occurs. However, in non-contract claims (including injury claims), the claimant is permitted to bring proceedings in a jurisdiction in which the defendant is not domiciled.
Further, if the client’s school were to be added as a defendant, Article 8 provides that in cases involving multiple defendants, the proceedings may be brought where one or more of the defendants is domiciled. The school being English, allows the claimant to bring her claim in the courts of England and Wales.
Brussels I simplifies the law for claimants bringing injury claims where the accident occurs outside of our jurisdiction but within the EU. It also provides more scope for argument that even though the accident and indeed the defendant might be abroad, a claimant domiciled in England and Wales can bring his or her claim in a court local to where they live.