The European Commission has adopted a report and green paper on the functioning of the existing rules on the jurisdiction of the courts and the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments contained in the Brussels Regulation (44/2001/EC). The report follows an empirical and statistical study on the operation of the regulation which showed that, while the regulation operates well and is highly appreciated by the courts and practitioners in EU member states, there are some difficulties that need to be addressed. The report and green paper launch a broad public consultation on the possible ways to deal with issues including:
- The removal of obstacles to the free circulation of judgments.
- Ensuring equal access to the courts and equal protection for European defendants against judgments given by non-member states.
- Avoiding parallel proceedings.
- Ensuring the sound application of contractual jurisdiction clauses.
Responses are required by 30th June and a proposal for a revised regulation may be adopted by the end of 2009. The report and green paper propose some substantive changes which address current uncertainties under ECJ case law and would, if adopted, result in a significant extension of the scope of the regulation in a number of respects. This consultation therefore offers amongst other things an opportunity to address concerns about the erosion by the ECJ of the efficacy of jurisdiction and arbitration agreements (in cases such as Gasser, Turner and West Tankers).