Rome II – applicable law of cross-border torts

The Rome II Regulation standardises the rules by which the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (torts) is determined in EC member states. At present, most member states apply the law of the place where the harmful act was committed (sometimes called the “country of origin” rule). With some exceptions, Rome II will introduce a new applicable law dependent upon where the damage occurs. Online businesses are concerned that they may be subject to separate proceedings in several countries depending upon where the damage caused by their product or service occurs.

The UK has opted into Rome II and will be bound by it when it is finalised. This date came a step nearer this month when outstanding areas of disagreement between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU were resolved at a formal conciliation meeting. This agreement must be endorsed at the third reading stage, scheduled for July 2007. It will enter into force from the date of publication in the Official Journal and, according to the website of Diana Wallis MEP, it will apply in the courts of the Member States from the beginning of 2009 (see http://www.dianawallismep.org.uk/pages/rome2.html). For further information see also http://www.conflictoflaws.net/category/legislation/rome-ii/.