Case Law: Case 412/98, Group Josi Reinsurance Company SA v. Universal General Insurance Company (UGIC), (Eur. Ct. J. July 13, 2000) (not yet reported)

7 Colum. J. Eur. L. 134 (2001)

Thalia Kruger. Assistant at the Institute for International and Foreign Law, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. 

This judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECJ) considers two questions regarding the interpretation of the Convention on Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters, 1968 (“Brussels Convention”). It is in the form of an answer to preliminary questions referred by the Court of Appeals of Versailles, France. The first question, pertaining to the general scope of the Convention, is whether the Convention should be applied when the plaintiff is not domiciled in a Contracting State. The second question concerns the scope of the special protection that exists for insurance policy-holders (Articles 7-12 of the Convention).

The first question is of particular significance since it concerns the scope of the Brussels Convention when an element (in this case the plaintiff) from outside the European Community (EC) is present, and the considerations to determine its scope. The question is what connection with Contracting States would be sufficient to make the Brussels Convention applicable. This case note aims at convincing the reader that there cannot be a conclusive answer to a broad question such as whether the domicile of the plaintiff is relevant to decide whether the Brussels Convention should be applied. It will depend on the different articles of the Convention.

The second question is a much more technical point of interpretation of Section 3 (Articles 7-12) of the Convention. The judgment on this issue is clear and appears to be quite logical. For this reason, my discussion will be limited to the first question.