The Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Order 2001

The Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Order 2001 (text) implements the EU's Brussels I Regulation regarding civil matters. Consumers can now sue foreign suppliers in the consumers' own country after purchasing goods from their websites...

The Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Order 2001 implements the legislative changes following the introduction of Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Brussels I Regulation).

The Brussels I Regulation applies to all Member States except Denmark and replaces the Brussels Convention 1968 on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, to which the UK became party by an Accession Convention signed in 1978.

The Conventions were given the force of law in the UK by the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982. The Act was later amended by the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1991 to implement the Lugano Convention 1988 on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, which made similar arrangements with a number of non-Member States.

The Brussels Convention 1968, in so far as it governs relationships with Denmark, and the Lugano Convention 1988, remains in place. The main purpose of The Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Order 2001 is to amend the 1982 Act so as to preserve the current position in respect of the Brussels Convention 1968, so far as it relates to Denmark, and the Lugano Convention 1988, and to make new but analogous provision in respect of the Brussels I Regulation.

Freedom of choice in civil matters

The Brussels I Regulation lays down the general principle that contracting parties have the freedom of choice regarding jurisdiction and thus may expressly agree which court is to have jurisdiction over their contractual disputes. If there is no express agreement regarding jurisdiction between the parties, the general jurisdiction rule is that defendants domiciled in a Member State, whatever their nationality, will be sued in their own courts.

Place of harm or performance

In cases relating to tort, the courts of the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur will have jurisdiction . In cases arising from the breach of a contractual obligation, defendants may be sued before the courts of the place where the contractual obligation in question was to be performed

Website consumer contracts

When a consumer located in one Member State accesses a website of a company located in another Member State and accepts the offer made on the website to buy goods or services, the company will be considered to have directed its activities to the Member State of the consumer, notwithstanding the fact that (possibly) the website was only targeting the consumers of the company’s own (or another) Member State. The rule of Article 15 Brussels I shall then automatically apply and the company operating the website will face the risk of being sued before the consumer’s home jurisdiction, irrespective of any jurisdiction agreement or jurisdiction clause in its Terms and Conditions.

Supervision and enforcement

The Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Order 2001 is supervised by the Ministry of Justice and enforced by HM Court Service.

Review of the Brussels I Regulation

In 2010/2011 the UK government consulted on the European Commission's proposals to replace the Brussels I Regulation.

Reference

The Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Order 2001

UK/2001/SI/3929