Determining a court's jurisdiction in cross-border class actions involving pure financial damage has proven difficult in practice. This is particularly true when jurisdiction is based on the special competence rules set out in the recast EU Brussels Regulation. The Dutch Shareholders Association v British Petroleum is a good example of the confusion surrounding this matter. After two lower court rulings, the Dutch Supreme Court has applied to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling to gain further clarity.
The Senate recently adopted the Bill on Redress of Mass Damages in Collective Actions (RMDCA). The RMDCA enables representative entities to claim monetary compensation on behalf of their constituents, which provides aggrieved parties with more effective means of redress. The RMDCA also introduces stricter requirements regarding the admissibility of representative entities and the scope of collective action proceedings, along with other procedural changes.
The Rotterdam District Court recently assumed jurisdiction over the international securities class action lawsuit against Petrobras Brasileiro SA and others in the Netherlands. The judgment offers valuable insight into how the Dutch courts assess jurisdiction in cross-border collective redress cases. It also illustrates that the Netherlands could act as a collective redress venue in matters relating to events that mainly take place in foreign jurisdictions.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal recently declared the settlement between Fortis (since renamed Ageas) and multiple claimant organisations binding. The €1.3 billion settlement is the largest of its kind to have been entered into in Europe. It emphasises the usefulness of the Act on Collective Settlement of Mass Claims when resolving cross-border disputes before the Dutch courts, irrespective of whether proceedings on the merits on behalf of the whole class can be litigated on in the Netherlands.
The Dutch courts have jurisdiction to grant permission for pre-judgment attachment on assets that are located in the Netherlands, even if the debtor is foreign and the Dutch courts have no jurisdiction in the main proceedings. A recent Supreme Court decision has provided further guidance on which (foreign) court actions can be considered 'main proceedings' within the meaning of the Code of Civil Procedure and at what time the creditor must be deemed to have instituted these main proceedings.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal recently ruled in favour of British Petroleum Plc (BP) in a securities class action initiated by the Dutch Association of Shareholders (VEB). VEB had initiated proceedings on the basis of the Civil Code, in which it sought a declaratory judgment regarding BP's liability towards investors who had bought, sold or held BP ordinary shares around the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion in 2010. The court's judgment is a setback for international investors.