The Supreme Court recently decided to refer certain important questions regarding the Volkswagen emission manipulation scandal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling under Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Supreme Court's assessment of the case and its decision to refer it to the ECJ have revealed other aspects of the scandal and opened the door for a decision by the ECJ which could alter the course of similar pending cases before national courts in Europe.
The Vienna Regional Court for Civil Matters recently closed the oral hearing in the data protection case brought against Facebook by European privacy group None of Your Business. During the hearing, Facebook's European privacy director faced questions centring on matters of data control regarding the social media platform. The pending decision of the court foreshadows further disputes on Europe's role in setting new standards by which internet activity is to be regulated.
Earlier in 2019, the Supreme Court held that in light of a bilateral treaty, the Austrian courts must apply Iranian law in inheritance matters concerning Iranian nationals. However, provisions of Iranian law that differentiate between heirs on the basis of gender must be treated as violations of the fundamental values of Austrian law and should thus be exempt from application.
There have been a number of recent legislative developments in Austria, including amendments to the Austrian Enforcement Act, which have granted certain parties access to data about pending enforcement proceedings. Further, the Supreme Court has confirmed that the res judicata effect of a foreign judgment applies at all stages of proceedings conducted in Austria.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that even settled case law can change. The law prevents the retroactive application only of statutory laws, not court decisions. Therefore, changes in case law also apply retroactively, as there is no ban on the retroactive application of legal knowledge by the courts. The interest in maintaining 'correct' case law overrides earlier protections afforded to those applying the law; thus, it is paramount to be prepared for changes in case law.
Article 23(1) of the EU Brussels I Regulation sets out minimum requirements for contractual agreements. In particular, the requirements seek to ensure that agreements conferring jurisdiction do not become part of the contract without the knowledge of all of the parties. In a recent case involving the international chemicals industry, the Supreme Court had to consider whether the formal requirements in Article 23(1) had been met.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in a case in which a loan was granted without collateral and obviously served to finance the acquisition of the target's shares. Considering that this withdrew considerable funds from the company, putting creditors at risk without any operational justification, the Supreme Court held that this could not be reconciled with the diligence expected from a reasonable manager.
Under Article XLII of the Code of Civil Procedure, any party that has a substantive claim for information against another party (which it is suing for performance) has a claim for the disclosure of accounts to mitigate serious problems with quantifying the substantive claim if the accounts could help the claimant and if the respondent can be reasonably expected to provide them.
The Supreme Court recently held that jurisdiction for tort cases under Article 7(2) of the Brussels I Regulation must be interpreted only under the regulation. According to the regulation, torts are illegal acts that ultimately require the defendant to pay damages and are not connected to a contract within the meaning of Article 7(1) of the regulation. According to the court, this jurisdiction includes both the place of the original act and the place where the loss occurred or is about to occur.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on whether and under which circumstances a service of process is valid in a location different from that originally listed. The court ultimately held that a request for service of process can be lawfully interpreted only according to the respective state law. If that law states that the service of process can also take place in a different location, there is no reason to view this as unlawful.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on the liability of arbitrators to pay damages. The court ultimately upheld the terms of the arbitrators' contract, finding that civil claims for damages can be pursued, among other things, only after the arbitration award has been annulled. This case demonstrates that arbitrators' contracts should be interpreted in a way that ties the arbitrators' liability for damages to the annulment of the arbitration award.
The Supreme Court recently dealt with the limits of preclusion or res judicata. According to the subjective limits of preclusion, the effects of res judicata encompass the litigants, their legal successors and certain other persons to which the legal effects of the respective court's decision are extended in accordance with the law. Therefore, res judicata takes effect − apart from cases of extended and absolute legal force – only between the same parties.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that if the judgment for which a declaration of enforceability is sought is not final, the court deciding on a second or third appeal may order the party seeking the declaration to pay security in accordance with the Brussels I Regulation. This is intended to prevent unjustified losses to the debtor if the court order is later rescinded or amended and the claims for damages or unjust enrichment cannot be enforced.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that, for transactions between Single Euro Payments Area countries, the enforcement of an obligation to pay a monetary claim in a foreign currency must be executed in accordance with the rules on the enforcement of monetary claims. The court thus ordered the debtor to post a US dollar amount with a Slovakian court based on a Slovakian court order.
The Supreme Court has ruled in a case in which the plaintiff argued for international jurisdiction based on the rules for disputes regarding individual employment contracts, as outlined in the Lugano Convention 2007. While the convention's 'in writing' requirement can be met by referencing terms and conditions which include a prorogation clause, standing case law requires a contract's text to refer explicitly to the terms and conditions.
In a recent decision the Supreme Court considered matters of judicial conflict arising in connection with the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR). The court ruled that the CMR enjoys priority over the Rome I Regulation, insofar as it addresses an issue itself or provides a conflict rule.
The objection of a violation of the public order can be used only if the foreign title is based on a legal argument that is completely incompatible with the domestic legal order. However, not all deviations from Austrian procedural law will make enforcement of a foreign title incompatible with the legal order.
The European Court of Justice recently ruled on where harm first arises with regard to product liability claims. It held that in cases where a producer is being sued based on liability for a faulty product, the location of the harmful event is where the product in question was produced.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that, in accordance with the Brussels I Regulation, the courts of the member state where immovable property is situated have exclusive jurisdiction for cases dealing with rights in rem for the lease or tenancy of immovable objects. This international exclusive jurisdiction issue supersedes the general jurisdiction of the courts in the domicile state of the defendant.
The High Court recently ruled that in decisions with international jurisdiction, the term 'services' must be interpreted through the use of EU law as a whole. Further, such interpretation must encompass all contracts that cover the achievement of a certain factual result in exchange for payment, as opposed to the mere performance of an activity, as in an employment contract.