Brussels Regulation Reforms: Key changes and their implications

The European Economic and Monetary Affairs Council has approved amendments to the Brussels Regulation (EC Regulation 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters).

The key changes, which are expected to apply from early 2015, are designed to:

- Streamline the process for enforcement of judgments across EU member states.

- Strengthen choice of court agreements by ending cross border “torpedo” litigation tactics.

- Extend the remit of the Brussels Regulation’s jurisdiction rules to non-EU Defendants in certain circumstances.

- Protect arbitration clauses against abusive litigation.

The amendments are now set to become European law following completion of the EU legislative process over the coming weeks, although they will only apply two years after the legislation comes into effect. Overall, the changes are to be welcomed, particularly as they apply to limiting the scope for “torpedo” proceedings which have become an all-too-common part of the EU defendant’s armoury for delaying judgment. The decision to drop the European Commission’s more controversial proposals regarding extending the remit of the Brussels jurisdiction regime to non-EU defendants more generally is also reassuring. Nevertheless, what the changes mean in practice, and how effective they will be, remains to be seen.

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