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CHAPTER 47 European Union law and shipping litigation: the “Brussels I” Regulation

EU Shipping Law

Page 1740


European Union law and shipping litigation: the “Brussels I” Regulation

A. Introduction

47.001 Inevitably, there is cross-border litigation in the shipping sector. The litigation can relate to issues as diverse as cargo claims, charter parties, collisions, contracts, injuries and even fatalities. This often means that there is a choice in a case between different jurisdictions. The choice between jurisdictions is primarily the choice of: (a) which jurisdiction will hear the case (i.e. the forum which will hear the dispute); and (b) which body of law will apply to the case (i.e. the governing law which will decide the dispute).1 This choice of legal system and law can be critical: making one particular choice could favour the plaintiff while a different choice could favour the defendant. Put another way, choosing the substantive and procedural legal regimes could determine the entire outcome of the case. This often leads to so-called “forum shopping” whereby potential litigants “shop” between different jurisdictions to find the one most favourable to their case. Often, there are skirmishes between the parties about resisting choices. The conflict of laws2 rules help to resolve some of the difficulties involved.3 The conflict of laws rules also help to ensure that claims are not only upheld but enforced as well. This book, and hence this chapter, concentrates only on selected European Union (“EU”) law aspects of the issue. Moreover, this chapter is necessarily brief as there is a great deal of information available in other more detailed publications on the topic.4

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