13 June 2014

The ECJ Judgment 19 December 2013, case C-9/12, La Maison du Whisky SA


por María asunción Cebrián Salvat
PIL Law Reseacher, University of Murcia, Spain

Judgment of the Court (First Chamber) of 19 December 2013, Corman-Collins SA v La Maison du Whisky SA, case C-9/12, Report of cases still not available, e-version of the judgment available at http://curia.europa.eu.

The ECJ issued on 19 December 2013 the Judgment Corman-Collins SA v La Maison du Whisky SA.

The facts of the case were the following: La Maison du Whisky, a corporation based in France, had a commercial relationship with a Belgian company, Corman-Collins, during which Corman-Collins purchased various brands of whisky from the French company for resale in Belgium. Suddenly, La Maison du Whisky informed Corman-Collins that it would confer exclusive distribution of its brands to another company, through which Corman-Collins was henceforth invited to place its orders.

Corman-Collins sued La Maison du Whisky before the Belgian courts, seeking compensation under Belgian law. The defendant challenged the jurisdiction of the court seised on the ground of Brussels I Regulation, and the claimant responded by invoking a Belgian rule of jurisdiction regarding distribution contracts laid down in art. 4 of the Belgian Law of 27 July 1961).

The court seised asked the ECJ about possibility of basing its jurisdiction on the Belgian Law of 27 July 1961, even if in the court?s view, Brussels I Regulation was applicable both ratione loci and ratione materiae. In addition, the court asked, in case Brussels I Regulation was applicable, if a contract as the one contested in the case should be considered as a sale of goods, a supply of services or none of them.

Regarding the first question, the Court replied that the application of such a national rule of jurisdiction was precluded, since the case fell within the scope of Brussels I Regulation. According to the Court, the common rules on jurisdiction stated in the regulation should, in principle, apply and take precedence over the rules of jurisdiction in force in the Member States. In short, the ECJ recalled that overriding mandatory forums do not exist.

Regarding the second block of questions, the Court replied that article 5.1.b, second indent, relating to contracts for the supply of services was applicable to an exclusive distribution contract that contains specific terms concerning the distribution by the distributor of the goods sold by the grantor. It is for the national court to ascertain whether that is the case in the proceedings before it.

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