4 July 2014

The ECJ Judgment of 13 March 2014, Marc Brogsitter v. Fabrication de Montres Normandes EURL, case C-548/12


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

Judgement of the Court (First Chamber) of 13 March 2014, Marc Brogsitter v. Fabrication de Montres Normandes EURL, case C-548/12, Report of cases still not available, e-version of the judgment available at http://curia.europa.eu.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (hereinafter "ECJ") has recently issued a new case concerning the interpretation of the terms "matters relating to contract contract" and "matters relating to tort" contained in Article 5 paragraphs 1 and 3 of Brussels I Regulation (and soon, Article 7 paragraphs 1 and 3 of Regulation Brussels I bis).

The preliminary question was submitted by the German Landgericht Krefeld in a case in which Mr. Brogsitter, a trader of luxury watches, sued Mr. Frä?dorf for compensation for having marketed on his own the mechanisms that Brogsitter had commissioned him to manufacture.

Mr. Brogsitter used the forum of art. 5.3 of the said Regulation, in order to litigate before his own courts (Germany) and accordingly defended that the object of his action should be characterized as a ?matter relating to tort?. The defendant argued instead that it was a contractual matter, and that therefore the German courts would have no jurisdiction to deal with the case.

The German court asked the ECJ to clarify whether the object of an action asking for compensation could be considered as a matter relating to tort even if there is a pre-existing contract between the parties, whose breach is alleged by the plaintiff.

The ECJ noted that the mere fact that a contract exists between two parties is not enough to consider that an action claiming for liability is a matter relating to contract, within the meaning of Article 5.1 of the Brussels I Regulation. ?That is the case only where the conduct complained of may be considered a breach of contract, which may be established by taking into account the purpose of the contract? (paragraph 24).

In short, the ECJ specifically the method of autonomous interpretation by excluding the recourse to national legislation to determine whether there is a breach of contract. The ECJ seems to make the task of the national courts easier: to determine the ?matter? of the case, the national court only needs to pay attention to the obligations of the parties "under the contract".

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