2015/10/29 - 29 Cdo 1849/2013 (summary)

Judgement of the Supreme Court dated 29 October 2015, file number 29 Cdo 1849/2013

(international jurisdiction, a bill)

The lower courts made a decision in a case filed by a bill holder against two defendants: a drawee – a company domiciled in the Czech Republic – and a guarantee, a national of the Slovak Republic. The Regional Court, as the court of the first instance, satisfied in full the motion on the issue of the bill compulsory payment order by which the plaintiff had made the claim for reimbursement amounting to EUR 30,908.91. However, the appellate High Court in Prague cancelled the payment order due to a loss of the drawee’s qualification to act as a party to the proceeding. The Court discontinued the proceeding as it concluded that it was impossible to conduct proceeding against the guarantee who was not a resident of the Czech Republic. The High Court stated that in the event of the claim resulting from the bill it was not the case specified under Art. 6 para. 1 of the Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 covering the cases of lodging connected claims towards a few persons. In the appellate court’s opinion, the claims were separate and independent, which meant that they had properties contradicting the requirements of the Regulation. The plaintiff didn’t agree with the opinion, and she filed an application for appellate review in the Supreme Court. She argued that the requirement for application of Art. 6 para. 1 of the Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 was not the indispensable joinder of parties, but they may just have been connected, and it was efficient to decide them together.

When considering the case, the Supreme Court based the decision on judgements of the Court of Justice of the European Union (namely the judgements declared in the cases C-98/06, Freeport and C-145/10, Eva-Maria Painer). The Court summed up that upon application of Art. 6 para. 1 of the Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 it should have been examined whether the action brought against a few defendants residing in different member states served for proper administration of justice, and whether the claims were related so that it would have been efficient to decide them jointly. The above-mentioned condition of close relation of the claims may not imply identity of their legal bases. Applicability of Art. 6 para. 1 of the Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 is not affected even if it is considered as having no jurisdiction at the moment of filing the action against one of the defendants from whose place of residence the international jurisdiction of the court is deduced (in this case it was the action against the debtor). On the basis of the above-mentioned arguments the Supreme Court concluded that the courts of the Czech Republic were having jurisdiction in accordance with Art. 6 para. 1 of the Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 due to close relationship resulting from the possibility to make the claim based on the bill against both of the defendants, and use of wording of the above-mentioned article was not connected in any way with the joinder of parties, but it just depended on the plaintiff’s will. In the same way, the defendant’s argument that the jurisdiction of the courts of the Czech Republic ceased to exist together with cessation of procedural personality of the defendant – the drawee may not have been accepted. For the above-mentioned reasons the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s resolution.