2016/8/24 - 29 Cdo 5599/2015 (summary)

Judgement of the Supreme Court dated 24 August 2016, file number 29 Cdo 5599/2015

(consumer contracts, international jurisdiction, lis alibi pendens)



The plaintiff, a citizen of Slovakia, has requested the defendants, company domiciled in the Czech Republic and a citizen of Slovakia, to pay the sum owed. The complaint was filed to the Municipal Court in Brno and subsequently to the District Court in Bratislava. According to the court of first instance in the Czech Republic, this was a consumer contract case and therefore, the courts of Slovakia have the jurisdiction as the applicant (consumer) is domiciled there. According to the court of first instance, this was an irreparable obstacle in the proceedings. The appellate court subsequently upheld the conclusion of the court of first instance and terminated the proceedings. The plaintiff appealed against the judgement to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled on the question of whether the court where the proceedings were initiated later is required to declare itself as not competent in favour of the court of first instance that initiated the proceedings first, and whether the courts of the Member State of residence of the consumer's contractual partner have the jurisdiction to hear and determine the consumer's complaint under Article 16 (1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 (Brussels I Regulation). The Supreme Court found that the decisions of Czech court of first instance and the appellate court declaring a lack of jurisdiction were not correct. Under Article 27 of the Brussels I Regulation, where proceedings in the same case and between the same parties are commenced in different Member States, the court where the proceedings were initiated later should suspend the proceedings until the earlier court assess its jurisdiction. Once the jurisdiction of the earlier court is declared, the later court shall declare itself incompetent to decide the case. Moreover, the courts of first instance did not fail if they did not include a declaration of a lack of jurisdiction within the meaning of Article 27 of the Brussels I Regulation in their judgements.