Thursday, February 18, 2010
ICJ Case on Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (Belgium v. Switzerland)
The International Court of Justice has fixed the briefing schedule for Belgium's case against Switzerland in the case known as Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters.
Belgium must file its memorial by August 23, 2010. The Swiss Confederation must reply by April 25, 2011. Each party has eight months, which may surprise blog readers as being a shorter period than usually allowed. A press release from the court states that the Agents for each nation agreed to a shorter time to have the case dealt with as soon as possible. Click here for more information on the order just entered by the International Court of Justice.
So what's this case about?
Just before Christmas, the Kingdom of Belgium filed an ICJ action against Switzerland concerning "the interpretation and application of the Lugano Convention of 16 September 1988 on the jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters . . . and the application of the rules of general international law that govern the exercise of State authority, in particular in the judicial domain, [and relating to] the decision by the Swiss courts not to recognize a decision by Belgian courts and not to stay proceedings later initiated in Switzerland on the subject of the same dispute."
The underlying dispute arose from parallel judicial proceedings in Belgium and Switzerland in cases between Sabena (the former Belgian airline now in bankruptcy) and its main shareholders. The main shareholders in Switzerland are SAirGroup (previously known as Swissair) and its subsidiary SAirLines. The main shareholders in Belgium are the Belgian State and three companies in which it holds the shares.