Law on cross-border disputes to be simplified

The new proposal on an EU-framework for negligence claims will not cover defamation or libel.

The Commission has adopted a new proposal for a European regime establishing which laws should govern cross-border non-contractual disputes. The proposal, known as “Rome II”, aims to regularise claims for civil damages arising from road accidents, personal injury caused by defective products and other negligence actions.

Commission Vice President Franco Frattini said, “This proposal is indispensable in achieving a European area of justice in which the outcome of a cross-border dispute is no longer wholly dependant on which Member States Court it is tried.”

Plans that the Regulation should also cover claims for damages arising from defamation of character by the media, have, however, been dropped following objections from the European Parliament. The original suggestion that a libelled person could seek redress in their country of residence was thought to open the door to spurious claims and to inhibit freedom of speech.

Under the proposed Regulation, an action for damages concerning, for example, an accident would normally be heard in the country where the accident took place. However, if both parties agree, the dispute could go through the courts in the home country of residence of the victim. 

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