Rotterdam-based law firm AKD says a recent revision of the Brussels I Regulation makes it possible to quickly attach assets anywhere in the EU if parties include in their contracts a choice of forum clause conferring jurisdiction on the Rotterdam court.
The Brussels 1 Regulation provides uniform rules throughout the EU on international jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments. Bart-Jan van het Kaar, a lawyer with AKD, explains,”The revised Brussels 1 Regulation, which came into effect on 10 January, 2015, introduces an important change. Under the new regulation, it is now possible to enforce throughout the EU provisional measures granted on the basis of a simple application by a party in any individual member state.”
AKD partner Haco van der Houven van Oordt says, “The revised Brussels I Regulation includes some drastic changes with important implications for owners, charterers and others looking to arrest vessels or attach other assets in EU jurisdictions.
“The Netherlands is already widely recognised as a ship arrest haven, and its procedural law provides an effective means by which to obtain security in advance of main proceedings against a debtor. Such security can be obtained by seizing any asset of the debtor on the basis of a pre-judgment attachment order. Another option is to levy a third-party attachment which blocks all payments by the third-party to the debtor. These pre-judgment attachment orders can be used to obtain security or to exert pressure on the debtor to make payment and thus avoid starting main proceedings against the debtor.
“The new Brussels 1 Regulation effectively means that the whole of the EU is now a potential ship arrest haven for those who initiate action through the Rotterdam court. The only proviso is that the Rotterdam court has jurisdiction on the merits of the claim.
“The willingness of the Rotterdam court to allow seizure of the assets in EU member states other than The Netherlands was underlined earlier this year when the court granted leave to arrest the pusher-barge Navin 24 in either Germany or Austria in a dispute involving non-payment of hire under a time charter. Jurisdiction was based on a choice of forum clause in the time-charter, which vested jurisdiction to the Rotterdam court.
“Including a choice of forum clause in contracts which confers jurisdiction on the Rotterdam court now greatly assists in securing the enforcement of contractual rights against unwilling debtors. The Rotterdam court can issue orders for an arrest not only in the Netherlands but also in other EU member states. The maximum enforcement of rights is guaranteed, while the maximum amount of pressure is exerted on foreign debtors.”