Lubecka.Law Blog

Where can Adam sue a contractor who failed to deliver the ordered goods?

Case study

A German company agreed to sell food products to Adam, who wanted to sell them to a customer in France. They concluded the agreement by exchanging the emails, but they didn’t say which court should solve a dispute that may occur between them. Adam paid the money before the products were supposed to be delivered. The products never came. Adam asked for his money back in a French court, but the German company said the French court has no jurisdiction here.

Who was right?

Both the Buyer and Seller have their residence in the European Union. To figure out which court should solve any problems, we use a set of rules called Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012. It’s a law made by the European Parliament and Council on December 12, 2012, that helps solve problems in business and civil matters. (so called. „Brussels I bis”).

The article 4 section 1 of the Regulation states that people who live in a European Union country can be sued in that country’s courts, no matter what their nationality is. This means that a Polish entrepreneur can be sued in a Polish court because that’s where their business is located. So, the general rule is that you can sue someone in the country where they live or where their business is registered.

However, Adam referred the case to a French court.

Was Adam right?

Jurisdiction for a sale contract

According to the Article 7, point 1, letter b) indent 1 of the Brussels I bis Regulation, which regulates cases of special jurisdiction, a person who has the residence in the territory of a member state may be sued in another member state before the court of the place where the obligation was performed. In the case of a contract the sale of movable goods,  this is the place where the goods were or should have been delivered.

Therefore, jurisdiction in the analyzed case belonged to courts in both Poland and France. It should be remembered that in the case of special jurisdiction, the plaintiff can choose which basis of jurisdiction to use – general rule or special one.

In the indicated case, Adam was right and the French court was competent to hear the lawsuit filed against the German company, as special jurisdiction applied. Adam could also choose whether to sue the German company in a Polish or French court.

Joanna Lubecka



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