Since 11th January, all EU states (except Denmark) have had to apply the so-called Rome II regulation.

This regulation deals with which jurisdiction and laws will apply in international disputes and the new rules apply to actions that lead to damages since 19th August 2007.

In most commercial contracts, the agreement will state which laws apply – English, French or whatever. We can advise you on how to deal with international jurisdictional issues in commercial disputes and agreements. Rome II applies to what is known as “choice of law in non contractual matters” such as disputes over patents, copyright and other matters where a contract is not involved. Where there is a contract, a regulation known as Rome I (which was agreed last year) applies and states that if the contract specifies which laws apply usually, that choice is respected. Do your contracts make clear which laws apply? Do they specify which courts have jurisdiction, an issue determined in the EU usually by the contract terms under the Brussels Regulation?

Commercial law changes on a regular basis and another recent development has involved the laws on advertising. The European Parliament has pointed out that some countries, such as the UK, do not give consumers enough rights under the unfair terms directive. The UK’s Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 has been in force almost a year. Although a decision last year suggested competitors might have a right to bring action where a competitor unfairly advertises in breach of the regulations, the regulations themselves indicate that, instead, complaints are brought to bodies such as the ASA and Trading Standards. The EU is of the view that the regulations in the UK do not give consumers effective redress, as they cannot sue for damage.

If you want us to look at your commercial contract terms or advise on the impact of the Rome II regulation and the advertising rules call Cathy Cook on 01924 387110. Now is a good time to revise terms particularly to ensure you retain ownership of title to products until payment is made. There is a widespread misconception that buyers can recover goods for which payment is not made from their customers. This is wrong. Unless the contract says so there is no such right. If the term is simply on an invoice it almost certainly will have no legal validity.


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