Competitie in de Europese Civiele Rechtsruimte. Een spanningsveld in de grensoverschrijdende geschillenbeslechting? (Competition in the EU Civil Justice Area. A Tension in the Cross-Border Dispute Resolution?)

Tijdschrift voor Privaatrecht (TPR) 2014-4, p. 1745-1806

42 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2017

See all articles by Xandra E. Kramer

Xandra E. Kramer

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law; Utrecht University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2014


Dutch Abstract: Het beleid in verschillende Europese landen is erop gericht om belangwekkende internationale handelszaken aan te trekken. Dit sluit aan bij de wereldwijde trend van ‘ranking justice systems’. Een vraag die daarbij opkomt, is hoe deze judiciële competitie zich verhoudt tot de Europese civiele rechtsruimte waarin samenwerking, wederzijds vertrouwen, een principiële gelijkheid van rechtssystemen en afstemming centraal staan. Betoogd wordt dat judiciële competitie als zodanig niet in strijd is met de beginselen van de Europese civielrechtelijke samenwerking. Zij kan een bijdrage leveren aan een gezonde concurrentieverhouding, die economische voordelen en een kwaliteitsimpuls aan de geschillenbeslechting geeft. De wel gevreesde ‘race to the bottom’ in het procesrecht is onwaarschijnlijk. Ook staat competitie samenwerking in grensoverschrijdende zaken niet in de weg; zij kan het wederzijds vertrouwen juist versterken. Wel behoeven de primair economische waardering van het recht en de competitiedrang enige relativering. Voor zover er een spanning bestaat met het EU-recht, is voor de EU-wetgever een rol weggelegd om het gelijke speelveld voor de betrokken actoren en de lidstaten te bewaken en te bevorderen, waar nodig door harmonisatie.

English Abstract: In several European countries, policy is increasingly aimed at attracting high interest international commercial litigation. For instance, some countries have enabled or proposed to litigate in the English language, in part in response to the apparent attractiveness of English courts. Also by introducing commercial courts and specific procedures, countries seek to make their civil justice systems attractive to litigants. A number of countries openly advertises their courts systems by means of targeted brochures. These manifestations of regulatory competition in the European context are remarkable against the background of the intensified judicial cooperation in crossborder civil matters and the gradual harmonisation of procedural law. The central question in this paper is how civil justice competition relates to the European judicial area.

For this purpose, the paper first investigates the objectives, foundations and principles of the European civil justice area (II). European judicial cooperation is based on the principle of mutual trust and relies on the equality of legal systems. Other pillars that can be identified are equal access to justice, effective enforcement, legal certainty and respect for fundamental procedural rights. Next, regulatory competition in general, and civil justice competition in particular is explored, and illustrated by examples of policy and legislative activities in the Netherlands (III). The phenomenon of judicial competition seems to be part of a global trend to understand the law in economic terms and to compare legal systems, as is also evidenced by the rankings of the World Economic Forum and the World Justice Project (Rule of Law Index). In Europe, since 2010 the economic importance of legal measures plays a central role, and since several years the European Commission publishes the EU Justice Scoreboard. It should be noted however, that the phenomenon of regulatory competition in civil litigation is still limited. Only a limited number of countries is actively involved, and parties’ choices often seem to be guided by familiarity with that system or neutrality, or the choice of forum is connected with a choice of law.

Finally, the paper analyzes the relationship and the potential tension between civil justice competition and the European civil justice area (IV). It is concluded that judicial competition as such is not contrary to the principles of the European judicial area. It can contribute to a healthy competition that may have economic benefits and may boost the quality of dispute resolution systems. The fear of a race to the bottom seems not to be well-founded since generally countries and parties do not have an interest in lowering the quality of civil procedure. Civil justice competition does not hamper European judicial cooperation either; on the contrary, it could enhance the premise of mutual trust. Nevertheless, the primacy of valuing the law in economic terms and the drive for competitive require consideration. A one-sided focus on rapid and inexpensive justice might put pressure on the procedural and substantive quality of justice. To the extent that there is a tension with the principles and rules of the European area of justice it is for the EU legislature to monitor and secure the level playing field for the actors, where necessary through harmonisation.

Note: Downloadable document is in Dutch.

Keywords: Civil Justice, EU Justice, Civil Justice Competition, EU Harmonisation, Choice of Court

JEL Classification: K10, K20, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Kramer, Xandra E. and Kramer, Xandra E., Competitie in de Europese Civiele Rechtsruimte. Een spanningsveld in de grensoverschrijdende geschillenbeslechting? (Competition in the EU Civil Justice Area. A Tension in the Cross-Border Dispute Resolution?) (2014). Tijdschrift voor Privaatrecht (TPR) 2014-4, p. 1745-1806, Available at SSRN:

Xandra E. Kramer (Contact Author)

Utrecht University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Janskerkhof 3
Utrecht, 3512 BK

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam

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