Thu, Oct. 17, 2019

Damages for Violation of Forum Selection Clause

.   On October 17, 2019, the highest German court for civil matters issued a ruling and a press release in the matter III ZR 42/19 on the liability for damages resulting from the vio­la­ti­on of a forum selection clause.

The parties bound any disputes resulting from their contract to a court in Bonn, Germany, but the plaintiff sued the defendant in Washington, DC. After spending $196,118 on its jurisdictional chal­len­ge, the defendant won a dismissal, the plaintiff sued in Bonn, and the defendant counter­clai­med for the expense incurred in its prior defense.

The Supreme Court in Karlsruhe, Bundesgerichtshof, ruled in the defendant's favor. A forum se­lec­ti­on clau­se is binding, its violation constitutes a breach of contract, and the necessary expense is proxima­te­ly cau­sed by the breach, it announced in its press release headlined Schadens­er­satz­an­spruch bei Verletzung einer Gerichtsstandvereinbarung durch Klage vor einem US-amerikanischen Gericht.



Wed, Aug. 14, 2019

Ranking Portals: Required Privacy Consent

CK - Washington.   The data of physicians involuntarily listed in ranking databases for patient-facing internet portals has been the subject of several court decisions under German data protection law and the EU General Data Protection Directive. The latter was implemented in Germany as the Datenschutzgrundverordnung, DSGVO, and has now been applied to the same issue: May such a portal list physicians' data without their consent, permit patients to add evaluations, and add its own advertisements sold to competing physicians?

In 2018 and before the DSGVO, the Supreme Court in Civil Matters had ruled in the matter VI ZR 30/17 that such listings are compatible with the old data protection law as long as the forum maintains a neutral representation of information. The balance of privacy interests and constitutional free speech tipped in favor of free speech.

In the recently-published decision of the Bonn district court in 18 O 143/18, the same portal was ordered to remove all data and evaluations of the plaintiff-physician. The court also issued an injunction to prohibit the inclusion of the physician in the database and portal as long as the numerous neutrality factors listed in the opinion were being violated. Among other factors, the court explained that offering paid subscriptions to physicians, which allows them editorial control, while displaying such information and advertisements next to profiles of non-subscribing parties is not information-neutral. Under the March 28, 2019 judgment, the balance of interests tips in favor of privacy.



Wed, Apr. 24, 2019

Cross-border Surrogate Pregnancy: Who is the Mother?

CK • Washington.   A surrogate mother in the Ukraine bore the child of a German couple. Shortly after the birth, it brought the child to Germany. Which law applies to the issue of who would be certified as the mother for legal purposes? On March 20, 2019, the German Supreme Court, Bundesgerichtshof, decided. The facts point to the application of German law.

Under it, the mother is the person who gave birth to the child. Ukrainian law and the intentions of the parties may have been different, but conflicts of laws rules point to the applicability of German law. As a result, the German mother would need to adopt the child as her descendant in order to become the legal mother of what evolved from her egg and her husband's sperm, the court ruled in the matter XII ZB 530/17.



Sat, Jan. 05, 2019

Chat with Court or Mandatory Presence?

CK • Washington.   The German constitution grants courts flexibity in ac­com­mo­da­ting parties with special needs. Distance-chatting with the court instead of a physical pre­sen­ce falls outside of the constitutional bounds, however, the Supreme Con­sti­tu­ti­o­nal Court in Karlsruhe announced with a January 3, 2019 press release and the simul­ta­ne­ous pub­li­cation of its November 27, 2018 opinion in the matter 1 BvR 957/18.

The court found the accommodiations provided by the lower court sufficient: Advance submission of material, representation by counsel, and use of a computer in the court­room to communicate via a chat-like protocol. Plaintiff's additional demand to chat with the court from his home would violate other constitutional principles, im­me­di­a­cy and transparency, and unduly stress the limited resources of the judiciary. At­tor­ney Ma­ri­an Här­tel blogs about a similar case where an autistic client complied with the sum­mons, appeared, and--due to illness-induced lack of control--be­ca­me phy­si­cal­ly ag­gres­sive in response to statements from the opposing party: Gerichtsprozess via In­ternet-Chat.


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