Transnational Litigation and the Brussels I Regulation-a Minimalist Guide

The Brussels I regulation is directly applicable in all member states (with the exception of Denmark) and deals with jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments in both civil and commercial proceedings.


The aim of the regulation is to allow legal proceedings be taken and prosecuted in a uniform fashion where the parties to a dispute are in different jusrisdictions or countries. It essentially aims to clarify where to sue in the event of a dispute between individuals or companies who are not in the same country.

There are many exceptions, that is matters that are not covered by the regulation such as bankruptcy and revenue matters but the general rule of jurisdiction is..

General Rule Of Jurisdiction

You sue whoever you wish to sue in the state in which they are ordinarily domiciled and in relation to a company-where that company has it’s registered office. However there are a number of important exceptions as follows:


1. If the dispute relates to a contract then you can sue in the country where the contract was supposed to be performed;
2. If you are suing on foot of a tort, a civil wrong, then you can do so where the harmful event occurred;
3. If you are suing a number of defendants, that is there are a number of co-defendants, then you can sue in the country where any one of them is domiciled;
4. If you are suing an insurance company you may do so where the company is domiciled or where you are domiciled;
5. Consumer contracts-if you are suing on foot of a consumer contract you may do so in your own state or in the state of the other party;
6. Contracts of employment-you may sue where the employer is domiciled or where you as employee are domiciled.

These last 3 exceptions reflect the inequality in strength between a consumer or employee versus the company, employer or insurance company.


In relation to property proceedings, the court of the state where the property is located has exclusive jurisdiction, regardless of where the parties are domiciled.