The starting point for contractual or tortious claim is to decide which country’s law apply. There are some complicated rules about where cases should start. For the purpose of practice, this will often be straight forward.

All contracts should have a clearly worded clause stating what law will govern the contract to avoid uncertainty. This will usually be a clear and unambiguous terms about where disputes under the contract will be resolved.  

Where no governing law has been chosen, various default provisions come into play.

Contractual cases are covered by Regulation 593/2008. A link to the test of the article can be found here.

Article 3 of this regulation stipulates that the parties will be free to determine which country’s rules govern the contract. Specific rules have to be applied depending on the type of contract which are set out in the regulation.

Tortious disputes are governed by Regulation 864/2007. A link to the regulation can be found here.

Where there is no agreement between the parties, the law of the country in which the damage occurs or is likely to occur will apply. There are exceptions, including where the tort is ‘manifestly more connected with another country’.

For the purpose of practice, it will be sufficient to be able to identify that a jurisdictional issue may be relevant to your client’s case. In reality, lawyers do not have the provisions of either of these regulations immediately present in their mind all the time. As long as you can identify jurisdiction as an issue and advise your client accordingly, you will have fulfilled your professional obligation.