Language of document : ECLI:EU:C:2016:525

Case C‑222/15

Hőszig Kft.

v

Alstom Power Thermal Services,

(Request for a preliminary ruling from the Pécsi Törvényszék)

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Jurisdiction clause — Judicial cooperation in civil matters — Jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters — Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 — Article 23 — Clause inserted in the general conditions — Consent of the parties to those conditions — Validity and precision of such a clause)

Summary — Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber), 7 July 2016

1.        Judicial cooperation in civil matters — Jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters — Regulation No 44/2001 — Provisions of that regulation treated as equivalent to those in the Brussels Convention — Interpretation of those provisions in accordance with the case-law of the Court relating to the Convention — Agreement conferring jurisdiction — Concept — Independent interpretation

(Convention of 27 September 1968; Council Regulation No 44/2001, Art. 23(1))

2.        Judicial cooperation in civil matters — Jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters — Regulation (CE) No 44/2001 — Prorogation of jurisdiction — Agreement conferring jurisdiction — Consent of the parties — Formal requirements — Written form — Clause set out in the general conditions — Requirement of express reference to those conditions in the contract — Requirement to designate the competent court with sufficient precision

(Council Regulation No 44/2001, Art. 23(1))

1.        The concept of ‘agreement conferring jurisdiction’ referred to in Article 23(1) of Regulation No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters must be interpreted not as a simple reference to the national law of one or other of the States concerned but as an independent concept. Having regard to the procedural purpose of that provision, which aims to establish uniform rules of international jurisdiction, a jurisdiction clause is governed by that provision, which lays down the conditions as to form which such clauses must meet, so as to ensure legal certainty and to ensure that the parties have given their consent.

(see paras 29, 31-33)

2.        The court hearing an application concerning the validity of a jurisdiction clause has the duty of examining, in limine litis, whether that clause was in fact the subject of consensus between the parties, which must be clearly and precisely demonstrated. The requirements as to form imposed by Article 23(1) of Regulation No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters ensure, in that regard, that consensus between the parties is in fact established. That provision must be interpreted as meaning that a jurisdiction clause which, first, is set out in the client’s general terms and conditions, referred to in the instruments witnessing the contracts between those parties and forwarded upon their conclusion, and, secondly, designates as courts with jurisdiction those of a city of a Member State, meets the requirements of that provision relating to the consent of the parties and to the precision of the content of such a clause.

Following the common practice in the course of trade, a jurisdiction clause set out in the general conditions is lawful where the text of the contract signed by both parties itself contains an express reference to general conditions which include a jurisdiction clause. With regard to the precision of the content of such a clause, in relation to determining a court or courts of a Member State to settle any disputes which have arisen or which may arise between the parties, it is sufficient that the clause state the objective factors on the basis of which the parties have agreed to choose a court or the courts to which they wish to submit disputes which have arisen or which may arise between them. Those factors, which must be sufficiently precise to enable the court seised to ascertain whether it has jurisdiction, may, where appropriate, be determined by the particular circumstances of the case.

(see paras 37, 39, 43, 44, 49, operative part)