Case C‑94/14

Flight Refund Ltd

v

Deutsche Lufthansa AG

(Request for a preliminary ruling from the Kúria)

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Area of freedom, security and justice — Judicial cooperation in civil matters — European order for payment procedure — Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 — Articles 17 and 20 — Obligations of a court seised in order to designate the court with territorial jurisdiction to hear contentious proceedings following the defendant’s opposition to the European order for payment — Competence of the courts of the Member State of origin of the European order for payment — Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 — Debt arising from the right to compensation under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 on account of a flight delay)

Summary — Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber), 10 March 2016

1.        Questions referred for a preliminary ruling — Jurisdiction of the Court — Limits — Jurisdiction of the national court — Necessity of a question referred and relevance of the questions raised — Assessment by the national court

(Art. 267 TFEU)

2.        Transport — Air transport — Regulation No 261/2004 — Compensation and assistance to passengers — Long delay of flights — Determination of international jurisdiction — Applicability of Regulation No 44/2001 — Inapplicability of the Montreal Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air

(European Parliament and Council Regulation No 261/2004, Arts 5 to 7; Council Regulation No 44/2001; Montreal Convention of 1999, Art. 19)

3.        Judicial cooperation in civil matters — European order for payment procedure — Regulation No 1896/2006 — Statement of opposition to the European order for payment which does not contain any challenge to the jurisdiction of the court of the Member State of origin — Effects — Entering of an appearance by the defendant for the purposes of Article 24 of Regulation No 44/2001 — None — Statement of opposition containing arguments relating to substance — No effect

(European Parliament and Council Regulation No 1896/2006, Art. 17(1); Council Regulation No 44/2001, Art. 24)

4.        Judicial cooperation in civil matters — European order for payment procedure — Regulation No 1896/2006 — Obligations of a court seised in order to designate the court with territorial jurisdiction to hear contentious proceedings relating to a debt giving rise to a European order for payment following the defendant’s statement of opposition to that order — Procedural issue not specifically dealt with in that regulation — Applicability of the national law of the Member State of origin of the order

(European Parliament and Council Regulation No 1896/2006, Arts 17(1) and 26)

5.        Judicial cooperation in civil matters — European order for payment procedure — Regulation No 1896/2006 — Designation of a court with territorial jurisdiction to hear contentious proceedings relating to a debt giving rise to a European order for payment following the defendant’s statement of opposition to that order — Applicability of Regulation No 44/2001 — Respect for effectiveness and the rights of the defence

(European Parliament and Council Regulation No 1896/2006; Council Regulation No 44/2001)

6.        Judicial cooperation in civil matters — European order for payment procedure — Regulation No 1896/2006 — Court seised in order to designate the court with territorial jurisdiction to hear contentious proceedings relating to a debt giving rise to a European order for payment following the defendant’s statement of opposition to that order — Whether or not, following such a designation, the courts of the Member State of origin of the order have international jurisdiction — Consequences

(European Parliament and Council Regulation No 1896/2006; Council Regulation No 44/2001)

1.        See the text of the decision.

(see paras 40, 41)

2.        A passenger’s right to a standardised and lump-sum payment following a flight delay, drawn from Articles 5 to 7 of Regulation No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, is independent of compensation for damage in the context of Article 19 of the Montreal Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air. Thus, since the rights based respectively on the provisions of that regulation and of the Montreal Convention fall within different regulatory frameworks, the rules on international jurisdiction provided for in that Convention do not apply to applications made on the basis of Regulation No 261/2004 alone, which must be examined in the light of Regulation No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.

(see paras 45, 46)

3.        See the text of the decision.

(see para. 47)

4.        EU law must be interpreted as meaning that, in circumstances where a court is seised of a procedure concerning the designation of the court of the Member State of origin of a European order for payment having territorial jurisdiction and examines, in those circumstances, the international jurisdiction of the courts of that Member State to hear the contentious proceedings concerning the debt which gave rise to such an order for payment against which the defendant has entered a statement of opposition within the time-limit prescribed for that purpose, since Regulation No 1896/2006 creating a European order for payment procedure does not provide any indications as to the powers and obligations of that court, those procedural questions continue, pursuant to Article 26 of that regulation, to be governed by the national law of that Member State.

Since it is clear from the scheme of Regulation No 1896/2006 that that regulation does not seek to harmonise the procedural law of the Member States and, having regard to the restricted scope of Article 17(1) of that regulation, that provision must be interpreted, in so far as it provides for the automatic continuation of the proceedings, if a statement of opposition is entered by the defendant, in accordance with the rules of ordinary civil procedure, as not laying down any particular requirement as regards the nature of the courts before which the procedure must be continued or the rules which such a court must apply.

(see paras 48, 54, 56, 73, operative part)

5.        EU law must be interpreted as meaning that, in circumstances where a court is seised of a procedure concerning the designation of the court of the Member State of origin of a European order for payment having territorial jurisdiction and examines, in those circumstances, the international jurisdiction of the courts of that Member State to hear the contentious proceedings concerning the debt which gave rise to such an order for payment against which the defendant has entered a statement of opposition within the time-limit prescribed for that purpose, Regulation No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters requires the question of the international jurisdiction of the courts of the Member State of origin of the European order for payment to be decided by application of procedural rules which enable the effectiveness of the provisions of that regulation and the rights of the defence to be guaranteed, whether it is the referring court or a court which the referring court designates as the court having territorial and substantive jurisdiction to hear a claim under the ordinary civil procedure which rules on that question.

In that regard, the national rules applicable to the procedure before the referring court must permit that court to examine the question of international jurisdiction, applying the rules laid down in Regulation No 44/2001, in the light of all the information which it needs for that purpose. If that were not the case, that court would be free either to interpret its rules of procedure as permitting it to meet those requirements or to designate a court having substantive jurisdiction to hear the substance of a claim under the ordinary civil procedure, as the court having territorial jurisdiction, and required, in this case, to rule, if necessary, on its own international jurisdiction in the light of the criteria set out in Regulation No 44/2001.

(see paras 48, 62-64, 73, operative part)

6.        EU law must be interpreted as meaning that, in circumstances where a court is seised of a procedure concerning the designation of the court of the Member State of origin of a European order for payment having territorial jurisdiction and examines, in those circumstances, the international jurisdiction of the courts of that Member State to hear the contentious proceedings concerning the debt which gave rise to such an order for payment against which the defendant has entered a statement of opposition within the time-limit prescribed for that purpose and where such a court rules on the international jurisdiction of the courts of the Member State of origin of the European order for payment and finds that there is such jurisdiction in the light of the criteria set out in Regulation No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, that regulation and Regulation No 1896/2006 creating a European order for payment procedure require it to interpret national law in such a way that it permits it to identify or designate a court having territorial or substantive jurisdiction to hear that procedure.

By contrast, where such a court finds that there is no such international jurisdiction, it is not required of its own motion to review that order for payment by analogy with Article 20 of Regulation No 1896/2006. In so far as such a procedural situation is governed not by the provisions of Regulation No 1896/2006 but by national law, the provisions of that regulation, including Article 20 thereof, cannot apply, even by analogy, to that situation. Furthermore, in accordance with Article 18(1) of Regulation No 1896/2006, an order for payment against which the defendant has entered a statement of opposition within the time-limit prescribed for that purpose cannot become enforceable. Consequently, such a court is entitled to draw the consequences provided for, in that situation, under national procedural law from its finding that the courts of the Member State of origin of the European order for payment do not have jurisdiction under Regulation No 44/2001.

(see paras 48, 66, 67, 69-73, operative part)