Advocate General: Damages actions can be brought against classification and certification entities
In today’s Opinion in Rina (C-641/18), Advocate General Szpunar proposes that Regulation No 44/2001, on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, must be interpreted in the sense that a victim can bring an action for damages against a body like Rina and Ente Registro Italiano Navale, which carries out classification and certification tasks. These acts, despite being entrusted by a Member State to a private entity, fall within the scope of the Brussels I Regulation and cannot be subject to immunity.
The questions result from the case of several civil actions brought in Italy by victims of the sinking of the Panamanian-flagged ship Boccaccio 98. The victims argue that the certification and classification of the ship, carried out by Rina and Ente Registro Italiano Navale, was the cause of the shipwreck.
Advocate General Szpunar gives a detailed analysis of the implications of international customary law in the resolution of the case. In this regard, he notes that there is no unequivocal rule of customary international law which would enable classification and certification bodies such as those in question to rely on the jurisdictional immunity of States in circumstances such as those in the present case.
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