Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (Belgium v. Switzerland)

On 17 December 2009 the Kingdom of Belgium filed an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), against the Swiss Confederation, pursuant to Article 40 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice and Article 38 of the Rules of Court.

The dispute between Belgium and Switzerland concerns the interpretation and application of the Lugano Convention of 16 September 1988 on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, as well as the application of the rules of general international law governing the exercise of State authority, in particular in judicial matters.

The dispute relates to the decision by Swiss courts not to recognise a judgment by Belgian courts and not to stay proceedings which were later initiated in Switzerland on the subject of the same dispute.

In its Application, Belgium states that the dispute in question has arisen out of the pursuit of parallel judicial proceedings in Belgium and Switzerland in respect of the civil and commercial dispute between the main shareholders in Sabena, the former Belgian airline now in bankruptcy. The Swiss shareholders in question are SAirGroup (formerly Swissair) and its subsidiary SAirLines; the Belgian shareholders are the Belgian State and three companies in which it holds the shares.
On 3 July 2001, taking the position that the Swiss shareholders had breached their contractual commitments and non-contractual duties, causing injury, the Belgian shareholders sued the Swiss shareholders in the commercial court of Brussels, seeking damages to compensate for the lost investments and for the expenses incurred “as a result of the defaults by the Swiss shareholders”.
On 4 February 2010 the Court filed an order fixing time limits for the written pleadings, setting the deadlines as 23 August 2010 for Belgium and 25 April 2011 for Switzerland.

On 10 August 2010 the Court filed an order extending the time limits for the written pleadings to 23 November 2010 for Belgium and 24 October 2011 for Switzerland.

On 5 April 2011 the Court ordered the removal of the case from the Court’s list following a letter received in the Registry on 21 March 2011. The Kingdom of Belgium decided to discontinue the proceedings because of the Preliminary objection raised by Switzerland on 18 February 2011 following the filing of Belgium’s Memorial on 23 November 2010.



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Belgium v. Switzerland Application instituing proceedings 21/12/2009Belgium v. Switzerland Order extending time limits 10/08/2010Belgium v. Switzerland Order fixing time limits 04/02/2010Belgium v. Switzerland Order removing the case from the Court's list 05/04/2011Belgium v. Switzerland Press release Application instituting proceedings 22/12/2009Belgium v. Switzerland Press release Removal of the case from the Court's list 12/04/2011