In the Nipponkoa Insurance judgment of 19 December 2013, the question arose to what extent judgments about the CMR, especially the so-called ‘negative declaratory judgments’, should be recognized by the courts of another EU member state.

Within the EU, the recognition of foreign judgments is governed by the Brussels Regulation (Regulation 44/2001), which provides for very flexible recognition rules. However, the regulation also expressly states that if an international treaty contains its own rules on recognition of judgments, as is the case in the CMR Convention, these rules should apply.

Until recently it was assumed that the CMR-rules fully and autonomously applied to the recognition of negative declaratory judgments. In practice this implied that a negative declaratory judgments was not automatically recognized by a foreign court.

The Court now stresses that the interpretation of the CMR rules on the recognition of judgments should be based on the general principles of the Brussels Regulation. It is striking that the Court has revised its doctrine seemingly in favour of a more extensive mutual recognition of judgments.

Given that the CMR rules are applied differently in every member state, the Nipponkoa Insurance judgment can have far-reaching consequences. With this judgment, the Court has created an opportunity for potential defendants to preventively seek a negative declaratory judgment in a member state where case law on CMR is in their favour.

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