The European Commercial Law Observatory (ECLO)

book review

Jürgen Basedow, Giesela Rühl, Franco Ferrari and Pedro de Miguel Asensio (eds), Encyclopedia of Private International Law, Edward Elgar 2017, Hardback (ISBN: 978 1 78254 722 8), Price: £1250 (£1125 on the publisher’s website).

The title of the book under review (Encyclopedia of Private International Law) is, in many ways, self-explanatory with regard to its scope. However, the distinguished editors (Jürgen Basedow, Franco Ferrari, Pedro de Miguel Asensio and Giesela Rühl) have made it very clear that the aim of the book is even wider than the title suggests. Indeed, the aim is: “to improve the availability of information about private international law and to present the field from a global and comparative perspective. It is meant to provide a survey of the current state of legislation and case law in as many countries as possible, to introduce the reader to the institutions the translations cover non-European countries and most substantive entries include information on non-European jurisdictions” (vi-vii). The end result is, without a shadow of a doubt, impressive.

The extensive book is easy to recommend. Not least for its authoritative content, detailed and up to date information, materials not previously available in the English language and “geographical coverage” of contributors. The editors have managed to bring together 195 authors from 57 countries and to have 80 jurisdictions reviewed.

The book, which is also available online with sophisticated but easy-to-use search and cross-linking functions (which this reviewer has personally tested), comprises four volumes.

The first two volumes offer, in the form of an A-to-Z with 247 entries written by leading scholars, coverage of the scope and substance of Private International Law. A reasonable book review could not give enough space to the content and variety of the entries, but only provide a few examples. One good example is the entry concerning Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and in matters of parental responsibility, also known as the Brussels IIa Regulation. After describing the background, context, scope and structure of the Brussels IIa Regulation, the entry’s author offers an overview of its content that is not limited to a mere clear and concise presentation of the main rules but also highlights the substantial practical issues arising from those rules.

For instance, with regard to decisions on access and return orders in child abduction cases, it is well known that the Brussels IIa Regulation has abolished exequatur, which means that such decisions are deemed national decisions for enforcement purposes and that it is no longer possible to refuse recognition of such judgments. However, the author notes that this can be problematic when “the final decision on whether a child is to be returned is a decision of the courts of the state of origin, which has to be accepted by the courts of the state where the child was taken to even if these courts had previously ruled that there were grounds for issuing a non-return order” (p. 235).

The third volume comprises detailed overviews of the Private International Law regimes of 80 countries, from Angola to Ecuador and Ghana. Reports follow, in most of the cases, the following structure: sources, history, administration and arbitration. The final fourth volume presents valuable, and often unique, English language translations of the national codification and Private International Law provisions of those countries (for example, with regard to Iran, selected articles of the Code of Civil Procedure, the Law on the Enforcement of Civil Judgments of 1977 and the Family Protection Act of 2013, or the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Marriage (Matrimony) and Family).

To sum up, Elgar’s Encyclopedia of Private International Law is a one of a kind book. It is rather easy to predict that it will become a leading text in the field of Private International Law for many years to come.

Reviewed April 2018
Riccardo Sciaudone
Head and Editor-in-chief, ECLO

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