Case Concerning Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments (Belgium v. Switzerland) is Removed from ICJ List

The following notice comes via press release from the ICJ earlier today:

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

Case removed from the Court’s List at the request of Belgium

THE HAGUE, 12 April 2011.  Further to a request to such effect from the Kingdom of Belgium, by Order dated 5 April 2011, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has removed from its General List the case concerning Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments  in Civil and Commercial Matters (Belgium v. Switzerland).

It is recalled that on 21 December 2009, the Kingdom of Belgium instituted proceedings against the Swiss Confederation in respect of a dispute concerning

“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[, and] relat[ing] to the decision by Swiss courts not to recognize a judgment of the Belgian courts and not to stay proceedings which were later initiated in Switzerland on the subject of the same dispute”.

By letter dated 21 March 2011 and received in the Registry the same day by facsimile, the Agent of Belgium, referring to Article 89 of the  Rules of Court, informed the Court that his Government “in concert with the Commission of the European Union, considers that it can discontinue the proceedings instituted [by Belgium] against Switzerland” and requested the Court “to make an order recording Belgium’s discontinuance of the proceedings and directing that the case be removed” from the Court’s General List.

In his letter, the Agent cited as the reason for the Belgian Government’s request to discontinue the proceedings the Preliminary Objections raised in the case by Switzerland on 18 February 2011, following the filing of Belgium’s Memorial on 23 November 2010.  In the letter, the Belgian Government explains in particular that it has taken note of the fact that in paragraph 85 of its Preliminary Objections, “Switzerland states . . . that the reference by the [Swiss] Federal Supreme Court in its 30 September 2008 judgment to the ‘non-recognizability’ of a future Belgian judgment does not have the force of res judicata and does not bind either the lower cantonal courts or the Federal Supreme Court itself, and that there is therefore nothing to prevent a Belgian judgment, once handed down, from being recognized in Switzerland in accordance with the applicable treaty provision”.

A copy of the letter from the Agent of Belgium was immediately communicated to the Agent of the Swiss Confederation, who was informed  that the time-limit provided for in Article 89, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court, within which Switzerland might state whether it opposed the discontinuance of the proceedings, had been fixed as Monday 28 March 2011.

Since, within the time-limit thus fixed,  the Swiss Confederation did not oppose the said discontinuance, the Court, placing on record the discontinuance by the Kingdom of Belgium of the proceedings, ordered that the case be removed from the List on 5 April 2011.

The full text of the Order will be available shortly on the Court’s website (


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