The legal dispute between a Danish boat owner and a German insurance company was to be decided under German law

The dispute

The dispute was about whether Württembergische Versicherung AG should pay damages to a Danish boat owner.

The first question was whether the dispute was legitimately brought before the court in Nykøbing Falster, or whether the court in Stuttgart, where the defendant had jurisdiction, was the correct jurisdiction.

The second question was whether the legal dispute should be dealt with under German or Danish law.

The process

A Danish boat owner had taken out insurance through membership with Club Maritim 09 GmbH, and the boat was comprehensively insured with Württembergische Versicherung AG.

In this context, the Danish boat owner had transferred 3% of his ownership of the boat to Club Maritim 09 GmbH and the boat was registered in the German ship register.

An accident caused damage to the boat of approximately DKK 1,000,000.

Württembergische Versicherung AG rejected the claim for damages, pointing out that the plaintiff and the defendant had not agreed on an insurance contract.

The allegations of the plaintiff and the defendant

The plaintiff sued Württembergische Versicherung AG for payment of DKK 1,000,000. The plaintiff claimed that the place of jurisdiction was the court in Nykøbing Falster and that Danish law should be applied.

Württembergische Versicherung AG dismissed the claim for damages on the grounds that the court in Nykøbing Falster was not the correct place of jurisdiction and that the dispute should be dealt with under German law.

The decision of the Danish Supreme Court

The court in Nykøbing Falster had decided that the proper place of jurisdiction was the court in Nykøbing Falster and that the dispute should be dealt with under Danish law.

The Danish Supreme Court confirmed that the dispute was to be settled by the court in Nykøbing Falster (Denmark).

The Supreme Court ruled on August 10, 2021 in BS-588/2020-HJR that the dispute should be decided under German law.

The Supreme Court reasoned that the basis of applicable law should be the Rome Regulation. Based on this regulation, the legal dispute should be decided according to German law.

My remarks

I note that the boat owner was not aware of the terms of the jurisdiction clause in the insurance contract between Württembergische Versicherung AG and Club Maritim 09 GmbH and therefore the boat owner was not bound by the terms of the insurance contract. This also meant that the boat owner was not bound by the conditions under German law. The boat owner lived in Denmark and the boat was in a Danish port and the correct place of jurisdiction was the court in Nykøbing Falster.

I also note that the decisive fact for the Danish Supreme Court’s decision regarding German law was that the boat was registered in the German ship register. Based on the Rome Regulation, the applicable law was German law.

Diese Artikel ist von Anwalt Anders Stig Vestergaard geschrieben.

Lawyer Anders Stig Vestergaard is a legal expert in international trade and transport, and is also the author of numerous articles.

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