Centre Activity

Centre Activity

As international relations evolve, whether through greater integration or through rethinking of the relationships between legal orders, so too do the rights and obligations of individuals and businesses evolve. The Centre's research contributes by responding to change, and by helping law and policy-makers to prepare for it. As a research hub at the heart of the major actual and proposed developments of our time – from an ever closer European Union, to Scottish independence, to Brexit – the Centre for Private International Law endeavours to anticipate major legal issues, and to deploy expertise to identify questions, and to provide answers.

Webinar Series

Centre in Private International Law - Celebrating 10 Years (2012-2022) Webinar Series banner The Centre for Private International Law is hosting a webinar series titled ‘Crossroads in Private International Law’.

The aim of the series is to explore the intersection between Private International Law and substantive areas of law, with the outcome of featuring cutting edge interdisciplinary research carried out by the Centre members.

The research is discussed with esteemed external discussants, with valuable input from the participating audience.


Webinar 1

Speaker: Nevena Jevremović, Honorary Lecturer, School of Law, University of Aberdeen

Moderator: Professor Guillaume Laganière, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Title: Strategic Climate Change Litigation in the EU: Between Judicial Restraint and Proactive Judicial Policy

For more information and registration click here.

Webinar Recording available now.


Webinar 2

Speaker: Dr Michiel Poesen, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Aberdeen

Moderator: Tim Dornis, Professor of Private Law and Intellectual Property Law, Leibniz University, Hannover, Germany

For more information and registration click here

Title: Private international law’s contribution to the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI): an EU perspective


Webinar 3

Speaker:  Prof Dr Verónica Ruiz Abou-Nigm, Chair of Private International Law, School of Law, University of Edinburgh

ModeratorProf Laura Carballo Piñeiro, Universida de Vigo

Title: The Private Side of Transforming our World: UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the Role of Private International Law

For more information and registration click here

Webinar Recording available now. 

Ongoing Consultancy

Dr Justin Borg-Barthet, European Commission's Expert Group Against SLAPP

Dr Justin Borg-Barthet has been appointed to the European Commission's Expert Group Against SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) and its sub-group on legislative matters.

SLAPPs are litigious techniques designed to censor and intimidate journalists and civil society activists, deterring them from engaging in democratic criticism in the public interest. Dr Borg-Barthet’s research has been instrumental in prompting the initiation of a process of legal reform related to SLAPP in the European Union. The Expert Group will be entrusted with the following principal tasks:

  • advise the Commission on policy initiatives related to SLAPP (such as on Member States legal aid regimes and other procedural issues, especially with a cross-border dimension) and more generally provide the Commission with a single point of contact to consult legal practitioners on SLAPP related issues;
  • support the exchange and dissemination of practices and knowledge among practitioners on SLAPP related issues; and
  • provide legal practitioners and practitioners’ associations with a forum to engage at the EU level, including on cross-border cases to encourage the development of their work and its broader availability to support victims of SLAPP.

Public body: European Commission's Expert Group Against SLAPP

Consultant: Dr Justin Borg-Barthet  

Start date: March 2021

Duration: Permanent

Website: Register of Commission expert groups and other similar entities (europa.eu)

Ongoing Funded Research

Protection of international families with links to the European Union post-Brexit: Collaborative Scotland-EU partnership

Through a series of activities, this collaborative project will examine and assess the operation of the Hague Family Law Conventions in Scotland and EU Member States with strong familial link to Scotland (Belgium, Croatia, Poland, Ireland, Italy and Lithuania) with the aim of securing uniform interpretation and application of these international instruments. In order to achieve this, good practice points will be identified through the project activities and shared with relevant legal practitioners and judicial and administrative authorities in the participating jurisdictions. Additionally, where appropriate, policy recommendations will be made to national policy makers.

Funding body: Royal Society of Edinburgh (Saltire Facilitation Network Award Scheme)

Principal Investigator: Dr Katarina Trimmings

Start date: 01 March 2022

Duration: 24 months

Project Webpage

 

Laying the Foundations for a Restatement of Scots Private International Law

This collaborative project will take stock of the present state of Scots Private International Law and its relationship with other legal systems, and – drawing on the experiences of other States – will assess how a restatement of Scots Private International Law could be formulated, as well as routes for advocating reform. The project will involve the organisation of a series of workshops which will bring together scholars, practitioners and policymakers from Scotland and beyond.

Funding body: Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE Research Workshop Grants)

Principal Investigator: Professor Justin Borg-Barthet

Co-Investigators: Dr Katarina Trimmings & Dr Patricia Živković

Start date: 01 January 2022

Duration: 12 months

Project Webpage (TBA)

 

Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership: “Time to Become Digital in Law” (DIGInLaw) 

This collaborative project on digitalization in the legal education is run together with the Universities of Osijek, Zagreb, and Milan. The project aims to raise awareness of the importance of digital literacy and digital competence for the legal profession. To this end, the project will create 12 new MOOCs with topics ranging from family law in the age of modern technologies, to cryptocurrencies, and algorithmic discrimination. Some of these courses will explore the topics either exclusively or partially through the lenses of private international law. These e-courses will be released in open access format. 

Funding body: Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership

Investigators for the Aberdeen team: Dr Katarina Trimmings (PI, Steering Committee), Dr Patricia Živković (Steering Committee), Dr Rossana Ducato, Dr Burcu Yüksel Ripley

Start date: 21 April 2021

Duration: 24 months

Project Webpage

Completed Consultancy

Dr Katarina Trimmings, Council of Europe Legal Expert to Assist with a Review of the European Convention on the Legal Status of Children born out of Wedlock

Dr Katarina Trimmings has been appointed as a Legal Expert to the Council of Europe to assist with a review of the European Convention on the Legal Status of Children born out of Wedlock.

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) is currently implementing an activity on the review of the implementation of the European Convention on the Legal Status of Children born out of Wedlock (ETS No. 85). This exercise is a preliminary step to a possible future update, if required, of the provisions of this instrument, or its further promotion. Against this background, Dr Trimmings’ work will identify a list of areas and issues for consideration, including gaps in issues addressed by the Convention with a view of strengthening the protection of children born out of wedlock, taking into account the changes and developments that have taken place since its drafting, including developments at the European Court of Human Rights. The review will include an assessment of the desirability of updating the Convention and weighing any elements or factors that could facilitate this process or hinder its modernisation.

Public body: Council of Europe

ConsultantDr Katarina Trimmings

Research assistantMs Konstantina Kalaitsoglou

Start date: August 2021

End date: December 2021

Website

Dr Justin Borg-Barthet, Benedetta Lobina and Magdalena Zabrocka, European Parliament JURI Committee

Dr Justin Borg-Barthet was engaged by the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) to author a study on ‘The Use of SLAPPs to Silence Journalists, NGOs and Civil Society’. Postgraduate researchers Benedetta Lobina and Magdalena Zabrocka acted as research assistants and co-authors. The terms of reference for the study were as follows:

  • “the study should identify the key elements of a thorough and legally sound definition of SLAPPs; in order to provide the definition the study should review definitions of SLAPPs in relevant jurisdictions outside the EU, in selected EU Member States as well as in available academic literature, provide for a typology of these definitions and tier elements as well as for a critical analysis of these definitions from the point of view of the EU legal framework;
  • the study should take stock and assess procedural safeguards and measures to prevent its use, without interfering with legitimate court actions nor with plaintiffs' legitimate access to justice and bearing also in mind the need to achieve a balanced approach and prevent and sanction the abuse of the safeguards provided against SLAPPs.
  • the study shall provide for recommendations on how to reform the EU legal framework in order to introduce safeguards and measures to prevent the use of strategic lawsuits against public participation; in particular, the study should recommend procedural safeguards and measures to prevent its use, without interfering with legitimate court actions nor with plaintiffs' legitimate access to justice and bearing also in mind the need to achieve a balanced approach and prevent and sanction the abuse of the safeguards provided against SLAPPs.”

 

Public body: European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI)

Consultant: Dr Justin Borg-Barthet  

Research Assistants: Ms Benedetta Lobina and Ms Magdalena Zabrocka

Start date: May 2021

Duration: 2 months

Dr Justin Borg-Barthet, EU Model anti-SLAPP Directive, Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe

Dr Justin Borg-Barthet was engaged to co-author a report and a Model anti-SLAPP Directive for the European Union. The 48-page report includes a narrative section which explains and justifies legislative intervention, as well as a Model Anti-SLAPP Directive which is intended to inform discussions about the content of possible future EU legislative intervention.

Public body: Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe

Consultant: Dr Justin Borg-Barthet  

Co-authors: Dr Linda Ravo (Liberties); Prof Xandra E Kramer (Erasmus University, Rotterdam)

Start date: May 2020

Duration: 6 months

Dr Justin Borg-Barthet, Advice concerning the introduction of anti-SLAPP legislation in the European Union

Dr Justin Borg-Barthet was engaged to provide expert advice on whether the European Union had competence to adopt anti-SLAPP legislation. The advice was requested by Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and PEN International. It was argued that European Union law enables the abuse of defamation law in a manner that has a chilling effect on press freedoms and activism, and which consequently weakens the rule of law in the Union. It was recommended that the following measures should be adopted with urgency: (i) The rules on jurisdiction in the Brussels Ia Regulation should be amended with a view to removing the claimant’s unilateral right to choose a court or courts in which to pursue a claim. It is argued that jurisdiction in defamation cases should lie with the courts of the respondent’s domicile. (ii) The absence of a common rule on the choice of law in defamation cases results in a lack of legal certainty, and requires journalism on cross-border matters to apply ‘the lowest common denominator of press freedoms’. The Rome II Regulation should be amended with a view to harmonising rules on choice of law in defamation in a manner which renders the applicable law predictable to the parties. (iii) A study of national procedural and substantive laws should be conducted with a view to adopting a directive which will harmonise minimum safeguards for freedom of expression, particularly with a view to dissuading vexatious litigation. (iv) The above measures should be complemented by rule of law monitoring mechanisms which would include evaluation of the legal environment for journalism generally, and investigative journalism in particular.

Public body: Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Consultant: Dr Justin Borg-Barthet  

Research Assistant: Ms Kehui Lu

Start date: November 2019

Duration: 6 months

Completed Funded research projects

Reproductive Health Care and Policy Concerns: Regulation of Surrogacy Arrangements in Sri Lanka and Lessons Learned from the United Kingdom

This collaborative project on reproductive health care seeks to set up a learning platform on law and policy pertaining to surrogacy as a form of assisted reproduction and will address the evidence gaps in relation to the regulation of surrogacy arrangements in Sri Lanka. The project aims to assist Sri Lankan authorities in regulating surrogacy arrangements by providing them with the opportunity to learn lessons from the UK. Ultimately, the project seeks to prevent Sri Lanka from becoming the new hub of cross-border commercial surrogacy in South Asia. The project involves collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

  • Funding body: British Council (South Asia Small-Scale Research Project Scheme)
  • Principal Investigators: Ms Ziyana Nazemudeen (junior researcher) & Dr Katarina Trimmings (senior researcher)
  • Start date: 01 January 2020
  • Duration: 24 months
UK Surrogacy Law Reform: Exploring the Application of Surrogacy Laws, Attitudes towards Surrogacy, and Attitudes towards the Reform of the Law Governing Surrogacy amongst Judges and Legal Practitioners in Scotland

This project explores attitudes towards surrogacy and the application of the current UK surrogacy laws, including in cases of cross-border surrogacy, amongst judges and legal practitioners in Scotland. The aim of the project is to assist the Law Commissions in the current reform of the UK surrogacy laws

  • Funding body: Clark Foundation 
  • Principal Investigator: Dr Katarina Trimmings
  • Research Assistant: Dr Jennifer Speirs
  • Start date: 01 September 2019
  • Duration: 6 months
  • Project findings are available here: Project Report
Protection of Abducting Mothers in Return Proceedings: Intersection between Domestic Violence and Parental Child Abduction (POAM)

This collaborative project addresses the issue of protection of abducting mothers in return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 when these two instruments mandate the court of the State of refuge to order the return of the child to the State of the child’s habitual residence. Specifically, the project explores problems related to the operation of the Regulation 606/2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters and the Directive 2011/99/EU on the European Protection Order in the specific context of parental child abduction cases committed against the background of domestic violence.

 

Jurisdiction in Matrimonial Matters: Reflections for the Review of the Brussels IIa Regulation

This study aimed to consider whether, from the observation of the way Member States apply EU law and consideration of relevant literature, there needed to be changes to the rules in the Brussels IIa Regulation. To this end, the study analysed academic literature, as well as the judgments of the courts of selected Member States and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The study considered whether there is room for reform to improve the efficiency of the operation of the Regulation, as well as whether rules may operate in a manner that could be abusive to a spouse who may be more vulnerable, particularly due to financial dependence on the other spouse. This was addressed with reference to developments in family law which are designed to allow the spouses to achieve amicable outcomes. The study also considered the effects of the rules on the free movement of persons. Following analysis of national case law and academic literature, it was also considered necessary to address the position of same-sex relationships with a view to determining whether they should be included within the scope of the Regulation.

  • Funding body: European Parliament (Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs)
  • Principal Investigator: Dr Justin Borg-Barthet
  • Research Assistant: Ms Jayne Holliday
  • Start date: 01 January 2016
  • Duration: 6 months
The Evidentiary Effects of Authentic Instruments in Matters of Succession

The EU Succession Regulation (Regulation 650/2012) makes provision for the cross-border circulation of authentic instruments and, by Art.59, requires that a participating Member State which receives such an authentic instrument from another participating Member State shall, in a matter covered by the Regulation, shall ‘accept’ that incoming authentic instrument by allowing it to produce the same evidentiary effects in the State in receipt as it would produce and enjoy in the State from which it originated. The European Parliament was keen to discover what the law of the 25 Member States at issue considered those evidentiary effects would be and how well the Regulation could achieve its goal of facilitating their cross-border circulation via relevant legal practitioners. Building on Dr Fitchen’s existing international expertise in the area of cross-border authentic instruments, the Centre for Private International applied for and won the Europe-wide competitive bid application, Dr Fitchen spent much of 2015 and early 2016 working (together with Professor Paul Beaumont, Jayne Holliday (research assistant), the expert national reporters for the 25 Member States and also with Notaries from those legal systems who very kindly and without remuneration agreed to participate at the request of the Conseil des Notariats de l'Union Européenne (CNUE)) on this European Parliament funded project. As well as assisting legal practitioners faced with Art 59 of the Succession Regulation, the study made suggestions for law reform. The study has also been translated into French and German is available via the website below.

  • Funding body: European Parliament
  • Principal Investigator: Prof. P Beaumont
  • Co-investigator: Dr Jonathan Fitchen
  • Research Assistant: Jayne Holliday
  • Start date: 01 September 2015
  • Duration: 6 months

Aspects of the project findings were included in, ‘Public policy in Succession Authentic Instruments: Articles 59 and 60 of the European Succession Regulation’ Fitchen, J. Apr 2017 InDret. 2, p. 366-396. Further findings will be presented in Dr Fitchen’s forthcoming monograph concerning authentic instruments. 

Cross-Border Litigation in Europe: Private International Law Legislative Framework, National Courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union (EUPILLAR)

The project examined the application of selected EU Private International Law instruments in the Court of Justice of the European Union and in Belgium, Germany, England and Wales, Italy, Poland, Scotland and Spain. The key objectives of the project were to consider whether the selected Member States’ courts and the Court of Justice of the EU can appropriately deal with the relevant cross-border issues arising in the European Union context and to propose ways to improve the effectiveness of the European Private International Law framework.

EUPILLAR Database

In the course of the project, a case-law database was developed and is maintained by the University of Aberdeen. The database contains summaries in English of over 2300 judgments that were rendered between 1 March 2002 and 31 December 2015 concerning the Brussels I (Brussels I Recast), Brussels IIa, Maintenance, Rome I and Rome II Regulations and the Hague Maintenance Protocol in the Court of Justice of the European Union and in Belgium, Germany, England and Wales, Italy, Poland, Scotland and Spain. The EUPILLAR Database is available at https://w3.abdn.ac.uk/clsm/eupillar/#/home.

  • Funding body: European Commission (Civil Justice Programme (2007-2013))
  • Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Beaumont
  • Co-Investigator: Dr Katarina Trimmings
  • Research Assistant: Dr Burcu Yüksel
  • Start date: 1 November 2014
  • Duration: 24 months

Project findings: P Beaumont, M Danov, K Trimmings & B Yüksel (eds.), Cross-Border Litigation in Europe, Hart Publishing, 2017

Conflicts of EU Courts on Child Abduction

The project examined cases where a non-return was ordered by the state of refuge under Article 13 of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. In particular, the project assessed how Brussels IIa Regulation is being interpreted in cases in the EU where the courts of the habitual residence of an abducted child override the non-return order of the courts in the State where the child was abducted by making an Article 11(8) return order.

  • Funding body: Nuffield Foundation 
  • Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Beaumont
  • Co-Investigator: Dr Lara Walker
  • Research Assistant: Ms Jayne Holliday
  • Start date: 1 April 2014
  • Duration: 20 months

Project findings: P Beaumont, L Walker & J Holliday, ‘Conflicts of EU Courts on Child Abduction: The reality of Article 11(6)-(8) Brussels IIa proceedings across the EU’ Working Paper No 1, 2016.

Cross-Border Litigation in Europe

The project aimed to promote the debate on how cross-border litigation functions across Europe, and in particular in the UK, Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. To this end, the Aberdeen Centre for Private International Law, in collaboration with the Brunel University, run a series of 7 workshops which brought together Private International Law specialists from the EU institutions and the above countries. The workshops took place between September 2012 and August 2013, and were held alternately in Aberdeen and Brunel.

  • Funding body: European Commission (Lifelong Learning Programme, the Jean Monnet Action)
  • Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Beaumont
  • Co-Investigator: Dr Katarina Trimmings
  • Start date: 1 September 2012
  • Duration: 12 months
View Project findings...
International Surrogacy Arrangements: An Urgent Need for a Legal Regulation at the International Level

The project explored the private international law problems that arise from cross-border surrogacy arrangements in the absence of an international Convention on surrogacy.

  • Funding body: Nuffield Foundation
  • Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Beaumont
  • Research Fellow: Dr Katarina Trimmings
  • Start date: 1 July 2010
  • Duration: 24 months

Project findings: K Trimmings & P Beaumont (eds.), International Surrogacy Arrangements Legal Regulation at the International Level, Hart Publishing, 2013