Handelswerkerij G.J. Bier B.V. v. Mines de Potasse D'Alsace S.A.

Case 21/76, [1976] E.C.R. 1736, [1977] 1 C.M.L.R. 284 (1976)

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Handelswerkerij G.J. Bier B.V. v. Mines de Potasse D'Alsace S.A.

European Union Court of Justice
Case 21/76, [1976] E.C.R. 1736, [1977] 1 C.M.L.R. 284 (1976)

Facts

Handelswerkerij G.J. Bier B.V. (Bier) (plaintiff) was a Dutch company engaged in a nursery and gardening business in the Netherlands. It used water adjacent to the property, which came from the Rhine River. Due to the high salinity in the water, Bier had to undertake extensive and expensive efforts to alleviate the high salinity to protect its product. Mines de Potasse d’Alsace S.A. (Mines) (defendant), a French company, operated mines in France that discharged high levels of residuary salts into the Rhine as a byproduct of its operations. Bier joined with a foundation established to protect the Rhine’s quality of water, The Reinwater Foundation (Reinwater), and sued Mines in Rotterdam and alleged that Mines’ salty discharge had caused damage to Bier in the form of the extensive and expensive desalination efforts. Mines argued that the Dutch court did not have jurisdiction over it under the Convention of 27 September 1968 on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (the convention). The foundation of the convention was jurisdiction in the defendant’s domicile. However, the convention had exceptions for tort matters. Under the convention, a party could be sued on tort matters where “the harmful event occurred.” The Dutch court referred the issue to the European Union Court of Justice for its determination of what that clause meant.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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