PN070404E

ATTENTION: NEWS EDITORS/MEDIA/LEGAL/POLITICAL/ EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENTS

IMMEDIATE

WEDNESDAY 7 APRIL 2004

LORDS REPORT SEVERELY CRITICISES EU PROPOSALS ON INTERNATIONAL CIVIL DISPUTES

The EU Commission has failed to justify the need for new rules to determine which country's national law should apply in international civil disputes, including defamation actions.

This is a key finding of a Lords report published today on the EU proposal known as Rome II.

The Committee received no evidence of problems in the application of Member States' conflict rules in this area to justify the proposed Rome II regulation.

The Lords say that the Commission's arguments are unconvincing and fail to pay sufficient regard to the views of industry, commerce, the media and legal practitioners.

Furthermore, the Commission has not demonstrated that Rome II is strictly within its legislative powers under the EC Treaty.

The Report examines what country's rules should apply in defamation cases and concludes that it would be preferable for Rome II to prescribe a country of origin rule.

(Chapter 5 covers the Committee's Conclusions and Recommendations.)

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

1. The Committee examined Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II) (Com(2003) 427 Final).

2. The Members of the EU Sub-Committee E on Law and Institutions are: Lord Scott of Foscote (Chairman), Lord Brennan, Lord Neill of Bladen, Lord Clinton-Davis, Lord Denham, Lord Grabiner, Lord Henley, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, Baroness Thomas of Walliswood, Lord Thomson of Monifieth.

3. The report is published by the Stationery Office: The Rome II Regulation, Lords Select Committee on the European Union, 8th Report, Session 2003−04, HL Paper 66, ISBN 0104004339, price £22.00. The full text of the report will be available on the internet via www.parliament.uk shortly after publication.

4. The Committee heard evidence from a wide range of expert witnesses including Times Newspapers, the BBC, the Newspaper Society and the Periodical Publishers Association.

For  copies of the report contact:

Jillian Bailey
Press and Publicity Officer (Committees), on 020 7219 8659

[ENDS]