Austria: reference for ECJ preliminary ruling on Brussels I-Regulation

The plaintiffs, both Austrian residents domiciled in Bludesch (Austrian Province of Vorarlberg), had booked a holiday package to Egypt organized by an Austrian tour operator located in Vienna. The booking was made online through the website of a German travel agency. By mistake of either the tour operator or the travel agency, they were booked to a different (but similary named) hotel than they had actually chosen. They filed a law suit against both, the travel agency and the tour operator, before their local court in Vorarlberg.The court accepted jurisdiction with regard to the German travel agency assuming it had directed its activity to the Member State of the consumers’ domicile, within the meaning of Article 15(1)(c) of the Brussels I-Regulation. However, the court dismissed the law suit with regard to the tour operator because of lacking jurisdiction. The court held that the plaintiffs had conculded two different contracts: a contract for intermediation of a holiday package with the travel agency and a contract for the services included in th package with the tour operator. As the latter contract was a contract between parties domiciled in Austria only, the Brussels I-Regulation would not apply. In particular there was no jurisdiction with regard to the tour operator pursuant to Article 6 of the Regulation as this provision required that at least one of the defendants was domiciled within the district of jurisdiction of the court.Upon appeal filed by the plaintiffs, the court of second instance (LG Feldkirch) referred the follwoing question to the Court of Justice of the European Union:Is Article 16(1) of Regulation 44/2001/EC (‘Brussels I’) on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters to be interpreted with regard to jurisdiction of the courts for the place where the consumer is domiciled in a way that in cases where the other party (tour operator) is domiciled in the same country but offers its services through an intermediary (travel agency) located in another member state, both of them can be sued before the courts for the place where the consumer is domiciled?Details of decision: LG Feldkirch 10. Sept. 2012, 3 R 233/12f

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