The Grand Chamber of the ECJ has ruled that merely having a website which is accessible in another Member State does not constitute directing activities to that Member State for the purposes of Article 15(1)(c) of the Brussels Regulation (Regulation 44/2001). Article 15 lays down special rules for consumer contracts, and provides that a consumer may sue a business in the consumer's own Member State if the business has directed its commercial or professional activities to that Member State.
In a judgment which will have significant implications for businesses and consumers across the EU, the ECJ has laid down a series of factors which may constitute evidence that a trader intends to direct its activities towards one or more other Member States. Features of a website which would constitute such evidence include mention of telephone numbers with the international code, use of a top-level domain name other than that of the Member State in which the trader is established (e.g. ‘.com' or ‘.eu'), and mention of an international clientele.
The judgment is here.
Jemima Stratford QC appeared for the United Kingdom Government.