AG Bobek delivered today his opinion in case C‑304/17 (Helga Löber v Barclays Bank Plc), which is about Brussels I and prospectus liability claims.
Context: “1. Ms Helga Löber invested in certificates in the form of bearer bonds issued by Barclays Bank Plc. In order to acquire those certificates, the corresponding amounts were transferred from her current (personal) bank account located in Vienna, Austria to two securities accounts in Graz and Salzburg. Payment was then made from those securities accounts for the certificates at issue.
2. The certificates subsequently lost their value. Ms Löber considered that her investment decision had been induced by a defective (in the sense of misleading) prospectus that was issued in relation to the certificates. She brought a claim against Barclays Bank for payment of EUR 34 459.06, plus interest and costs. That amount corresponds, in her view, to the damage caused to her by the misrepresentation committed by Barclays Bank through the issuance of a defective prospectus.
3. She brought her claim before a court in Vienna, the place of her domicile. This is also where her current bank account is located, from which she made the first transfer in order to make the investment. The first- and second-instance courts however decided that they did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The case is now pending before the Oberster Gerichtshof (Supreme Court, Austria). That court is asking, in essence, which of the bank accounts used, if any, is relevant to determine which court has jurisdiction to hear the claim at issue”.
Response suggested by the AG:
“With regard to a claim concerning a tort of misrepresentation caused by publication of an allegedly defective prospectus relating to bearer bond certificates that can be acquired on a specific national secondary market and resulting in investment loss, the notion of the ‘place where the harmful event occurred or may occur’ in Article 5(3) of [Brussels I] shall be interpreted as being located in, and covering the entirety of, the territory of the Member State where those certificates could have been validly subscribed to, as well as the place where the secondary market investor, such as the Applicant, entered into a legally binding and enforceable obligation to invest on the basis of that prospectus”.