Susanne Staublitz-Schreiber, a German lady residing in Germany, had a small business. She ceased to trade in 2001 and requested the opening of insolvency proceedings in late 2001 before a German court. Then she moved to Spain in 2002 to live and work there. (can't say we blame her). The German court before which she had requested the opening of insolvency proceedings refused to open them and so she appealed. The appeals court dismissed the appeal on the ground that the German courts lacked jurisdiction according to Article 3 of Regulation 1346/2000 as Ms. Staublitz-Schreiber had moved the center of her main interests to Spain. She took the matter to the Bundesgerichtshof claiming that the issue of jurisdiction should be examined in the light of the situation at the time when the request to open insolvency proceedings was lodged, that is before she moved to Spain. The matter was referred to the Court of Justice.
In its judgment in Case C-1/04 Susanne Staublitz-Schreiber the Court of Justice agreed with Ms. Staublitz-Schreiber. It held that Article 3(1) of the Regulation must be interpreted as meaning that the court of the member State where the centre of the debtor’s main interests is situated at the time when the debtor lodges the request to open insolvency proceedings retains jurisdiction to open those proceedings if the debtor moves the centre of his main interests to the territory of another member State after lodging the request but before the proceedings are opened.
Interestingly, the Court stated:
The universal scope of the main insolvency proceedings, the opening, where appropriate, of secondary proceedings and the possibility for the temporary administrator appointed by the court first seised to request measures to secure and preserve any of the debtor’s assets situated in another Member State constitute, moreover, important guarantees for creditors, which ensure the widest possible coverage of the debtor’s assets, particularly where he has moved the centre of his main interests after the request to open proceedings but before the proceedings are opened.
This case, by the way, is only the second one to deal with Regulation 1346/2000. The first was this odd one, Case C-294/02 Commission v. AMI Semiconductor Belgium BVBA and Others.