The Brussels I-bis Regulation: A key legal instrument for unified EU private international law

Published 27 September 2023

The Passage shopping street in The Hague (c) Shutterstock - Unification at the EU level plays an important role in enhancing access to justice for EU citizens and EU-based businesses 


Brussels I-bis Regulation is the core instrument unifying private international law at the European Union level. In a new handbook, Vesna Lazić and the late professor Peter Mankowski provide a comprehensive overview of the revised Regulation, as well as of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). They analyse the legal framework of the Regulation and the existing jurisprudence, identify its shortcomings, and suggest methods of improvement.  

The book, The Brussels I-bis Regulation: Interpretation and Implementation, is the result of the JUDGTRUST project entitled ‘Regulation Brussels Ia: a standard for free circulation of judgments and mutual trust in the European Union’. In order to improve the correct and consistent application of the Regulation, the handbook analyses the current legislative framework and the relevant CJEU case law, but also draws on the empirical findings of the National Reports submitted by all EU member states as a part of the research project.

Crucial EU unification  
The relevance of legislation on private international law has increased due to the European internal market. Private international law rules vary amongst the EU Member States, therefore the unification at the EU level plays an important role in enhancing access to justice for EU citizens and EU-based businesses. It makes it easier for individuals and commercial parties to foresee the consequences of their actions. It also helps to reduce the risk of different treatments due to differences in national private international law rules.

The Brussels I-bis aims to overcome the discrepancies between the various legal systems and to improve the legal framework for cross-border commercial activities. It offers a unified set of rules on international jurisdiction and on the recognition and enforcement of judgments in the EU. It seeks a uniform interpretation: the Regulation is to be interpreted autonomously, in principle without a reference to national laws of Member States.

However, as highlighted in the Handbook, the JUDGTRUST team found a recent trend in CJEU case law where the court delegated assessments to be made by a Member State’s court in applying a national law. Indeed, a reference to a national law may prove more appropriate than insisting on the ‘uniform’ interpretation in certain circumstances. The problem emerges when there are no clear criteria or guidelines on when such a departure from the ‘uniform’ interpretation should be made. Most importantly, there is an apparent discrepancy in the CJEU case law regarding the characterisation or qualification for the purposes of the application of different EU private international law instruments. According to the authors, for the sake of legal certainty and predictability there should be a greater degree of consistency in that sense even though the legal considerations are not necessarily identical in the context of conflict of law rules and ‘procedural’ private international law rules.

 JUDGTRUST Conference Asser - Brussels I-bis Regulation
The JUDGTRUST conference at the Asser Institute in April 2022

European Commission review of Brussels I-bis Regulation

In an increasingly connected Europe, setting up unified rules on international jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments is crucial. The Handbook with its comprehensive analysis will prove to be a valuable resource within the context of an expected revision of the Regulation by the European Commission.

‘The merit of this book lies in its systematic and accessible review of the extensive European case law and literature spanning more than 50 years. The presentation is comprehensive, in-depth, and critically reflected. The authors are recognised experts in international civil procedure. They have created a standard work that is indispensable for academics and practitioners alike.’ – Review of the Handbook by Katharina Boele-Woelki, Bucerius Law School, Germany

About the JUDGTRUST project
The JUDGTRUST project, funded by the European Commission’s Justice Programme (JUST-AG-2017/JUST-JCOO-AG-2017) identified best practices and provided guidelines in the interpretation and application of the Brussels I-bis Regulation. The research was conducted by the Asser Institute in cooperation with University of Hamburg, University of Antwerp and Internationaal Juridisch Instituut. The results were presented at the JUDGTRUST Final Conference in 2022.

Read more
The first chapter of the book The Brussels I-bis Regulation: Interpretation and Implementation  authored by Vesna Lazić and the late Professor Peter Mankowski is available with free access on the Elgaronline platform. The book is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Peter Mankowski and his unprecedented contribution to private international law scholarship.

Vesna recently published the ‘Commentary of Articles 38-42’, in the leading commentary on the Brussels IIbis legislative framework edited by Ulrich Magnus and Peter Mankowski: Brussels II ter Regulation: European Commentaries on Private International Law.

Together with Chukwuma Okoli she contributed to the Research Handbook on Legal Aspects of Brexit with a chapter on private international law and cooperation in civil and commercial matters after Brexit.

With Barbara Rumora-Scheltema, Vesna contributed to the IBA online publication IBA Insolvency and Arbitration Toolkit ( with the National Report for the Netherlands.

About Vesna Lazić
Vesna is Associate professor at Utrecht University and senior researcher at the Asser Institute in the research strand ‘Public interest(s) inside/within international and European institutions and their practices’. Within the latter she focuses on the topics of private international law and international commercial arbitration. She coordinated the JUDGTRUST research project aimed at identifying best practices and providing guidelines in the interpretation of rules on jurisdiction and on the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. The handbook  The Brussels I-bis Regulation: Interpretation and Implementation is one of the outputs of the JUDGTRUST research project.

Dr Vesna Lazic