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Travelers whose package tours were ruined by the imposition of restrictions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic may be entitled to at least a partial refund, the European Union’s highest court said Thursday.

The European Court of Justice weighed in after being asked for its opinion by a court in Germany.

The Munich court is considering the case of two people who bought a two-week package vacation for the Spanish island of Gran Canaria starting on March 13, 2020, just as the pandemic hit Europe. They are seeking a 70% reduction in the price because of restrictions that were imposed there two days later and their early return.

When the restrictions were imposed on March 15, beaches were closed, a curfew put in place and the plaintiffs were allowed to leave their hotel room only to eat, the EU court said. On March 18, they were told to be ready to leave at any moment, and two days after that they had to return to Germany.

The tour operator refused the requested reduction on the grounds that it couldn’t be held liable for a “general life risk.”

The EU court found that “a traveler is entitled to a reduction in the price of his or her package where a lack of conformity of the travel services included in the package is due to restrictions that have been imposed at the travel destination to fight the spread of an infectious disease, such as COVID-19.”

It said it doesn’t matter if similar restrictions are imposed at the traveler’s place of residence or in other countries.


German lawmakers on Thursday approved a free-trade deal between the European Union and Canada, moving the accord a step closer to taking full effect.

The pact, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, was signed in late 2016. Most of its terms have been implemented provisionally since 2017, but the parliaments of the EU’s 27 member nations must ratify the deal for -it to come fully into force.

Chancellor OIaf Scholz’s three-party coalition moved forward with ratifying it after Germany’s highest court in March rejected complaints against CETA, at least in the form in which it is currently in effect.

Lawmakers voted 559-110 to approve the pact.

Another 11 EU countries have yet to ratify the deal, Verena Hubertz, a lawmaker with Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats, told parliament’s lower house before the vote.

“We are optimistic, now that we are moving forward, that others will also follow very quickly,” she said. “But of course ... this is much too long and much too slow in a globalized world that turns quickly.”

Hubertz said Germany had to wait for the court verdict and added that “we have eliminated concerns” about details of a dispute mechanism built into the pact. Conservative opposition lawmakers argued that little or nothing has actually changed and charged that the center-left had held up ratification for ideological reasons.

The deal eliminates almost all customs duties and increases quotas for certain key products in Canada and the EU’s respective markets. The EU has said the agreement will save its companies some 600 million euros ($623 million) a year in duties.


The United Arab Emirates has called on its courts to begin enforcing the judgements of British courts, in a move that could affect the city of Dubai’s status as a haven for the world’s wealthy.

The decision, which affects all noncriminal civil, financial and marital cases, is already in effect and does not need to be drafted into law.

“After the new decision … the UAE will not be a safe haven for anyone trying to smuggle their money,” said Hassan Elhais, legal consultant at Alrowad Advocates.

“If a person was sentenced in a civil case in the UK and they fled to the UAE, they were previously able to keep their money without it being confiscated, their money was protected,” he added.

The UAE had previously not enforced British rulings due to what it called a lack of reciprocity, as the UK courts were reluctant to enforce UAE-issued judgements.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice announced the principles of reciprocity had been met after British courts enforced a “bounced cheque” judgement of the Dubai Court of Cassation in the UK in the Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC v Puri (2020) EWHC 75 (QB) case.

Before the Lenkor case, British courts were not in the practice of enforcing Dubai court judgements and therefore UAE courts took that as a reason not to enforce the same rules.

The UAE has long invited the wealthy to invest in the country, largely without questioning where they made their money. Questions over money flows into the UAE have increased as Russian wealth comes into the Arabian Peninsula nation amid Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

However in recent months, the UAE has arrested several suspects wanted for major crimes, including British national Sanjay Shah who is accused of a $1.7 billion tax fraud scheme in Denmark, and two of the Gupta brothers from South Africa, wanted over allegedly looting state money with former President Jacob Zuma. An Emirati also now leads Interpol, the international police agency, as its president.


Iran told the United Nations’ highest court on Monday that Washington’s confiscation of some $2 billion in assets from Iranian state bank accounts to compensate bombing victims was an attempt to destabilize the Iranian government and a violation of international law.

In 2016, Tehran filed a suit at the International Court of Justice after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled money held in Iran’s central bank could be used to compensate the 241 victims of a 1983 bombing of a U.S. military base in Lebanon believed linked to Iran.

Hearings in the case opened Monday in the Hague-based court, starting with Iran’s arguments. The proceedings will continue with opening statements by Washington on Wednesday.

At stake are $1.75 billion in bonds, plus accumulated interest, belonging to the Iranian state but held in a Citibank account in New York.

In 1983, a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with military-grade explosives attacked U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American troops and 58 French soldiers.

While Iran long has denied being involved, a U.S. District Court judge found Tehran responsible in 2003. That ruling said Iran’s ambassador to Syria at the time called “a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and instructed him to instigate the Marine barracks bombing.”

The international court ruled it had jurisdiction to hear the case in 2019, rejecting an argument from the U.S. that its national security interests superseded the 1955 Treaty of Amity, which promised friendship and cooperation between the two countries.


Europe’s highest court said Monday that Turkey has failed to comply with its ruling that a prominent Turkish philanthropist be immediately released from jail.

The European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, ruled in 2019 that Turkey violated Osman Kavala’s right to liberty, saying his detention and trials against him were used to silence him and in effect send a chilling message to civil society in Turkey. The judgment to immediately release him became final in May 2020.

The Council of Europe launched infringement procedures against Turkey for refusing to abide by its ruling. Monday’s ruling is the latest step in the lengthy infringement process by the Council of Europe, the continent’s foremost human rights organization, and could lead to the suspension of Turkey’s voting rights or membership in the 47-nation organization.

“Turkey urgently needs to make concrete and sustained progress in the respect of fundamental rights,” said a statement from the European Union. “Turkey’s continued refusal to implement these rulings increases the EU’s concerns regarding the Turkish judiciary’s adherence to international and European standards.”

The civil rights activist was sentenced to life in prison without parole in April after the court found him guilty of attempting to overthrow the government with the mass protests in 2013. Seven others were convicted and jailed for allegedly aiding the attempt. Kavala has maintained his innocence.

Human rights groups say Kavala, 64, was prosecuted with flimsy evidence and that the case is politically motivated. Kavala is the founder of a nonprofit organization, Anadolu Kultur, which focuses on cultural and artistic projects promoting peace and dialogue.

That verdict came after another court acquitted Kavala in February 2020. He was expected to be released from prison where he was held since October 2017 in pre-trial detention but was instead re-arrested on other charges. The European court said the new charges did not contain any substantial facts.


A federal judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit by Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt that blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh said in his 38-page ruling that in this case federal rules prohibit a sovereign foreign entity from being sued in American courts.

“All in all, the court has no choice but to dismiss this novel complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,” Limbaugh stated in the final line of the dismissal order. The judge noted earlier in the opinion that the civil suit against China is one of many filed “amidst the wreckage of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Schmitt’s office said it would appeal the ruling.

The complaint filed in April 2020 alleges that Chinese officials are “responsible for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world, including Missourians.” Schmitt said the Chinese government lied about the dangers of the virus and didn’t do enough to slow its spread.

China criticized the lawsuit as “very absurd” and said it has no factual and legal basis. Schmitt called the lawsuit historic, but legal experts mostly panned it as a stunt aimed at shifting blame to China for the COVID-19 pandemic.


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