|An Italian distributor and a German manufacturer concluded a distributorship agreement whereby over a period of three years the distributor was to purchase and to distribute in Italy a certain quantity of specific goods and the manufacturer to deliver the goods. Shortly after the manufacturer had started to deliver the goods, a dispute arose as to whether the distributor was entitled to act as the exclusive distributor of the goods in Italy and since the parties could not agree on this point, the manufacturer refused to make any further deliveries alleging that there was not even any binding distributorship agreement. Consequently the distributor commenced an action before an Italian Court alleging breach of the distributorship agreement. The manufacturer objected to the jurisdiction of the Italian Court and insisted that the jurisdiction was vested in a court in Germany.
The Supreme Court decided in favour of the German manufacturer, i.e. that the Italian Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case and that the jurisdiction was vested in a court in Germany. In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court found that a distributorship agreement was a framework agreement which may have different contents. In the case at hand, the main obligations of the parties were to order and to deliver a certain quantity of specific goods over a certain period of time. The distributor's claim against the manufacturer for alleged breach of the distributorship agreement was therefore to be considered basically a claim for breach of the individual sales contracts, with the consequence that the place of performance for the determination of the international jurisdiction according to Art. 5(1) of the 1968 Brussels Jurisdiction and Enforcement Convention was the place where the manufacturer had to deliver the goods. Having found that in the case at hand the individual sales contracts were governed by CISG and that according to Art. 31 CISG the place of delivery of the goods was in Germany, the Court decided that the Italian Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.