Commercial Court in Vienna obstructs Romanian NGO, controversial wood processor SCHWEIGHOFER wins lawsuit
NGO Neuer Weg
16, Piata Republicii
The Austrian wood processing company HOLZINDUSTRIE SCHWEIGHOFER (HS) has won a lawsuit against the Association Neuer Weg (NW) from Romania at the Commercial Court in Vienna on January 19, 2016. HS had filed the lawsuit in June 2015 against the environmentalist NGO for allegedely disseminating untrue information about the company on its website www.neuerweg.ro and via email to several media institutions in Austria.
Since the Commercial Court in Vienna obliged the NGO to be represented by an Austrian lawyer, it did not accept its statement of defence, therefore ruling ex officio in favor of the company and its (false) accusations.
The statement of defence of NW included the following points:
1. The Commercial Court in Vienna has no venue jurisdiction in this case, since HS and NW do not have any contractual relationship.
2. Since the owner of HS, Mr. Gerald Schweighofer, is a wellknown and influential person in Vienna (HS having conducted several transactions at the Court of Commerce), the Court might be biased, the court proceedings be transfered to another court.
3. For its statement of defense NW does NOT need the help of any lawyer, even less from abroad (since the trueness of its allegations can be proven very easily), hence the Court should not oblige NW to be represented.
4. The Court did not communicate a deadline for filing a statement of defence.
Hence we consider the ruling of the Vienna Court of Commerce being unjust, illegal and infringing EU regulations as well as he basic right of access to court. In other words, HS is trying to “muzzle” with the help of a “friendly” court the NGO Neuer Weg, one of the watchdogs against illegal logging in Romania… The value in litigation indicated by HS is 35.000 Euro, in case NW will not comply with the decision of the Commercial Court.
We think as well that this highly questionable decision of a court in a UE member state shows the dangers that lie in the establishment of arbitration courts like the ones proposed in the TTIP agreement and call for a strong opposition against this type of neocolonial, corporate friendly, semiprivate courts, of which mainly big and controversial companies will benefit.
NW will keep you on its webpahe about its further steps against this court decision.
Hans Hedrich, deputy chair
Neuer Weg Association
February 9, 2016
PS: In case you consider supporting the law suits of NW in ROmania against the illegal construction and functioning of the wood processing plant of HS in Reci/Rety, COvasna county, we would highly welcome any donation! Our bank account data is the following: