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Access to courts abroad to get easier?

THE EUROPEAN Federation of Journalists (EFJ, of which the NUJ is a part) is working on a model agreement between journalists' unions in various European countries to provide mutual legal assistance for affiliates (these would include national journalists' unions and their freelance members, for example) to fight legal cases in courts in each other's jurisdictions.

We've heard from the NUJ Brussels Branch, for example, that there's more work around for journalists writing in English as more EU publications switch from French to English. Currently it's next to impossible in practice or too expensive - to wring money from copyright pirates or non-payers in other countries.

However, some LFB members have had some success in that area - LFB's Andrew Mueller, for example, through his own efforts managed to extract money from a copyright abuser in Germany (and also outside the EU in Australia and India).

The EFJ's model agreement on union members going to court in other countries should eventually make it a lot easier for NUJ freelances to pursue through the courts copyright infringers and late-paying clients based in other European jurisdictions.

Some bilateral agreements are already in place - the NUJ has one with a French journalists' union, and we understand there may be such an agreement in place with a Belgian journalists' union. There's already a mutual agreement between Danish and German journalists' syndicates to support members seeking legal remedies in each others' countries courts. The journalists' unions of the Nordic countries (Scandinavia plus Finland and Iceland) have had a similar deal in place for some time.

The current EFJ initiative came out of a London Freelance Branch motion tabled at a Delegate Meeting way back in the 1990s. thence to an international meeting in Moscow.

As we went to press, a model agreement that would cover all EFJ affiliate unions across Europe was with the NUJ's National Executive Council for consideration. Watch this space.

Last modified: 09 Feb 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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