When reading Brexit-related news, you may have heard about the UK’s accession to the Hague Convention on Choice of Courts which is due to take place on the UK’s exit from the EU.
This Convention makes it easier to enforce a court judgment obtained where the parties agreed an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of that country’s court, and both the chosen country and the country in which enforcement is sought are parties to the Convention. Currently, as an EU member, English court judgments are easier to enforce in other EU countries under the Recast Brussels Regulation (“RBR”), but this will no longer be the case on Brexit. If the UK is a party to this Convention, however, it will still be easier to enforce an English judgment in the EU where the parties agreed an English exclusive jurisdiction clause, because the EU is already a party to the Convention.
The Hague Convention on Choice of Courts does not help where there is no exclusive jurisdiction clause. However a new treaty on the enforcement of judgments, the Hague Judgments Convention, should eventually do so. Announced on 2 July 2019 by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, this new Judgments Convention will generally allow easier enforcement of court judgments in other countries who are parties to it. It will not be a perfect replacement for the RBR:
- to use the Judgments Convention, it must have been in force when the proceedings which led to the judgment were commenced both in the country whose court gave the judgment and in the country where the judgment is to be enforced;
- although it has been reported that the EU will now start the process to become a party to the Judgments Convention, it will still take many months at least until it does become a party;
- enforcement can be refused on more grounds than the RBR (or even the Lugano Convention, which allows for enforcement between the EU and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland); and
- it only deals with enforcement, it does not deal with jurisdiction (unlike the Hague Convention on Choice of Courts, where countries which are parties to that Convention will stay their court proceedings if brought in breach of an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of another Convention country).
However it should eventually improve the UK’s position on Brexit and the UK should look to become a party to the Judgments Convention in its own right when it leaves the EU.