UK ratifies Hague Judgments Convention: what will it mean for cross-border litigation?

5 minute read
03 July 2024

On 27 June 2024, the UK deposited its instrument of ratification of the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (the Hague Judgments Convention). The Hague Judgments Convention will enter into force for the United Kingdom on 1 July 2025, bringing greater certainty for parties looking to enforce judgments across UK borders.

In this update, we re-cap on what the Hague Judgments Convention sets out to do, the implementation measures carried out to achieve ratification and the wider impact we can expect for those doing business internationally.

What does the Hague Judgments Convention do?

The Hague Judgments Convention is the latest in the Hague Conference on Private International Law's suite of conventions and other instruments aimed at fostering cooperation in international litigation procedures. Like other Hague Conventions before it, it sets uniform rules that signatory states agree to abide by, with the aim of creating greater certainty in cross-border litigation and thereby facilitating and improving confidence in international trade.

In the case of the Hague Judgments Convention, it seeks to achieve this by laying down a process for the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments between signatory states, where signatories commit (subject to certain exceptions) to recognise and enforce judgments rendered by courts in other contracting states. For now, those signatories include the member states of the European Union (except Denmark) and Ukraine - but the Hague Judgments Convention has also been ratified and is due to enter into force for Uruguay on 1 October 2024, and now also for the UK on 1 July 2025.

Further detail on how the Hague Judgments Convention operates is explored in our earlier article on what UK implementation will look like - the proposals put forward, key benefits and the timeline for introduction.

Swift progress

For the UK, the Hague Judgments Convention has been welcomed as a new route to regaining some of the benefits of the Brussels and Lugano cross-border litigation regimes - which the UK lost as a result of its departure from the EU. The UK's progress to ratifying the Hague Judgments Convention has, therefore, been relatively swift - following a consultation in 2023, in which the proposals were warmly received, the UK signed the Hague Judgments Convention on 12 January 2024.

Since January, the UK has worked towards completing the national implementation measures necessary to ratify the convention. These include amendments to the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982, and related changes to the Civil Procedure Rules and associated Practice Directions. Despite the announcement of a UK general election on 4 July (and the associated shutdown of Parliament), those measures were passed before the legislative shutters came down, allowing the UK to deposit its instrument of ratification at the end of June.

What will the Hague Judgments Convention mean for those doing business internationally?

Although it will be another 12 months before the Hague Judgments Convention formally enters into force for the UK, ratification itself will be a welcome signal to those doing business internationally with, or from, the UK that judgments in any disputes will soon be subject to more uniform enforcement procedures. In addition, it may well also promote confidence in deeper international trade in the wake of Brexit.

If you have any questions on the Hague Judgments Convention, or would like to discuss any other cross-border / international disputes or enforcement matters, please contact Sean Adams or Tom Price.

For more insight into the Hague Judgments Convention, please see our earlier articles below:

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