With effect from 1 September 2023, the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (the "2019 Judgments Convention") has officially entered into force between the first two parties – the EU (encompassing all of the EU member states other than Denmark) and Ukraine. The 2019 Judgments Convention will also enter into force as regards Uruguay with effect from 1 October 2024.
What is it?
On 2 July 2019, the text of the 2019 Judgments Convention was adopted and opened up for signature. It is part of the Hague Conference's ongoing jurisdiction and enforcement project (which began in 1992, and has so far seen the adoption of both the 2005 Hague Convention on the Choice of Courts as well as the 2019 Judgments Convention with a more comprehensive jurisdiction Convention in prospect).
The purpose of the 2019 Judgments Convention is to facilitate the enforcement of civil and commercial judgments across national borders, by creating a framework for the recognition and enforcement of relevant judgments in other contracting states without a review of the underlying merits of the claim and subject to only limited grounds for refusal. It is similar in effect to the regime within the EU and to which the UK was party until Brexit, albeit of narrower ambit, but with wider potential geographical effect. The scope of the 2019 Judgments Convention includes consumer and individual employment contracts, but excludes various topics (including family law, defamation and privacy, insolvency and intellectual property matters).
Notably, in addition to excluding arbitration awards (although this is of little surprise, given that arbitration awards have their own advanced enforcement regime under the New York Convention), the 2019 Judgments Convention does not apply to interim measures. As a result, whilst a useful step forward in the cross-border enforcement armoury, there remains a notable lacuna where parties are trying to enforce interim relief (for example, freezing injunctions or urgent injunctions designed to protect supply chains).
A number of states have signed the 2019 Judgments Convention, including the USA, the EU and Israel (but not, as yet, the UK). However, in order to enter into force between signatory states, they must first ratify or accede to the convention.
As noted, the 2019 Judgments Convention officially entered into force between the first two parties – the EU (encompassing all of the EU member states other than Denmark) and Ukraine - with effect from 1 September 2023. The 2019 Judgments Convention will also enter into force as regards Uruguay with effect from 1 October 2024.
Latest position in the UK
Given the UK's established reputation of international collaboration and cooperation in private international law, as well as the various perceived challenges in obtaining recognition and enforcement of judgments overseas post-Brexit (now the UK has lost access to the Brussels Recast and Lugano regimes) it comes as no surprise that the Government is considering entering into the 2019 Judgments Convention.
The UK Government recently undertook a consultation considering the possible ratification of the 2019 Judgments Convention and its implementation into domestic law. The consultation is now closed, with an outcome announcement expected later this year. Given the advantages which being party to the 2019 Judgments Convention would bring to the UK, particularly in the post-Brexit era now the EU has acceded to it, it is hoped that a positive announcement will shortly be forthcoming. We will keep you updated.
To discuss any of the points raised in this article, please contact Sean Adams, Tom Price or Tonia Magda.