UK signs Hague-19 Convention in boost to litigation landscape

The treaty will ensure judgments made in UK courts will be recognised in other member countries

The UK government has signed up to the Hague Judgments Convention Shutterstock

The UK government has officially signed the Hague-19 Convention, enabling more straightforward recognition of judgments in post-Brexit business disputes.

The landmark treaty will bring added legal certainty and efficiency for litigation lawyers by ensuring judgments made in UK courts will be recognised and enforced in other member countries and vice versa.

The treaty – which is formally titled the Hague Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters – streamlines cross-border legal processes that came into force following the UK’s 2020 departure from the European Union, under which it lost access to reciprocal recognition of judgments under EU law.

Accession is particularly crucial in an era where commercial disputes frequently transcend national boundaries and simplify, to a degree, the UK’s position in pan-European dispute resolution and minimises attendant legal uncertainties, which costs time and money.

Lord Bellamy KC, a justice minister and former consultant at Linklaters, signed the treaty on behalf of the UK government. He said: “Joining the Hague Convention marks a significant step forward for the UK within private international law and strengthens our appeal to businesses as a centre for dispute resolution.

“The robust and reliable regime the Convention offers for the recognition and enforcement of judgments will provide confidence to people and businesses involved in civil and commercial disputes as they live, work and do business across borders.”

The Hague-19 Convention addresses these challenges by providing a uniform framework, ensuring greater predictability and reduced costs for businesses dealing with international litigation.

As the UK moves towards ratification, legislation and court rules will be introduced so the UK can move forward with the treaty. Law Society of England and Wales president Nick Emmerson welcomed the move, saying: “The Convention will come into force 12 months after ratification and will apply to judgment in proceedings started after that day.”

With this move, Emmerson said the UK had reaffirmed its position as a key player in international commerce and legal cooperation: “By facilitating the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, the Convention enhances access to justice for citizens and consumers worldwide.

“It also strengthens a positive national and international environment for multilateral trade, investment and mobility.”

Emmerson urged the UK government to go further: “[This] should not stop efforts to facilitate further cross-border enforcement of judgments, including continued discussions to accede to the Lugano Convention.”

The latter provides for enforcing a wide range of civil and commercial judgments between the EU and EFTA states. However, post-Brexit, the EU has opposed UK accession to Lugano in keeping with a policy of preserving the single EU market.

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