UK signs up to Hague 19 Convention

The UK government has signed up to the Hague 19 Convention, meaning judgments made in courts in England and Wales will be recognised internationally in future. As a result, UK citizens and businesses will be spared time and money on cross-border disputes.

Firms caught up in time consuming international legal disputes will be spared time and money thanks to Ministers signing up to the 2019 Hague Convention today on 12th January 2024.

The 3 core benefits of signing up the Hague 19 Convention, the Government have published are:

  • a boost to UK’s status as a global centre for dispute resolution
  • a move to save money and time for firms caught-up in international legal disputes
  • the Hague Convention 2019 membership will support growth in international trade and investment

The landmark treaty means legal judgements made in UK courts regarding people and companies tied up in cross-country disputes will be recognised and enforced in the courts of other nations who have joined the Convention – and vice versa.

Currently, while most countries have domestic rules which allow judgments from other countries to be recognised and enforced, these rules are different in each state. This can deter vital business investment.

By providing an international framework of rules for recognition and enforcement of judgments, the Convention provides greater certainty for businesses and individuals who are impacted by   litigation on contracts or employment decisions across borders – while saving them time and money getting a judgment enforced in another country.

Justice Minister, Lord Bellamy, 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 who are involved in civil and commercial disputes as they live, work and do business across borders.”

This will particularly benefit businesses and people who live and work between the UK and other countries, giving them the assurance of uniform legal rules, which will help encourage international trade and investment.

Under the rules of the Convention, businesses will know that if a dispute arises, their judgment can be enforced in another country.

There are currently 29 parties who are already part of the 2019 Hague Convention – from Ukraine to the EU Member State Countries, with Uruguay also joining this year. This means UK judgments will be recognised and enforced in all of these countries.

With 91 members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), the main multilateral forum for private international law rules consisting of several conventions including the 2019 Hague Convention, Hague 2019 has a potentially global reach.

The Law Society of England and Wales President, Nick Emmerson, said:

“We are pleased the UK is joining the Hague 19 Convention, which sets out to provide a framework of common rules to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of judgments from one jurisdiction to another.

The Convention will come into force 12 months after ratification and will apply to judgment in proceedings started after that day.

By facilitating the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, the Convention enhances access to justice for citizens and consumers around the world. It also strengthens a positive national and international environment for multilateral trade, investment and mobility.

It is important, however, that the UK becoming a contracting state to Hague 19 should not stop efforts to further facilitate cross border enforcement of judgments, including continued discussions to accede to the Lugano Convention.”

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