UK signs the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention – a stepping stone towards a more streamlined enforcement of UK judgments in Ireland
The UK signed the Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (“2019 Hague Judgments Convention”) on Friday, 12 January 2024. This signature brings the UK a step closer to ratification of the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention, a move which promises greater certainty in the recognition and enforcement of international judgments.
Overview of the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention
The 2019 Judgments Convention complements the Convention of 30 June 2005 on Choice of Court Agreements (the “2005 Hague Convention”) and seeks to facilitate rule-based multilateral trade and investment, and mobility, through judicial co-operation in the recognition and enforcement of judgments.
Under the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention, a judgment given by a court of a Contracting State must be recognised and enforced in another Contracting State, without any review of the merits of the judgment, subject to limited grounds for refusal of recognition and enforcement. The grounds for refusing to recognise and enforce a judgment under the 2019 Convention are wider than those provided for under the 2005 Hague Convention, but they are still quite limited.
A ‘judgment’ is defined as any decision on the merits given by a court and a determination of costs or expenses of the proceedings by the court provided that the determination relates to a decision on its merits which may be recognised or enforced under the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention. Interim protection measures (for example, an order for injunctive relief) are excluded from the definition of a ‘judgment’ for the purposes of the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention.
Unlike the 2005 Hague Convention which is limited in scope to judgments based on an exclusive jurisdiction clause, the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention applies to the recognition and enforcement of judgments relating to civil or commercial matters. The 2019 Hague Judgments Convention excludes various matters such as revenue, customs or administrative matters, defamation, intellectual property, privacy, the carriage of passengers and goods, marine pollution, insolvency, intellectual property, certain anti-trust (competition) matters, and arbitration and related proceedings.
The 2019 Hague Judgments Convention came into effect as between the EU (excluding Denmark) and Ukraine on 1 September 2023. On the same date, Uruguay also became a Contracting Party to the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention which will enter force for Uruguay on 1 October 2024.
The European Union (Hague Judgment Convention) Regulations 2023 give effect to the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention under Irish law.
In addition to the UK, Costa Rica, Israel, Russia, United States, Montenegro & North Macedonia have signed but not yet ratified the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention.
The next step is for the UK to deposit its instrument of ratification. It has been signalled that ratification will take place once legislation and rules necessary to implement the 2019 Judgments Convention are in place. Thereafter, it will be a further 12 months before it enters force for the UK.
In practical terms, it will be some time before the 2019 Hague Judgment Convention can be relied upon to recognise and enforce judgments as it only applies to judgments if, at the time the proceedings were issued, the convention had effect between the State in which the judgment originated and the State to whom the request to recognise and enforce the judgment is made.
We will continue to monitor developments concerning the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention and keep you informed. If you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this update in more detail, please get in touch with any member of our Litigation, Dispute Resolution and Investigations Group.