At last, we no longer lack functional global rules for the recognition and enforcement of judgments. Only a couple of days ago, on 1 September 2023, the Hague Judgments Convention 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (HJC) entered into force. This is a momentous event for private international law and a real game-changer for international dispute resolution. With its entry into force, the HJC can now be utilised by commercial parties and contribute to a swift resolution of disputes by shortening expenses and timeframes for the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in other jurisdictions. Having adopted the HJC, the Hague Conference achieved its target to guarantee the effectiveness of court judgments similar to arbitral awards as ensured by the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
A year ago and almost around the same time we provided some comments on the provisions of the Convention determining the procedure for becoming effective (see here: Hague Judgments Convention to enter into force! – The Institute of International Shipping & Trade Law (IISTL) Blog). According to Articles 28 and 29 of the HJC, the Convention shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of the twelve months after the second State has deposited its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession. On this occasion, the Convention was ratified by Ukraine and the EU on 29 August 2022, and now has a force of law for both. In addition, Uruguay ratified the treaty on 1 September, and it will come into force for the latter 12 months later.
The HJC provides recognition and enforcement of judgments given in cross-border civil and commercial cases, excluding the carriage of passengers and goods, transboundary marine pollution, marine pollution in areas beyond national jurisdiction, ship-source marine pollution, limitation of liability for maritime claims, and general average. That being said, the HJC is not an ideal framework and does not include every issue that might arise from civil and commercial cases. Yet, it complements the HCCCA not only by sharing the same objectives but also by covering judgments given by non-exclusively designated courts; therefore, it indeed serves party autonomy and ensures the effectiveness of an entire range of choice of court agreements.
The Convention further contributes to certainty and access to justice post-Brexit since it is the only international treaty providing rules for the recognition and enforcement of judgments in cross-border commercial disputes. However, the UK has not ratified the Convention yet and even if it does, the Convention will enter in and for the UK only twelve months after the date it deposits an instrument of ratification. Following the analysis, the Government will make its final decision on becoming a Contracting State to the HJC and on whether to make any reservations. If signed and ratified, the Convention would be implemented in domestic law under the terms of the Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Act 2020, subject to appropriate parliamentary scrutiny. Indeed, if ratified, the HJC will not only contribute to access to justice and effectiveness of judgments involving EU-related civil and commercial cases but also the UK’s global judicial cooperation with the other Hague Contracting States will be enhanced. For the previous post related to the UK’s plans to ratify the HJC see: The Ball is Rolling: The UK to ratify the Hague Judgments Convention? – The Institute of International Shipping & Trade Law (IISTL) Blog.
Yet, we must admit the HJC leaves significant matters unresolved. Besides excluding extremely important commercial matters from its application scope, the Convention does not contain any specific regulation of parallel proceedings, lis pendens, and related actions – the famous yet infamous Brussels terminology. In this regard, there is a hope that the Hague Conference will succeed in its Jurisdiction Project. Indeed, if the latter is achieved the three Conventions might well function together and provide safeguards for international commercial parties and global justice.