On 29 August 2022 the EU acceded to, and Ukraine ratified, the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention. This means the Convention will come into force on 1 September 2023 between EU member states (other than Denmark) and Ukraine. Under the terms of the Convention, it will apply to the enforcement of judgments in proceedings commenced after that date.

The UK government is considering its position on the 2019 Convention, and we think it’s likely to consult soon on possible accession. If the UK does join the Convention, it would apply also as between the UK and the EU (other than Denmark) and Ukraine, but only where the proceedings leading to a judgment are commenced after a date approximately one year after the UK’s accession, so probably not until some time in 2024 at the earliest.

The Convention would not apply between the UK and EU where the English or EU member state court took jurisdiction under an exclusive jurisdiction clause, as in that case the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements would generally take precedence.

The 2019 Convention is described in more detail in this previous blog post. In essence, it complements the 2005 Convention by allowing enforcement of judgments in much broader circumstances – for example, it applies to judgments where the court took jurisdiction under a non-exclusive jurisdiction clause, including a unilateral clause, and it is wider in scope than the 2005 Convention, applying for example to employment and consumer contracts. If the UK joins, it would also apply in circumstances where the 2005 Convention was found not to apply, for example if an EU court refused to apply the 2005 Convention to a judgment given pursuant to an English exclusive jurisdiction clause entered into before the UK rejoined the 2005 Convention in January 2021 (for an explanation of this risk, the “change of status risk”, see this post.

The European Commission takes the view that the Hague Conventions, and not the Lugano Convention 2007, are the way forward when it comes to enforcement of judgments between the EU and the UK (see our previous blog posts here and here). The 2019 Convention is certainly not a complete replacement for the Lugano Convention, not least because recognition and enforcement can be refused on broader grounds than under Lugano, and there is the timing issue, which wouldn’t arise under Lugano to the same extent, but it is arguably the next best thing.