Rome I Regulation EC No 593/2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) came into effect on 17 December 2009 and applies in all EU Member States (except Denmark which has opted out) to contracts entered into on or after 17 December 2009. Rome I concerns the rules which will be applied by the courts in EU Member States (save for Denmark) when determining the law applicable to contractual obligations.

Rome I replaces the Rome Convention of the same name which will continue to apply through the Contracts (Applicable Law) Act 1990 to contracts entered into after 1 April 1991 and before 17 December 2009. The Rome Convention will also continue to be applied by Denmark.

As a result of "last minute" changes largely advocated for by the UK, there are few substantive differences between Rome I and the Rome Convention. The changes in Rome I aim mainly to provide greater clarity and certainty as to the law applicable to contractual obligations. The main (substantive) changes relate to the method of determining the law applicable to contracts in the absence of the parties' choice, consumer contracts and e-commerce and the inclusion of insurance contracts within the Rome I regime. A more detailed analysis of the differences and the impact for clients can be found in our Contract Law Reform Update 2009.

The 2007 Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters aims to replace the 1988 Lugano Convention of the same name. It brings the wording of the Lugano Convention in line with the Brussels Regulation. The Lugano Conventions determine jurisdiction of the courts and provide for the recognition and enforcement of judgments as between the EU and the EFTA states Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. There are few significant differences between the two Conventions. The 2007 Convention came into force between the EU and Norway on 1 January 2010, but it has not yet been ratified by Iceland and Switzerland which will continue to apply the 1988 Lugano Convention. This means that both regimes remain in force until Switzerland and Iceland have completed their respective ratification processes and extra care has to be taken when determining the set of rules applicable to questions relating to jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments.