The European Commission has adopted a proposal for the EU to accede to the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention, an international treaty which is aimed at facilitating the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. In order for the EU to join the Convention, the Commission’s proposal will have to be adopted by the European Council, with the European Parliament’s consent.

The 2019 Convention is described in more detail in this previous blog post. In essence, it complements the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements by allowing enforcement of judgments in much broader circumstances – in particular, in contrast to the 2005 Convention, it does not require an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of a contracting state, and employment and consumer contracts are within scope.

If the EU accedes to the Convention, and assuming the UK also signs up in due course, it could significantly streamline the enforcement of judgments between the UK and the EU. Currently, while the UK remains unable to accede to the Lugano Convention (as discussed here), enforcement in most cases relies on national rules in each country, unless there is an exclusive jurisdiction clause falling within the 2005 Convention.

The 2019 Convention will not, however, come into force for any state until (approximately) 12 months after ratification. Even then, it won’t apply unless the proceedings were started (as opposed to the judgment being issued) when the Convention was in force for both the state of origin and the state of enforcement. This means that it will be some considerable time before it has any impact in practice. It is also worth noting that it is not a complete replacement for the Lugano Convention, including because recognition and enforcement can be refused on broader grounds than under Lugano, and it deals only with enforcement rather than jurisdiction. Ratification by both the EU and the UK would however be a positive step in facilitating mutual enforcement of judgments in the longer term.