New Hague Judgments Convention Adopted

The 2019 Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters has been adopted but its effect is unlikely to be immediate.

The new Convention deals with the cross-border enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters between Contracting States. The explanatory report to the Convention explains that in doing so it furthers one of the main goals of private international law, which is international judicial co-operation, with a view to enhancing predictability and justice in cross-border legal relations in these areas of law. It aims to reduce risks and costs associated with cross-border legal relations and dispute resolution and to facilitate international trade, investment and mobility.

In contrast to the 2005 Hague Choice of Court Convention, the new Hague Judgments Convention goes beyond judgments based on an exclusive jurisdiction clause. It also goes beyond that earlier Convention in that it encompasses employment and consumer matters. It also applies to rights in rem in immovable property in certain circumstances.

Exclusions from the Convention include insolvency; marine disputes; the carriage of passengers and goods; defamation; privacy; intellectual property; certain anti-trust matters and arbitration.

When enforcing a judgment, there will be no review of the merits of that judgment in the enforcing State. However, that State can refuse to recognise and enforce the judgment in certain defined circumstances, for example, where it was obtained by fraud or without proper notice to the defendant.

The impact of the Convention is unlikely to be seen for some time. In order for the Convention to apply to a particular set of proceedings, it will need to have been in effect in the court of origin and the court enforcing the judgment at the date of the institution of those proceedings. In addition, certain post-ratification delays are built into the Convention.

Ultimately, the success of the new Convention will depend on the level of take up by the international community. If it becomes the standard, it could transform the landscape for enforcement of foreign civil and commercial judgments.  Uruguay has signed the Convention and the European Commission has indicated that it is beginning the process for EU accession to the Convention.

This document has been prepared by McCann FitzGerald LLP for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.