On 12 January 2024 Lord Bellamy, the Minister for Civil Justice, signed the 2019 Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters. We'd noted in November last year that this was the government's aim following consultation on the matter: Greater clarity on the horizon in enforcing cross-border claims: UK to join Hague Convention 2019.

Although the Ministry of Justice's press release carries the subtitle “Firms caught up in endless international legal disputes will be spared time and money thanks to Ministers signing up to the 2019 Hague Convention today (12 January 2024)”, it's more a case of ‘jam tomorrow’ because - as the footnotes to the press release point out - the Convention will take effect one year after ratification and even then only for disputes arising after that period.

The UK re-joining the Lugano Convention - which is wider than Hague in that it also deals with grounds of jurisdiction - is potentially the next step in improving  predictability and certainty in cross border private international law claims. Our November article (linked above) noted that re-joining is widely supported among practitioners. However, progress towards that goal has stalled because of the decision by the European Commission to block the UK's request to re-join.

The European Parliament has previously emphasised that “the degree of legal integration provided for by the Hague Convention is far lower than the quasi-automatic system of recognition provided for by the Lugano Convention.”  Despite this, the question of the UK potentially re-joining Lugano remains a highly political one which, for the time being at least, seems to have reached stalemate. We will provide an update should that change.