Reed Smith In-depth

Key takeaways

  • The Ministry of Justice has announced that the UK will join the Hague Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (Hague 2019).
  • Hague 2019 will sit alongside the existing framework of common law and local law regimes, bilateral arrangements and European instruments, facilitating international enforcement of court judgments.
  • The UK’s ratification of Hague 2019 will significantly reinforce the UK’s position as a practical and effective jurisdiction for determination of international disputes. It will be particularly useful in bridging gaps in the scope of the Hague Convention of 30 June 2005 on Choice of Court Agreements (Hague 2005), providing reassurance and greater choice for contracting parties, for example, in relation to finance or ISDA-based agreements.
  • This client alert looks at the benefits of Hague 2019, as well as some of the important limitations.


Cross-border enforcement of English court judgments in civil and commercial disputes has been a hot topic throughout the years since 2016, when the UK voted to leave the European Union. Parties have faced considerable uncertainty and change in relation to a question which is fundamental to their contracts; namely, which national courts will be the forum for disputes that arise? The loss of the clear route to enforcement under the EU’s Brussels I Recast Regulation (1215/2012) (Brussels Recast) has created a headache for those concerned about enforcing English judgments and unpaid debts in EU member states.

There has been regular debate since the Brexit vote about the scope of the remaining framework of arrangements and instruments, much of which remains unresolved. Parties and their lawyers have had to pay close attention to local laws on enforcement, to face uncertainty about whether old bilateral arrangements between nations are still operative and to adapt or abandon their preferred contract terms (such as non-exclusive jurisdiction clauses) to fit the new position.

Hague 2019 has been heralded as a “game changer” and will provide parties much more certainty and limit the need for costly and caveat-laden advice from multiple jurisdictions. This client alert looks at what will change and when, as well as the benefits and limitations of the new convention.