On 23 November 2023, the Ministry of Justice announced that the UK will join the Hague Convention of July 2019, on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (the Hague Convention 2019).

This is significant because it should make it far more straightforward for UK judgments to be enforced overseas, and overseas judgments to be enforced in the UK.

Whilst most jurisdictions have a statutory framework within their national laws to allow for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, the process can often be slow and costly for parties due to the inconsistencies and conflicts between national laws. The position in the UK was further complicated by its departure from the EU, which resulted in the UK no longer being party to the Recast Brussels Regulation and the Lugano Convention. 

The UK is already a party to the Hague Choice of Court Agreements Convention 2005 (the Hague Convention 2005), which addresses the recognition and enforcement of judgments where a contract contains an exclusive jurisdiction clause. However, the Hague Convention 2005 does not apply where there is no exclusive jurisdiction clause or cover certain types of claims such as tort claims and personal injury claims, so its application is limited.

The Hague Convention 2019 has been drafted to complement the Hague Convention 2005 and covers non-jurisdiction clauses, as well as many of the types of claim excluded from the Hague Convention 2005. The Hague Convention 2019 will therefore facilitate a more uniform approach to recognition and enforcement of judgments in the UK and contracting states, and should significantly reduce the time and costs involved in cross-border enforcement. 

Be aware, however, that unlike the recast Brussels Convention and the Lugano Convention, the Hague Convention 2019 does not apply to the recognition and enforcement of interim measures, such as interim payment orders and interim injunctions. It also does not assist parties who are seeking to enforce judgments relating to insolvency, intellectual property and probate law (amongst others), so it is not a complete answer to cross-border enforcement.

Notwithstanding this, it is certainly a positive development and should reinforce the UK’s position as a dispute resolution hub when it comes into force in due course.