Thought-provoking addition to international law series
The 2019 Hague Judgments Convention
Ronald A. Brand, Michael S. Coffee, Paul Herrup
The 2019 Hague Judgments Convention is another book in the excellent Oxford Private International Law Series. The authors are eminent US lawyers who were all involved in the drafting of the convention.
The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters was concluded on 2 July 2019. It entered into force between the EU (excluding Denmark) and Ukraine on 1 September 2023, as they were the first parties to have fully acceded to the convention.
The book is particularly timely as the UK signed up to the convention on 12 January. This will come into force for the UK 12 months after formal ratification. This is significant because the UK had been blocked by the EU from rejoining the Lugano Convention 2007 following Brexit.
The 2019 convention is a building block clearly designed to facilitate international trade and commerce. In its own preamble it makes clear that it is complementary to the 2005 Convention on Choice of Court Agreements.
The purpose of The 2019 Hague Judgments Convention is perhaps most succinctly stated in Chapter 4, which opens with the words that the ‘book is primarily an exercise in interpretation’. In the spirit of this statement, it is divided logically into chapters, starting off with a basic introduction to the convention, the rules on international recognition and enforcement of judgments applicable in the absence of the convention, and the history of the negotiations. It then largely focuses on a line-by-line interpretation of the text of the convention itself and helpfully juxtaposes text with the appropriate interpretive commentary below.
Given its US authorship, the book has a separate chapter devoted to the relevance of the convention to current US practice covering international recognition and enforcement of judgments. The last chapter is ‘Final Comments and Thoughts about the Future’. It is clear from both these chapters that, while the convention is not perfect, it does set a standard and is certainly a work in progress.
Very helpfully, there is an appendix which contains the full text of the convention as one continuous document. There is also a ‘Recommended Form’ to be used in registering foreign judgments under the convention and the Garcimartin-Saumier explanatory report which accompanied its finalisation.
The book is well annotated and has a good contents page, index and tables of legislation and cases. The three authors have also integrated their contributions seamlessly so that the book speaks with one voice and not as a separate compendium of different views.
There is much focus on US and EU approaches to the subject matter of the convention and not much about its implications for the UK. However, the book should be of help to UK lawyers in guiding them through the intricacies of the convention.
The convention does not deal with the allocation of jurisdiction between territories or countries. Rather, it is concerned with the international recognition and enforcement of civil or commercial judgments, once obtained. As such, the convention has to be seen as part of a bigger picture of private international law regulation. The authors recognise this when they conclude that ‘there is a strong case to be made for further experimentation through both domestic practice and new treaties designed to be more forward-looking in approach and architecture’.
The book is thought-provoking and should be of interest both to academics and practitioners. One hopes it will be updated as usage and experience develop around the convention.
David Glass is a consultant solicitor at Excello Law