On 29 August 2022, the EU and Ukraine deposited their instruments of, respectively, accession to and ratification of the 2019 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (the Hague Judgments Convention or the Convention). The Convention will enter into force between the EU (except Denmark) and Ukraine on 1 September 2023 (art. 28(1)).  

The Hague Judgments Convention intends to create a uniform set of core rules on recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in civil or commercial matters, to facilitate the effective recognition and enforcement of such judgments. Based on the Hague Judgments Convention judgments rendered by one Contracting State will, in principle, be recognized and enforced in another Contracting State without a review of the merits of the judgment. Recognition and enforcement can only be refused by another Contracting State on a limited number of grounds for refusal set out in the Convention. The uniform set of core rules will provide for a greater predictability and certainty in relation to the global circulation of foreign judgments, as opposed to the current situation where parties face difficulties due to the scattered legal framework for recognition and enforcement of judgment in the international context.

The Hague Judgement Convention is the culmination of years of negotiations at the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The process began in 1992 at the request of the United States, seeking a global approach to jurisdiction and recognition of judgments. When ratified by other Contracting States the Hague Judgments Convention could become an important instrument complimentary to (i) the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (relating to the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards) and (ii) the 2005 Hague Choice of Court Convention (relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered based on an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of the courts of one of the contracting states).

The Hague Judgments Convention in a nutshell:

  • Scope: The Hague Judgments Convention applies to the recognition and enforcement of judgments relating to civil or commercial matters. Certain matters are excluded, such as revenue, customs or administrative matter (art. 1), matters relating to criminal or family law, insolvency, privacy, arbitration, certain anti-trust (competition) matters and intellectual property matters (art. 2);

  • Recognition and enforcement: the Convention provides that a judgment rendered by a court of a Contracting State (State of origin) must be recognized and enforced in another Contracting State (requested State), without a review of the merits of the judgement in the requested State (art. 4(1) and (2)). The Convention lists a set of requirements that the court of the requested State should use to assess whether a judgment is eligible for recognition and enforcement (art. 5). For example, judgments can be recognized and enforced if the person against whom recognition and enforcement is sought was habitually resident in the State of origin at the time that person became a party to the proceedings. Another example is the situation that defendant has argued on the merits before the court of origin without contesting jurisdiction within the timeframe provided in the law of the State of origin. If any of the jurisdictional requirements in article 5 is met, the judgment is presumptively eligible for recognition and enforcement; and

  • Refusal of recognition and enforcement: Recognition and enforcement can, based on the court’s discretion, only be refused on grounds stipulated in the Convention (art. 7). Reasons for refusal include the following in the international contexts well know grounds for refusal: (i) lack of due process, (ii) judgments contrary to public policy, (iii) judgments obtained by fraud and (iv) inconsistent judgments.

What’s next?

To date the EU and Ukraine are the first two Contracting States where the Hague Judgments Convention will actually enter into force on 1 September 2023. Five other parties (Costa Rica, Israel, Russia, the United States and Uruguay) have already signed the Convention, but the Convention still needs to be acceded to or ratified before the Convention comes into force in these countries. The United Kingdom has not (yet) signed the Hague Judgments Convention. For information on recognition and enforcement of post-Brexit UK judgments in the Netherlands, we refer to our Brexit Blog 13.  

Should you have questions about (the consequences of) the Hague Judgments Convention, or other issues revolving around private international law or cross-border (recognition and enforcement) disputes, please feel free to contact Abdel Attaïbi or Michel Bosman.