It's a "no" from us - EU Commission publishes its analysis of the UK's application to join the Lugano Convention

While the final decision rests with the EU Member States themselves, the EU Commission has now formally published its assessment of the UK's application to join the Lugano Convention.

Joining the Lugano Convention would mean that, rather than relying on a patchwork of bi-lateral treaties and local rules to determine where court action should take place and to enforce judgments in EU and EFTA countries, more streamlined rules would apply. The EU Commission has, however, recommended that the UK should not be permitted to join.

The EU Commission's rationale is that the Lugano Convention is a "flanking measure for the EU's economic relations with EFTA/EEA countries… these countries participate, at least partly, in the EU's internal market, comprising the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons."

A key factor in recommending that the UK is not admitted, is that it is now "…a third country with an 'ordinary' Free Trade Agreement facilitating trade but not including any fundamental freedoms and policies of the internal market…"

Litigator and cross-border enforcement specialist Sara Chisholm-Batten commented:

"Perhaps most significantly the EU Commission places heavy reliance on the Hague Conventions for future judicial cooperation between the UK and EU, rather than Lugano. The EU and UK have already acceded to the 2005 Hague Choice of Court Convention, but this has quite a narrow application to claims arising out of contracts where there is an exclusive choice of court / jurisdiction.

What is most promising is that the EU Commission is now indicating that it is planning to propose the EU 'conclusion' of the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention in the near future. The UK could also follow suit. This Convention has much wider application, which would mean many more judgments flowing more effectively between the UK and EU.

This latest communication highlights the real importance of the years of work undertaken by experts involved in the negotiation of the Hague Conventions, and their ongoing projects."

The full text of the EU Commission's communication is available here.

EUR-Lex - 52021DC0222 - EN - EUR-Lex (europa.eu)

Sara Chisholm-Batten is a partner in Michelmores' disputes team. She is also an observer for the International Bar Association at the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) Jurisdiction Project.