In accordance with article 127 of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Lugano Convention 2007 (the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters of 2007) continued to apply “to and in” the United Kingdom until 31 December 2020 (the end of the transition period). However, from this date, UK was no longer a party to this Convention.
On 2 April 2020, the United Kingdom made an application for re-admittance to the Lugano Convention. Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland, all parties to the Lugano Convention, all gave their approval. Yet, based on articles 70 and 72.3 of the Convention, a unanimous acceptance by the Contracting States is required. The European Court of Justice decided (see the Lugano Opinion, 1/03 of 2006) that such accession relates to the external competence of the European Union and that there for the European Union should decide on the UK’s request for accession.
On 1 July 2021, the depository of the Lugano Convention 2007, Switzerland, a notification was issued to the Parties to the Convention of the EU’s refusal to give its consent to the UK’s accession to the Convention stating that the EU is not “in a position to give its consent to invite the United Kingdom to accede to the Lugano Convention” (see the note verbale of the EU as received by the depository on 28 June 2021).
The European Commission’s refusal of the UK’s request is based on its assessment of the Lugano Convention’s nature as meant for States with close regulatory integration with the EU and its view that the Hague Conventions should be used for relations between the EU and third States. Hopefully, this means signature and ratification by the EU of the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention soon. Currently, the Convention has only been signed by Israel, Ukraine, and Uruguay and has not yet entered into force (see status).
The 2005 Hague Choice-of-Court Convention is already in force in the EU and in the UK, along with Mexico, Montenegro, and Singapore. Besides these states, China, Israel, North Macedonia, Ukraine, and the United States have signed but not yet ratified the convention (see status).
In the opinion of the EU (see the Commission’s communication), the Lugano Convention supports the EU’s relationship with third countries which have a particularly close regulatory integration with the EU, including by aligning with (parts of) the EU acquis. In the opinion of the EU, “the appropriate framework for cooperation with third countries in the field of civil judicial cooperation is provided by the multilateral Hague Conventions, i.e. the 2005 Hague Choice of Court Convention and the 2019 Hague Judgments Convention.”