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The 2019 Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

We have previously reported on the “February 2017 Draft Convention” of the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (Convention). On 2 July 2019, the Hague Conference on Private International Law resolved to conclude the Convention.

Key changes from the February 2017 draft are summarized below:

(1) Sovereign debt restructuring through unilateral State measures has been added to the list of excluded matters;
(2) A new paragraph under “Bases for recognition and enforcement” provides that a judgment that ruled on a residential lease of immovable property (tenancy) or registration of immovable property is eligible for recognition and enforcement only if it was given by a court of the state where the property is situated;
(3) All types of judgments on intellectual property rights are excluded without exception, whereas in the 2017 draft, a judgment that ruled on an intellectual property right was eligible for recognition if certain requirements were met; and
(4) A new article on the establishment of relations between 2 contracting states is added, allowing a contracting party to notify the depositary within 12 months that its ratification shall not have the effect of establishing relations with a particular contracting state.

It is still premature to comment on the impact of the Convention, as Uruguay is the only signatory at the moment. That said, it is worth noting that Hong Kong has been actively involved in the preparatory stage of the Convention although it has not ratified the Convention yet.

As mentioned in our previous article, Hong Kong has not entered into any multilateral convention or bilateral treaty regarding recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. If Hong Kong accedes to the Convention, it will be required to recognize and enforce civil/commercial judgments made in a foreign Court if the relevant state is a signatory to the Convention. This would have a huge impact on international commercial judgments that require enforcement in Hong Kong, which is currently only possible by commencing fresh proceedings in Hong Kong, unless the relevant country is one of the 15 designated countries under the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance, Cap. 319.

We shall provide further updates on the Convention.

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