After the Brexit, the regulations on civil proceedings between EU countries and the UK changed. How did it affect the pursuing of claims by companies having business relations with the UK?
On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union for good. This resulted in many discrepancies and inconsistencies between the regulations in force in the United Kingdom and the EU member states what required the signing of additional agreements regulating relations between the EU and the UK.
Before the Brexit – until 31 December 2020 – a transitional period applied during which the UK was subject to the EU law with the same effect as other member states. At that time, the Brussels I-bis Regulation applied which enabled a suit to be brought before a court in Poland in a case concerning a contract with a UK contractor or a case for compensation for a tort committed in Poland by a person residing in the UK. In addition, that Regulation provided for mutual enforcement of judgments without any special procedure.
From 1 January 2021, only British law will apply in the United Kingdom, and the courts competent to conduct disputes will be British courts, taking into account the provisions of international agreements to which the United Kingdom is a party.
In this regard, it is significant that the United Kingdom has become an independent party to the Hague Convention of 30 June 2005 on Choice of Court Agreements (“The Hague Convention“), to which the European Union is one of the parties. The scope of the Hague Convention is much narrower than the existing regulations and it only applies to choice of jurisdiction clauses, with the exception of matters relating to:
The Hague Convention requires the courts of the States Parties to recognize an exclusive jurisdiction of the courts in the jurisdiction chosen by the parties to a contract. This means that the parties to international contracts may validly choose the court which will hear a potential dispute. And the judgments of the courts of the contracting states should be recognized and enforced.
The Hague Convention also regulates certain procedural issues, including: lifting the obligation to legalize documents (apostille), the scope of documentation to be collected and presented by the parties, etc.). The provisions of the Hague Convention apply only to contracts concluded after entry into force with respect to the party, i.e. for the United Kingdom from 1 January 2021.
In matters where a statement of claim (or a petition in non-contentious proceedings) is brought after 31 December 2020, judgments by the courts of the member states will not be automatically recognized in the UK and the court jurisdiction will not be determined under the Brussels I bis Regulation. These issues are regulated by the relevant international agreements or, in their absence, by the national law of the UK and EU member states.
In accordance with Polish law:
In this context, it may be relevant to note that the United Kingdom has applied to accede to the Lugano Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters as an independent party (and not a member of the EU / EEA), but to date, the admission procedure has not been finished yet. The Convention aims to achieve the same level of circulation of judgments between the EU countries and Switzerland, Norway and Iceland as between the EU countries.
The Lugano Convention applies to jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters and does not apply to:
The convention complies with the current EU legal framework on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters between EU countries. This means that similar rules apply in the EU as well as in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. The convention also facilitates the mutual recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions entered by the national courts of these countries. The UK accession to the convention will certainly facilitate the pursuit of claims in court.
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