Will UK join the Lugano Convention?

UK accession to the Lugano convention disputed

Since 1 February 2020, the UK is no longer a member of the EU. This has implications for the Lugano Convention, which regulates the jurisdiction of courts and the enforcement of foreign judgments between the member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. The UK Government has declared its intention to accede to the Lugano Convention and it has received assurances of support from various contracting parties (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland).

Accession to the Convention would provide a reciprocal arrangement under which English and other European courts would apply a common set of jurisdictional rules, unless some of the benefits of Brussels I (Recast) would be lost, because the Lugano Convention does not accord primacy to exclusive jurisdiction agreements, for example (Italian torpedo jurisprudence). But accession to the Lugano Convention would guarantee a degree of legal certainty, predictability of outcome, and definite relief for practitioners and parties in Europe.

On 8 April 2020, the UK submitted its formal application to accede to the Convention. In order to accede, there will have to be unanimous consent of all the other contracting parties, especially of the EU. In this respect, it seems that the European Commission pointed out that a quick decision is not in the EU's interest, since the UK decided to leave the single market, when the transition period will end on 31 December 2020. 

Negotiations continue between the UK and the EU, but the frosty reception of the EU remains, since accepting the request would be an important advantage for Britain’s legal sector, what might contribute to any hesitation not only by the Commission, but also from some Member States.

Should no solution be found, jurisdiction and enforcement issues will be dealt by the local rules of each country, what will complicate the European legal system considerably.