The Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements enters into force today

Today, the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements of 30 June 2005 enters into force in EU countries. As its name suggests, the Choice of Court Convention is concerned with the effectiveness of jurisdiction clauses agreed by parties to international commercial transactions.  It applies only to choice of court agreements in “civil or commercial matters”; it excludes consumer and employment contracts and certain specific subject matters.

In order to give effect to choice of court agreements, Article 5 of the Convention provides that the court chosen by the parties must in principle hear the case and, as a mirror image, Article 6 of the Convention provides that any court not chosen must in principle decline to hear the case. In addition, under Articles 8 and 9, the Convention provides for recognition and enforcement of judgments.

All EU Member States (apart from Denmark) are bound by the Convention. So is Mexico.

Singapore signed the Convention on 25 March 2015. It is expected to ratify the Convention in the near future as part of its ongoing drive to promote Singapore as an international dispute resolution centre. Specifically, it is thought that being party to the Convention will add to the attraction of the Singapore International Commercial Court (the SICC). The SICC is a division of the Singapore High Court with jurisdiction when: (a) the claim is of an international and commercial nature; (b) the parties have submitted to the SICC’s jurisdiction under a written jurisdiction agreement; and (c) the parties to the action do not seek relief in the form of or connected with a prerogative order (see further, the Singapore Rules of Court). The SICC should be well placed to determine disputes under a variety of national laws as it features a panel of international judges (see here for a full list) including former English Court of Appeal judge and member of 20 Essex Street, Sir Bernard Rix.

The USA signed the Convention in 2009 but is unlikely to ratify it anytime soon.

The HCCH site provides a list of all contracting states.