Following last week’s vote for Brexit, many are wondering what impact the decision will have on litigation and arbitration in the UK. Will jurisdiction agreements in favour of the UK courts continue to be respected within the EU, and will English judgments be enforceable throughout the EU? How are court documents to be served in EU Member States? And what about agreements providing for London-seated arbitration?
On the one hand, it is, of course, far too early to say how the negotiations between the UK and the EU will address and settle questions of jurisdiction as between the UK and the remaining EU Member States. It is possible that the UK and the EU may agree that the UK should continue to apply EU conflict of laws rules in one form or another after Brexit takes place, negotiating some special relationship with the EU similar to that enjoyed by EFTA Member States. Only time will tell.
On the other, even without speculating as to what legal relationship may ultimately come to be negotiated between the UK and the EU, there is good reason to believe that relatively little will change where litigation and arbitration is concerned. This is because EU Member States are already subject to Conventions that will be unaffected by Brexit and that provide a global framework for legal proceedings, ensuring cooperation between courts in different contracting states. When the UK comes to leave the EU, both the UK and the remaining EU Member States will continue to be bound by these Conventions.
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