The Judgments Convention Is Here

The Judgments Convention has been adopted! This is the culmination of decades of work to fill one of the biggest gaps in private international law. The immediate prospects for American participation in the Convention are unclear. Indeed, in the days since adoption, only one state, Uruguay, has signed the Convention. But these things take time and we should wait some times—years, probably—before making judgments.

The delegates to the Diplomatic Session of the Hague Conference made some decisions about key issues, some of which were reflected in the draft text and some of which were not. I want to highlight one issue that I was a little surprised made the final text. Article 29 gives each contracting state the power to declare that the Convention will not be in effect between it and any other contracting state by making an appropriate declaration. This is a potential answer to the problem of crappy courts I discussed in my last post on the Convention. The form of “bilateralization” the delegates adopted is “opt-out,” and can be contrasted with the “opt-in” bilateralization provisions that was one of the factors that led to the failure of the Hague Conference’s last effort at a judgments convention, in 1971. See Ronald Brand, The Circulation of Judgments Under the Draft Hague Convention 33-34 (2019). Again, we will have to see whether the deal the delegates reached is enough to induce states to sign or even to ratify the Convention notwithstanding their distrust of the courts of particular other states.

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