The Hague Judgments Convention recently entered into force in Ireland providing another route for the enforcement of foreign judgments. As the list of States where that Convention has entered into force expands, Gearoid Carey and Gerard Kelly in our Commercial Disputes team explore how enforcement of a broader range of judgments from those jurisdictions can be pursued.
The Hague Judgments Convention entered into force in Ireland from 1 September 2023 through the enactment of the European Union (Hague Judgments Convention) Regulations 2023. The Convention offers another route by which foreign judgments may be enforceable in Ireland. As the number of countries to which it applies expands, it is something to be considered when faced with enforcing a judgment from the courts of a foreign jurisdiction, but also when making a jurisdictional choice in a commercial agreement.
A new enforcement route
Prior to the coming into force of the Convention, the enforcement routes available in Ireland could be broadly summarised as follows:
- Brussels Recast Regulation – enforcement within the EU of judgments from the courts of other EU Member States
- Lugano Convention - additionally provides for the enforcement of judgments from certain European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states, namely Iceland, Norway and Switzerland
- Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements – in addition to EU Member States, this currently applies to enforcement for the United Kingdom, Singapore, Mexico and Ukraine
- Common Law enforcement – Common Law enforcement principles apply to judgments from any countries not referenced above, so effectively only monetary judgments are enforceable
Now that the Convention is in force in Ireland, it means that judgments from certain states will no longer need to rely on Common Law enforcement. These states currently include Ukraine and soon Uruguay, but in time likely many more.
The Convention applies to civil and commercial judgments, but its scope excludes certain technical subject matters. ‘Judgment’ is the same as under the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements and interim measures of protection are excluded. There are limited bases to seek refusal of recognition and enforcement. Although Article 12 sets out the proofs required when seeking recognition of or applying for enforcement, the law of the requested State is to govern the procedure for recognition and enforcement.
In Ireland, an application for recognition or enforcement shall be made to the Master of the High Court. An enforcement order, if made, shall be of the same force and effect as a High Court judgment and may be enforced as if it were a High Court judgment. Although the rules of court have not yet been amended to address the application process, the Regulation does envisage that a decision of the Master of the High Court may be appealed and, in turn, a decision of the High Court relating to a decision of the Master may be appealed.
The list of relevant Contracting States is currently only marginally different to those to which the Brussels Recast Regulation applies. However, the Convention has scope to be more relevant than the other instruments as more Contracting States ratify it and it enters into force. The Brussels and Lugano regimes are necessarily regional in nature and the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements is limited to cases where the jurisdictional choice is already made. Accordingly, the application of the Convention is an important development and could broaden significantly the range of judgments which may be enforceable in Ireland. This is something to be considered not only when looking to enforce a foreign judgment in Ireland, but also in making a jurisdictional choice in a commercial agreement.
For more information and expert advice on the enforcement of foreign judgments, or making jurisdictional choices in commercial agreements, contact a member of our Commercial Disputes team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.
 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters done at the Hague on 2 July 2019
 SI No 434 of 2023
 Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (recast).
 Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters done at Lugano on 30 October 2007.
 Convention on the Choice of Court Agreements of 30 June 2005 done at the Hague – the State parties to which it applies are broadly similar, but most importantly it includes the UK. This is a sister instrument to the Hague Judgments Convention.
 The Convention is, at the time of writing, in force in 27 States, including all Member States of the EU, with the exception of Denmark, and it is additionally in force in Ukraine and will be in force in Uruguay from 1 October 2024. The Convention has also been signed by Costa Rica, Israel, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Russia and the United States, but has not yet been ratified by or entered into force in respect of those jurisdictions.