Disappointment as EU commission rebuffs UK accession to Lugano Convention

News the EU commission is to oppose UK accession to the Lugano Convention was today greeted with disappointment by the Law Society of England and Wales.

“We’ve been campaigning for a number of months in a bid to persuade Brussels to agree to our readmission to Lugano – while the final decision rests with the EU council, the backing of the commission would have been significant,” said Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce.

Lugano supports the autonomy of parties to a contract to choose a jurisdiction in Europe where to settle any disputes. It also allows the continuation of the current choice of court agreements despite Brexit.

Lugano supports access to justice for the parties, offering certainty about the jurisdiction where a claim can be brought, and allowing judgments to be recognised and enforced with a minimum of fuss and cost. It also allows the parties’ choice of court to be respected in all circumstances.

“Lugano makes litigation more accessible whether you are an employee with a grievance, a consumer let down by a goods or service provider, or a parent trying to enforce a maintenance order,” added I. Stephanie Boyce.

“It already applies between EU and members of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) states but it’s also available for non-EU and non-EFTA countries.

“Losing the Lugano framework means reverting to the national laws of each individual country to decide which court has jurisdiction over a legal issue and whether a judgment will be recognised and means enforced.

“Lugano also provides protection where one of the parties is deemed to be in a weaker position than the other: there are special regimes for employment, insurance and consumer contracts, maintenance orders.”

Without Lugano, there’s a significant risk people in the UK or EU may try to take advantage of different legal systems to delay justice.

“It also pushes litigation beyond reach of all but the deepest of pockets – the wealthiest corporations and individuals will still be able to enforce their rights. Without Lugano access to justice will be denied to those with smaller budgets.”

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