Parliamentary briefing: Private International Law Bill – House of Commons second reading

This briefing outlines our views in relation to the Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill ahead of second reading in the House of Commons.

The Bill, which passed the Lords on 29 June, gives the government the ability to implement new private international law agreements and conventions through secondary legislation, as well as implementing three Hague Conventions into law (the UK was previously a member of the three Conventions via its EU membership).

Our position

We have several recommendations which we believe would:

  • ensure greater levels of parliamentary scrutiny and accountability
  • increase transparency and accountability to the devolved Governments
  • ensure legal certainty across internal UK borders

We support the swift implementation of the 1997, 2005 and 2007 Hague Conventions, allowing vital family law co-operation measures to continue after the transition period.

We hope this is the beginning of a close and co-operative civil judicial relationship, and that the EU and UK will work to create and implement ambitious new measures during and beyond the transition period.

We were pleased to see government register their intent during the passage through the Lords to ratify and implement the 2000 Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults in England and Wales after appropriate consultation with the Northern Ireland Executive. The 2000 Convention currently has been ratified in respect of Scotland but not England and Wales, or Northern Ireland.

We were pleased to see government register their commitment at report stage to appropriate consultation, in line with our support for greater accountability and transparency between the four Governments in the United Kingdom.

We’ve previously recommended that the Bill include enhanced measures for parliamentary scrutiny in the case of future private international law agreements being implemented via delegated powers. The version of the Bill introduced to the Lords allowed for criminal offences to be amended and created via secondary powers. If a clause or clauses on secondary powers is reintroduced, no provision should be made for the creation, extension or amendment of any criminal offence under secondary powers.

While not strictly within the scope of the Bill, we continue to support the UK’s application to the Lugano Convention. If the UK’s application is agreed to by the other parties, we would recommend consideration is given to the sequencing and interaction of private international law agreements implemented through the powers granted in the Bill, primarily the Lugano Convention and 2019 Hague Convention.

Regard should be given to how the Lugano Convention will operate with other international family law agreements e.g. 2007 Convention. We believe the government should work with experts in the legal profession (and through the lord chancellor’s Committee on Private International Law) to ensure a smooth operation of the relevant mechanisms at the end of the transition period.

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS