My Right Honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
“The United Kingdom has opted in to the following Council Decisions:
(i) Council Decision of 7 February 2013, authorising the opening of negotiations on agreements between the EU and Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland in the areas of cross-border service of judicial and non-judicial documents and the taking of evidence in civil and commercial proceedings. (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are commonly referred to as the Lugano States).
The negotiating mandates set out the position of the EU in discussions on the prospects for agreements between those States in the areas of cross-border service of judicial and non-judicial documents and taking of evidence in civil and commercial proceedings.
There have been three rounds of discussions so far, and final agreements have yet to be reached. The decision of the then Government in 2013 to opt in to the negotiating mandates does not commit this Government to opt in to future EU agreements in these spheres. I will update the House as further information becomes available.
(ii) Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations on a Convention on the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Judgments Convention) in the framework of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
The negotiating mandate of May 2016 sets out the position of the EU in discussions at a Hague Conference level on the prospects for an international Convention which would set out rules for the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, delivered by foreign courts.
Detailed discussions on the form of a Convention text began in June 2016 and will continue among EU Member States and at Hague Conference level for some time to come. The next Hague Conference Special Commission to discuss the project will take place in November 2017.
Opting in to the EU negotiating mandate does not commit the UK Government to accede to any future Convention.
Due to an oversight, a Written Ministerial Statement on these Council Decisions has not thus far been placed before both Houses, for which I apologise”.
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: