The end of the post-Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 has brought with it some changes for those involved in civil litigation with an EU element. Generally, proceedings which are already on foot will be unaffected, whereas litigants involved in new proceedings with an EU element may now face a slightly bumpier procedural ride and some increased cost.
However, the changes should not be overstated, and the attraction of using English law and the English courts to resolve disputes with an EU element remains as strong as ever.
There is also some prospect that, if the UK is permitted by the EU to re-join the Lugano Convention in relatively short order - which may be the case now that the parties have agreed on the shape of their future trading relationship - a new comprehensive regime very similar to the one which existed previously in this area will soon be ushered in.
Where are we now (again)?
Although the UK and EU did succeed in reaching agreement on the text of a new trade and cooperation agreement on 24 December 2020, just prior to the end of the Transition Period, that agreement is largely silent on civil judicial cooperation, only touching on it in limited respects concerning the enforcement of intellectual property rights. In particular, the agreement does not address either allocation of jurisdiction as between English and EU courts, or the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments of those courts, in civil proceedings. The situation envisaged in our previous briefing on this topic, Jurisdiction and Judgments: where are we now?, has therefore now come to pass. The previous EU regime governing these areas, the Recast Brussels Regulation, has fallen away with no comprehensive replacement in place.