territorial jurisdiction of the court. The law relating to the recognition and enforcement of cross-
border judgments is therefore an important means of enabling the civil justice system to achieve its
purpose, and so to help litigants enforce judgments awarded in other countries or states or enforce a
local judgment in another country or state.
The Hague Conference on Private International Law (‘HCCH’)
has been attempting to nego-
tiate multilateral arrangements for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments for a half-
but a broad-based convention has so far proven elusive. A Judgments Project was begun
in 1992 with the aim of concluding a convention that dealt with both the international adjudicative
and enforcement jurisdictions of courts.
It proved too ambitious and by the 2000s the HCCH had
lowered its sights. The first success was the 2005 Convention on Choice of Court Agreements,
which provided for the enforcement of judgments rendered when exercising jurisdiction under
exclusive choice of court agreements.
In 2012, the HCCH’s Council on General Affairs and
Policy agreed to resume a larger Judgments Project that, at the least, would deal with the transna-
tional recognition and enforcement of judgments. The Special Commission on the Judgments
Project produced a Judgments Convention in May 2018.
A Diplomatic Session of the HCCH is
expected to take place in 2019, at which the 2018 draft Judgments Convention will be presented.
Australia has been an active participant in these negotiations and so, in preparation for its involve-
ment in the Diplomatic Session, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department conducted a
public consultation on the draft Judgments Convention in 2018.
If implemented, legislation that emerges from the Judgments Convention will deliver an over-
due refurbishment of the Australian law relating to the recognition and enforcement of foreign
The law is, at present, strongly bifurcated. Although, on the one hand, there is a distinctive and
efficient model for the interstate and trans-Tasman enforcement of judgments within Australia and
New Zealand; on the other hand, judgments made in other countries are recognised and enforced
under conditions that are relatively unchanged since the late 19
century. Recognition and enforce-
ment of foreign judgments is occasionally pursued by litigation at common law but, even where
more efficient statutory processes of enforcement are available, the conditions of enforcement
largely parallel those of the common law. While the introduction of a scheme that gives effect to
the Judgments Convention would not simplify th e structure of the law in Australia, it would
introduce a scheme that is much better adapted to modern civil and commercial litigation than
-century structure is. The Judgments Convention would give successful litigants the ability
to enforce a larger range of foreign civil and commercial judgments in Australia. Even more
importantly, it would enable the projection of Australian judicial power into other countries
according to more contemporary standards. Similarly, the courts of foreign countries that are party
to the Convention would also improve their ability to project enforcement power into Australia to
the same extent. Although this would disadvantage some individual judgment creditors in Aus-
tralia, at a system level it still promotes Australia’s interests. The terms of international cooper-
ation necessarily demand reciprocity and the reciprocal enhancement of mechanisms for the
enforcement of foreign judgments across borders increases certainty for cross-border business and
reduces the risk of cross-border business activity.
In this article, we consider the impact of the implementation of the Judgments Convention in
Australia. Part II identifies issues with the current regime for the recognition and enforcement of
foreign judgments in Australia. Part III explains how the Judgments Project might address some
of those issues. It also provides further background to the Judgments Project, identifies the scope of
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