The UK and Norway Signed an Agreement Recognizing Each Others’ Civil Judgments

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( — December 3, 2020) — 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. We have witnessed several major political events and have been part of the unprecedented global pandemic, with the whole globalized world being stagnated in one place, locking down every single county and practicing social distance. We have also witnessed Brexit, which was expected but still not completely believed. While the US chose the new, 46th president, the UK and Norway have signed mutual recognition and enforcement of civil court judgment agreements from each jurisdiction in the absence of an EU-level agreement.

The transition process of Brexit is on until the 31st of December, which means that 2020 will finally close the chapter of the UK in the EU history book. This means that the Lugano Convention signed in 2007 between EU member states of Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland does no longer apply to the UK. 

The UK has applied to accede to the Lugano Convention as an independent contracting party in April 2020. Though, the application could not be accepted due to several reasons. First of all, the accession process required the approval of all member states of the EU, which is definitely not a priority for any of them at the current moment. Though even if it is accepted now, there will be no legal opportunity to fulfill it, as it is impossible for the convention to re-enter into force before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, because of the three-month time-lag applied between the agreement and entry into force.

Intertwined Laws 

The agreement signed by Norway and the UK means that the countries shall be able to intertwine into each other’s laws in terms of civil and commercial judgment. This means that the countries will use each other’s laws and approaches to certain situations. While the UK shall use this agreement as the main document to rely on besides its national law, Norway should also reconsider certain laws addressing some industries. 

One of the industries is gambling. It is legal in both countries, but unlike the UK, online gambling in Norway is only legal with state-approved operators. Those are two companies, approved by the government, meaning that Norway remains more conservative about the industry, compared to the UK. Though according to the freshly signed agreement, the UK shall have the right to intertwine in the law-making process, thus there might be a chance, that the Norwegian government loses the monopoly over the online gambling industry and considers freedom of choice for the player. 

Though, there is one interesting point. Does this agreement mean that the Norwegian players can actually play with the UK based operators, as far as their laws are intertwined? Perhaps yes, and if so the online casino market in Norway shall experience a significant enhancement very soon. One way or another, many casinos and websites have started reconsidering possible changes, just like Gratis Spinn, a Norwegian gambling outlet, that is also in the process of ironing out this info with its readers.

The perfect start

Some of the experts have already voiced their opinion about the Out-Law process, stating that the agreement underlined the continued uncertainty around the cross-border dispute resolution as a transitional arrangement between the UK and EU to come to the end. Richard Dickman stated his strong opinion about the UK not having the accede in place before the Brexit transition period. Even taking the current Brussels 1 Recast Regulation regime, should not be a part of the Brexit negotiation process. 

He also added that even if the continuation of the convention will be enforced, there still should be a period, when the country shall consider only the national laws, the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements – which applies to certain situations involving exclusive jurisdiction clauses – and any bilateral agreements with specific countries which may apply. 

Pinsent Masons representative Emilie Jones said that the agreement between the UK and Norway could potentially fill in as a point of reference for similar arrangements between the UK and different countries, for example, Switzerland. 

“However, Norway is just one jurisdiction, and there remains uncertainty about the cross-border enforcement of judgments, after 31 December 2020, in the EU and in the other non-EU Lugano states,” she said. “There is also continuing uncertainty about the allocation of jurisdiction between different countries’ courts in cross-border disputes, which is also impacted by the UK ceasing to be a member of the Brussels 1 Recast Regulation and Lugano Convention – a point not covered by the UK-Norway agreement.”

“It, therefore, remains important for businesses to seek advice on dispute resolution provisions when entering into new cross-border contracts; consider reviewing their existing dispute resolution provisions; and take advice on whether litigation should be commenced in any existing disputes before the end of the year in order to take advantage of the transitional provisions under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement for proceedings commenced before that date,” she said.