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Some reflections on the way ahead for UK private international law after Brexit
Journal of Private International Law  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-05-07, DOI: 10.1080/17441048.2021.1894757
Paul Beaumont

Since 1 January 2021 the UK has moved out of the implementation period for its withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and it is an appropriate time to reflect on the way forward for the UK in developing private international law. This article considers the practical steps that the UK should take in the near future. There is significant work that the UK can do to progress its commitment to the “progressive unification of the rules of private international law” by improving its commitment to the effective functioning of several key Conventions concluded by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Some of these steps can and should be taken immediately, notably accepting the accessions of other States to the Hague Evidence and Child Abduction Conventions and extending the scope of the UK’s ratification of the Adults Convention to England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. Other things require more consultation and time but there are great opportunities to provide leadership in the world by ratifying the Hague Judgments Convention 2019 and, when implementing that Convention which is based on minimum harmonisation, providing leadership in the Commonwealth by implementing, at least to some extent, the Commonwealth Model Law on Recognition and Enforcement of Civil and Commercial Judgments. Within the UK, as a demonstration of best constitutional practice, intergovernmental cooperation between the UK Government and the devolved administrations should take place to consider how intra-UK private international law could be reformed learning the lessons from the UK Supreme Court’s highly divided decision in Villiers. Such work should involve the best of the UK’s experts (from each of its systems of law) on private international law from academia, the judiciary and legal practice. Doing so, would avoid accusations that Brexit will see a UK run by generalists who give too little attention and weight to the views of experts. This use of experts should also extend to the UK’s involvement in the future work of HCCH at all levels. The HCCH will only be able to be an effective international organisation if its Members show a commitment to harnessing the talents of experts in the subject within the work of the HCCH.