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Strengthening cooperation with Switzerland, Norway and Iceland: the Lugano Convention (2007)

Late in 2007, a convention was signed on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments, with the objective of achieving the same level of circulation of judgments between the European Union (EU) Member States and Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. On entering into force, it will replace the Lugano Convention of 1988 on jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. Other non-EU member countries can accede to the new convention under certain conditions.

ACT

Council Decision 2007/712/EC of 15 October 2007 on the signing, on behalf of the Community, of the Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.

SUMMARY

The “new Lugano Convention” will apply to jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. It will not apply to tax, customs and administrative matters or to the status and legal capacity of natural persons, rights in property arising from matrimonial relationships, wills and succession, bankruptcy or composition, social security or arbitration.

With this decision, the Council of the European Union (EU) authorises the President of the Council to designate the persons empowered to sign the convention on behalf of the Community. The text of the convention is attached to the decision.

Achieving a high level of circulation of judgments

The convention, signed on 30 October 2007 by the European Community, along with Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, will come into force as soon as it is ratified by the signatories. It will replace the Lugano Convention of 16 September 1988. The contracting parties must deposit their instruments of ratification with the Swiss Federal Council, which will serve as depositary of the convention. Once it has come into force, the convention will be open to:

  • future members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA);
  • Member States of the European Community acting on behalf of certain non-European territories that are part of their territory or for whose external relations they are responsible;
  • any other state, subject to the unanimous agreement of all the contracting parties.

Based on the rules applicable between EU Member States

The convention follows the present legal framework of the Community, namely the “Brussels I” regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters between Member States. The rules will therefore be similar in the EU and in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. The convention will also facilitate the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments handed down by the national courts of these countries.

The convention provides that, in general, persons domiciled in a state bound by the convention are sued in that state, whatever their nationality. However, it also provides for special rules of jurisdiction in certain matters, such as with regard to:

  • contracts: jurisdiction resides with the courts of the place of performance of the obligation;
  • maintenance: jurisdiction resides with the courts of the place where the maintenance creditor is domiciled or habitually resident;
  • tort, delict or quasi-delict: jurisdiction resides with the courts of the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur.

The convention also provides for specific jurisdictions in matters relating to insurance, consumer contracts and individual contracts of employment. Jurisdiction in matters relating to tenancies and real property rights resides exclusively with the courts of the contracting state in which the property is situated.

A number of protocols are annexed to the convention, among other things to ensure that it is interpreted as uniformly as possible.

Signing of the convention marks a major institutional development

The European Court of Justice confirms in its Opinion 1/03 that the European Community is exclusively competent to conclude the new Lugano Convention.

Signed on behalf of the Community on 30 October 2007, the convention is a key part of Community law. It runs for an unlimited period.

Council Decision 2009/430/EC of 27 November 2008 approved the conclusion of the convention on behalf of the Community. It also established the declarations to be made at the time of depositing the Community instrument of ratification (annexed to the decision).

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2007/712/EC

15.10.2007

-

OJ L 339 of 21.12.2007

Last updated: 02.10.2009

See also

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