Choice-of-court agreements, also known as forum selection clauses, are common in international commercial contracts. These agreements allow parties to choose a specific jurisdiction where any disputes arising from the contract will be resolved. This article will explore the application and enforcement of choice-of-court agreements under European and international instruments.
The primary instrument governing choice-of-court agreements in Europe is the Brussels I Regulation (Recast) 1215/2012. This regulation provides a framework for determining which court has jurisdiction over civil and commercial disputes. Specifically, Article 25 of the regulation allows parties to choose a particular court to resolve their disputes. This choice-of-court agreement must be in writing or evidenced in writing, and it must be entered into either before or after the dispute has arisen.
Under the Brussels I Regulation, choice-of-court agreements are generally binding and enforceable across the European Union. However, there are limited circumstances where a court may refuse to recognize and enforce such agreements. For example, a court may refuse to enforce a choice-of-court agreement if it is deemed incompatible with the public policy of the member state in which the court is located.
Apart from the Brussels I Regulation, there are other European instruments that govern choice-of-court agreements in specific areas. For example, the Hague Convention on the Choice of Court Agreements applies to exclusive choice-of-court agreements in civil or commercial matters. This convention has been ratified by several European countries, including the European Union, Mexico, and Singapore.
Outside of Europe, there are various international instruments that govern choice-of-court agreements. Among these instruments is the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. This convention applies to arbitration agreements and awards made in the context of international commercial disputes. Under the convention, courts are generally required to recognize and enforce choice-of-court agreements unless they are contrary to the law or public policy of the country in which the recognition and enforcement is sought.
Furthermore, the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements also applies internationally. This convention has been ratified by several countries outside of Europe, including Mexico and Singapore. It specifically applies to exclusive choice-of-court agreements in civil or commercial matters and provides a framework for the recognition and enforcement of such agreements.
In conclusion, choice-of-court agreements are crucial in international commercial contracts as they allow parties to choose a specific jurisdiction to resolve disputes. In Europe, the primary instrument governing choice-of-court agreements is the Brussels I Regulation, while the Hague Convention on the Choice of Court Agreements applies to exclusive choice-of-court agreements in civil or commercial matters. Outside of Europe, the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements apply. It is crucial for parties to ensure that their choice-of-court agreement meets the criteria set out in these instruments to ensure its enforceability.