Ontario recently enacted the International Choice of Court Agreements Convention Act, 2017, which will give effect to the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (the “Hague Convention”) in Ontario once Canada ratifies the Hague Convention. (Canada has not yet signed or ratified the Hague Convention. It is not yet known when Canada will ratify the Hague Convention. The Uniform Law Conference of Canada adopted a model implementation statute in 2010, suggesting that Canada may sign and ratify the Hague Convention.)
In preparation for ratification, Ontario businesses should be aware of the Hague Convention’s key features, including:
• where parties of member States have expressly agreed to a court in their contract, the court selected by parties must act in every case as long as the choice of court agreement is valid. The agreed Court does not have discretion (on forum non conveniens or other grounds) to decline jurisdiction in favour of courts of another State.
• any court not agreed in the contract must dismiss the case unless the exceptions listed in the Hague Convention apply.
• A judgment rendered by the court of a member State must be recognized and enforced by the courts of other member States unless one of the exceptions established by the Hague Convention applies.
All European Union States (except Denmark), Mexico and Singapore are parties to the convention. Because of Brexit, the UK will have to ratify the Hague Convention after leaving the EU.
The Hague Convention has been signed but not ratified by the United States and Ukraine. It is not yet known if or when the United States will ratify the Hague Convention. If the convention is ratified by the United States, it is expected that other countries will follow suit.