MAY 2017
Conference at ONTIER UK about “Brexit: Dispute Resolutions and Contracts”

Conference at ONTIER UK about “Brexit: Dispute Resolutions and Contracts”

On April 25, ONTIER UK, together with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, held a breakfast seminar on the potential impact of Brexit on cross-border dispute resolution. ONTIER´s international litigation lawyers, William Russell and Juan Barthe, took part in the event.

William Russell and Juan Barthe covered the four key areas of dispute resolutions governed by EU rules including jurisdiction, enforcement of judgments, governing law and the use of documents and evidence taking.

William Russell began by giving a helpful update on recent Brexit developments, including a review of the UK vs EU negotiating positions, the Great Repeal Bill, and the potential effect of the UK General Election. William Russell then addressed the current legislation governing the dispute resolutions landscape within the EU. He stated that 'Pre-Brexit, there is a one size that fits all set of regulations governing cross border dispute resolutions within the EU. The question, therefore, is what will happen to these regulations once the UK exits the EU and, more specifically, how this will affect the cross border enforcement of judgments'.

Juan Barthe then discussed how Brexit might affect this legislation and the different possible scenarios. Those include the UK becoming member of EFTA, a ratification of the Hague Convention, and/or adopting unilateral provisions. It was noted that the EU rules on jurisdiction and governing law do not apply to arbitration, so a rise in the use of arbitration and its inclusion as a method of dispute resolution is expected. Barthe also explained that 'Brexit is underpinned by a large degree of uncertainty. What we can be assured of, however, is that there is no foreseeable benefit to the UK or to the EU in implementing a dramatic change to cross border dispute resolutions practices'.

The conference concluded by addressing the practical measures that companies should take now to avoid any potential pitfalls in the future. As Juan Barthe explained, 'companies should review contractual clauses and, where possible, seek to clarify through negotiation which country and jurisdiction would govern any dispute in the future. For new contracts, parties should ensure that appropriate, express provisions are made for the governance of contracts'.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion on concerns regarding the effects of Brexit, and then by a break for coffee and networking. Over 20 representatives of mostly Spanish companies and law firms based in the UK attended the event.