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NGOs & legal experts call on the EU to allow UK accession to Lugano Convention on access to justice grounds

The Lugano Convention is an international judicial treaty negotiated by the EU with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland on matters of jurisdiction in civil matters. It supplements the corresponding Brussels I Regulation Recast, which only applies to EU members. On 8thApril 2020 the UK applied to accede to the Lugano Convention.

The Lugano Convention and Brussels I Regulation Recast both overcome a longstanding barrier faced by overseas victims of corporate abuse when attempting to access judicial remedy –the so-called forum non conveniens doctrine...

The Lugano Convention and Brussels I Regulation Recast overcome the forum non conveniens doctrine by establishing mandatory jurisdiction over companies where they are domiciled.No other existing and applicable international judicial cooperation treaty, including those concluded under the Hague Conference on Private International Law, includes this same, essential rule.

During the UK’s membership to the EU, the Brussels I Regulation Recast facilitated the bringing of numerous historic claims against UK companies in UK courts by overseas victims of corporate human rights abuses in cases such as Vedanta v. Lungowe (2019) and Okpabi v. Shell (2021).It also led to numerous settlements providing much-needed financial remediation for overseas victims. Without the UK now joining the Lugano Convention, the doctrine will re-apply in future cases against UK corporations in UK courts. This would be a damaging blow to corporate accountability at exactly the time UK courts are beginning to recognise causes of action against UK companies for harms abroad...