A public meeting was held, under the auspices of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law, on April 3, 2012, at the Department of State, Harry S Truman Building, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington DC. The meeting was chaired by Legal Adviser Harold Koh and, in his absence, by Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law Keith Loken.
The public meeting was convened to discuss two topics on the agenda for the April 17-20 General Affairs and Policy Council of the Hague Conference on Private International Law: (1) jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments, and (2) choice of law in international commercial contracts.
The Hague Conference is considering whether to resume the broader judgments project that proved unsuccessful a decade ago, leading to the more limited but still valuable Convention on Choice of Court Agreements. A meeting in The Hague of a small group of experts was scheduled in advance of the Council meeting to consider the desirability and feasibility of relaunching the broader project. Participants at the public meeting expressed general support for resumption of the project, but were cautious in light of past experience. Some participants noted developments in the law since 2001 that might improve the prospects for success this time. There was discussion of what form a convention might take, and several participants cautioned against seeking to negotiate again a “double convention” including both the recognition and enforcement of judgments and bases of jurisdiction.
Also for consideration by the Council are draft principles on choice of law in international commercial contracts that have been developed by a working group of legal experts. The principles are intended to be non-binding. Concerns were expressed about the purpose of the principles and how they would be used. Regarding the content of the principles, questions were raised about, e.g., their scope of application (what areas are covered or excluded); the extent of party autonomy in choosing law without any connection to the parties or the transaction; and reliance upon rules of law as well as national law. There was general support for having the Council refer the draft principles to a Special Commission of the Hague Conference for review.
No decisions were taken.