Litigation and Disputes

Following Brexit, the Courts in Northern Ireland will continue to have jurisdiction to deal with disputes that involve individuals and businesses living or registered in Northern Ireland. However, it will impact individuals and businesses who are involved in cross-border civil and commercial disputes with EU Member States.

Under current EU law and international agreements, there are streamlined processes for the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments obtained in Northern Ireland in other EU Member States. However, clients seeking to enforce a judgment in an EU Member State after the UK leaves the EU will no longer have the benefit of these processes. Clients based in Northern Ireland will have to rely on common law and statutory instruments, such as the Rules of Court of Judicature (Northern Ireland) 1980 as a mechanism to have Northern Irish judgments recognised or enforced in an EU Member State. This also applies after Brexit to judgments obtained in an EU Member State who then seek to enforce the judgment in Northern Ireland.

The removal of these streamlined procedures is likely to increase costs in cross-border litigation for all parties due to the more cumbersome court procedures.

We have been assisting client’s in preparing for Brexit by reviewing existing contracts in respect of jurisdiction, choice of law and dispute provisions. We have also been advising in relation to prospective disputes that may arise as a result of a material adverse change clause being triggered or lead to a party terminating due to the commercial viability of the contract, for example, due to increased tariffs, regulatory constraints or custom checks.

It is also anticipated that Brexit will lead to an increase in disputes, given the level of uncertainty, particularly in areas of law which are primarily derived from EU legislation such as data protection, competition law and intellectual property.

Until the UK leaves the EU, clients can still benefit from the current EU legislative framework regarding service of cross-border proceedings and the enforcement of judgments in EU Member States.  We would encourage clients to take early advice should they anticipate or become involved in a cross-border dispute.

If you or your business have any questions on the potential implications of Brexit in relation to litigation and disputes, please feel free to get in touch.