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The Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill 2019-2021 was introduced in the House of Lords on 27 February 2020 and had its second reading on 17 March. It is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on 2 September 2020.

The Bill as introduced into the House of Commons contains only one substantive clause, which would give domestic effect to three international agreements governing aspects of private international law: the Hague Conventions of 1996, 2005 and 2007. These provide frameworks for determining jurisdiction and enforcement in international disputes covering child custody and maintenance, and civil and commercial matters.

The UK currently participates in these arrangement as a result of its former membership of the EU, as well as EU wide measures governing cooperation in cross border legal disputes. At the end of the transition period the UK will need to make alternative arrangements, including gaining membership of the Hague Conventions in its own right.

Clause 2 of the Bill as originally introduced in the House of Lords would have provided for a power to implement future international agreements on private international law via secondary legislation, limiting Parliament’s oversight of such arrangements. It met with significant opposition in the House of Lords, and was removed from the Bill at Report stage.

The Bill would extend to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A Legislative Consent Memorandum was provided by the Scottish Parliament. Annex A to the Explanatory Notes sets out the relevant devolved responsibilities.

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