Hague Conference on Private International Law

Introduction

Private international law is that part of the law of any State which comes into operation when a court is called upon to determine a suit containing a foreign element. Such a foreign element may exist, for instance, because a contract has been made or is to be performed in another State or because the recognition of a divorce obtained by persons domiciled abroad may arise. Because the courts of the other State may also be asked to exercise jurisdiction in the suit, or because the laws of that other State may be different to those of Ireland, in determining the proceedings before it, an Irish court may be confronted with a conflict of laws. Such conflicts are resolved by applying the rules of private international law.

To varying degrees the rules of private international law which have been developed in Ireland will be different to those developed in other States and indeed there are probably as many systems of private international law rules as there are States and therefore national legal systems.

The Hague Conference

The Hague Conference on Private International Law is an intergovernmental organisation based at The Hague which is charged with the progressive unification of the rules of private international law.

The Conference met for the first time in 1893 and became a permanent intergovernmental organisation in 1955. Since that time the Conference has adopted 35 Hague Conventions on matters ranging from the service of judicial documents and the taking of evidence abroad to child abduction and inter-country adoption.

Ireland has been an active member of the Conference since acceding to the Statute of the Hague Conference on 26 August 1955 and has supported the initiative of the Conference in seeking to expand the organisation's membership. Professor William Duncan is Deputy Secretary General of the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference.

Pursuant to Article 6 of the Statute the Legal Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs has been designated as the National Organ in order to facilitate communication between Ireland, as a Member State of the Conference, and the Permanent Bureau. Pursuant to Article 9 of the Statute Ireland is represented at the Council of Diplomatic Representatives to the Conference by the Ambassador of Ireland at The Hague.

Click on this link to access the website of the Hague Conference on Private International Law

The Hague Conventions

In addition to the Statute of the Hague Conference Ireland is a state party to the following four Conventions elaborated under the auspices of the Hague Conference:

  • Hague Convention on the Conflicts of Laws relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions done on 5 October 1961.

Provision in law for the obligations assumed by the State pursuant to the 1961 Convention was made by Part VII of the Succession Act 1965 Ireland acceded to the Convention on 3 August 1967 and it entered into force with respect to the State on 2 October 1967.

To access the text of the Convention, as published in the Irish Treaty Series (no. 22/1967), click here

  • Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents done on 5 October 1961.

The Convention was signed on behalf of Ireland on 29 October 1996. Provision in law for the obligations assumed by the State pursuant to the Convention was made by the Superior Court Rules Amendment Nº 3 - Rules of the Superior Courts (Nº1) (Proof of Foreign Diplomatic, Consular and Public Documents) 1999. It was ratified on 8 January 1999 and entered into force with respect to the State on 9 March 1999. Upon ratification, pursuant to paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Convention, Ireland designated the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs as the authority competent to issue the certificate known as the “apostille”. The requirement for legalisation of certain foreign public documents has been completely abolished as between Ireland and Denmark , Italy , France and Belgium pursuant to the terms of the Convention Abolishing Legalisation of Documents in Member States of the European Communities which was done at Brussels on 25 May 1987.

To access the text of the Convention, as published in the Irish Treaty Series (no. 25/2000), click here.

  • Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters done on 15 November 1965.

The Convention was signed on behalf of Ireland on 20 October 1989. Provision in law for the obligations assumed by the State pursuant to the Convention was made by the Rules of the Superior Courts (Nº 3) 1994. It was ratified on 5 April 1994 and entered into force with respect to the State on 4 June 1994. The Master of the High Court (address: The Four Courts, Inns Quay, Dublin 7) has been designated as the Central Authority for Ireland in accordance with Article 2 of the Convention and, pursuant to Article 6, is the appropriate authority for completion of certificates in the form of the model annexed to the Convention. Upon ratification Ireland made the following declarations and objections:

­Article 3: “The authority or judicial officer competent under the laws of Ireland for the purpose of Article 3 of the Convention are the Central Authority, a practising Solicitor, a County Registrar or a District Court Clerk.”

­Article 15: “Pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 15 a Judge in Ireland may give judgment even if no certificate of service or delivery has been received, if the conditions set out in the second paragraph of Article 15 of the Convention are fulfilled.”

Article 10: “In accordance with the provision in Article 10 of the Convention the Government of Ireland objects to (i) the freedom under Article 10(b) of judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of origin to effect service in Ireland of judicial documents directly through judicial officers, officials or other competent persons and (ii) the freedom under Article 10(c) of any person interested in a judicial proceeding to effect service in Ireland of judicial documents directly through judicial officers, officials or other competent persons, but this is not intended to preclude any person in another Contracting State who is interested in a judicial proceeding (including his lawyer) from effecting service in Ireland directly through a solicitor in Ireland.”

As envisaged by Article 11, arrangements for the direct transmission of requests for the service of documents to Central authorities have been made between Member States of the European Community (except Denmark ). Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 of 29 May 2000 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters, which entered into force on 31 May 2001, has replaced as between the Member States of the Community (except Denmark) the arrangements provided for by the Hague Convention of 1965.

To access the text of the Convention, as published in the Irish Treaty Series (no.17/1994), click here.

  • Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction done on 25 October 1980.

The Convention was signed on behalf of Ireland on 23 May 1990 and by the provisions of the Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991 was given the force of law in the State. It was ratified on 16 July 1991 and entered into force with respect to Ireland on 1 October 1991. Pursuant to Section 4 of the Act of 1991 the Minister for Foreign Affairs is empowered to declare by order which are the contracting States to the Convention. In accordance with paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Convention, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has been designated as the Central Authority of Ireland (address: 43/49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4 - telephone number: +353 (1) 667 0344 / fax number: +353 (1) 667 0367). A comprehensive guide to the operation of the Convention and to related matters may be found at the website of Hague Conference.

To access the text of the Convention, as published in the Irish Treaty Series (no. 1/1993), click here.

  • Law Reform Commission Reports on the Hague Conventions

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has produced a number of reports on Conventions of the Hague Conference and these, together with its reports on other aspects of Conflicts of Laws, may be accessed on its website.

Click on this link to access the website of the Law Reform Commission

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