The Queen's Speech delivered on 14th October 2019 at the opening of the new session of the UK Parliament made reference to 26  Government Bills for the new session - an ambitious programme indeed but which many see as the opening session for a soon  to  be declared General Election.

Whilst the  Brexit  debate and the announcement of a new European Union ( Withdrawal Agreement ) Bill (  albeit relevant only if a Brexit "deal " can be agreed in time prior to Brexit taking effect) were at the heart of the Queen's Speech, many of the Bills associated with Brexit are worthy of consideration in their own right.

From the lawyer's perspective, one of the more interesting Bills  to be announced was the Private International Law ( Implementation of Agreements) Bill  which serves the three-fold purpose of enabling  "exclusive choice of court" clauses in many types of commercial contract to be recognised  under the 2005 Hague Convention  and various parental and children matters to be recognised under the 1996 Hague Convention and family maintenance decisions to be recognised under the 2007 Hague Convention.

Currently , 31 states participate in the 2005 Hague Convention , 52 states in the 1996 Hague Convention and 29 states in the 2007 Hague Convention. This includes all EU member states ( apart from Denmark in respect of the 2007 Convention).

The Bill, which enshrines  the above-mentioned Hague Conventions in UK domestic law,  will  not necessarily plug the gaps left by the UK exiting from various EU- derived conventions, if the UK exits from the EU without a deal, but should be a strong step along the way. 

It is reported that the Bill will include a general power for the UK Government to implement international agreements on Private International Law. The text of this provision will need to be studied carefully because it seems to be quite broad but the reason given by the UK Government for its inclusion is to "allow the UK  to maintain its status as a world leader in facilitating international co-operation on civil justice issues". The motive at least seems admirable!

The UK legal sector, which according to the UK Government announcement, contributes around £25 billion per annum to the UK economy and accounts for around 6.5% of global legal services fee revenue and, therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that supporting the UK legal sector is seen as something of a Government priority.