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This article reviews the work of the Special Commission of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which meet during the first nine days of December 2003 to consider a Draft Text on Choice of Court Agreements. Negotiations originally sought a rather comprehensive convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments, with a preliminary draft convention being prepared in October 1999, and further revised at the first part of a Diplomatic Conference in June 2001. When it became clear that some countries, particularly the United States, could not agree to the convention being considered, negotiations were redirected at a convention focused on bases of jurisdiction upon which consensus could be achieved. The result was a text limited to one basis of jurisdiction: consent of the parties.

The 2003 Draft Text offered the possibility of both realistic success in its conclusion and adoption, and a foundation from which to consider possible future work on multilateral harmonization of jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments. This article reviews the substance of the Draft Text in order to explain its purpose, recognize its limits and acknowledge issues then yet to be decided.