To assist our clients and friends in other jurisdictions, we recently prepared a detailed note "Top FAQs: Enforcement of an EU Member State Judgment in England and Wales". These procedures will of course remain relevant for some time . However, in light of the outcome of the EU referendum in the UK it is now necessary to consider what may replace the current regime.
The law relating to civil jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in EU member states has undergone substantial change in recent years, with the entry into force of the Brussels I Regulation (Recast) (‘the Recast Regulation’) on 10 January 2015. The enforcement provisions in the Recast Brussels Regulation are less time-consuming than the procedure provided for by the 2001 Brussels Regulation (albeit that is still applicable in respect of certain judgments).
In summary the procedure for enforcing the judgment of an EU member states in England and Wales, under the Recast Regulation, requires the creditor to obtain a certificate from the court of origin certifying that the judgment is enforceable and containing details of the judgment, plus information about interest and costs. The creditor must then serve the certificate and judgment on the judgment debtor, and a translation (if requested), before enforcing the judgment. The judgment creditor is then entitled to enforce the foreign judgment as if it were an English judgment. This makes for a very simple and straightforward procedure for enforcing civil judgments from other EU members states across the EU.
The new Recast Regulation is the latest in a line of European legislative instruments governing both the allocation of civil and commercial jurisdiction among EU member state courts and the recognition and enforcement of their judgments. This regulatory regime, which has been in force in the UK in various guises since 1987, is likely to be significantly modified, if not entirely replaced, as a result of Brexit. There are a number of alternatives to the Brussels I Regime. For example, the UK could: (i) agree to continue to apply the Brussels I Regime (with appropriate amendments), (ii) sign and ratify the Lugano Convention 1988 (which currently applies to Norway, Switzerland and Iceland), (iii) sign and ratify an entirely new treaty or (iv) rely on the Brussels Convention of which the UK remains a party but which became redundant following the 2001 Brussels Regulation.
The current Brussels I Regime will remain in force until the UK formally leaves the EU. Following this, at this stage, it is impossible to anticipate which of these options (if any) will replace the current Brussels I Regime. This will depend on what the EU and UK are able to agree. What is clear is that the current rules will change in a number of important ways and this will have consequences for parties seeking to enforce their EU members state judgments in England and Wales (or vice versa).