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Recognition and enforcement procedure
What is the formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?
Brussels I Recast Regulation
Under the Brussels I Recast Regulation, there is no special procedure for recognition. In order to enforce a judgment the following is required:
- a copy of the judgment which satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authenticity;
- a standard form certificate issued by the court which granted the judgment; and
- if necessary, a translation of the judgment.
Brussels I Regulation and Lugano Convention For judgments that fall under the Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 2007, it is relatively straightforward to secure recognition and enforcement of foreign judgements, provided that the judgment is not within the recognised grounds for refusal.
An application for recognition and enforcement under the Brussels I Regulation or the Lugano Convention is made by the applicant on an ex parte application, grounded on an affidavit. The affidavit should state:
- whether the judgment provides for the payment of a sum, or sums;
- whether interest is recoverable on the judgment or part thereof in accordance with the law of the state in which the judgment was given and, if so:
- the rate of interest;
- the date from which the interest is recoverable; and
- the date on which the interest ceases to accrue.
- the address for service of proceedings on the party making the application and the name and usual address for the person against whom the judgment was given;
- the grounds on which the right to enforce the judgment is vested in the party making the application; and
- as the case may require, to state that the judgment has not been satisfied in whole or in part and the amount that remains unsatisfied.
The affidavit should exhibit:
- the judgment sought to be enforced or a certified or authenticated copy;
- if given in default, a certified document establishing that the party in default was served with enough time to prepare a defence;
- documents which establish that the judgment is enforceable and has been served; and
- translations, if necessary.
Once the necessary proofs are in order, the master of the High Court has no discretion but to make the order sought. Once made, notice of the making of the relevant order is to be served with the order against the party to which it is directed. The notice should contain:
- full particulars of the judgment or decision declared enforceable;
- name and address of the party making the application and address for service;
- the protective measures (if any) granted in respect of the property;
- the right of the person against whom the order is made to appeal to the High Court against the order; and
- the period within which any appeal may be brought.
Common law For judgments under common law it is the court’s discretion whether to recognise a foreign judgment. However, as a general principle, and on the basis of respect and comity between international courts, the approach of the Irish court to proceedings seeking recognition and enforcement is generally positive, provided the judgment is for a definite sum, is final and conclusive, and has been given by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The following documents are required to support an application for recognition and enforcement under common law:
- a verified, certified and sealed copy of the judgment;
- an originating writ or summons;
- a grounding affidavit;
- the affidavit must exhibit the sought judgment and a translation of the judgment or any other documents produced which are not in a recognised language of the local court; and
- where judgment has been obtained in default, the affidavit should evidence that the party in default was served with the documents instituting proceedings and refer to the fact that the judgment is enforceable in its originating state.
- proof of service of the judgment if obtained in default; and
- a translation of the judgment, if necessary.
What is the typical timeframe for the proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement?
Brussels I Recast Regulation
Where enforcement does not require any particular steps, any foreign judgment subject to this regime is enforceable without any time being incurred, except to obtain the necessary certificate and, if necessary, translation of the underlying judgment.
Brussels I Regulation and Lugano Convention Once the necessary proofs have been obtained, the drafting of the necessary application papers and making the application should only take a matter of weeks, if not shorter.
Common law Common law enforcement requires the commencement of separate proceedings; these must therefore be drafted, and leave obtained, for their issue and service overseas which can take a number of weeks. Service will then need to be effected and, once an appearance has been entered, a motion will issue for judgment on foot of the fresh Irish proceedings founded on the foreign judgment. How long until that motion is determined will depend on the extent of resistance. Common law enforcement could be concluded within a couple of months, or it could take years, especially if a jurisdictional challenge is raised. Accordingly, much will depend on the extent to which the judgment debtor defends or resists recognition and enforcement.
What fees apply to applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?
Court fees are charged by way of a stamp duty on court documents. These fees vary depending on the court in which proceedings are commenced and are as follows:
- High Court – cases valued over €75,000 generally incur court fees to judgment of approximately €500-€1,000;
- Circuit Court – cases of value of between €15,001 and €75,000 generally incur court fees to judgment of approximately €250-€500; and
- District Court – cases up to the value of €15,000 generally incur court fees to judgment of approximately €100.
This is in addition to fees payable for legal advice and assistance.
Must the applicant for recognition and enforcement provide security for costs?
There is no automatic requirement to provide security. The usual rules on security apply. If the applicant is from outside an EU member state or is not from a Lugano Convention contracting state, and if there is reason to believe they will be unable to pay the respondent's costs if ordered to do so, the Irish courts may, on application, require the applicant to give security for costs.
Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?
Brussels I Recast Regulation
Under the Brussels I Recast Regulation judgments are automatically recognised. Any appeal would only arise in the context of a challenge based on one of the grounds to justify refusal of recognition as part of an application to take steps to execute on foot of the judgment.
Brussels I Regulation and Lugano Convention Under the Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention, the application for enforcement is made to the master of the High Court. While the master has limited discretion to refuse the order, his ruling is susceptible to appeal. Outside of that, any challenge to an enforcement step based on one of the grounds to justify refusal of recognition would also be susceptible to appeal.
Common law For common law enforcement, a High Court ruling with regard to the proceedings seeking recognition and enforcement is subject to a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal. The detailed Court of Appeal Rules apply.
If a defendant appeals with the possible objective of delaying matters, the judgment creditor may fear that the costs of dealing with an (unmeritorious) appeal would be irrecoverable and the court may grant security for costs against the defendant (see above ‘Security’).
How does the enforcing court address other costs issues arising in relation to the foreign judgment (eg, calculation of interest, exchange rates)?
Proceedings seeking the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Ireland must include a statement of the amount claimed, typically in the currency of the foreign judgment. The proceedings usually indicate the interest accrued to the date of issue of the proceedings and specify the basis on which interest continues to accrue (if at all). An award of costs will generally be enforceable if quantified (and the Brussels Regime and Lugano Convention specifically extend the definition of judgment to this). If the proceedings seeking to recognise and enforce the foreign judgment are successful, the full amount will be calculated in the local currency for the purpose of execution. The court fees and costs of the Irish enforcement proceedings may also be awarded against the defendant.
Enforcement against third parties
To what extent can the courts enforce a foreign judgment against third parties?
As a general principle, enforcement is only possible against the interest of a named judgment debtor, and principles of agency and alter ego are not relevant. The circumstances where a judgment creditor would be entitled to look behind the strict legal personality of a corporate entity debtor are extremely limited, and there is a high threshold to be met to obtain such an order.
Partial recognition and enforcement
Can the courts grant partial recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?
When considering recognition and enforcement the Irish courts can make such orders in respect of only a partial judgment, if deemed appropriate. Certain elements of a judgment may be contrary to principles of public policy or may otherwise be ineligible under the relevant enforcement rules (eg, they may constitute taxes or penalties, or may not be properly and definitively quantified). Where a portion of a judgment is considered unenforceable, the balance may still be recognised and enforced.
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