Bringing a claim for enforcement

Limitation periods

What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment? When does it commence to run? In what circumstances would the enforcing court consider the statute of limitations of the foreign jurisdiction?

No special deadlines apply to the enforcement of foreign judicial decisions. The deadlines follow whether the substantive claim has become barred by limitation. If the substantive claim has become barred by limitation according to the judgment, there is no claim to enforce.

Section 5(1)(3) of the Limitation Act (Consolidated Act 1238 of 9 November 2015) states that the limitation period is 10 years when the existence and size of the underlying claim has been decided judicially. The claim as established by a Danish judgment thereby ceases to exist after 10 years and likewise cannot be enforced through charge and execution, among other things (see sections 23 and 25 of the Limitation Act). The limitation period is suspended if the debtor acknowledges its obligation (see section 15) or if the claimant applies for execution or attachment (see section 18).

In Denmark, the limitation issue is, however, considered a substantive matter and, accordingly, the Danish conflict of law rules will generally lead to the application of the limitation rules of lex causae.

The courts will consider limitation only if the question is raised by the defendant, unless the judgment is to be given by default of appearance.

Types of enforceable order

Which remedies ordered by a foreign court are enforceable in your jurisdiction?

Provided that the decision is subject to the Brussels Regulation, the Lugano Convention or the Hague Convention, most foreign decisions may generally be enforced in Denmark.

Thus, judgments for money claims, injunctive relief, decisions in provisional proceedings and default judgments may all be enforced in Denmark. Declaratory judgments are as such not enforceable but can work as a basis for enforcement proceedings.

However, some types of decision cannot be enforced in Denmark, even if the decision has been made in a country that has acceded to any of the conventions (eg, decisions on imprisonment for non-payment of maintenance payments that the person has been ordered to pay abroad). Nor is it possible to make or enforce judicial decisions about an alternative sentence for a foreign default fine. A decision on a civil claim for negligent wrongdoing will not be recognised if the person who is the subject matter of the decision is not domiciled in or is a citizen of the state where the decision was made and has received a default judgment and has not been able to safeguard his or her interests during the proceedings.

Competent courts

Must cases seeking enforcement of foreign judgments be brought in a particular court?

The procedure for the enforcement of judgments is governed by the Administration of Justice Act.

According to section 487 of the act, a request for enforcement should in general be brought before the bailiff’s court in the judicial district where:

  • the defendant is domiciled or has his or her place of business;
  • there is security for the claim for which execution is sought; or
  • where the object of enforcement of claims other than monetary claims is.
Separation of recognition and enforcement

To what extent is the process for obtaining judicial recognition of a foreign judgment separate from the process for enforcement?

First, a judgment is not automatically recognised in Denmark if it is not subject to any of the conventions that Denmark has implemented.

If a judgment is subject to any of these conventions, it is automatically recognised in Denmark insofar as no defence applies.

Under the Brussels Regulation, judicial decisions from EU member states are recognised in Denmark without any declaration of enforceability (no exequatur procedure) if the judicial decision is enforceable in the member state where the decision was made. This means that an enforceable decision from another EU member state immediately gives the right to use any protective measures available in Denmark.

Judicial decisions from Iceland, Norway and Switzerland (which have acceded to the Lugano Convention), and third countries that are contracting states designated in an exclusive choice of court agreement in accordance with the Hague Convention, are subject to an exequatur procedure. Consequently, foreign judgments from these countries must be declared enforceable by submitting a written request to the bailiff’s court.

If there is no applicable convention, and the judgment is therefore not (automatically) recognised in Denmark, it may still have some probative value in a subsequent hearing before Danish courts.

Enforcement and pitfalls

Enforcement process

Once a foreign judgment is recognised, what is the process for enforcing it in your jurisdiction?

The process of enforcement of foreign judgments follows from Chapters 45 to 55 of the Administration of Justice Act. For judgments that are recognised (and declared enforceable), a request for enforcement must be submitted in writing to the bailiff’s court. A person who is not a Danish resident and who is requesting enforcement under the Hague Convention must be represented by a process agent (section 8i(3) of the Enforcement Act). For requests of enforcement under other conventions, appointment is voluntary. Together with the request for enforcement, a court fee should be paid. The fee depends on the size of the underlying claim. The court fee constitutes 300 kroner plus 0.5 per cent of the amount exceeding 3,000 kroner. If a small claim form is used for the proceedings, the court fee is 400 kroner for claims up to 50,000 kroner and 750 kroner plus 1.2 per cent of the amount exceeding 50,000 kroner if the claim is between 50,000 kroner and 100,000 kroner. Immediate enforcement proceedings are subject to a court fee of 300 kroner plus 1.2 per cent of the amount exceeding 3,000 kroner.

Enforcement of judgments under the Brussels Regulation requires the applicant to provide a copy of the judgment for which enforcement is sought, as well as a certificate pursuant to article 53 of the Brussels Regulation that certifies that the judgment is enforceable (article 42 of the Brussels Regulation). A translation of the judgment may be required by the bailiff’s court if the court is otherwise unable to process the request (article 42(3) and (4)). The bailiff’s court will serve the certificate pursuant to article 53 on the defendant (article 43 of Brussels Regulation).

The requirements under the Lugano Convention are overall the same as under the Brussels regime. The party seeking recognition or requesting enforcement of a judicial decision under the Lugano Convention must submit a copy of the decision that fulfils the necessary conditions for proof of its authenticity. In the case of a default judgment, the original document or a certified copy from which it appears that the first pleading or a similar document has been served on or notified to the person who failed to appear must be submitted.

An enforcement request should also be accompanied by a document proving that the decision is enforceable and has been served under the law of the country where the judgment was delivered.

A translation of the documents is not generally required, but the court will usually rule that the judicial decision is to be translated into Danish unless the court believes that it understands the language in question to the necessary extent. If a translation is required, the translation is to be certified by a person authorised to do so in one of the contracting states.

There are no requirements as to legalisation or an apostille certificate.

A request for a judicial decision subject to the Hague Convention to be found enforceable is processed in the same way as corresponding requests regarding judicial decisions subject to the Lugano Convention. The party requesting recognition and enforcement of a foreign judicial decision under the Hague Convention should also submit a copy of the exclusive choice of court agreement (article 13(1)).

The service of the writ of summons is subject to additional formal documentation requirements in the case of a default judgment.

The Hague Convention does not contain any requirements as to legalisation or an apostille certificate. The request for enforcement must be handed in to the bailiff’s court, which will notify the debtor of the time and place of the proceedings (section 493 of the Administration of Justice Act).

The bailiff’s court has various methods available for enforcing judgments, including execution, forced sale, possession of mortgaged property, attachment, repossession and eviction.

The most common method for the bailiff’s court is to place a levy of execution on the defendant’s assets to the extent that it covers the value of the claim. The proceedings can be held at the bailiff’s office or at the defendant’s home or business address, or where the assets are.

The defendant is obliged to provide all information that the bailiff asks for (section 479(1) of the Administration of Justice Act). Refusal to do so is subject to the bailiff’s decision that the defendant should be taken into custody until he or she complies with the request (section 497(2)). An untruthful answer may be a criminal offence, which can be punished with a fine or imprisonment (section of 162 of the Criminal Code regarding false statement).

In general, the bailiff's court is empowered to use the requisite force necessary to enforce court orders, and the police will assist the court if it is deemed necessary (section 498 of the Administration of Justice Act).

Pitfalls

What are the most common pitfalls in seeking recognition or enforcement of a foreign judgment in your jurisdiction?

Not applicable.

Law stated date

Correct on:

Give the date on which the above content was accurate.

2 July 2020.