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Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

What is the formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

Under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act the judgment creditor is required to make an application for registering the foreign judgment in the Bahamas. Notice in writing of the registration of the judgment must be served on the judgment debtor within a reasonable time after the registration. An application under the act for registering foreign judgments is made ex parte or by summons to a judge. The application is supported by an affidavit of facts exhibiting the judgment. The affiant must verify that the judgment creditor is entitled to enforce the judgment and that the judgment does not fall within any of the cases under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act in which a judgment cannot properly be ordered to be registered.

In cases where the order is made on a summons, it should be served on the judgment debtor.

The judgment debtor may at any time within the time prescribed by the order giving leave to register after service of the notice of registration of the judgment, apply by summons to a judge to set aside the registration or to suspend execution on the judgment if it can be satisfied that the case falls within one of the categories under Section 3(2) of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act.

A judgment creditor seeking to enforce a foreign judgment from a country not listed under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act, can enforce the judgment as a debt by issuing fresh legal proceedings. Such proceedings can be commenced by a writ of summons which must be served on the judgment debtor. Thereafter, where a judgment debtor does not enter an appearance to the proceedings a judgment in default of appearance may be filed. Otherwise, where an appearance is entered, a summons, supported by an affidavit should be filed seeking summary judgment. Within the affidavit the relevant facts should be set out along with a copy of the judgment and an averment from the affiant that the judgment debtor has no defence to the claim.

Timeframe

What is the typical timeframe for the proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement?

Typically, proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act may take several weeks.

In relation to judgments from jurisdictions in relation to which the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act does not apply the process is more involved as it is generally necessary to have inter partes hearings in relation to the fresh proceeding. This process, can take four to six months.

Fees

What fees apply to applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

A party applying for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments will incur filing fees of approximately US$500. The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction to order that the reasonable costs of and incidental to the registration of the judgment including the costs of obtaining a certified copy from the original court and of the application for registration will be recoverable from the judgment debtor.

In relation to judgments from jurisdictions in relation to which the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act does not apply the Supreme Court’s fee for filing writs of summons depends on the value of the claim but is generally US$500.

Security

Must the applicant for recognition and enforcement provide security for costs?

There is no requirement under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act for the applicant for recognition and enforcement to provide security for costs. However, the Supreme Court has the general power to order security for costs against a claimant who is:

  • not resident in the Bahamas;
  • has no assets within the Bahamas; or
  • a company which it can be established has no assets, on the application of the defendant to the proceedings.

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

Yes.

Other costs

How does the enforcing court address other costs issues arising in relation to the foreign judgment (eg, calculation of interest, exchange rates)?

If interest has been awarded by the foreign court the interest will be recoverable based on the terms of the foreign judgment, subject to the discretion of the court.

With respect to exchange rates, at the time that the application for recognition is made or at the time that a fresh action is filed it is typically necessary to convert foreign currencies into the Bahamian dollar equivalent.

Enforcement against third parties

To what extent can the courts enforce a foreign judgment against third parties?

There is no mechanism or consideration under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act for enforcing judgments against any party other than the judgment debtor. However, where a party within the Bahamas holds funds on behalf of a judgment debtor, garnishee proceedings would be available.

In relation to judgments from jurisdictions in relation to which the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act does not apply, the same principles would be applicable.

Partial recognition and enforcement

Can the courts grant partial recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Yes.

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