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General framework

Domestic law

Which domestic laws and regulations govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

The enforcement and recognition of judicial decisions in Denmark are governed by the Administration of Justice Act and the Act on Recognition and Enforcement of Certain Foreign Judicial Decisions in the Area of Civil Law and Commercial Law.

Section 223a of the Administration of Justice Act concerns recognition and prescribes that the minister of justice may lay down provisions stipulating that decisions by foreign courts and authorities on civil claims and foreign public settlements of such claims must have a binding effect in Denmark. The same applies to the enforcement of decisions by foreign courts (see Section 479 of the Administration of Justice Act).

The statutory authority contained in Section 223a is exercised only to a limited extent and the statutory authority contained in Section 479 has been exercised only in connection with the enforcement of two international agreements on the duty to maintain and on bankruptcy.

The actual enforcement of foreign judicial decisions follows the rules of Title 4 of the Administration of Justice Act on enforcement.

The Act on Recognition and Enforcement of Certain Foreign Judicial Decisions in the Area of Civil Law and Commercial Law implements certain international conventions and EU legislative acts into Danish law.

International conventions

Which international conventions and bilateral treaties relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments apply in your jurisdiction?

Insofar as EU legislative acts and international conventions are concerned, EU opt-outs cover civil law matters such as recognition and enforcement.

Therefore, a regulation extends to Denmark only if a parallel agreement has been entered into between Denmark and the European Union, and the rules must be adopted by Parliament in the same way as other Danish acts.

The most important conventions and regulations which have become a part of Danish law through parallel agreements (and adopted by statute) are the Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention, which stipulate parallel rules between EU and EEA countries.

The Lugano Convention and the Brussels I Regulation have become a part of Danish law through the Act on Recognition and Enforcement of Certain Foreign Judicial Decisions, etc in the Area of Civil Law and Commercial Law. The act also includes the rules of EU Regulation 1215/2012/EC of 12 December 2012 on the jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (reworking).

The Nordic Judgments Convention also extends to Denmark, but it has lost its importance because of the Brussels I Regulation (in respect of Sweden and Finland) and the Lugano Convention (in respect of Norway and Iceland).

The Hague Convention on Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (the Hague Convention) was incorporated into Danish law on 1 September 2018.

The Hague Convention applies to all EU member states, but because of the abovementioned opt-outs, Denmark independently acceded to the convention. In addition to the European Union, the convention has so far been acceded by Mexico and Singapore; the United States and the Ukraine have signed the convention but did not accede to it at the same time.

Denmark acceded to the Hague Convention concurrently with the adoption of an act to amend the Act on the Brussels I Regulation in 2017. The amendment came into effect on 1 September 2018.

Competent courts

Which courts are competent to hear cases on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Competent court issues are governed by the general rules of the Administration of Justice Act on jurisdiction. The competent court is the enforcement court in the judicial district where the natural or legal person against which a foreign judicial decision is being enforced is domiciled. If the natural or legal person is not domiciled in Denmark, the action may be brought before the enforcement court in the judicial district where the enforcement of the claim is sought.

If the recognition of a foreign judicial decision is claimed during pending legal proceedings and if the recognition is important to the settlement of the pending legal proceedings, this court has the power to settle the issue. 

Distinction between recognition and enforcement

Is there a legal distinction between the recognition and enforcement of a judgment?

There is a legal distinction between recognition and enforcement.

‘Recognition’ means that a foreign judicial decision has a binding effect or is recognised in Denmark (the judicial decision is final and conclusive). Therefore, a case between the same parties about the same issue will be dismissed and the judicial decision may be relied on by each of the parties in other disputes.

Foreign judicial decisions that are not recognised have no legal effect in Denmark, but the parties can submit the judgment as evidence in the matter. The probative value of the judgment depends on the facts of the matter.

‘Enforcement’ means that the judicial decision may be directly enforced according to its contents by the enforcement court without any prior presentation to a Danish court.

Ease of enforcement

In general, how easy is it to secure recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

If it is a decision made by a country that has acceded to a convention, then the judicial decision is directly enforceable or recognisable if it can be enforced or recognised in the country where the decision was made.

There are some minor formal requirements as to the recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions which are subject to international conventions and agreements. The main objective of international conventions and agreements is to contribute to a coherent and efficient legal system across several jurisdictions.

A judgment delivered in a country that has not acceded to the conventions or accepted the agreements may be given probative value. Danish courts are sometimes required to consider the assessment of evidence and the application of law, unless the parties submit information about issues that provide the basis for believing that the judgment is wrong or that the judgment clearly conflicts with the Danish legal system. 

Reform

Are any reforms to the framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments envisioned or underway?

The Hague Convention was implemented into Danish law on 1 September 2018. There are no pending bills about the recognition and enforcement of foreign judicial decisions. 

Conditions for recognition and enforcement

Enforceable judgments

Which types of judgment (eg, monetary judgments, mandatory or prohibitory orders) are enforceable in your jurisdiction and which (if any) are explicitly excluded from recognition and enforcement (eg, default judgments, judgments granting punitive damages)?

Provided that the decision is subject to the scope of application of a convention or a parallel agreement, most foreign decisions are recognised and enforced in Denmark.

However, decisions cannot be enforced in Denmark even if they are made in a country that has acceded to the international conventions and EU legislative acts (eg, decisions on imprisonment for non-payment of maintenance payments which 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 either 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 their interests during the proceedings.

Arbitration awards are not subject to the Lugano Convention, the Brussels I Regulation or the Hague Convention.

How are foreign judgments subject to appeal treated?

A foreign judicial decision is recognisable and enforceable in Denmark when the decision is final under the law of the country where the decision was made. Therefore, the deadline for filing an appeal must have expired without the judgment having been brought before a higher court or the judgment cannot be brought before a higher court.

The recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions subject to the Hague Convention may be postponed or rejected if the judgment has been appealed in the original state or if the deadline for filing an appeal has not expired. If the enforcement court rejects to recognise and enforce a judicial decision because of an appeal against the foreign judicial decision, it does not prevent the subsequent filing of a new request for recognition or enforcement of the judgment (when the appeal has been settled).

As for judicial decisions from a country outside the European Union or European Economic Area, or outside a country which is not a contracting party to the Hague Convention, there is nothing to prevent bringing a legal action in Denmark about the same issue that has been appealed against before a foreign court as the Danish courts will not be bound by the foreign judicial decision. The Danish courts can give the judgment probative value. Hence, there may be specific instances where the judge finds it most expedient if the case awaits the outcome of the appeal.

Formal requirements

What are the formal and documentary requirements for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

A distinction must be made between decisions from states inside and outside the European Union and European Economic Area as they are subject to different formal requirements.

Judicial decisions from another EU member state are enforceable in Denmark without any declaration of enforceability if the judicial decision is enforceable in the member state where the decision was made.

Therefore, an enforceable decision from another EU member state immediately grants the use of any protective measures available in Denmark.

The requirements for enforcement are:

  • a copy of the judicial decision that fulfils the necessary conditions for establishing its authenticity; and
  • a certificate confirming that the decision is enforceable and contains the relevant information about the legal costs that may be claimed back and information about the calculation of interest.

The enforcement of a decision to pursue interim remedies is subject to further formal requirements.

Judicial decisions from Iceland, Norway and Switzerland (countries which have acceded to the Lugano Convention) are subject to an exequatur procedure. First, the foreign judicial decision must be declared enforceable by submitting a written request to the enforcement court in Denmark.

The party seeking recognition or requesting enforcement of a judicial decision must submit a copy of the decision that fulfils the necessary conditions for proof of its authenticity. For 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 must 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.

Generally, translations of documents are not required, but courts may demand them. It must be expected that the court will decide that the judicial decision requires translating into Danish unless the court believes that it understands the language in question to a necessary extent. If a translation is required, the translation must 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 that is deemed 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 must also submit a certified copy of the exclusive jurisdiction agreement. Further documents may be required to establish whether the judgment is enforceable.

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.

Substantive requirements

What substantive requirements (if any) apply to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments? Are enforcing courts in your jurisdiction permitted to review the foreign judgment on the merits?

Under the Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention, a request for recognition and enforcement may be rejected only in the situations described in the regulation or convention, respectively. It is also stipulated that the merits of foreign judicial decisions cannot be reviewed.

However, the Hague Convention contains the modification that the court may review the case to the extent necessary to ensure that the convention’s rules on recognition and enforcement apply. In its assessment, the court is bound by the facts considered by the original court unless it is a default judgment.

Limitation period

What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment?

No special deadlines apply to the enforcement of foreign judicial decisions. The deadlines follow the deadlines for 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. The decision of whether the substantive claim has become barred by limitation must be made under the law of the country applying to the claim according to the judgment.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds can recognition and enforcement be refused?

The Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention stipulate that a judicial decision cannot be recognised or enforced in Denmark if the recognition of the judicial decision would conflict with fundamental Danish public policy. Recognition or enforcement of default judgments will be rejected if the writ of summons or a corresponding document has not been served in such a way that the party in question was able to safeguard their interests. This assessment is made by the enforcement court to which the request for enforcement has been submitted.

Recognition or enforcement of a judicial decision is also not possible if the decision is inconsistent with a decision by a Danish court between the same parties. The same applies to judicial decisions from countries that have not acceded to the Lugano Convention, but where the parties had a corresponding dispute:

  • about the same subject-matter;
  • on the same basis; and
  • if the decision fulfils the conditions for recognition in Denmark (eg, a judicial decision subject to the Hague Convention).

Grounds may exist for rejecting to recognise certain decisions on a natural person’s legal personality and legal capacity and decisions regarding the law of succession.

Recognition and enforcement will also be rejected if the request’s formal requirements are not met. The same applies where:

  • the jurisdiction rules which provided the basis for the decision differ from those set out in the Hague Convention; or
  • recognition or enforcement is requested in respect of a party not domiciled in an EU member state. 

Recognition and enforcement are not possible under the Brussels I Regulation if the decision conflicts with the special jurisdiction rules applying to:

  • insurance cases;
  • cases involving consumer contracts; and
  • cases involving individual contracts of employment where the defendant is:

o a policyholder;

o the insured;

o a beneficiary of the insurance contract;

o the injured party;

o a consumer; or

o an employee.

The same applies to judicial decisions which conflict with the special rules on exclusive jurisdiction, such as real estate and certain cases concerning IP rights.

This is also the case in respect of judgments that may be recognised and enforced under the Hague Convention with some minor modifications. For example, the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judicial decision will be denied if the procedure preceding the judicial decision is inconsistent with the fundamental Danish administration of justice principles. The same also applies if the way the writ of summons has been served in the country where the judgment was delivered is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the administration of justice in connection with service in Denmark. Recognition and enforcement may also be denied if the judgment has been obtained as a result of fraud in connection with a matter of procedure.

Service of process

To what extent does the enforcing court review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings?

In general, there will be no review of the procedure before the foreign court. 

However, it follows from the Hague Convention that recognition or enforcement is not possible if it will be manifestly incompatible with Danish public policy. An assessment of this issue would include a review of the procedure that preceded the judgment in the country where the judgment was delivered. An example of fundamental Danish public policy could be publicity and rights of defence.

In the case of enforcement of a default judgment, the enforcement court is also to decide whether a writ of summons or a corresponding document has been served in such a way that the party in question has been able to safeguard their interests. 

Public policy

What public policy issues are considered in the court’s decision to grant recognition and enforcement? Is there any notable case law in this regard?

There is no notable Danish case law where foreign judicial decisions have been dismissed by referring to public policy. However, the view has been presented in a number of cases but has not resulted in a case being disallowed. 

Jurisdiction

What is the extent of the enforcing court’s power to review the personal and subject-matter jurisdiction of the foreign court that issued the judgment?

The Brussels I Regulation and the Lugano Convention stipulate that the enforcing court must recognise the foreign judicial decision if the conditions have been fulfilled and in such case the enforcing court has no power to review the personal and subject-matter jurisdiction of the foreign court that has issued the judgment.

The Hague Convention stipulates that the enforcement court may review whether the convention applies. The enforcement court is bound by the facts described in the foreign judicial decision. The foreign judicial decision is not considered in any other way.

Regarding default judgments, the enforcement court must also ensure that the writ of summons or a corresponding document has been served in such a way that the party in question has been able to safeguard their interests. If so, the enforcement court is bound by the facts described in the foreign judicial decision.  

Outside the conventions and agreements, the courts may in principle review cases in full because they are not bound by foreign judicial decisions (though such decisions have probative value). 

Concurrent proceedings and conflicting judgments

How do the courts in your jurisdiction address applications for recognition and enforcement where there are concurrent proceedings (foreign or domestic) or conflicting judgments involving the same parties/dispute?

The Brussels I Regulation stipulates that in general several identical cases may not be pending before the courts of the countries that have acceded to the regulation. If several cases between the same parties and about the same subject matter are pending, the court may stay the case pending the judgment by the court where the action was first brought.

According to the Brussels I Regulation, the courts must dismiss a case if:

  • the case has previously been settled; and
  • the decision has resulted in a judicial decision that may be recognised and enforced in Denmark.

Corresponding rules apply to judicial decisions subject to the Lugano Convention.

The Hague Convention does not have any corresponding rules. The issue will not be relevant in cases subject to the Hague Convention as the scope of the convention is exclusively jurisdiction agreements.

For matters outside the scope of application of the conventions and agreements, the issue is irrelevant.

Opposition

Defences

What defences are available to the losing party to a foreign judgment that is sought to be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction?

The losing party may use any defence available and then ask for a stay or dismissal of the request for enforcement or recognition by referring to such defence.

If all defences have been exhausted, recognition and enforcement may be disputed by stating that this type of decision is outside the scope of application of the relevant convention. Other than that, losing parties may avoid enforcement only if the enforcement would be clearly inconsistent with Danish public policy.

Injunctive relief

What injunctive relief is available to defendants (eg, anti-suit injunctions)?

The party that is required to recognise the legal position or pay an amount according to the foreign judicial decision may ask the enforcement court to stay the enforcement proceedings subject to special conditions. 

Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

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

If seeking the execution of a judgment in Denmark, the rules of the Administration of Justice Act stipulate that the party seeking the enforcement of a foreign judgment in Denmark must file a written request for enforcement with the relevant judicial district. The relevant judicial district is the debtor's home court, where the debtor operates or the location of the subject matter that is the object of the enforcement other than money claims according to the judgment.  

Timeframe

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

The typical timeframe is three to four months from the enforcement court's receipt of the request until the first court hearing. The subsequent period depends on the case processing time of the individual enforcement and it is impossible to give any specific case processing time.

Fees

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

As a general rule, it is the party making or requesting a procedural step that, provisionally, must pay the costs in this respect.

A basic fee of Dkr300 must be paid in respect of:

  • proceedings regarding the enforcement of judgments not relating to money;
  • possession proceedings without the usual basis of enforcement;
  • proceedings regarding the issue of an injunction or an order; and
  • proceedings regarding the preservation of evidence in connection with the infringement of (for example) IP rights.

A basic fee of Dkr300 must be paid in respect of proceedings involving the execution and attachment of assets. If the claim exceeds Dkr3,000, an additional 0.5% of the surplus amount must be paid as a basic fee.

A fee of Dkr750 must be paid in respect of proceedings regarding the enforcement of a judgment of a specific amount that exceeds Dkr50,000 and 1.2% of the part of the claim that exceeds the Dkr50,000 must also be paid. A fee of Dkr400 must be paid in respect of proceedings regarding amounts of less than Dkr50,000. Further additions may apply.  

A creditor that has been granted free legal aid in whole or in part in the country where the judgment was delivered or that has been exempted from paying fees and costs is granted free legal aid or is exempt from paying fees and costs to the same extent in the enforcement proceedings. In such situations, the creditor need not pay any court fees.

The unsuccessful party to a case will usually have to compensate the costs of the successful party. However, legal fees are not covered according to actually realised costs but will be determined according to certain rates where the financial value of the claim submitted will have an impact and depending on whether an expert opinion has been obtained.

Security

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

A person being sued by someone whose residence or domicile is outside the European Union or European Free Trade Association area may demand that the plaintiff provide security for the costs that the plaintiff may be ordered to pay to the defendant. 

However, this does not apply if the plaintiff has residence or domicile in a country where a plaintiff with residence or domicile in Denmark does not have to provide security for legal costs.

Further, in class actions the court may order the representative member of the group to provide security for the costs that the representative member may be ordered to pay to the defendant. The members of the group may also be required to provide security when joining the group.

If the court delivers a judgment in favour of the plaintiff because of the defendant's non-appearance (ie, default judgment) because (for example) the defendant has not submitted a defence, the defendant may request that the case be reopened. The court may condition the reopening on the provision of security for the costs that the party who failed to appear may be ordered to pay to the other party.

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

The decisions by the enforcement court may be brought before a higher court. In certain situations, the Appeals Permission Board must grant a leave to appeal. The board may grant a leave to appeal in special cases and its decision cannot be appealed to a higher administrative authority or be brought before the courts.  

Other costs

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

The Danish enforcement court does not make such decision, but merely follows the foreign judgment if the judgment may be recognised or enforced in Denmark.

Enforcement against third parties

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

The judgment is enforced against the party to the foreign judgment that the foreign judgment orders to acknowledge a specific legal position or to pay a specific amount.  

Partial recognition and enforcement

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

Danish courts have the statutory authority to grant partial recognition and enforcement. Correspondingly, the party making the request for enforcement may ask for partial recognition.