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General framework

Domestic law

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

In the United Kingdom, there are several regimes which cover the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. Determining which regime is applicable largely depends on where the foreign judgment was issued, as set out in the table below.

Regime

Judgments covered

Relevant laws and regulations

European

Judgments obtained in EU member states in proceedings commenced on or after January 10 2015 relating to civil and commercial matters

EU Recast Brussels Regulation (1215/2012)

Judgments obtained in EU member states in proceedings commenced before January 10 2015 relating to civil and commercial matters

EU Brussels Regulation (44/2001)

 

Judgments obtained in Iceland, Norway or Switzerland in proceedings relating to civil and commercial matters

2007 Lugano Convention

Judgments obtained in certain dependent territories of EU member states in proceedings relating to civil and commercial matters

1968 Brussels Convention

Statutory

Judgments obtained in civil proceedings in various Commonwealth countries and British overseas territories including the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand and Singapore.

 

A full list of the applicable countries is included in Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments (Administration of Justice Act 1920, Part II) (Consolidation) Order 1984 (SI 1984/129)

Administration of Justice Act 1920

 

 

Judgments obtained in civil proceedings in Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Israel, Suriname or Tonga

Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933

Hague

Judgments obtained in Mexico or Singapore where the proceedings relate to civil and commercial matters and the courts of the relevant country were designated in an exclusive choice of court agreement concluded on or after October 1 2015 (for Mexico) or October 1 2016 (for Singapore)

2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements

UK

Judgments obtained in civil proceedings in Scotland or Northern Ireland

Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982

Common law

Judgments obtained in any other jurisdiction, including the United States, Russia and China

Common law rules

 

The leading authority on the common law regime is Adams v Cape Industries plc ((1990) Ch 433)

In addition, general rules on the procedure for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments can be found in Civil Procedure Rule 74 and Practice Direction 74A.

The substantive rules on recognition and enforcement of judgments are the same in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; however, there may be variations in procedure. The following refers to the position in England and Wales.

The European regimes are contained in various instruments but, in many respects, the substantive rules are the same. The following refers primarily to the position under the Recast Brussels Regulation and notes where the position is materially different under other European regimes. There is also a separate European regime under the European Enforcement Order Regulation, which provides a streamlined procedure for the enforcement of uncontested judgments.

International conventions

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

In addition to the conventions listed in the table above, the United Kingdom is party to a number of subject matter-specific conventions which include provisions on the recognition and enforcement of judgments. These conventions are given force in the United Kingdom by domestic legislation. For example, the Carriage of Goods by Road Act 1965 gives effect to the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.

Competent courts

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

Cases on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in England and Wales are usually heard by the High Court.

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.

A judgment may be recognised in proceedings in England and Wales without being enforced, for example, if it is relied upon as res judicata to prevent the parties re-litigating the same dispute.

Conversely, a judgment cannot be enforced in England and Wales without first being recognised. The formal process for seeking recognition of a judgment varies depending on the applicable regime:

  • European judgments which fall within the Recast Brussels Regulation are automatically recognised and there is little formal procedure to be followed.
  • Under the other European regimes and the Hague, statutory and UK regimes, the judgment creditor must make an application to the High Court for registration of the judgment.
  • Under the common law regime, the judgment creditor must commence fresh legal proceedings to have the foreign judgment recognised as a debt.

Once a judgment has been recognised, it can then be enforced in England and Wales in the same way as an English judgment. The available methods of enforcement include:

  • writs of control;
  • third-party debt orders; and
  • charging orders.

Ease of enforcement

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

The ease of securing recognition and enforcement depends on the applicable regime.

European, Hague and UK regimes

It is generally straightforward to secure recognition and enforcement of judgments that fall within the European, Hague or UK regimes. In particular, for judgments that fall within the Recast Brussels Regulation, no special procedure is required for recognition and the judgment can be enforced without requiring a declaration of enforceability (Articles 36 and 39 of the Recast Brussels Regulation). There are also very limited grounds on which the English court can refuse to recognise or enforce judgments under the European regimes.

Statutory regimes

It is relatively straightforward to secure recognition and enforcement of judgments that fall within the statutory regimes. However, such judgments are recognised only if the court of origin had jurisdiction over the judgment debtor on certain limited grounds, and there are more grounds for refusing to recognise a judgment.

Common law regime

At the other end of the spectrum, it is more difficult to secure recognition and enforcement of judgments that fall within the common law regime. Such judgments can be enforced only by commencing fresh legal proceedings to enforce the foreign judgment as a debt – although the judgment creditor can usually apply for summary judgment on the basis that the judgment debtor has no reasonable prospect of successfully defending the claim. If the judgment debtor is not present in England and Wales, it will often be necessary to obtain permission to serve him or her out of the jurisdiction before commencing proceedings. There are also more grounds for refusing to recognise or enforce a judgment under the common law regime. In particular, the English court will consider the jurisdiction of the court of origin.

Reform

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

The United Kingdom has commenced the process of leaving the European Union and its membership is scheduled to end on March 29 2019.

A withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union is under negotiation. As at May 2018, the agreement provides for a transition period from March 30 2019 to December 31 2020. If the agreement is entered into in its present form and proceedings are commenced in an EU member state before the end of the transition period, enforcement of the resulting judgment will remain effective under the Recast Brussels Regulation (where that regulation applies).

If no withdrawal agreement is finalised or proceedings are commenced after December 31 2020 in spite of one, the EU regime will no longer apply and it remains unclear what (if any) replacement rules will be agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

A UK government paper states that the United Kingdom is seeking a close and comprehensive framework of civil judicial cooperation with the European Union, on a reciprocal basis, which would closely mirror the existing EU system. One possibility is a bespoke agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union; another is an agreement that the United Kingdom will join the Lugano Convention 2007 (this would also require the agreement of Norway, Switzerland and Iceland). If no replacement rules are agreed and the Hague Convention does not apply, European judgments will have to be enforced under the more restrictive statutory or common law regimes.

As an EU member state, the United Kingdom is party to the Hague Convention. At present, the convention is in force only between the European Union, Mexico and Singapore, but it may take on greater significance in the future. It has been signed but not yet ratified by:

  • China (September 2017);
  • the United States (January 2009);
  • Ukraine (March 2016); and
  • Montenegro (October 2017).

The UK government has indicated that when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, it will accede to the convention on its own behalf.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law has prepared a draft convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in civil and commercial matters. The draft convention would allow for the recognition and enforcement of judgments only if the court of origin had jurisdiction on certain specified grounds. These grounds are broader than those under the statutory and common law regimes as they include jurisdiction based on the subject matter of the dispute (eg, the place of performance of a contractual obligation or the place where a harmful event occurred in relation to a non-contractual obligation). If the convention is agreed, it may expand the categories of judgments enforceable in the United Kingdom. However, it is likely to be some time before the convention is finalised.

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)?

The European regime has the widest scope and allows for the enforcement of:

  • monetary judgments;
  • final injunctions;
  • default judgments; and
  • interim orders (subject to certain restrictions) (Article 2(a) of the Recast Brussels Regulation).

The Hague regime allows for the enforcement of:

  • monetary judgments;
  • final injunctions; and
  • default judgments (Article 4(1) of the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements).

It does not allow for the enforcement of interim orders. Recognition and enforcement may also be refused if, and to the extent that, the judgment awards exemplary or punitive damages which do not compensate a party for actual loss or harm suffered (Article 11(1) of the convention).

The statutory and common law regimes are the most restrictive and allow for the enforcement of monetary judgments only, excluding those in relation to taxes, fines or penalties (Section 12(1) of the Administration of Justice Act 1920 and Section 1(2) of the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933). These regimes do not allow for the enforcement of final injunctions or interim orders.

The UK regime allows for the enforcement of:

  • monetary judgments
  • final injunctions; and
  • default judgments (Section 18 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982).

How are foreign judgments subject to appeal treated?

Generally, the English court will not recognise or enforce a foreign judgment while it is subject to appeal in the state of origin.

Under the European regime, the English court can:

  • suspend proceedings in which the parties seek recognition of a foreign judgment if the judgment has been challenged in the state of origin; and
  • suspend enforcement proceedings if enforcement of the foreign judgment has also been suspended in the state of origin (Articles 38 and 44(2) of the Recast Brussels Regulation).

Under the Hague regime, the English court may postpone the recognition or enforcement of a foreign judgment if it is subject to appeal in the state of origin or if the time limit for bringing an appeal has not expired (Article 8(4) of the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements).

Under the statutory regimes, the English court will not recognise or enforce a foreign judgment if the judgment debtor has satisfied the court that there is an appeal pending or that it is entitled to and intends to appeal (Section 9(2)(e) of the Administration of Justice Act 1920 and Section 5(1) of the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933).

Under the common law regime, a judgment will be enforced only if it is final and conclusive. A judgment that is subject to appeal can still be final and conclusive for these purposes. However, recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments under the common law regime is discretionary and the court may stay any relevant proceedings if the judgment is subject to appeal in the state of origin.

Under the UK regime, the English court will not enforce the foreign judgment unless the period for bringing an appeal against the judgment has expired and no appeal was brought, or an appeal was brought within that period and has been finally disposed of (Schedule 6, Paragraph 3 and Schedule 7, Paragraph 3 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 Act).

Formal requirements

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

Under the Recast Brussels Regulation, EU judgments obtained in proceedings commenced on or after January 10 2015 are automatically recognised and can be enforced with minimal formal requirements. The judgment creditor must obtain a standard form certificate of enforceability from the court of origin (Article 53 of the regulation). The certificate and the judgment – with a translation if necessary – must be served on the judgment debtor before the first enforcement measure is taken (Article 43). If the judgment creditor commences enforcement proceedings in England and Wales, it must provide the court with a copy of the certificate and the judgment, as well as information on the recoverable costs of the proceedings and the calculation of interest where appropriate (Article 42).

For judgments that fall within the other European regimes, as well as the statutory and Hague regimes, the judgment creditor must make an application for registration of the judgment (Civil Procedure Rule 74.4). The application should be made without notice to a Queen's Bench master and must be supported by:

  • an authenticated copy of the judgment;
  • a certified translation of the judgment, if it is not in English;
  • written evidence in support of the application (Civil Procedure Rule 74.4 sets out the matters that should be dealt with in written evidence, which vary depending on the regime); and
  • for judgments within the European regimes, a standard form certificate of enforceability from the court of origin.

Once the judgment has been registered, the judgment creditor must serve a registration order on the judgment debtor (Civil Procedure Rule 74.6).

Under the common law regime, the judgment can be enforced as a debt only by commencing fresh legal proceedings. Summary judgment can usually be obtained under Civil Procedure Rule 24 on the basis that the judgment debtor has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim.

Under the UK regime, the judgment creditor must obtain from the court of origin a standard form certificate and, in the case of a non-monetary judgment, a certified copy of the judgment. The judgment creditor must make an application to the High Court for registration of the certificate within six months of the certificate being issued (Schedules 6 and 7 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 and Civil Procedure Rules 74.15 and 74.16). Once the certificate has been registered, the judgment debtor must serve the registration order on the judgment debtor.

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?

As a general rule, the English courts are not permitted to review the substance or merits of the foreign judgment and will not refuse to enforce it on the basis that it contains an error of fact or law. The European and Hague regimes expressly prohibit the English courts from reviewing the substance or merits of the foreign judgment (Article 52 of the Recast Brussels Regulation and Article 8(2) of the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements).

Limitation period

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

The limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment depends on the regime.

Under the European and Hague regimes, there is no limitation period but the judgment must remain enforceable in the state of origin (Article 39 of the Recast Brussels Regulation and Article 8(3) of the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements).

Under the statutory regimes, the limitation period for judgments falling within the Administration of Justice Act 1920 is 12 months from the date of the judgment (or a longer period as allowed by the court). The limitation period for judgments falling within the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933 is six years from the date of the judgment.

Under the common law regime, the foreign judgment is treated as a contract debt and the usual limitation period of six years applies.

Under the UK regime, an application for registration must be made within six months of the issue of the certificate by the court of origin (Civil Procedure Rules 74.15 and 74.16).

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds can recognition and enforcement be refused?

The grounds for refusing recognition of a judgment vary depending on the regime; however, there are some common grounds (eg, where recognition would be contrary to public policy or where there is an inconsistent judgment which can also be enforced in England and Wales).

Under the European regime, the grounds for refusing to recognise or enforce a judgment are limited (see Article 45 of the Recast Brussels Regulation). Notably, the English court cannot consider the jurisdiction of the court of origin or refuse to recognise a judgment on the basis that it was obtained by fraud. This reflects the principle of mutual trust in the administration of justice in other member states. The English court may refuse to recognise a European judgment on the following grounds:

  • Recognition would be manifestly contrary to public policy in England and Wales;
  • The judgment was given in default of appearance and the defendant was not given sufficient notice of the proceedings. This will not apply if the defendant could have commenced proceedings to challenge the default judgment but failed to do so;
  • The judgment is irreconcilable with either an English judgment given in proceedings between the same parties or an earlier judgment given in another state between the same parties which can be recognised in England and Wales; or
  • The judgment conflicts with certain special rules on jurisdiction contained in the European regimes.

Under the Hague regime, the grounds for refusal are similar to those under the European regimes, with the additional ground for refusal based on fraud. The English court can refuse to recognise a judgment on the following grounds:

  • Recognition would be manifestly incompatible with public policy in England and Wales;
  • The defendant was not given sufficient notice of the proceedings;
  • The judgment is irreconcilable with either an English judgment given in proceedings between the same parties or an earlier judgment given in another state between the same parties which can be recognised in England and Wales;
  • The judgment does not meet the jurisdiction criteria because either the choice of court agreement was null and void under the law of the state of the chosen court or a party lacked capacity to conclude the choice of court agreement under English law; or
  • The judgment was obtained by fraud.

Under the statutory and common law regimes, the grounds for refusing to recognise or enforce a judgment are again similar but slightly broader. These are the following:

  • Recognition would be contrary to public policy in England and Wales;
  • The defendant was not duly served and did not receive sufficient notice of the proceedings (for the statutory regimes) or the rules of procedure in the court of origin breached the rules of natural justice (for the common law regime);
  • There was a previous final and conclusive judgment in relation to the dispute by a court having jurisdiction in the matter;
  • The court of origin did not have jurisdiction on one of the limited permitted grounds (considered in further detail below);
  • The judgment was obtained by fraud;
  • The proceedings in the court of origin were contrary to an agreement under which the dispute was to be settled otherwise than by proceedings in the courts of that country (Section 32 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982); or
  • The judgment is for multiple damages (ie, the amount of the judgment is arrived at by doubling, trebling or otherwise multiplying a sum assessed as compensation) (Section 5 of the Protection of Trading Interest Act 1980). This legislation was designed to protect UK companies from the extraterritorial jurisdiction of US antitrust authorities.

Under the UK regime, there are very limited grounds on which the English court can refuse to recognise or enforce a foreign judgment (Schedule 6, Paragraph 10 and Schedule 7, Paragraph 9 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982). These are the following:

  • The requirements for registration were not met (eg, where the judgment creditor did not obtain the required certificate); or
  • There was a previous judgment in relation to the dispute by a court having jurisdiction in the matter. 

Service of process

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

Under the European regime, the English court will review the service of process only if the judgment was given in default of appearance. In such cases, recognition of the judgment will be refused if the defendant was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings (or an equivalent document) in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable it to arrange for its defence, unless the defendant failed to commence proceedings to challenge the judgment when it was possible for it to do so (Article 45(1)(b) of the Recast Brussels Regulation).

Under the Hague regime, the English court may refuse recognition and enforcement of the judgment if the document which instituted the proceedings (or an equivalent document), including the essential elements of the claim:

  • was not notified to the defendant in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable it to arrange for its defence, unless the defendant entered an appearance and presented its case without contesting notification in the court of origin when it was possible for it to do so; or
  • was notified to the defendant in a manner incompatible with the fundamental principles of England and Wales concerning service of documents.

Under the statutory regimes, the court may review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings. A judgment will not be registered under the Administration of Justice Act 1920 if the judgment debtor was not duly served, and did not appear, in the original foreign proceedings. Similarly, the registration of a judgment under the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933 will be set aside if the judgment debtor did not receive notice of the original foreign proceedings in sufficient time to enable it to defend the proceedings and did not appear.

Under the common law regime, the court may refuse to recognise and enforce a judgment if the foreign proceedings breached the rules of natural justice. This may include situations where the defendant was not given proper notice of the proceedings or the opportunity to be heard.

Under the UK regime, the English court will not review the service of process in the proceedings in the court of origin.

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?

The English court may consider a range of public policy issues when deciding whether to recognise a foreign judgment. Judgments which have been found to be contrary to public policy include those:

  • for a cause of action or remedy that is not available in England and Wales for public policy reasons;
  • for taxes, penalties and multiple damages;
  • that breach fundamental human rights (eg, the right to a fair trial); and
  • obtained in breach of an anti-suit injunction.

Under the European regime, the English court can refuse to recognise a foreign judgment if to do so would be manifestly contrary to English public policy. The European Court of Justice has held that this ground will only apply where the judgment infringes a fundamental principle of the legal order of the member state in which recognition of the judgment is sought (Krombach v Bamberski (Case C-116/02)). For example, the English court may refuse to recognise a judgment if the defendant did not receive a fair trial in accordance with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Laserpoint Ltd v Prime Minister of Malta (2016) EWHC 1820).

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?

Under the European regime, the English court generally cannot review the jurisdiction of the court of origin (Article 45(3) of the Recast Brussels Regulation). There are limited grounds for refusing to recognise a judgment if it conflicts with the European rules on jurisdiction in relation to:

  • insurance, consumer and employment claims; or
  • a claim where there is a particularly close connection with the courts of one member state (eg, claims relating to rights in immovable property) (Article 45(1)(e) of the Recast Brussels Regulation).

The Hague regime applies to judgments only where the court of origin was designated in an exclusive choice of court agreement. Unless the judgment was given by default, the English court will be bound by the findings of fact on which the court of origin based its jurisdiction (Article 8(2) of the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements). Therefore, the English court will have limited scope for reviewing the jurisdiction of the court of origin.

Under the statutory and common law regimes, a judgment will be enforced only if the court of origin had personal jurisdiction over the judgment debtor. This acts as a significant limitation on the scope of these regimes:

  • The Administration of Justice Act 1920 and Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933 set out the circumstances in which the foreign court will be deemed to have jurisdiction. This is broadly the case where the judgment debtor:
    • was ordinarily resident in the foreign jurisdiction;
    • had its principal place of business in the jurisdiction; or
    • voluntarily appeared or otherwise submitted or agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the court.

Under the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933, the court of origin will also be assumed to have jurisdiction if the proceedings concerned land in the state of origin.

  • Under the common law regime, the court of origin will be assumed to have jurisdiction if the judgment debtor was present in the state of origin when the proceedings were commenced (Adams v Cape Industries plc).
  • It will not be sufficient that the court of origin assumed jurisdiction on other grounds (eg, where the subject matter of the dispute was closely connected with the jurisdiction), even if the English court would have assumed jurisdiction on such basis.

Under the UK regime, there is no scope for the English court to review the jurisdiction of the court of origin.

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?

As a general rule, the English courts may refuse to recognise and enforce a foreign judgment if there is a conflicting English judgment or an earlier judgment from another state which can also be enforced in England and Wales. Further details on the position under each regime are set out in the ‘Grounds for refusal’ section above.

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 procedure for defending the recognition and enforcement of a judgment varies depending on the regime.

Under the Recast Brussels Regulation, the foreign judgment is automatically recognised. To challenge the recognition, the judgment debtor must make an application in accordance with Civil Procedure Rule Part 23 for an order that the court refuse to recognise or enforce the judgment.

Under the other European measures and the Hague regime, the judgment creditor must make a without notice application for registration of the judgment and serve a registration order on the judgment debtor. To challenge the recognition, the judgment debtor must appeal against the granting of the registration. The appeal will be dealt with under the appeals procedure set out in Civil Procedure Rule Part 52, which is more cumbersome than the application procedure under Part 23.

Under the statutory regimes, the judgment creditor must make a without notice application for registration of the judgment and serve the registration order on the judgment debtor. To challenge the recognition, the judgment debtor must make an application in accordance with Civil Procedure Rule Part 23 within the period set out in the registration order for registration of the judgment to be set aside.

Under the common law regime, the judgment creditor must commence fresh proceedings to have the foreign judgment recognised as a debt. Defences to recognition of the judgment should be raised in those proceedings.

Injunctive relief

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

Where a judgment debtor challenges the recognition and enforcement of a judgment, it can take steps to prevent the enforcement of the judgment pending the outcome of the challenge.

Where the judgment debtor challenges the recognition of a judgment that falls within the Recast Brussels Regulation, it may apply to the court to:

  • limit the enforcement proceedings to protective measures;
  • make enforcement conditional on the provision of security; or
  • suspend the enforcement proceedings (Article 44 of the Recast Brussels Regulation and Civil Procedure Rule 74.7B).

Where the judgment creditor applies for the registration of a foreign judgment, it must then serve on the judgment debtor a registration order which states:

  • the judgment debtor’s right to challenge or appeal the decision;
  • the period within which such application or appeal must be made; and
  • that no measures of enforcement will be taken before the end of that period, other than measures ordered by the English court to preserve the property of the judgment debtor (Civil Procedure Rule 74.6).

If the judgment debtor makes an application or appeal, no steps may be taken to enforce the judgment until the application or appeal has been determined (Civil Procedure Rule 74.9).

Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

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

The formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments depends on the applicable regime.

Under the Recast Brussels Regulation, EU judgments obtained in proceedings commenced on or after January 10 2015 are automatically recognised and can be enforced with minimal formal requirements. The judgment creditor must obtain a standard form certificate of enforceability from the court of origin (Article 53 of the regulation). The certificate and the judgment – with a translation if necessary – must be served on the judgment debtor before the first enforcement measure is taken (Article 43 of the regulation). If the judgment creditor commences enforcement proceedings in England and Wales, it must provide the court with a copy of the certificate and the judgment, as well as information on the recoverable costs of the proceedings and the calculation of interest where appropriate (Article 42 of the regulation).

For judgments that fall within the other European regimes, as well as the statutory and Hague regimes, the judgment creditor must make an application for registration of the judgment (Civil Procedure Rule 74.4). The application should be made without notice to a Queen's Bench master and must be supported by:

  • an authenticated copy of the judgment;
  • a certified translation of the judgment, if it is not in English;
  • written evidence in support of the application (Civil Procedure Rule 74.4 sets out the matters that should be dealt with in written evidence, which vary depending on the regime); and
  • for judgments within the European regimes, a standard form certificate of enforceability from the court of origin.

Once the judgment has been registered, the judgment creditor must serve a registration order on the judgment debtor (Civil Procedure Rule 74.6).

Under the common law regime, the judgment can be enforced as a debt only by commencing fresh legal proceedings. Summary judgment can usually be obtained under Civil Procedure Rule 24 on the basis that the judgment debtor has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim.

Under the UK regime, the judgment creditor must obtain from the court of origin a standard form certificate and, in the case of a non-monetary judgment, a certified copy of the judgment. The judgment creditor must make an application to the High Court for registration of the certificate within six months of the certificate being issued (Schedules 6 and 7 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 and Civil Procedure Rules 74.15 and 74.16). Once the certificate has been registered, the judgment debtor must serve the registration order on the judgment debtor.

Timeframe

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

The timeframe for proceedings to grant recognition of a foreign judgment varies depending on the applicable regime.

Where the judgment creditor is required to make a without notice application for registration of the judgment, the process will usually take a few weeks. The judgment creditor must then serve the registration order on the judgment debtor and can commence enforcement proceedings once the period for challenging or appealing the registration (as specified in the order) has expired.

Under the common law regime, the judgment creditor must bring fresh legal proceedings and will usually apply for summary judgment on the basis that the judgment debtor has no reasonable prospect of successfully defending the claim. This process usually takes several months, although this will depend on whether the judgment debtor defends the proceedings.

Fees

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

For judgments that fall within the European regimes (excluding the Recast Brussels Regulation) and the Hague and statutory regimes, the judgment creditor must make an application without notice for registration of the judgment. The court fee for an application without notice is £100. There will be associated legal fees for the preparation of the application and supporting evidence, preparation and service of the registration order, and for dealing with any challenges or appeals.

For judgments that fall within the common law regime, the judgment creditor must commence fresh legal proceedings to have the foreign judgment recognised as a debt. A court fee will be payable on commencement of the claim and before the start of the trial. The court fee varies depending on the value of the claim. There will also be associated legal fees related to pursuing the proceedings and dealing with any defences or appeals.

Once the judgment has been recognised, there will be further costs associated with enforcing the judgment (eg, obtaining a writ of control, third-party debt order or charging order).

Security

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

The applicant is not automatically required to provide security for costs. However, the judgment debtor may make an application for security for its costs of:

  • the application for registration;
  • any proceedings brought to set aside or appeal the granting of the registration; and
  • any application relating to the recognition or enforcement of a judgment pursuant to the Recast Brussels Regulation (Civil Procedure Rules 74.5 and Part 25).

The usual rules on security for costs under Civil Procedure Rule Part 25 will apply. A judgment creditor making an application under the European regimes cannot be required to give security for costs solely on the ground that he or she is resident out of the jurisdiction (Civil Procedure Rule 74.5(2)).

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

Decisions on recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are subject to challenge and appeal.

To challenge the recognition of a foreign judgment under the Recast Brussels Regulation, the judgment debtor must make an application in accordance with Civil Procedure Rule 23 for an order that the court refuse to recognise or enforce the judgment.

To challenge the recognition of a judgment under the other European measures and the Hague regime, the judgment debtor must appeal against the granting of the registration. The appeal will be dealt with under the appeals procedure set out in Civil Procedure Rule Part 52, which is more cumbersome than the application procedure under Civil Procedure Rule Part 23.

To challenge the recognition of a judgment under the statutory regimes, the judgment debtor must make an application in accordance with Civil Procedure Rule Part 23 within the period set out in the registration order for registration of the judgment to be set aside.

Under the common law regime, the judgment creditor must commence fresh proceedings to have the foreign judgment recognised as a debt. Any defences to recognition of the judgment should be raised in those proceedings.

The outcome of any of these challenges may be subject to appeal before higher courts in accordance with the usual rules on appeals.

Other costs

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

Where interest is recoverable on a judgment that falls within the Recast Brussels Regulation, the certificate of enforceability issued by the state of origin should include relevant information on the calculation of interest (Article 42(1)(b) of the regulation). When the judgment creditor seeks to enforce the judgment, the amount of the judgment should be converted into sterling.

Where the judgment creditor must make an application for registration of the judgment and interest is recoverable on the judgment under the law of the stage of origin, the evidence in support of the application should include:

  • the amount of interest which has accrued up to the date of the application; and
  • the rate of interest, the date from which it is recoverable and the date on which it ceases to accrue (Civil Procedure Rule 74.4(2)(e)).

The order will be for registration of the judgment in the foreign currency in which it is expressed and the judgment amount should not be converted into sterling until the judgment creditor has taken steps to enforce it (Queen's Bench Guide, paragraph 23.16.10). The order will usually contain a direction that the costs of the application and the registration be assessed and added to the judgment debt (Queen's Bench Guide, paragraph 23.16.11).

Where the foreign judgment falls within the common law regime, the judgment creditor must commence fresh proceedings for recognition of the judgment as a debt. The particulars of claim for these proceedings should state the grounds on which interest is claimed and the basis on which it has been calculated (Civil Procedure Rule 16.4(2)). The particulars of claim should also include the sterling equivalent of the sum claimed as at the date of the claim and the source of the exchange rate relied on (Civil Procedure Rule 16 PD 9.1).

Enforcement against third parties

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

Generally the English courts will not enforce a foreign judgment against third parties. 

Partial recognition and enforcement

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

The English courts can grant partial recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment. For example, where part of the judgment is contrary to public policy in England and Wales, the courts can refuse to recognise those parts that are contrary to public policy but recognise the remainder.