On 28 March 2014, the Honourable James Allsop AO, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia (“the Federal Court”) and Michael Hwang SC, Chief Justice of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (“the DIFCC”) signed a Memorandum of Guidance between the Federal Court and the DIFCC (“the Memorandum”). 

The purpose of the Memorandum is to set out the two Courts’ understanding of the procedure for enforcement of money judgments in each. Whilst it has no binding legal effect, the Courts are of the view that the Memorandum will promote a mutual understanding and guidance of their laws and judicial processes, and will improve public perception and understanding. Commentators opine that the Memorandum will enhance the confidence of businesses with interests in the two jurisdictions.

Following a similar agreement between the DIFCC and New South Wales Supreme Court in September 2013, the Memorandum’s main features are as follows:

  1. confirms that both Courts will enforce one another’s judgments by claims made at common law;
  2. both Courts require that the judgments to be enforced are final and conclusive, although can be subject to appeal;
  3. there are some judgments that neither Court will enforce, like judgments ordering the payment of taxes, fines or penalties;
  4. both Courts must deem the other to have had jurisdiction to determine the subject matter of the proceedings, as according to their own laws on conflict of laws;
  5. both Courts will only allow challenge of the other’s judgment on limited grounds; 
  6. neither court will re-examine the merits of the other’s judgment;
  7. the procedure for enforcement in each Court is detailed.

Where enforcement is successful, the judgment creditor will have the benefit of a judgment in either of the Courts.