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Recognition and Enforcement of foreign judgments in the UK
The UK is a party to treaty-based schemes for the enforcement of judgments as a member of the European Union and the European Economic Area. The substantive law on recognition and enforcement of judgments in the UK derives from three key sources: European treaty law; UK statutes and the common law.
What does recognition of a foreign judgment mean?
To rely on a foreign judgment as res judicata (preventing a party from re-litigating any claim or defence already litigated), a foreign judgment only needs to be recognised. No judgment can be enforced unless it is recognised. The same legal principles generally determine whether a judgment will be enforced or recognised.
What does enforcement of a foreign judgment mean?
Enforcing a foreign judgment, by contrast to recognition, means taking some positive step, such as seizing the debtor’s property, in order to give effect to the judgment.
Which regime governs enforcement of foreign judgments?
In England and Wales there are four regimes for the enforcement of foreign judgments, depending on where the judgment originates from:
- The UK regime: foreign judgments from Scotland or Northern Ireland.
- The European regime: foreign judgments from EU and certain EFTA countries. This regime will not apply after Brexit. Consequently, judgments from these countries will be enforceable, if at all, under the statutory or common law regimes.
- The Statutory regime: foreign judgments from most commonwealth countries.
- The Common Law regime: judgments from other countries such as the USA.
What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment?
The AJA provides that an application should be made to register the
judgment debt within 12 months of the judgment date. At common law, the foreign judgment is treated as if it creates a contract debt, and the limitation period for contractual claims applies, which is six years from the date of the foreign judgment.
Does a foreign judgment have to be for specified sum to be enforceable?
Any foreign judgment must be for a definite sum, meaning
the damages or costs awarded must have been assessed and quantified. The foreign judgment must be final and conclusive between the parties, though it may be subject to appeal.
How to enforce judgments from Scotland or Northern Ireland
The procedure for enforcing judgments from Scotland or Northern Ireland is set out in sections 18, 19 and Schedules 6 and 7 to the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982, CPR 74.14 to CPR 74.18, and PD 74A.
In order to enforce a judgment from Scotland or Northern Ireland in the UK, a judgment creditor must:
- Obtain a certificate from the Scottish or Irish court (in Scotland or Northern Ireland) containing specified details, or a certified copy in the case of a non-money judgment.
- Apply without notice to the High Court to register the judgment, within six months of the date of issue of the certificate by the original court.
- Draw up the order granting permission to register the judgment and serve it on the judgment debtor.
- The debtor can apply to set aside registration, if the requirements of Schedules 6 or 7 to the CJJA 1982 were not met.
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