Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Northern Ireland

April 16, 2014

Judgments obtained outside of Northern Ireland can be enforced within Northern Ireland, once registered.

The process of registration will depend on the country where the Judgment was first obtained as there are different reciprocal agreements with some countries which allow the Judgment to be enforced as if the Judgment had been obtained in Northern Ireland and without the need to issue fresh proceedings.

All Judgments need to be registered and they can be categorised as follows:-

1. Enforcement of UK Judgments in Northern Ireland

Enforcement of Judgments obtained in other parts of the UK are governed by the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Action 1982. It will be necessary for a Certificate of Money Provisions to be obtained from the Court Office which ratified the original Judgment and once the Certificate of Money Provisions has been signed, stamped and sealed, the original and a certified copy can be lodged in the Central Office of the High Court in Belfast where it is then registered. The registration must take place within 6 months of the issuance of the Certificate.
There is no fee payable to the Court Office for registering a Certificate of Money Provisions.

2. European Enforcement Orders (EEO)

Regulation (EC) No. 805/204 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 created a European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims. The European Enforcement Order is a certificate which enables Judgments, Court settlements and authentic instruments on uncontested claims to be recognised and enforced automatically in another member state without any intermediate proceedings.

The Regulation applies in civil and commercial matters and does not, in particular, cover revenue, customs or administrative matters. It is applicable in all EU member states with the exception of Denmark, which has opted out of the procedure.  A claim is regarded as being uncontested if the debtor has agreed to the debt, or has not appeared or been represented at a Court hearing.

The EEO is obtained by the member state who delivered the Judgment and is carried out by means of a standard form.

Once delivered, the original EEO and a copy is sent to the Central Office of the High Court in Belfast to be registered as per the Certificate of Money Provisions above, before it is enforced. There is no fee for the registration of the EEO. If the EEO is in a different language then a certified translation will have to be provided.

3. Enforcement of Judgments from Countries who have signed up to the Brussels regulation 44/2001 and the Lugano Convention 1988

An alternative to registering an EEO as stated above would be to register a Judgment where the Judgment was obtained in one of the countries who are signatories to the above Regulation and Convention which are mainly EU Countries or European Free Trade Associations, such as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark. This process takes longer than registering an EEO and requires an ex-parte application to a High Court Master for the Judgment to be registered which incurs a Court fee.

Once the Judgment has been registered, a Certificate of Registration has to be served by post on the debtor allowing the debtor one calendar month to appeal against the registration. It is only once the calendar month has expired that the enforcement can begin.

4. Enforcement of Judgments in Countries which with the UK has entered into Reciprocal Enforcement Agreements

The Administration of Justice Act 1920 and the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933 allow for the enforcement of money Judgments obtained in mainly colonial and commonwealth countries by way of registration.

Again, an ex-parte application has to be made to a High Court Master by way of affidavit and once the registration has been successful, a Certificate of Registration has to be served on the debtor giving the debtor one calendar month to appeal against the registration.

Once the calendar month has expired, then the enforcement can commence.

5. Enforcement of Judgments with Countries with which the UK has no Reciprocal Agreement to Enforce

There are some countries with which the UK has no agreement or treaty providing for the reciprocal enforcement of Judgments.

Examples of these countries are the US, Russia and China. Although there may be no statutory schemes for registering Judgments, this does not mean that the Judgment cannot be registered although Judgments received from such countries cannot be enforced directly in the UK.

The Judgment itself must satisfy certain conditions such as:-

(1) The Court must have jurisdiction;

(2) The Judgment must be for a definite sum;

(3) The Judgment must be final and conclusive;

(4) The Judgment must be free from fraud;

(5) The Judgment must be in adherence with UK Public Policy;

(6) The proceedings must have been conducted in a manner in accordance with natural or substantial justice;

The burden of proof is upon the Judgment debtor who seeks to oppose the enforcement of a Court Judgment on the basis of one of the criteria listed.

The Judgment is viewed as a simple contract debt between the parties and is enforced by way of issuing new proceedings. There will not normally be a re-examination of the merits of the case at Court and the usual step is for the Plaintiff to apply for Summary Judgment on the grounds that the Judgment debtor has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim.

Please note; the content of this article is for information purposes only and further advice should besought from a professional legal advisor before any action is taken.

Please contact Cleaver Fulton Rankin on 028 9024 3141 or alternatively visit www.cfrlaw.co.uk