Enforcing Foreign Judgements in U.K. Courts Part 1
Enforcing foreign judgments can be a minefield. The sheer number of interlinked conventions and agreements that regulate the recognition of judgments between states can be daunting for the uninitiated. In this short series of posts we have attempted to provide a basic outline of the problems faced by our clients when attempting to enforce judgments from abroad in the UK, and the procedures that can be used to ensure that enforcement takes place. In this first post we deal with European Enforcement Orders, an accelerated procedure for enforcing uncontested civil and commercial judgments across EU member states. Our European clients have found it particularly useful for enforcing judgments for unpaid debts.
• A European Enforcement Order (EEO) is an accelerated procedure for enforcing uncontested civil and commercial judgments across member states.
• It does not apply to Danish judgments, as Denmark has opted out of the process.
• An “uncontested” judgment is any judgment where
a) the debtor has admitted or agreed to settle the claim (with those settlement terms being approved by the court)
b) the debtor has never raised an objection to the claim
c) the debtor defaulted on the claim by not appearing at court or missing another deadline set by the court
d) the debtor has expressly agreed to the claim in an authenticated instrument
• In cases involving wills, matrimonial assets, bankruptcy, winding up of insolvent companies, customs and excise, social security, administrative law and arbitration claims an EEO is not available and full registration procedures must be undertaken. It is, however, particularly useful for debt collection claims.
• Application is made to the court that granted the judgment and an EEO certificate and will be granted assuming the case is eligible.
• The EEO certificate, a sealed copy of the judgment and certified translations of the documents are then provided to the court in the member state you wish to enforce the judgment along with a payment for court fees.
• Registration is then usually a formality with very limited possibility that it can be opposed.
• It is possible for the court to refuse to enforce the judgment but this is very rare. It can occur where the judgment is unenforceable in the country where it was given, where there has been an intervening decision at another court and enforcement of the earlier judgment would be incompatible with that decision, or if the EEO certificate issued by the originating court does not comply with the prescribed requirements of the European regulation.
• The procedures for enforcement of the judgment are then governed by the law of the member state that registered the EEO.
• An EEO can be extended to cover any costs order given in the country of origin and can also be granted for the whole or only a part of the claim.
• In simple cases the process of certification of the documents is likely to take between 14 and 21 days.