July 11, 2016 Commercial

I was recently instructed by a commercial bank in Nigeria who wanted to enforce a High Court Judgement (obtained in Nigeria) against a debtor who owed the bank a substantial amount of money. This extract only considers the first part and that is registering the Judgement itself and nothing further.

The starting point is that all Judgements for the payment of a sum of money obtained from the ‘superior’ courts of Commonwealth countries is covered by the AJA (Administration of Justice Act 1920) and can be registered in England if, in all the circumstances of the case, the English court in its discretion finds it just and convenient that the Judgement should be enforced in the United Kingdom.

There are three ways a foreign Judgement can be enforced:

1) European Judgements – Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of Judgement s in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation (recast)).

2) Judgements of Commonwealth States and States with which the UK has a bilateral Treaty; and

3) Judgements from courts of foreign States with which there is no Treaty.

The first step is to register the Judgement itself and without such we cannot enforce it.

In order for the foreign Judgement to be registered, the AJA require that the foreign court should have had jurisdiction over the parties and the relevant issues in dispute according to English law principles.  It is not sufficient that the foreign court had jurisdiction according to its own rules.

Under the AJA, the foreign Judgement must be registered within one year from the date of the final Judgement sought to be enforced, although the English court retains the discretion to accept registrations after the lapse of the stipulated period.

Once a foreign Judgement has been registered in England, that Judgement, as from the date of registration, has the same force and effect as an English Judgement and enforcement proceedings can be taken in respect of it as if it was a Judgement originally obtained in England.

In respect of the process of the actual registration the application must be made in the High Court  by lodging papers with the Master’s Secretary’s Department. The Judgement creditor must file an authenticated copy of the Judgement of which recognition and enforcement is sought and a witness statement in support of the application in the form set out in CPR Part 74.4.

Such applications are assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division and may be heard by a Master.

They may be made without notice: see rule 74.3(2). The Master may however, direct that a Part 8 claim form should be issued and served. The written evidence (including exhibits) required to be filed in each of the cases set out above is set out in detail in rule 74.4.

Guidance is obtained from PD 74A paras 5, 6 and 6A in respect of the evidence required in support of such applications.

The order for registration, if made, will be for registration of the Judgement in the foreign currency in which it is expressed. It should not be converted into sterling in the evidence in support.

The order for registration must be drawn up by or on behalf of the Judgement creditor and served on the Judgement debtor. Permission is not required to serve out of jurisdiction: rule 74.6. The order will be entered in the register of Judgements kept in the Enforcement Section at the Central Office. The order will usually contain, at the Master’s discretion, a direction that the costs of and caused by the application and the registration be assessed and added to the Judgement debt.

In order to enforce the Judgement following registration there must be filed evidence of service on the Judgement debtor of the registration order and any other relevant order: rule 74.9.

Once an order granting permission to register the foreign Judgement has been granted by the English court, the order must be served on the Judgement debtor by delivering it personally, by any of the methods of service permitted under the Companies Act 2006, or as directed by the court.  Permission to serve the registration out of the jurisdiction is not required.

Lastly you would require a certified copy of the Judgement , the certified copy of the Judgement will be an office copy and accompanied by a certificate signed by a judge. The Judgement and certificate should be sealed with the Seal of the Senior Courts.

All views are my own, the above is not to be relied on as legal advice.