NI Blog: Brexit and the enforcement of foreign judgments

Charles Stuart
Charles Stuart

Charles Stuart of Cleaver Fulton Rankin Solicitors explores the impact of Brexit on enforcing judgments in Northern Ireland.

Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, there may be an impact on the current processes for enforcing Judgments from Europe. The current categories are as follows:

1. Enforcement of UK Judgments in Northern Ireland

This process is governed by the Civil Jurisdiction & Judgments Act 1982 and involves a Certificate of Money Provisions being obtained from the Court Office which ratified the original Judgment. The original Certificate of Money Provisions once provided is lodged in the Central Office of the High where it is then registered. This must take place within 6 months of the issuance of the Certificate.

As this process is governed by UK Legislation, there is no reason why this process should be affected.

2. European Enforcement Orders (EEO)

The European Enforcement Order is obtained by the Member State who delivered the Judgment and is completed by means of a standard form. The EEO is defined under Regulation EC No. 805/204 and allows a Judgment in a Member State to be recognised immediately by the Member State in which it is to be enforced without the need of any further applications to Court.

Under Brexit, the EEO may be under some threat depending on the negotiations between the UK and the EU. In the worse case scenario, if the European Enforcement Orders are no longer in force in the UK, then the enforcement of foreign Judgment obtains within the EU may revert back to the old system which is set out in paragraph 3 below.

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

Under this application, which applies to enforcement between Norway, Iceland and Switzerland and other Convention Counties, an ex-parte application has to be made to the High Court Master for the Judgment to be registered which incurs a Court fee, unlike the European Enforcement Order.

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.

Unlike the EEO, there is therefore an appeal process which can be made by the debtor and this registration route takes longer to complete and incurs outlays.

4. Enforcement of Judgment in Countries with which the UK has entered into reciprocal enforcement agreements

The Administration of Justice Act 1920 and the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933 allows for the enforcement of Money Judgments obtained in mainly colonial and commonwealth counties by way of registration. The process is similar to the process set out in paragraph 3 above.

5. Enforcement of Judgments with Countries with which the UK has no reciprocal agreement to enforce

If a Country if not covered by any of the application in paragraphs 1 – 4 then new legal proceedings need to be commenced which is normally by way of a Summary Judgment application with the Judgment obtained being viewed as a simple contract debt with the application being that the Judgment debtor has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim.

Until negotiations are completed between the UK and the EU, it is hard to know exactly how Brexit will affect the enforcement of Judgments.

It is unlikely that Judgments obtained within the UK will be much affected however, it is likely that there will be some change in enforcing Judgments obtained in Northern Ireland which were outside the borders of the UK.

  • Charles Stuart is based in Belfast at Cleaver Fulton Rankin Solicitors. View his profile here.
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