United Kingdom: Recognition and enforcement of foreign money judgments.

United Kingdom

Recognition and enforcement of foreign money judgments.

Enforcing Foreign Judgments in England and Wales

If you have obtained a domestic judgment or court order abroad, you may wish to enforce it in England and Wales because your debtor has assets here.

Methods of enforcing a judgment depend largely on the nature of the judgment and where it was granted.

Countries can be split into one or more of four categories which, in descending order of ease, are countries:

-        to which the European Enforcement Order (“EEO”) Regulation applies;

-        which have signed the Brussels Regulation or the Lugano Convention;

-        with which the UK has bi-lateral enforcement conventions in place; or

-        for which none of the above apply.


1.         EEO Regulation


This is the method of choice as it enables simple, quick enforcement within the EU.  However it can only be used for uncontested money judgments.

The application is a relatively straightforward paper exercise and once an EEO Certificate is issued the judgment is treated by the English courts as if it had been delivered within this jurisdiction.   The usual methods of enforcement can then be used.


2.         The Brussels’ Regulation/Lugano Convention


This applies to all EU countries (plus Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, Poland and pre-2004 EU states) and provides relatively straightforward procedures for the mutual recognition and enforcement of most EU civil and commercial judgments.

This would apply where the EEO procedure cannot be used such a judgment from a contested hearing or to enforce a non-money judgment such as an injunction or specific performance.

The application must be made in the enforcing state accompanied by various documents including a copy of the judgment (and relevant translations).

As long as certain formalities are fulfilled, the enforcing court in the UK should declare the judgment enforceable and not re-examine the case.


3.         Bi-lateral Enforcement Arrangements


The Administration of Judgment Act and the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act streamline the enforcement of judgments obtained in various former and current Commonwealth countries and Crown States such as the Isle of Man and Jersey

A final judgment obtained   in one of the countries to which the Acts apply must first be registered here.  A key issue is that the court in the UK must be satisfied that the original court had jurisdiction to deal with the claim. Once satisfied  such judgments can then be enforced.


4.         The Common Law


If none of the above reciprocal regimes is applicable (e.g. Russia, the USA, Japan or China) fresh proceedings are commenced in the UK whereby the foreign judgment is sued upon as a debt.  There will not be a re-examination on the merits of the case at court and the usual procedure involves the claimant making an application for summary judgment on the basis that there is no defence to the claim.