Our specialist team are experienced in enforcing foreign Judgments in England and Wales and help overseas claimants recover the money they are owed from defendants based in, or with assets in, England and Wales.
Our brilliant team at Francis Wilks & Jones regularly help overseas clients with debt recovery claims. These include enforcement of foreign judgments in England & Wales.
The statutory framework
There is a statutory framework available for overseas claimants seeking to enforce a judgment in the UK. The framework is available to a number of commonwealth countries, including
- the Bahamas;
- New Zealand; and
A full list of countries is set out in Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments (Administration of Justice Act 1920, Part II) (Amendment) Order 1985: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1985/1994/made. It is also available to EU member states and following Brexit, it is possible that there will be an increase in EU claimants utilising the process under the statutory regime to enforce judgments in England and Wales.
There are two primary statutes which make up the statutory regime. These are summarised below.
Administration of Justice Act 1920 (“AJA 1920”)
Where the Administration of Justice Act applies, the claimant must make an application (following the process set out in the Civil Procedure Rules) to have the judgment registered in the English courts. The application must be made within 12 months of the judgment, or such longer period as may be permitted by the court. The debtor does not require notice of the application. If the application for registration is granted, the claimant can then enforce the judgment as though it had been issued in the Courts of England and Wales.
- the Court may allow for registration to be made after 12 months where for example, the Claimant’s delay in enforcing the judgment is because of assurances that the defendant would pay and these assurances were accepted in good faith.
- we would recommend however, making the application to register the judgment as soon as possible to avoid being time-barred.
The definition of judgment is set out in Section 12 of AJA 1920 and includes “any judgment or order given or made by a court in any civil proceedings”. AJA 1920 applies to judgments for a sum of money only (excluding taxes, fines or penalties). The AJA 1920 does apply to arbitration awards but excludes non-monetary or interim orders. It also stipulates that any judgment must be final and conclusive.
The onus is on a defendant wishing to challenge registration and whilst the English court has discretion over enforcement and will only permit registration where it deems it just, the defendant will need to make a formal application to challenge registration citing reasonable grounds for challenge. Examples of the defences the Court will consider are:
- a failure to serve the defendant with the original claim in circumstances where the defendant failed to appear;
- a judgment that has been obtained by fraud;
- a pending appeal is outstanding in the originating Court; or
- enforcement would be contrary to public policy.
Where an application is made to challenge registration, the application will need to be determined by the Court before a Claimant can enforce the judgment.
Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933 (“FJA 1933”)
The process under the FJA 1933 is similar to the process under the AJA 1920. It also requires a claimant to register the foreign judgment in the English court before it can be enforced in the Courts of England and Wales.
- a key difference between the statutes is that the claimant has a period of 6 years from judgment to apply for registration under FJA 1933.
- ‘Judgment’ is defined at Section 11 of FJA 1993 as a judgment or order in any civil or criminal proceedings that is for a sum of money (for example, compensation or damages).
As with recognition under the AJA, the onus is on a defendant to apply to the Court to challenge registration of a judgment.
Next steps – how we can help you today
Before applying to register a judgment in the English court, it is recommended that a claimant takes steps to check that the defendant has assets in England and Wales against which judgment can be enforced.
How we can help
- our team will work with you to identify and understand the defendant’s assets;
- if the defendant’s asset position isn’t certain, we have specialist asset tracing contacts who can assist to identify assets against which judgment can be enforced;
- we can assist you to identify the optimum enforcement method which is most likely to see a financial return.
“Extremely thorough, professional and speedy, and the fees were much more reasonable than the competition. Highly recommended.”A private client we assisted with issuing a winding-up petition to recover debts