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Our specialist team are experienced in enforcing EU 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.
The UK ceased to be a member of the European Union at 11 pm GMT on 31 January 2020. Exit from the European Union impacts the way EU judgments may be recognised and enforced in England and Wales and vice versa. There are transitional provisions dealing with the recognition and enforcement of judgments arising from claims issued before 31 December 2020. We summarise below the different regimes that apply to judgments arising from claims issued in Europe before 31 December 2020.
If your claim is after 31 December 2020 – read our pages on claims issued after 31 December 2020.
European Regime for Enforcement; Pre-Brexit
Article 67 of the Withdrawal Agreement provides for recognition and enforcement of judgments, arising from claims issued in the EU before 31 December 2020, under the various European regimes. Therefore, relevant judgments obtained in EU members states will remain enforceable in England and Wales, and vice versa.
The EU regime is contained in the four main instruments set out below. There are further EU instruments for specific countries, which are not covered here.
Recast Brussels Regulation (Council Regulation (EU) 1215/2012)
This is the primary instrument for enforcing in England and Wales, an EU judgment arising from proceedings commenced prior to 31 December 2020. This is because it provides a more straightforward and less expensive process and dispenses with some of the requirements under the other European regimes, such as the need to obtain a declaration of enforceability under the 2001 Brussels Regulation and the Lugano Convention.
The Recast Brussels Regulation applies to judgments issued in legal proceedings instituted on or after 10 January 2015. The Recast Brussels Regulation has direct effect in the UK and in all EU member states meaning that an EU judgement is automatically enforceable in England and Wales without the need to register the judgement first.
The staged process is as follows:
- the claimant obtains a certificate from the originating court in the format set out in Annex 1 of the regulation. This certificate certifies that the judgment is enforceable and provides details of the judgment, including the judgment amount and interest and costs payable;
- the claimant serves a copy of the certificate, together with the judgment (and any certified translation), on the defendant;
- the claimant may then enforce the judgment as though it were obtained from a court in England and Wales.
A defendant can apply for refusal of enforcement where there are grounds to do so. The grounds are set out in Article 45 of the Recast Brussels Regulation and are narrow in scope. The claimant will not be able to enforce the judgment until the application has been determined by the court.
2001 Brussels Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001)
The 2001 Brussels Regulation applies to the enforcement of EU judgments, arising from proceedings commenced between 1 March 2002 and 10 January 2015, in England and Wales. A claimant is required to obtain a declaration of enforceability before the judgment can be enforced in England and Wales.
The staged process is as follows:
- the claimant applies to register the judgment. This application will generally be made ‘without notice’. If the application is granted, the claimant obtains a registration order;
- the claimant serves a copy of the registration order on the judgment debtor;
- the claimant may then enforce the judgment as thought it were obtained from a court in England and Wales.
A defendant can apply for refusal of enforcement where there are grounds to do so. The grounds are set out in Articles 34-35 of the 2001 Brussels Regulation and are narrow in scope. The claimant will not be able to enforce the judgment until the application has been determined by the court.
2007 Lugano Convention
The 2007 Lugano Convention applies to the enforcement, in the Courts of England and Wales, of judgments from Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. It applies to proceedings initiated before 31 December 2020. The three stage process for enforcement under the Lugano Convention is similar to that summarised above under the 2001 Brussels Regulation.
A defendant can apply for refusal of enforcement where there are grounds to do so. The grounds are narrow in scope. The claimant will not be able to enforce the judgment until the application has been determined by the court.
European Enforcement Order (EEO) Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 805/2004)
The EEO regulation applies only to uncontested civil or commercial claims. “Uncontested” means that either:
- the defendant has admitted the claim / or concluded the claim by a settlement approved by the originating court;
- the claim was uncontested by the debtor during the course of the court proceedings
- the claim was uncontested by the debtor at trial (for example, the defendant originally defended the claim but did not attend the trial hearing)
To obtain a European Enforcement Order, the claimant must present an application to the originating court (the Court that issued the original judgment) and satisfy specific conditions. Providing that the Claimant can satisfy the same, the claimant will be provided with a sealed copy of the judgment and an EEO certificate. There is no requirement for the claimant to serve the EEO certificate on the defendant.
The claimant must then apply to the Courts of England and Wales to enforce the EEO.
The 2001 Brussels Regulation, 2007 Lugano Convention and Recast Brussels Regulation have similar provisions relating to the type of judgments that a claimant may enforce and the proceedings those judgments relate to.
All three instruments define “judgment” as
“any judgment given by a court or tribunal… whatever the judgment may be called, including a decree, order, decision or writ of execution, as well as the determine of costs or expenses”
These instruments extend to all civil and commercial matters (excluding revenue, customs, or administrative matters).
It is worth noting that the Recast Brussels Regulation also extends to certain interim orders, such as injunctions.
Next steps – how we can help you
A claimant will want to ensure that the defendant has assets in England and Wales, against which the judgment can be enforced, before applying to recognise and enforce the judgment in the English Courts.
- we will work with you to understand the defendant’s assets.
- if the defendant’s asset position is unclear, we can use our specialist asset tracing contacts to assist to identify possible assets against which judgment can be enforced.
- we will assist our clients to identify the enforcement option most likely to see a financial return.
“FWJ is our law firm of choice and we are delighted with the proactive levels of service and recovery we receive from them. Their detailed understanding of the invoice finance industry combined with their technical expertise and approachability makes them great people to work with.”Sylvia Bradley, director, SJB Associates Limited
Contact our team for further advice regarding enforcing an EU Judgment in England and Wales. We can offer fast effective help today.