On 13th September 2022, the UAE Ministry of Justice issued a circular to Dubai Courts declaring that UAE courts can now enforce judgments of the English courts under the principle of reciprocity of enforcement of court judgments since the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of England & Wales enforced a Dubai Court judgment.
The landmark case behind this new development is one our firm has followed with great interest; not only from a legal perspective but also as the Claimant in this case is a long-standing client of our firm.
In late 2014, we introduced our client, Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC (LET Dubai), to Mackrell Solicitors in London (who are fellow members of the Mackrell International legal network) to provide legal assistance relating to a dispute under a tripartite agreement.
Pursuant to the agreed arrangements, certain cheques were presented for payment which had been signed by the authorised signatory of the broker (Dubai Defendant), which were not honoured.
Under Article 599 (2) of the Dubai Commercial Transactions Law a cheque may not be issued unless the drawer has sufficient funds to meet it at that time. Furthermore, a person who draws the cheque is deemed to be personally liable for the amount of the cheque. Therefore, a claim was issued in Dubai Courts by International Counsels Advocates and Legal Consultants on behalf of LET Dubai against the Dubai Defendant personally and judgment was issued by Dubai Courts together with interest.
Enforcement in the English Courts
The Dubai Court judgment was the subject of enforcement proceedings in the English Courts. The claim was filed by Mackrell Solicitors and was heard by Master Davidson, who granted summary judgment in favour of LET Dubai against the Dubai Defendant on 23 January 2020 -  EWHC 75 (QB). This decision was appealed by the Dubai Defendant and his appeal was rejected by Mr. Justice Murray -  EWHC 1432 (QB). A further appeal was made by the Dubai Defendant which again was rejected by the Court of Appeal in -  EWCA Civ 770. In May 2022, the Supreme Court refused permission to appeal by the Dubai Defendant as the appeal did not “raise an arguable point in law.” As such, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Dubai Court judgment could be enforced in England.
What is the significance of Reciprocity?
The Treaty between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates on Judicial Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters London (7 December 2006) does not provide for the reciprocal, judicial, recognition and enforcement of court judgments between the UAE and the UK. Although the UAE has entered into numerous regional and bilateral treaties facilitating the reciprocal enforcement of judgments, there is no such treaty entered into between the UAE and the UK, save for the Memoranda of Guidance entered into between the Courts of the Abu Dhabi Global Market and the Commercial Court of the QBD, England and Wales; and the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre and the Commercial Court, QBD, England and Wales, which do not have binding legal effect. This means that parties wishing to have an English court judgment recognised and enforced in the UAE (outside of the ADGM and the DIFC Courts) can only do so under the circumstances set out in Article 85 of Cabinet Resolution No.57 of 2018 Concerning the Executive Regulations of Federal Law No.11 of 1992 on the Civil Procedure Law (Executive Regulations) as amended by Cabinet Resolution No. 33 of 2020.
The circular from the UAE MOJ confirms that the requirement set out in Article 85 (1) of the Executive Regulations (that the foreign judgment will only be enforced in the UAE under the same conditions laid down in the jurisdiction which issued the judgment i.e. if the principle of reciprocity applies) has now been met. This should, in theory, reduce the previously legitimate concerns that some lawyers and the successful parties have historically had in relation to bringing claims for the enforcement of English court judgments in the UAE (subject to the other requirements having been met). We will continue to watch with great interest the progress and impact this landmark decision has on the successful enforcement of English court judgments in the UAE.
Nichola Reece-Burton – Partner, Head of Litigation & Dispute Resolution
This is a general guide on the subject matter and should not be construed as specific legal advice. For any legal advice and/or assistance on enforcing English judgments in the UAE (or vice versa) please do not hesitate to contact Nichola Reece-Burton.
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