If you have obtained a judgment debt against a debtor in another jurisdiction and the judgment debtor is now residing in the jurisdiction of England and Wales, you will need to register that judgment in order to enforce it.
The principle of res judicata prevents a party from re-litigating any claim or defence which has already been litigated. As such, a foreign judgment only needs to be recognised. The enforcement of a judgment requires the taking of some form of possible step by way of an enforcement method (please see the separate article on enforcement methods). A judgment cannot, therefore, be enforced unless it is recognised.
Where was the foreign judgment obtained?
There are four separate regimes that apply to the registration of foreign judgments and the regime that will apply will be dependent upon where the foreign judgment was obtained. The four regimes are:
- The UK Regime – judgments obtained from Scotland or Northern Ireland;
- The European Regime – judgments obtained from the European Union and certain European Free Trade Association countries;
- The Statutory Regime – judgments obtained from most Commonwealth countries; and
- The Common Law Regime – judgments obtained from other countries that do not fall within one of the other three regimes.
The law that applies to each of the separate regimes is vast and varied and it is therefore prudent to seek legal advice regarding your foreign judgment to ensure that the correct procedure is followed so that it is registered correctly within the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
If the judgment has not been obtained correctly in the originating foreign jurisdiction, it is likely that this will prevent the judgment from being registered within the jurisdiction of England and Wales. It is therefore essential to first check that the judgment itself from the originating foreign jurisdiction has been obtained correctly and in accordance with the rules and requirements of the appropriate regime for registration.
Under the regimes, the judgment debtor is afforded the opportunity to apply to set aside and/or appeal the registration of the foreign judgment if their application is made within a specified time after the Registration Order has been granted. If the correct procedure has not been followed in obtaining the foreign judgment and/or in registering the foreign judgment in the jurisdiction of England and Wales, it is likely that the judgment debtor’s application will be successful. In this situation, the Registration Order will be set aside/withdrawn and the judgment creditor may be exposed to the cost liability of the judgment debtor. It is therefore imperative that the correct procedure is followed from the start as you may be unable to rectify any defects at a later date once registration proceedings have commenced.
In the event that the registration of the foreign judgment is completed correctly and an application by the judgment debtor is unsuccessful, you will then be at liberty to enforce the judgment debt using any of the enforcement methods available under the law of England and Wales. Please be aware, that you will not be able to enforce the judgment debt following a Registration Order until the period for the judgment debtor to apply to set aside/appeal has expired. You may however only apply within this period for an enforcement method in order to protect assets of the judgment debtor so that they cannot be dissipated within the period to prevent enforcement thereafter.
How T G Baynes help me with Registering or Enforcing Foreign Judgment?
T G Baynes have an experienced debt recovery department and civil litigation department that have dealt with a number of cases that have required the registration of foreign judgments within the four regimes. As a result of this, T G Baynes is able to advise you appropriately as to what is required to register your foreign judgment as well as alert you to any of the risks and problems to you may face.
If you have a foreign judgment that you wish to register within the jurisdiction of England and Wales to enforce thereafter, please do not hesitate to contact us.