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Local unenforceability of foreign judgments not a bar to common law enforcement in England

There is no rule of common law that a foreign judgment with res judicata effect in its jurisdiction of origin cannot or should not be enforced here just because it is not presently or fully enforceable in the foreign jurisdiction itself. That was the finding of Stephen Houseman KC sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge of the Commercial Court in Invest Bank PSC v El Husseiny and others [2023] EWHC 2302 (Comm).

In the latest attempt by various of the defendants to have the claims dismissed before going to trial, it was claimed that a new UAE law had rendered earlier monetary judgments of the Abu Dhabi Court unenforceable in the UAE. The effect of this was said to be that such monetary judgments could not be enforced in England.

This argument was rejected by the Judge. He declined to extrapolate such a principle from cases where enforcement had been refused because either the judgment of the foreign court had been stayed pending appeal, or because there was some inherent conditionality in the foreign judgment. If such a principle existed, it would have been identified as such and its parameters discussed in authoritative practitioner or academic works on private international law. Rather, as Professor Briggs says in Civil Jurisdiction & Judgments (7th ed. 2021) at 34.22: “As the common law does not enforce the judgment as such, as distinct from the obligations which arise from the adjudication, whether the foreign judgment is enforceable under the law which gave it is a matter of foreign procedure, not relevant to a court in England.” The Judge found that the UAE judgments had res judicata effect in the UAE and that they therefore could be enforced in England and Wales.

Trevor Mascarenhas, Tom Crisp, Caitlin Foster and Emily Hynes of PCB Byrne instructed Tim Penny KC and Marc Delehanty on behalf of the successful bank.

The judgment is available to read here.

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