Registering Foreign Judgments in Northern Ireland

Published 26 June 2020. By Ruairi Maguire.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for businesses to maintain their cashflow by recovering all payments owed to them by their customers. At MKB Law, we have been acting for a number of clients from outside Northern Ireland, in registering foreign judgments prior to commencing enforcement action against debtors who have refused to pay. In many cases it is a legal prerequisite that foreign judgments are registered in the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland before enforcement commences. There are a number of ways of dealing with foreign judgments.

UK Judgments

If a judgment has been obtained outside of Northern Ireland, elsewhere in the UK, then it is necessary to complete a Certificate of Money provision. This must be obtained from the court office which granted the initial judgment. Once the Certificate is stamped, it can then be filed in the High Court in Belfast for registration. The original certificate and a certified copy of the Certificate are then filed with the court. No court fee is payable to the court office for registration of a Certificate of Money provision.

The time limit is 6 months in Northern Ireland for registering the Certificate of Money provision from the date of issue by the initial court.

European Judgments

Judgments obtained in Europe can be enforced by issuing a European Enforcement Order. Like the UK certificate, this Order allows foreign judgments to be registered in Northern Ireland. It is important to note, this is for uncontested claims which means the debtor either has agreed to the debt owed to the creditor or has failed to appear at the hearing.

The Order is obtained in the country where the judgment was granted and then the Original order is filed in the High Court. There is no fee payable for the registration of European Enforcement Orders.

If the Order or Judgment is in a language other than English, a certified translation will be needed.

EEO Regulation 805/2004 Article 6 does not provide countries within the European Union with any statutory time limits. The regulation does provide some interpretative guidance on this that the case should not be statute barred in the country where the debt originates.

International Judgments where the UK has not entered into a reciprocal agreement with the country

Countries outside the UK and EU, where the UK has not entered into a reciprocal agreement with the applicable country, cannot be directly enforced in the UK. To enforce the judgment in Northern Ireland it will be necessary for the party seeking to enforce the judgment, to issue new proceedings instead, by way of Summary Judgment. In doing so, there will normally be no need to have the case retried in its entirety. Instead, if defended, the application will be made that the Debtor does not possess any reasonable prospect of successfully defending the case.

International Judgments where the UK has entered into a reciprocal agreement with the country

Reciprocal agreements are created by statute and are governed by the Administration of Justice Act 1920 [AJA] and Foreign Judgments [Reciprocal Enforcement] Act 1933. The AJA applies to a plethora of countries mainly in Africa. Whereas the 1933 Act only applies in cases of non-penal monetary judgments. The countries under the 1933 Act afford similar reciprocal treatment in their courts of UK cases, such countries include Canada and India. A full list of countries for both Acts, can be found in the respective statute. Registration of judgments for these cases differ slightly and are made by way of an ex-parte application to the High Court before registration can be made.

Limitation periods under the AJA for the registration of a judgment are to be made within 12 months from the date of the original judgment. However, the courts have the discretion to grant applications after this time limit. If you require any assistance in registering foreign judgments in Northern Ireland, please contact the Debt Recovery & Insolvency team at MKB Law.

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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