On 13 September 2022, the International Cooperation Department of the UAE Ministry of Justice issued a circular to the Dubai courts confirming the reciprocity of enforcing and executing judgments of the English courts in the UAE (the “Circular”). The Circular established that the reciprocity requirement provided for under Article 85 of the Executive Regulations of the UAE Civil Procedures Law of 2018 (as amended in 2020) has now been satisfied by the recent English High Court’s decision in Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC V Puri  EWHC 75.
In the said Judgement (which was upheld by the EWCA Civ in 2021), the High Court confirmed that a final and conclusive foreign judgment for a debt given by a court of competent jurisdiction may be enforced by a claim in England, except where such enforcement would be contrary to public policy. It follows that if enforcement of an English court judgment is sought in the UAE, the UAE courts deem an English court judgment a debt instrument between the involved parties without a judicial review of the merits of the underlying claim.
In the absence of a bilateral treaty for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments between the UAE and UK, UK claimant faced substantive and procedural challenges in attempting to enforce English courts’ judgments and orders in the UAE. Some businesses and legal practitioners admitted to frustration when examining the UAE-UK Treaty on Judicial Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters which has been ratified in the UAE on 31 May 2007 (the “Treaty”). The Treaty limits itself to judicial assistance requests and letters rogatory between the judicial authorities in the UAE and UK, and more specifically, in relation to (a) official service of process, and (b) taking of evidence.
Prior to the issuance of the Circular, the process of enforcing English courts judgments in the UAE was somewhat complicated. The lack of reciprocity in recognition and enforcement of UAE judgments in the UK allowed for a very common defence by local debtors when objecting to an application for execution of English courts judgments in the UAE.
We expect the Circular to have a salutary influence on the legal and business markets in the UAE by giving more comfort to UK investors that their English courts judgments will be executed in the UAE. On the flip side, concerns have been raised locally that the Circular will encourage foreign investors entering the UAE market to opt for English Courts in contractual dispute resolution clauses instead of UAE courts.
Our UAE Litigation Group would be happy to further discuss the impacts of the Circular on the execution of UK judgments in the UAE and what investors should expect when submitting their claims to the English courts for a UAE-related disputes.
For any questions or inquiries, please feel free to contact:
Office 601, Maze Tower
Sheik Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
T +(971) 4289 2159
ABU DHABI OFFICE
24th Floor, Al Sila Tower, Regus
ADGM Square, Abu Dhabi, UAE
T + (971) 26948657