The general rule is that when UAE is a party of reciprocal enforcement treaty, whether bilateral or multilateral, the recognition and enforcement of the foreign judgement and orders in the UAE will be governed by the provision of the relevant reciprocal enforcement treaty or convention. However, in the absence of such a treaty in place covering the matter, the legal provisions governing the enforcement of the foreign judgment in UAE as defined under Article – 235 of the UAE Civil Procedures Code, Federal Law No. 11 of 1992, will take effect.
Rather than relying on the UAE Civil Procedural Laws, the Courts of UAE recognize the judgements that are in correspondence with these reciprocal treaties and prefer to emphasize more on the requirements mentioned under the reciprocal treaty for enforcing a foreign judgment in UAE
The Reciprocal Enforcement Treaties
The UAE has entered into and ratified a number of reciprocal enforcement treaties, such as;
- The Riyadh Arab Agreement for Judicial Co-operation, having 18 signatories’ states such as – the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Yemen;
- The Gulf Co-operation Council Convention for the Execution of Judgments having 6 members of the GCC namely the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
- Cooperative Agreement for Enforcing Foreign Judgement with various individual countries including China, India, France, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Somalia, Algeria and Egypt.
- The New York Convention (1958): provides mandatory recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral agreements and arbitral awards. The convention allows parties to agree to resolve their disputes through arbitration, the subsequent award is almost universally enforceable.
- The Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (2005) provides a framework of rules relating to jurisdiction agreements in civil and commercial matters and the subsequent recognition and enforcement of a judgment given by a court of a contracting state designated in a choice of court agreement.
The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and orders in the UAE with regards to any litigation matters involved with the above-mentioned countries will be governed by the provisions of the relevant reciprocal enforcement treaty or convention.
Failure to review and address the relevant reciprocal enforcement treaty may render the court judgment ineffective in the UAE.
The legal provision governing the Enforcement of Foreign Judgement in UAE
Foreign judgments, orders and writs are subject to enforcement in the UAE under Article 235 of the UAE Code of Civil Procedure, Federal Law No. 11 of 1992, (“Civil Procedure Code”) Title 4: “Execution of Foreign Judgments, Orders and Writs.”
In absence of any reciprocal enforcement treaty between the foreign country and the UAE, Article 235 of the UAE Civil Procedures Code provides all the requirements for the recognition of foreign judgments in the UAE, and it lays down the following conditions;
The UAE court must ensure that the foreign state issuing the judgments or the orders, for which enforcement is sought in the UAE would also agree to enforce and execute the judgments and orders issued in the UAE under the same conditions as prescribed in the law of that country.
- The UAE Courts does not have jurisdiction over the dispute in which the judgment/order was rendered and that the Court which had rendered the judgement is competent in accordance with the international laws.
- The Court that has rendered the judgment is competent and have full jurisdiction in accordance with the laws of that Country where the Court made its ruling.
- all Parties involved in the dispute were duly summoned to appear and were duly appeared before the foreign court.
- The Judgment or the order must be final (force of res judicata) and does not susceptible to recourse or appeal, under the laws of the Court that rendered it.
- the foreign judgement does not contradict with any existing Judgement or order rendered by any UAE court and does not contain anything contrary to public policy or morality in the UAE; and
Any foreign judgment that complies with the above-mentioned requirements of Article 235 of the Code of Civil Procedure (even where there is no recognition treaty), will be recognizable and enforceable in the UAE.
Procedure for Enforcement of the Foreign Judgement in the UAE.
To have a foreign judgment recognized in the courts of UAE, the applicant must submit the petition before the Execution Judge sitting in the Court of First Instance. Within three days after receiving it, the Execution Judge must issue an order to execute it. The order of the Execution Judge is subject to appeal to the Court of Appeal in accordance with the rules and procedures prescribed for filing an appeal.
The Execution Judge must be satisfied that the application has fulfilled the legal requirements in respect of the enforcement of foreign judgments in the UAE as defined under Article 235 of UAE Civil code procedure. Additionally, the application for execution of foreign judgement must include the following particulars as set out in Article 16 of the Cabinet Decision No. 57 and must be submitted to the execution judge.
1. Statement of the claim (Petition) must be submitted to the case management office either electronically or in writing.
Key information to be included in the Statement of claim (Petition);
- Judgement Debtors’ and Creditors’ – name, surname, ID number or photocopy thereof or any similar documents issued by government entities confirming his identity, details of occupation, profession, place of domicile and work, and contact information. If the claimant has no domicile in the UAE, an elected domicile must be provided, as well as the contact details of its legal representatives his surname, ID number, fax number or e-mail address.
- The details of the Court before which enforcement proceedings are filed.
- The date of filing the statement of claim with the case management office.
- The subject matter of the enforcement proceedings, the demands and grounds thereof.
- The signature of the applicant or his legal representative.
- The applicant’s Power of Attorney (PoA).
- A certified notarized and legalised copy of the foreign judgment.
- Supporting documents such as proof that the judgment is final and not capable of being appealed, along with any other evidence required to prove that all procedural rules and regulations in respect of the defendant were fulfilled.
Please note that the execution judge shall have the right to obtain the required documents supporting the application before issuing his decision.
Mechanisms for enforcing the foreign judgments in UAE
The legislative framework that recognises the enforcement of foreign judgments in UAE can be achieved by two different authorities such as;
- the UAE Federal Court System
- the DIFC Courts.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts
Under Article 24 (2) of the DIFC Court Law, the reciprocal enforcement treaties signed by the UAE also applies to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts. As a result, where the UAE has agreed to mutual enforcement of judgments, orders, or awards, the DIFC Court will also conform to those agreements and execute any such foreign Judgements, orders, or awards.
In addition, the DIFC Courts themselves are also signatory to several memorandums of understanding for mutual enforcement and recognition of foreign judgments with a number of commercial courts and authorities, including the UAE Ministry of Justice, the Ras Al Khaimah Courts, the Federal Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of Singapore, the High Court of Hong Kong, the Federal Court of Malaysia, and the Federal Court of Singapore.
Conditions required for a foreign judgment to be ratified and enforced in DIFC Courts;
The concerned foreign judgment, order, or award must be;
- final and conclusive; (Please Note – A judgement is considered final even if it is subject to an appeal).
- certain judgements such as judgments ordering the payment of taxes, fines, or penalties cannot be enforced in DIFC courts; and
- the foreign court must be competent to resolve the dispute.
If the foreign judgment satisfies all the above-mentioned requirements the grounds to challenge the enforcement of a foreign judgment will be limited in the DIFC. Such grounds include (are not limited to) instances where the foreign Judgement was
- obtained by fraud;
- contrary to public policy;
- fails to comply with the requirements set out in the applicable treaty
- the proceedings were conducted in a manner that is contrary to the principles of natural justice
Points of consideration
A. Translation – Arabic being the official language of UAE, the courts in UAE operate in Arabic language only. Therefore, all documents and evidence required to be submitted in the court must be translated to the Arabic language by a certified translator and thereafter attested by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). However, proceedings in the DIFC and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Courts are conducted in English and therefore need no translation.
B. Notarisation and Legalisation – Documents in court proceedings are required to be notarized and legalised by a certified Public or Private Notary. Ideally, the Notary witnesses the signature of the documents and after the process of notarization is completed, the documents need to be legalized/attested. All the original documents must undergo the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), attestation which is a mandatory procedure to validate the authenticity of the documents.
Enforcement of a foreign judgement in the UAE depends on various factors. Firstly, in case there is a treaty between the UAE and the foreign country, regard must be given to its requirements mentioned in the recognition treaty. Second, in absence of any such treaty, regard must be given to the conditions set out in Article 235 of the UAE Civil Law.
- The UAE Civil Procedure Code, Federal Law No. (11) Of 1992 Chapter (IV)
- The Cabinet Decision No – 57.