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English Judgments are enforceable in the UAE – Marc Delehanty


The English Commercial Court (Bryan J) has held that there is no real risk that there would be substantial obstacles to enforcement of an English Judgment in the UAE: Invest Bank v El-Husseini and others [2022] EWHC 3008 (Comm).

The context was an application by (some of) the defendants for security for costs, in which they argued that there was a real risk of non-enforcement in respect of any English costs order which may in future be made in their favour against the claimant UAE bank in the English proceedings. The application was dismissed, Bryan J having analysed in detail the extensive UAE law evidence filed by the parties.

Some key points:

  • Reciprocity. Under UAE law, it is a condition for enforcement of a foreign judgment in the UAE that the relevant foreign courts enforce UAE judgments in like manner. Bryan J considered the effect of the letter published on 13 September 2022 by the UAE Ministry of Justice concerning reciprocity. Notwithstanding arguments raised by the defendants about the status of the letter, Bryan J held that it “put beyond any doubt” that the UAE law reciprocity requirement is satisfied vis-à-vis the English Court.
  • Public policy. On an assessment of the expert evidence, Bryan J rejected the contention that there is a public policy in UAE law against enforcement of foreign money judgments where the money sums awarded represent legal costs.
  • Enforcement via DIFC. The judgment also analyses in detail the possibility of first enforcing an English judgment in the DIFC courts and then enforcing the consequent DIFC judgment in the (onshore) UAE courts. Issues were considered such as a party seeking to frustrate enforcement by commencing parallel proceedings in the (onshore) UAE courts for declaratory relief that the DIFC should not have jurisdiction. Ultimately, such issues only likely arise if the enforcing party is UAE domiciled (such that the onshore UAE courts would have jurisdiction for the parallel proceedings in the first place) and, in any event, can be overcome by agreements or undertakings to the English Court not to frustrate enforcement via the DIFC.
  • Denial of enforcement on grounds that UAE Courts had jurisdiction for underlying dispute. The judgment also addresses a common issue as to the circumstances in which enforcement of an English judgment may be denied on the basis that the judgment concerned a dispute which would have been subject to the jurisdiction of the UAE Courts, and in particular the meaning of the wording “exclusive jurisdiction” in relevant UAE legislation.

In this matter Marc acted for the successful claimant, Invest Bank PSC, led by Alan Gourgey KC and instructed by Trevor Mascarenhas of PCB Byrne LLP, with David Johnson, Caitlin Foster and Eamon Khorsheed.

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