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A Significant Step Towards Mutual Recognition of Judgments Executed by English and Dubai Courts

English and Dubai Courts -On September 13 2002,A significant step occurred when the UAE Ministry of Justice requested that, going forward, the English and Dubai cout rulings in the UAE based on the reciprocity principle.

The UAE courts have for decades used the lack of reciprocity as a barrier to the enforcement of English judgements, while the English courts had historically been unwilling to enforce UAE-issued judgments. The recent ruling in Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC v. Puri (2020) EWHC 75 (QB) by the English High Court was a positive move. In that landmark case, which was upheld on appeal, the High Court carried out the Dubai Court of Cassation’s “bounced check” ruling.

The Dubai ruling was determined to be a final and conclusive judgement of a court of competent jurisdiction that did not violate English public policy, according to the decisions of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

The UAE Ministry of Justice officially informed the Dubai Courts on September 13, 2022, that the Lenkor ruling “constitutes a legal precedent and a principle binding on all English Courts in accordance with their judicial system.”

As a result, the UAE Ministry of Justice made an extraordinary request of the Dubai Courts:
Additionally, it creates new opportunities for arbitral awards to be enforced. In accordance with Section 66 of the Arbitration Act, creditors of London-seated arbitral awards may now think about proceeding directly to the Dubai courts after enforcing their awards there.

This is a helpful alternative to the conventional approach, which has had mixed outcomes, of seeking the Dubai Courts to recognise and enforce arbitral judgements under the New York Convention.

Furthermore, it offers an alternative to the well-traveled route of using the (award creditor-friendly) DIFC Courts as a point of entry for the enforcement of arbitral awards from London-seated tribunals in Dubai and elsewhere.

As a way to uphold the reciprocity principle established by the English Courts and ensure its continuity between the English Courts and the UAE Courts, “take the relevant legal actions regarding any requests for enforcement of judgments and orders issued by the English Court, in accordance with the laws in force in both countries.”

English and Dubai Courts-The context: no applicable enforcement and recognition treaties between the UK and the UAE

The UAE and the UK do not have a bilateral agreement for the mutual recognition and enforcement of decisions (other than the Treaty between the UK and the UAE on Judicial Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters, which lacks an enforcement mechanism, and the memoranda of understanding issued by the Courts of the DIFC and the ADGM).

In the absence of a treaty, judgement creditors must file a common law claim in England and Wales to have a UAE judgement enforced.

The English court must be convinced, in accordance with the common law test, that the relevant UAE court: I had original jurisdiction to render its judgement; (ii) issued a final and conclusive judgement; and (iii) issued a judgement for a specific and calculable amount.

If that is established, a judgement debtor has just a few defences left, the most important of which is that enforcement of the foreign judgement would be against English public opinion.

Judgment creditors must file a common law claim in England and Wales to have a UAE judgement enforced in the absence of a treaty.

The relevant UAE court must satisfy the English court that it: I had original jurisdiction to render its judgement; (ii) issued a final and conclusive judgement; and (iii) issued a judgement for a specific and calculable amount. If that is established, the judgement debtor’s options are severely limited, with the main one being that enforcement of the foreign judgement would be against English public policy.

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