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The UAE has confirmed that UK court judgments are enforceable in the UAE under the principle of reciprocity, which is a significant step forward.

THE UAE | According to Article 85 of the Implementing Regulations to the UAE Civil Procedure Code and the satisfaction of the principle of reciprocal enforcement between the two jurisdictions, the director of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Justice’s International Cooperation Department confirmed to the director general of the Dubai courts on September 13, 2022, that judgments of supreme court UK are enforceable in the UAE.

When a foreign jurisdiction has signed a bilateral agreement with the UAE for the mutual recognition and execution of foreign judgments, the enforcement of foreign judgements in the UAE has historically been much simpler.

THE UAE

The UAE and the UK do not currently have a bilateral treaty governing the recognition and enforcement of decisions. The enforcement of foreign decisions is not covered under the 7 December 2006 treaty between the UK and the UAE on judicial aid in civil and commercial matters. As a result, UAE law’s regulations apply to the enforcement of UK judgements in the country’s onshore courts.

The conditions that must be met in order for a foreign judgement or order to be enforceable in the UAE are laid out in Article 85 of the Implementing Regulations to the UAE Civil Procedure Code.

According to Article 85(1), foreign judgments and orders may only be implemented in the UAE under the same circumstances as those outlined in the foreign state’s statute for the enforcement of UAE judgments and orders.

Therefore, a foreign judgement or order will only be acknowledged and upheld by UAE courts in cases where there is reciprocity between the UAE and the issuing authority.

In Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC v. Puri [2020] EWHC 75 (QB), the English High Court (Court) decided to recognise and uphold a Dubai court’s ruling following a hearing in January 2020. (Lenkor).

In that instance, the defendant attempted to block acknowledgment of the Dubai court verdict on the grounds that doing so would be against England and Wales’ national policy.

A number of public policy defences were made by the defendant, including the claims that the underlying arrangement was unconstitutional, that personal culpability for the defendant would pierce the corporate veil, and that the interest paid on the debt was exorbitant and thus a punishment.

These arguments were rejected by the court. The Court stated that as it was a Dubai court implementing Dubai law, it made no difference that UAE law was different from UK law or that an English court may have handled the case in a different way than the UAE court.

The Court made it abundantly plain that the judgement had to violate English public policy, which it did not, in order for enforcement to be rejected.

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