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Dubai Courts to enforce judgments issued by English courts based on the principle of reciprocity

Dubai Courts to enforce judgments issued by English courts based on the principle of reciprocity

On 13 September 2022, the Director of the Department of International Cooperation of the UAE Ministry of Justice (MOJ) addressed a letter to the Director General of Dubai Courts (Letter) noting that judgments issued in the United Kingdom can be enforced in the UAE under the reciprocity principle in view of the English Courts’ enforcement of a Dubai Court judgment in the case of Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC v Puri (2020) EWHC 75 (QB) (Lenkor). The Letter also notes that the enforcement of English courts’ judgments on a ‘reciprocal basis’ shall be as per Article 85 of Cabinet Decision No. 57/2018 on the Regulation of Federal Law No. 11/1992 on the Civil Procedure (Decision 57).

Copies of the Letter and the Lenkor judgment are available here and here, respectively.

Significance of the Letter

The UK and the UAE are parties to a bilateral treaty titled ‘Treaty on Judicial Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters’ dated 7 December 2006 (Treaty), which was ratified by the UAE under Federal Decree No. 38/2007 (2007 Decree). The 2007 Decree essentially adopted the entirety of the Treaty into UAE domestic law with effect from around April 2007. The Treaty, however, does not provide for mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments.

The Letter provides much-needed clarity on the enforcement of English courts’ judgments in the ‘onshore’ Dubai courts. The parties will nonetheless have to satisfy the Dubai Court that the English court’s judgment meets the essential ingredients set out in Article 85 of Decision 57.

This development is significant for parties engaged in proceedings before the English courts, who are looking toward enforcing judgments (once obtained) in the UAE ‘onshore’ courts.

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