English and Dubai courts take steps to develop reciprocity in enforcement – Publications



September 22, 2022

A new direction from the UAE Ministry of Justice will allow Dubai courts to enforce judgments and orders issued by English courts.

The governments of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and England have never entered into a bilateral treaty for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments. Parties wishing to enforce a judgment from the English courts in the UAE have historically been required to seek judicial review of the merits of the underlying claim from the courts of the UAE before having an enforceable claim, resulting in additional delays, costs and uncertainty. However, on September 13, 2022, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Justice issued an official communication ordering the courts of Dubai to enforce judgments and orders issued by English courts in accordance with the principles of reciprocity, after the decision of the High English court in Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC against Puri (2020) EWHC 75 (QB).

Position of the English courts

The first step towards reciprocity between the two jurisdictions was taken by the English High Court in the 2020 decision of the Lenkor Energy, the High Court of England and the Court of Appeal having ruled that the judgment of the Court of Cassation of Dubai came from a court of competent jurisdiction, did not breach English public order and was final.

This meant that a judgment debt from the courts of the United Arab Emirates could be enforced by the English courts, provided that the party enforcing satisfied the court that such actions were not contrary to public order.

UAE response in reciprocity

In response to Lenkor EnergyOn September 13, 2022, the UAE Ministry of Justice issued an official communication to the Dubai Courts, which aptly stated:

[The UAE Ministry of Justice is] please ask . . . enable you to take relevant legal action in relation to any claim to enforce judgments and orders issued by the English court. . . as a confirmation of the principle of reciprocity initiated by the English courts (referring to Lenkor Energy) and the assurance of its continuity between the English courts and the courts of the United Arab Emirates.

Although the concept of reciprocity between English courts and UAE courts has not been enshrined in UAE law, this official directive is a positive first step in reducing obstacles to the enforcement of judgments of English courts in the United Arab Emirates.

This will also result in uniformity of enforcement process between UAE Courts and Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) where a memorandum of guidance regarding the enforcement of judgments exists with the English courts.

To advance

We anticipate that such a move will be welcomed by the business community and will see an increased level of confidence for UK-based investors seeking to enforce judgment debts in English courts or arbitration awards.


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