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UK Courts and the United Arab Emirates

Author: Dr. Angelika Hellweger  16 September 2022

Angelika Hellweger of Rahman Ravelli summarises a UAE decision to recognise UK court judgements.

The judgements of UK courts are enforceable in the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE Ministry of Justice has confirmed that the judgements of UK courts are enforceable in the UAE under the principle of reciprocity. This confirmation follows the UK’s recent enforcement of the judgement in Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC v Puri (2020) EWHC 75 (QB). It brings to an end lengthy discussions regarding whether judgements of the UAE courts could be enforced in the UK or vice versa.

The two countries signed the 2007 Treaty between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates on Judicial Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters. But there was no bilateral treaty for reciprocal recognition of judgments issued by either country.

This lack of a bilateral treaty left many parties with the only option of bringing a claim in the second country over a matter that had already been ruled upon by a court in the first country. Such a claim in the second country could be challenged on various grounds, one of which is that the judgment opposes the public policy of the country where the judgment is to be enforced.

In the Lenkor case, the High Court in England considered the judgment given by the UAE courts as final and binding. The defendant had argued that the UAE judgment opposed English public policy. The High Court rejected this argument, stating there “is no suggestion that the public policy which arises under the law of Dubai precludes the enforcement of the statutory cause of action…if that point was to be taken, it should have been taken in Dubai”. The court added that the “degree of connection between the claim and the illegality must also be balanced against the strong public policy in favour of finality, and in favour of enforceability”.

In its communique, the UAE Ministry of Justice confirmed that the enforcement of judgments issued by English courts based on the principle of reciprocity provides confidence and judicial stability for creditors who look to enforce English court judgments against debtors in the UAE.

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Dr. Angelika Hellweger

Legal Director

angelika.hellweger@rahmanravelli.co.uk
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Angelika is a specialist in international, high-level economic crime investigations and large-scale commercial disputes. She has widely-recognised expertise in representing corporates and conglomerates in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and United States.

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