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UAE MOJ confirms that English Court judgments meet the grounds of reciprocity for enforcement in the onshore UAE Courts

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16 September 2022

The UAE Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has issued a letter to the Dubai Courts dated 13 September 2022 which confirms that English Court judgments meet the grounds of reciprocity for enforcement in the onshore UAE Courts.

The MOJ letter refers to the decision of the English High Court in Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC v Puri (2020) EWHC 75 (QB), which enforced an onshore Dubai Court judgment in England & Wales.

Pursuant to Article 85 of Federal Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018 (as amended), a judgment of a foreign court may only be enforced in the onshore UAE Courts if there is reciprocity of enforcement between the UAE and the relevant foreign jurisdiction.

To date, lack of reciprocity has been a common reason given in decisions of the onshore UAE Courts to deny applications to enforce foreign court judgments.  The MOJ letter is a helpful confirmation that English Court judgments satisfy the reciprocity requirement.

There are other requirements for the enforcement of a foreign court judgment in the onshore UAE Courts. These include that: (i) the judgment is final; (ii) the onshore UAE Courts do not have exclusive jurisdiction over the dispute; and (iii) the judgment is not inconsistent with UAE public order or morality.

The MOJ letter is addressed to the Dubai Courts, but it is anticipated that this letter will be helpful to parties seeking to enforce English Court judgments in all of the onshore UAE Courts.

While it remains to be seen how the onshore UAE Courts will give effect to the MOJ letter, this development signals a significant improvement in the prospects of enforcing English Court judgments in the onshore UAE Courts.