Brexit has had enormous consequences for European-British trade relations and the free movement of goods and persons. As a result of Brexit, the United Kingdom is also no longer bound by European regulations, such as the Brussels Ibis-Regulation. This regulation regulates, among other things, the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. A major benefit of Brussels Ibis is that a judgment from an EU Member State is automatically recognized throughout the European Union and can therefore be enforced without court intervention, provided the judgment was pronounced after January 10, 2015 (Article 66 Brussels Ibis).
Now that the United Kingdom is no longer bound by Brussels Ibis, questions remain regarding the enforcement of Dutch judgments in the United Kingdom. The main question is whether a Dutch judgment can still be (easily) enforced in the United Kingdom without intervention.
Proceedings before January 1, 2021
Judgments rendered in proceedings initiated before January 1, 2021, still fall under the Brussels Ibis-Regulation, as is apparent from Article 67 of the Withdrawal Agreement. If a judgment is passed in such proceedings, it can still be enforced in the United Kingdom without any problems.
Proceedings after December 31, 2020
Judgments from proceedings initiated after December 31, 2020, are not so easily enforced. Brussels Ibis is not applicable to these cases. And thus, one has to turn to a treaty from 1969 between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands on the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil matters. Although this treaty mutually recognizes Dutch and British judgments, it also states that enforcement can only take place after the court has given its consent. Article VI of this treaty states that "before a judgment given in the territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands can be enforced in the United Kingdom, the creditor must apply, in the manner prescribed by the court seized, for its registration". This application must be accompanied, inter alia, by a certified copy of the complete judgment bearing the court's stamp.
Article VI also states that, "before a judgment given in the territory of the United Kingdom can be enforced in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the creditor must apply, in the manner prescribed by the court seized, for leave to enforce the judgment in the district where the debtor is domiciled or has assets." This is a big step backwards, as the enforcement of judgments will no longer be automatic.
The Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and Enforcement is also important. The United Kingdom will be bound by this convention as of January 1, 2021. This convention is only of importance when parties have agreed to an exclusive choice of forum. If the relevant court chosen by the parties delivers a judgment, this judgment will also be recognized in another country that is party to the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and Enforcement. However, it does not follow from this Convention that a country is also obliged to accept a recognized judgment without court intervention. Thus, the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and Enforcement does not provide any guarantees.
The United Kingdom has also requested accession to the Lugano Convention. Accession to this convention would ensure that, among other things, the EU rules on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments continue to apply, albeit in a slightly different manner. It also lacks the immediate enforcement of a judgment of the courts of another Member State. The requested permission for accession has not yet been granted by the European Union (itself a contracting party to this convention). At the moment it is also unknown when the European Union can be expected to take a stand.
Judgments rendered in respect of proceedings instituted before January 1, 2021, still fall under the Brussels Ibis-Regulation. For judgments rendered after December 30, 2020, however, parties will have to go to the English court to request permission for enforcement (and vice versa).
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