Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-m8qmq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-17T19:29:33.524Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Reformulating the common law rules on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2018

Ardavan Arzandeh*
University of Bristol Law School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK


This paper revisits the English common law rules on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in personam. It seeks to demonstrate that, mainly due to the narrow conception of the foreign courts’ ‘international jurisdictional competence’, the operation of this aspect of the English conflict-of-laws rules gives rise to problematic outcomes. Subsequently, the paper proceeds to identify and evaluate three of the main doctrinal models which have been proposed in response to these shortcomings. It is contended that, despite their virtues, ultimately, none of these models provides the desirable basis for recasting the law. The paper's main contribution is, therefore, to advance an alternative approach for the reformulation of the recognition and enforcement regime at common law. In this regard, it is argued that the foreign courts’ international jurisdictional competence should be defined more broadly as to include the jurisdictional ‘gateways’, presently codified within CPR Practice Direction 6B para 3.1.

Research Article
Copyright © The Society of Legal Scholars 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


I am grateful to Professor Jonathan Hill, Professor Harry McVea, and the Journal's anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Any errors are mine.


1 Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (recast) [2012] OJ L 351/1.

2 Almost identical rules govern the recognition and enforcement in England of judgments originating from Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland: Title III of the Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters [2007] OJ L 339/3 (Lugano II Convention).

3 In relation to judgments from courts of these states in civil and commercial matters, the provisions within the 1933 Act are superseded by Chapter 3 of the Brussels Ia Regulation.

4 Strictly speaking, there is a difference between the recognition of a foreign judgment, on the one hand, and its enforcement, on the other: eg, Lord Collins of Mapesbury et al. Dicey, Morris & Collins on the Conflict of Laws (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 15th edn, 2012) paras 14-002–14-006Google Scholar. However, this distinction is overlooked for the purposes of this paper.

5 (1870) LR 6 QB 139.

6 (1870) LR 6 QB 155.

7 Eg Briggs, A Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Abingdon: Routledge, 6th edn, 2015) para 7.46CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dicey, Morris & Collins, above n 4, paras 14R-020 and 14R-054; Hill, J and Chong, A International Commercial Disputes: Commercial Conflict of Laws in English Courts (Oxford: Hart, 4th edn, 2010) para 12.2.1Google Scholar.

8 For a detailed discussion of the available defences at common law see eg Briggs, above n 7, paras 7.66–7.74.

9 Harris, JRecognition of foreign judgments at common law – the anti-suit injunction link’ (1997) 17 OJLS 477 at 498CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 Hill, J and Shúilleabháin, M Ní Clarkson & Hill's Conflict of Laws (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 5th edn, 2016) para 3.38CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 Tan, YLRecognition and enforcement of foreign judgments’ in Teo, KS et al. (eds) Current Legal Issues in International Commercial Litigation (Singapore: National University of Singapore, 1997) p 326Google Scholar.

12 Kenny, DRe Flightlease: the “real and substantial connection” test for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments fails to take flight in Ireland’ (2014) 63 ICLQ 197 at 197CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

13 Ibid, at 201.

14 O'Donnell J in Re Flightlease [2012] IESC 12 at [4].

15 (1845) 13 M & W 628 at 633. See also Godard, above n 5, and Schibsby, above n 6.

16 Eg Sirdar Gurdyal Singh v The Rajah of Faridkote [1894] AC 670. See generally Dicey, Morris & Collins, above n 4, para 14-055.

17 Eg Buchanan v Rucker (1808) 9 East 192.

18 Dicey, Morris & Collins, above n 4, para 14R-054 (citations omitted).

19 Eg Guiard v De Clermont & Donner [1914] 3 KB 145.

20 Emanuel v Symon [1908] 1 KB 302.

22 [2016] UKPC 5, [2016] 3 All ER 181. Noted, Kupelyants, HImplication of jurisdiction agreements’ (2016) 75 CLJ 216CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 [1990] Ch 433.

24 Lucasfilm Ltd v Ainsworth [2009] EWCA Civ 1328, [2010] Ch 503 at [192], per Jacob LJ. This part of the court's decision survived the Supreme Court's reversal of the ruling: [2011] UKSC 39, [2012] 1 AC 208. See Dicey, Morris & Collins, above n 4, para 14-066.

25 Tan, above n 11, p 290.

26 Kenny, above n 12, at 200.

27 Above n 14, at [4].

28 Hill and Ní Shúilleabháin, above n 10, para 3.36.

29 Briggs, AWhich foreign judgments should we recognise today?’ (1987) 36 ICLQ 240 at 240CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

30 Kenny, above n 12, at 197.

31 For a more detailed discussion of these rules, see Briggs, above n 7, paras 7.03–7.41.

32 Brussels Ia Regulation, Ch III, Section 3(2). For more discussion on the scope and operation of these defences see Briggs, above n 7, para 7.40.

33 Except, of course, for those disputes with subject matters that fall within Art 1(2)(a)–(f) of the Brussels Ia Regulation.

34 Harris, above n 9, at 498.

35 Briggs, above n 29.

36 [1987] AC 460.

37 Though much more in use at the time when the Spiliada ruling was handed down, the term ‘natural forum’ has been largely replaced by the phrase the ‘appropriate forum’.

38 Briggs, above n 29, at 248–249.

39 The approach does, however, seem to have been applied by the English court in the context of the enforcement of foreign divorce decrees: Indyka v Indyka [1969] 1 AC 33.

40 [1990] 3 SCR 1077. See Glenn, HPForeign judgments, the common law and the constitution’ (1992) 37 McGill LJ 537Google Scholar.

41 [1990] 3 SCR 1077, at [34] per La Forest J.

42 Ibid, at [36].

43 Ibid, at [51].

44 [2003] 3 SCR 416.

45 See eg J Walker ‘The great Canadian comity experiment continues’ (2004) 120 LQR 365 and SGA Pitel ‘A modern approach to enforcing foreign judgments’ [2004] LMCLQ 289.

46 Beals, above n 44, at [19].

47 Ibid, at [28].

48 Ibid, at [32].

49 Majority: Major, McLachlin CJC, Gonthier, Bastarache, Arbour, and Deschamps JJ; Dissenting: Binnie, Iacobucci, and LeBel JJ.

50 For criticisms of this aspect of the Spiliada test's application, see eg Robertson, DWForum non conveniens in America and England: “a rather fantastic fiction”’ (1987) 103 LQR 398Google Scholar, J Hill ‘Jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters: is there a third way?’ [2001] CLP 439 and (specifically with regard to the doctrine's second limb) Arzandeh, AShould the Spiliada test be revised?’ (2014) 10 J Priv Int L 89CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

51 A similar concern has been raised in Rogerson, P Collier's Conflict of Laws (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 4th edn, 2013) p 249CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

52 Pitel, above n 45, at 291 (citations omitted).

53 Hill and Ní Shúilleabháin, above n 10, para 3.39.

54 Harris, above n 9.

55 Ibid, at 478.

56 Ibid, at 482.

57 [1987] AC 871.

58 Harris, above n 9, at 483.

59 Ibid, at 493.

60 Ibid, at 494.

62 (1882) 22 Ch D 397 at 407–408.

63 Tan, above n 11.

64 Ibid, at 295.

65 Ibid, at 294–305.

66 Ibid, at 297.

67 Ibid, at 326.

68 Ibid, at 312–320.

69 Ibid, at 326.

70 Eg, Emanuel, above n 20.

71 Eg, Singh, above n 16, and Phillips v Batho [1913] 3 KB 25.

72 Above n 6, at 159. See also Turnbull v Walker (1892) 67 LT 767.

73 Eg Briggs, above n 7, para 7.60 and Dicey, Morris & Collins, above n 4, paras 14–087-14–088.

74 [2012] UKSC 46, [2013] 1 AC 236, at [127].

75 Briggs, above n 29, at 246. See also Briggs, A Private International Law in English Courts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) para 6.225Google Scholar.

76 Briggs, above n 7, para 7.60 (citations omitted).

77 Dicey, Morris & Collins, n 4, para 14-089.

78 [1951] Ch 842 at 851 (emphasis added).

79 [1953] P 246.

80 Ibid, at 256.

81 Ibid, at 257.

82 Morris, JHC et al. Dicey's Conflict of Laws (London: Stevens, 6th edn, 1949) p 354Google Scholar. The bases which afforded foreign courts jurisdictional competence were set out in Rule 68, at pp 351–352.

83 Ibid, p 362 (emphasis added).

84 See eg Kennedy, GD, ‘“Reciprocity” in the recognition of foreign judgments’ (1954) 32 Can Bar Rev 359Google Scholar and Kennedy, GDRecognition of judgments in personam: the meaning of reciprocity’ (1957) 35 Can Bar Rev 123Google Scholar. See also Cheshire, GE Private International Law (London: Butterworths, 7th edn, 1965) p 558Google Scholar.

85 Eg In re Trepca Mines Ltd [1960] 1 WLR 1273 and Henry v Geopresco International Ltd [1976] QB 726.

86 CPR PD 6B para 3.1(6)(c).

87 CPR PD 6B para 3.1(7).

88 CPR PD 6B para 3.1(9)(a).

89 CPR PD 6B para 3.1(9)(b).

90 CPR PD 6B para 3.1(11). The same observations could also be made about the other gateways which relate to trusts – CPR PD 6B para 3.1(12)–(16) – admiralty – CPR PD 6B para 3.1(17) – breach of confidence or misuse of private information – CPR PD 6B para 3.1(21).

91 Briggs, ACrossing the river by feeling the stones: rethinking the law of foreign judgments’ (2004) 8 SYBIL 1Google Scholar.

92 Ibid, at 14. See similar remarks in LeBel J's dissenting judgment in Beals, above n 44, at [212]–[218].

93 See similarly Beals, above n 44, at [41] per Major J.