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Enforcing Judgments in the United Arab Emirates


Enforcing a foreign judgment in relation to a debt against a party with assets located in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) is directed to the Dubai International Financial Centre courts (“DIFC”). This is particularly true for judgments from the United Kingdom that as January 2013 are governed by a treaty. The enforcement of a foreign judgment is initiated by filing a claim for a  judgment debt. A judgment issued by the DIFC courts is final on parties within the jurisdiction of the DIFC courts.

Moreover, a judgment can be enforced in the courts of the UAE if there is reciprocity between the foreign country and the UAE as to enforcement of judgments. Countries such as France and India have treaties that provide for cooperative arrangements. But, the principal hurdle to enforcement in the UAE courts is that a judgment will not be enforced if the UAE would have had jurisdiction over the original matter. UAE courts have jurisdiction to hear all actions against individuals or companies having an address or place of residence in the UAE. UAE courts also have jurisdiction over a foreign party who has elected an address in the country or the action relates to assets in the country. In procedural terms, the application must include proof the judgment is final and not subject to appeal, the defendant was represented at the hearing and the summons not only satisfied foreign law but also the minimum criteria under UAE law.

Thus, enforcement in the UAE is dependent upon a treaty with the foreign country. Further, even if the parties agreed that the foreign court has jurisdiction, that may not allow for enforcement if the UAE court would originally have had jurisdiction.


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