Enforcing a Foreign Judgment in the UAE: New Opportunities

Recent developments have added to signals that the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) more broadly are becoming friendlier to foreign judgment creditors. We survey the landscape and explain how the country can form the linchpin in a global enforcement campaign.

December 14, 2022

The UAE is becoming increasingly friendly to judgment creditors and can form a crucial part of a worldwide enforcement campaign.

The Fast Track to Recognition and Enforcement

Subject to certain conditions, courts can speedily enforce foreign judgments in the UAE within weeks, with the counterparty notified only when the court issues a recognition order.

One of these conditions is establishing reciprocity between the UAE and the country that handed down the judgment. 

A party can prove reciprocity by showing the foreign country will enforce a UAE judgment as a matter of law under conditions similar to the UAE. For instance, a recent UAE ministerial circular confirmed that Dubai courts can enforce English judgments under the principle of reciprocity.

Another way to establish reciprocity is to hold a judgment from a signatory of the Riyadh or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Convention.

Once a UAE court has recognized a foreign judgment, creditors have available a broad array of powerful enforcement tools through onshore courts, including freezers and discovery. UAE courts are proactive and will assist in identifying a debtor’s assets, and upon request may direct any entity to provide information on a debtor’s current or previous assets.

About Kobre & Kim

Kobre & Kim is a global Am Law 200 law firm that focuses on cross-border disputes and investigations, often involving fraud and misconduct. The firm:

  • Focuses on helping clients realize value from their claims, developing investigative, enforcement and asset tracing/recovery plans in the pre-dispute stage, to maximize future monetization.
  • Often works with other law firms as special counsel in cases beyond their geographic reach, including in Dubai, to enforce high-value judgments and arbitration awards around the world with our integrated team of former U.S. government lawyers, Hong Kong solicitors, UK solicitors and barristers (including King's Counsel) and offshore lawyers.
  • Maintains our independence as advocates ready to litigate against virtually any institution by avoiding repeat client relationships, and the conflicts of interest that come with them.
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