In a ground-breaking legal development, the Dubai Courts have witnessed the enforcement of the very first judgment from a local English court on Emirati land, marking a departure from the typical practice of enforcing judgments from arbitration awards. The case, originating in a longstanding dispute, reached its conclusion after years of legal proceedings that began with a judgment issued on 8 February 2018 by the British High Court of Justice.
The judgment, which ordered the defendants to pay significant compensation for damages suffered by the claimant, became final on 23 July 2018, with no room for appeal. However, the opposing party took evasive actions, attempting to conceal both identity and assets to hinder enforcement. The discovery of the opposing party's residency in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, prompted the claimant to pursue legal avenues for enforcing the foreign judgment.
Legal consultant Hesham ElSamra, in collaboration with lawyer Tariq Al Shamsi of SAT Law Firm, initiated Case No. 54/2021, an Order on Petition, seeking enforcement in the Dubai Court of First Instance. Challenges arose when the opposing party raised objections, citing defects in the enforcement process under Article No. 85 of the UAE Civil Procedure Code.
In a strategic move, El-Samra explored a unique precedent set by English courts enforcing a final judgment from the Dubai courts in the case of Lenkor Energy Trading DMCC v Puri (2020) EWHC 75 (QB). This approach, deviating from traditional Emirati judicial norms, involved obtaining the judgment and evidence of its enforcement from our headquarters in the UK.
The Commercial Court of Appeal in Dubai, in its judgment No. 188 of 2021 Commercial Execution Appeal, affirmed the enforceability of the judgment based on Article 85, emphasizing key criteria such as competence of the foreign court, proper representation of litigants, and absence of conflict with UAE court judgments or public order.
Despite the initial success, both parties appealed the judgment before the Dubai Court of Cassation. The court's decision on 7 December 2022, overturned the previous judgment, prompting a detailed explanation during a subsequent hearing on 11 January 2023. The final decision on 26 April 2023, saw the forfeiture of the right to appeal and the acceptance of the initial judgment.
Notably, the Dubai Court of Cassation, in its decision on Commercial Appeal No. 847/2023 on November 7, rejected the opposing party's appeal, solidifying the enforceability of the judgment from the local English court.
This landmark case holds significance as the first instance of enforcing a judgment from local English courts on Emirati land, providing a legal precedent for the enforcement of similar judgments in the future. The principle of reciprocity, exemplified by the Lenkor case, played a pivotal role in establishing the enforceability of foreign judgments in the UAE. The case underscores the evolving landscape of international legal cooperation and the adaptation of legal strategies to navigate the complexities of cross-border enforcement.
Lastly, it is crucial to delve into the comprehensive detailed explanation to fully understand the intricate events and recognize the contributions of each team member involved in achieving these significant results. A single page cannot encapsulate the extensive work undertaken by the entire team to secure this outcome. For an in-depth understanding, please click here to visit Hesham's publication.