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15 October 2020
There are two routes for the enforcement of foreign judgments in Guernsey.
The statutory method is available only for judgments from Curacao, England and Wales, the Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Sint Maarten or Surinam which can be registered in Guernsey following a specified statutory process.
As regards England and Wales, the judgment must be that of a superior court (eg, the High Court of England and Wales) and not a county court.
To be enforced, the judgment must be final and conclusive; it is possible to enforce even if the time for appeal has not yet expired. Further, the foreign court must have had jurisdiction to grant the judgment applying common law conflict of laws principles.
Once registered, the foreign judgment is enforceable in Guernsey in the same way as a Guernsey judgment. Following registration, the judgment debtor has 14 days to apply to have the registration set aside.
For all other countries, a judgment creditor must rely on common law principles to have a judgment recognised and thereafter enforced in Guernsey.
This requires suing on the foreign judgment in the same manner as one would for a simple civil debt.
It is unusual for defences to be lodged. A foreign judgment may be challenged only if:
Once a foreign judgment has been registered or recognised, it can then be enforced in Guernsey.
Enforcement against personalty is carried out by the Office of Her Majesty's Sheriff, which has wide powers to investigate, arrest and sell personalty situated in Guernsey. In the case of insolvent debtors, a customary law process of désastre is available.
Enforcement against real property requires a three-stage customary law procedure known as 'saisie'.
For further information on this topic please contact Mathew Newman, Sandie Lyne or Charlotte Ward at Ogier by telephone (+441481 721 672) or email (Mathew.firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Ogier website can be accessed at www.ogier.com.
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