Bills to streamline reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments

Reciprocal arrangements to recognise and enforce foreign judgments in civil proceedings, currently provided for under two separate Acts, will be centralised and updated under one of the two Acts, with the other being repealed.

The move is part of Singapore's policy reforms to get more judgments here recognised and enforced overseas.

The Law Ministry (MinLaw) tabled the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments (Refja) (Amendment) Bill and the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments (Recja) (Repeal) Bill in Parliament yesterday.

Both Acts facilitate the registration and subsequent enforcement of foreign judgments in Singapore. Currently, judgments from the superior courts of a total of 11 jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Sri Lanka, may be registered under the Refja and Recja.

MinLaw, which conducted a public consultation exercise in April this year, had previously said the proposed changes will streamline the legislative framework by repealing the Recja, leaving the Refja to govern the registration of foreign judgments in Singapore.

The changes will expand the range of foreign judgments that may be registered under the Refja to include non-money judgments, certain interlocutory orders and civil judgments from lower courts to be enforced in foreign courts on a reciprocal basis.

Unlike the present regime, the Bill proposes safeguards to ensure that the reciprocity requirements in the Refja are not circumvented.

The legal framework under the amended remaining Act will allow Singapore to enter into multilateral or bilateral treaties where the precise scope and particular terms will be settled by negotiation with Singapore's treaty partners.

"Reciprocity is the key requirement in mutual recognition of judgments between at least two countries," said MinLaw yesterday.

"As the regime works on a reciprocal basis, this amendment will provide the Government with more flexibility and scope to enter into new treaties to enhance the recognition and enforcement of Singapore judgments overseas, for the benefit of judgment creditors."

The Bill to repeal Recja will take effect on a date to be stipulated by the minister. But before it comes into effect, reciprocating countries recognised under the Recja are expected to be transferred to the Refja.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2019, with the headline 'Bills to streamline reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments'. Print Edition | Subscribe