Angola: Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Comparative Guide

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1 Legal and judicial framework

1.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

In Angola, the relevant legislation governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments is:

  • Articles 1094 to 1102 of the Code of Civil Procedure; and
  • possible sector-specific legislation.

1.2 Which bilateral and multilateral instruments on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments have effect in your jurisdiction?

The New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards. Articles IV and V of the New York Convention supersede Article 1097 of the Code of Civil Procedure, setting out the requirements for the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.

1.3 Which courts have jurisdiction to hear applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The Civil and Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Angola (Article 1098 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

2 Requirements for enforceability

2.1 What types of judgments may be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction? Are any types of judgments specifically precluded from enforcement?

In Angola, judicial decisions and arbitration awards dealing with private rights may be recognised and enforced.

2.2 Must a foreign judgment be final and binding before it can be enforced?

Yes. In the case of court judgments, Article 1096(b) of the Code of Civil Procedure establishes as a necessary requirement confirmation that the judgment has become final in accordance with the law of the country in which it was rendered.

In the case of arbitral awards, Article V(1), paragraph 1(e) of the New York Convention provides that the fact that the award has not yet become binding on the parties, or has been annulled or suspended by the competent authority of the country in which, or according to which, the award has been issued constitutes grounds to reject recognition and enforcement of the award.

2.3 Is a foreign judgment enforceable if it is subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction?

No. In the case of court judgments, Article 1096(b) of the Code of Civil Procedure establishes as a necessary requirement confirmation that the judgment has become final in accordance with the law of the country in which it was rendered.

In the case of arbitral awards, Article V(1), paragraph 1(e) of the New York Convention provides that the fact that the award has not yet become binding on the parties, or has been annulled or suspended by the competent authority of the country in which, or according to which, the award has been issued constitutes grounds to reject recognition and enforcement of the award.

2.4 What is the limitation period for making an application for recognition and enforcement?

The law imposes no limitation period within which recognition of court judgments must be sought.

Likewise, the New York Convention imposes no limitation period within which recognition of arbitral awards must be sought.

3 Recognition and enforcement process

3.1 Is recognition of a foreign judgment a separate process from enforcement and does it have separate legal effects?

Yes. Thus, it is necessary first to commence the process of recognition of a foreign judgment; once it has been recognised, the foreign judgment can be used as executive title for the purpose of executive proceedings.

3.2 What is the formal process for recognition and enforcement?

In Angola, the formal recognition process is called ‘foreign judgment review and confirmation', pursuant to Articles 1094 to 1102 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

The enforcement of judgments must be sought through another process, entitled ‘enforcement action', pursuant to Article 49 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

3.3 What documents are required in support of an application for recognition and enforcement?

For the recognition of court rulings, the document containing the decision to be reviewed must be presented together with the petition (Article 1097 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

For the recognition of arbitral awards, Article IV(1) of the 1958 New York Convention requires the presentation of:

  • the duly authenticated original of the award or a copy thereof, verifying the conditions required for its authenticity;
  • the original of the convention referred to in Article II, or a copy thereof, provided that the conditions required for its authenticity are met.

For the execution of foreign judgments, it is enough to present a sentence that has already recognised in Angola to be valid as an executive title.

3.4 What fees are payable for recognition and enforcement?

The fee for recognition of a decision is AOA 7,920 (approximately $22.51).

The amount to be paid for enforcement will vary, depending on the value of the enforcement action concerned.

3.5 Is the applicant required to provide security for costs?

The applicant need not provide security for such proceedings.

3.6 How long does it usually take to obtain a declaration of enforceability?

This will depend on the caseload of the court. No timeframe is stipulated by law.

3.7 Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the process is ongoing?

The Code of Civil Procedure and the New York Convention do not provide for the possibility of interlocutory relief while the process of recognition is ongoing.

However, in the course of enforcement of the judgment in question, the claimant may avail of precautionary measures.

4 Defences

4.1 On what grounds can the defendant challenge recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

Recognition of a foreign judgment may be challenged if the accused can allege or prove the following:

  • There are doubts as to the authenticity of the document containing the judgment or the reasoning of the decision;
  • The judgment has not yet become final in the country in which it was rendered;
  • The court that rendered the judgment did not have competence under the conflict of laws rules of Angolan law;
  • The exception of lis pendens or res judicata can be invoked, unless the foreign court has precluded jurisdiction;
  • The defendant was not properly summoned to the proceedings, except in cases where Angolan law does not require an initial summons and, if the defendant was immediately convicted due lack of opposition, that the summons was in his or her own person;
  • The judgment contains decisions that are contrary to the principles of Angolan public order;
  • The sentence offends the provisions of Angolan private law, where the matter should be resolved by the latter according to the conflict of laws rules of Angolan law;
  • A criminal judgment was the subject of a judgment made by the judge, or one of the judges, who intervened in the decision;
  • A document that the accused was unaware of, and which would have influenced the judgment in its favour, was not presented during the proceedings; or
  • The judgment is contrary to another that is res judicata between the parties.

Recognition of a foreign arbitral award may be challenged if the accused can allege or prove the following:

  • The parties did not have capacity to enter into the arbitration agreement referred to in Article II under the law applicable to them, or the arbitration agreement was invalid under the law to which the parties have subjected it or, if the parties have failed to choose a governing law, under the applicable law of the country in which the award was given;
  • The losing party was not adequately informed of either the appointment of the arbitrator or the arbitration proceedings, or was otherwise unable to defend its case;
  • The award concerns a dispute which is beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement, or contains elements that go beyond the terms of the arbitration agreement. However, if those problematic elements may be separated from rest of the award, the latter may be duly recognised and enforced;
  • The constitution of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitration proceedings did not accord with the agreement of the parties or, failing such agreement, did not accord with the law of the country in which the arbitration took place; or
  • The award has not yet become binding on the parties, or has been annulled or suspended by a competent authority of the country in which, or under the law of which, the award was given.

The rules for opposing enforcement vary depending on the relevant request.

4.2 What is the limitation period for filing a challenge?

Opposition to recognition must be submitted by the counterparty within 10 days of the date of the applicant's request for recognition.

The rules on the limitation period for lodging objections to enforcement will vary depending on the relevant request.

4.3 Can the defendant seek injunctive relief to prevent enforcement while a challenge is pending?

Yes. In the case of enforcement, the party against which enforcement is sought may seek an injunction.

5 Court analysis and decision

5.1 Will the court review service of process in the initial proceedings?

Yes. In accordance with Articles 1094 to 1102 of the Code of Civil Procedure and the New York Convention, the court will review procedural questions regarding the initial proceedings.

5.2 Will the court review the jurisdiction of the foreign court in the initial proceedings?

Yes. With regard to the recognition of court judgments, the court will examine the jurisdiction of the original court that issued the judgment, in accordance with the conflict of laws rules under Angolan law.

With regard to the recognition of foreign arbitral awards, the court will consider whether the dispute was arbitrable under the laws of the country in which the decision was handed down.

5.3 Will the court review the foreign judgment for compliance with applicable law and public policy?

Yes. In deciding whether to recognise a foreign judgment, the court will consider its compliance with the applicable law, in accordance with the rules of the country in which the judgment was handed down, as well as the public policy principles of Angolan law.

5.4 Will the court review the merits of the foreign judgment?

No, the court will not review the merits of the foreign judgment.

5.5 How will the court proceed if the foreign judgment conflicts with a previous judgment in relation to the same dispute between the same parties?

If a court decision conflicts with a previous judgment regarding the same dispute between the same parties, the court will refuse to recognise it.

In the case of arbitration awards, the New York Convention includes no provisions in this regard.

5.6 Are there any other grounds on which the court may refuse to recognise and enforce the foreign judgment?

No. There are no other grounds on which to refuse recognition of foreign judgment, other than those outlined in Articles 1097 and 1100 of the Code of Civil Procedure for judicial judgments, and in Article V of the New York Convention for arbitration awards.

5.7 Is partial recognition and enforcement possible?

The Angolan legislation and the New York Convention include no specific provisions in this regard, and the possibility would be contrary to the cognition powers of the Court, reason why it is concluded that partial recognition is not possible. Consequently, in the case of an effective challenge, the decision will not be altogether recognized.

5.8 How will the court deal with cost issues (eg, interest, court costs, currency issues)?

This is not an issue to be dealt with by the court.

6 Appeals

6.1 Can decisions in relation to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments be appealed?

Yes. The decision can be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

6.2 Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the appeal is pending?

The claimant can request injunctive relief while the appeal is still pending.

7 Enforcing the foreign judgment

7.1 Once a declaration of enforceability has been granted, how can the foreign judgment be enforced?

Once a declaration of enforceability has been granted, the foreign judgment may be enforced.

7.2 Can the foreign judgment be enforced against third parties?

A foreign judgment nay be enforced against third parties only if it is condemnatory and has been handed down both against the accused and against those third parties; and if enforcement was specifically sought against them.

8 Trends and predictions

8.1 How would you describe the current enforcement landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?

No changes to the regime governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are expected in Angola.

9 Tips and traps

9.1 What are your top tips for smooth recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, and what potential sticking points would you highlight?

The protracted duration of recognition and enforcement proceedings can hinder their effectiveness. The introduction of deadlines for submission of the request for recognition and for a decision in this regard would help to make this process faster and more efficient.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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