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4. Results: Answers
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments
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?
Singapore

Answer ... Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act (RECJA): The judgment must be given or made by a court in any civil proceedings, whereby any sum of money is made payable. This includes an award in arbitration proceedings if the award has, in pursuance of the law in force in the place where it was made, become enforceable in the same manner as a judgment given by a court in that place.

However, this excludes judgments which may be recognised/enforced under the CCAA.

Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (REFJA): The judgment must be given or made by a court in any civil proceedings, or given or made by a court in any criminal proceedings for the payment of a sum of money in respect of compensation or damages to an injured party.

However, this excludes judgments which may be recognised and enforced under the CCAA.

CCAA: The CCAA applies only to judgments obtained from courts of contracting states to the Hague Convention and where there is an exclusive choice of court agreement concluded in a civil or commercial dispute. This usually excludes certain types of disputes and subject matter, including:

  • family law, probate, insolvency or personal injury matters;
  • tortious claims not arising from contracts;
  • claims relating to the validity or infringement of non-contractual infringement rights; and
  • antitrust matters.

A ‘judgment’ is:

  • a final court decision (by whatever name called) on the merits, a consent order, a consent judgment or a judgment given by default; or
  • a determination by a court of any costs or expenses relating to any such court decision, consent order, consent judgment or judgment given by default.

With regard to the foreign judgment itself, it must:

  • have effect in the state of origin (if the applicant is seeking recognition in Singapore); and
  • be enforceable in the state of origin (if the applicant is seeking enforcement in Singapore).

Common law action: For recognition, the foreign judgment must be:

  • from a court of competent jurisdiction (in the conflict of laws sense) in the foreign country; and
  • final and conclusive on the merits by the law of that country.

For enforcement, the foreign judgment must be:

  • from a court of competent jurisdiction (in the conflict of laws sense) in the foreign country;
  • final and conclusive on the merits under the law of that country; and
  • for a fixed or ascertainable sum of money.

The applicant must also establish that the Singapore court has in personam jurisdiction over the judgment debtor, by showing that the judgment debtor:

  • has submitted to the jurisdiction of the Singapore court;
  • has been validly served with the originating process in Singapore; or
  • has been validly served with the originating process outside Singapore (after obtaining leave from the Singapore court).

For more information about this answer please contact: Joseph Lopez from Joseph Lopez LLP
2.2
Must a foreign judgment be final and binding before it can be enforced?
Singapore

Answer ... Generally speaking, yes. Foreign judgments are generally treated as final and conclusive, even if they are subject to appeal.

However, if there is a pending appeal or if the judgment debtor shows that it is entitled to and intends to appeal, it will likely seek to set aside or adjourn the registration proceedings (see questions 2.3 and 4.1).

For more information about this answer please contact: Joseph Lopez from Joseph Lopez LLP
2.3
Is a foreign judgment enforceable if it is subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction?
Singapore

Answer ... RECJA: Registration must be refused if the judgment debtor shows that:

  • an appeal for the foreign judgment is pending; or
  • it is entitled to and intends to appeal the foreign judgment.

REFJA: Registration may be set aside or adjourned if the judgment debtor shows that:

  • an appeal for the foreign judgment is pending; or
  • it is entitled to and intends to appeal the foreign judgment.

CCAA: Recognition and/or enforcement may be refused, set aside or postponed if:

  • the foreign judgment is being reviewed or appealed in the state of origin; or
  • the time for applying for a review or appeal in the state of origin has not expired.

For more information about this answer please contact: Joseph Lopez from Joseph Lopez LLP
2.4
What is the limitation period for making an application for recognition and enforcement?
Singapore

Answer ... RECJA: An application for registration must be made within 12 months of the date of the judgment, but the court has the discretion to extend this limitation period.

REFJA: An application for registration must be made within six years of the date of the judgment or the date of the last judgment in the proceedings (if the initial judgment was appealed).

CCAA: An application may be made any time, as long as the foreign judgment remains effective in the state of origin (for applications for recognition) and remains enforceable in the state of its origin (for applications for enforcement).

Common law action: An application must be made within the usual limitation period under the Limitation Act – that is, six years from the date of the foreign judgment – since this is a civil law action on an implied debt. There are some exceptions to the Limitation Act, such as the following:

  • If the right of action is to recover a debt/liquidated pecuniary claim or a claim to the personal estate of a deceased, and the person liable or accountable therefor acknowledges the claim or makes payment in respect thereof, the right is deemed to have accrued on (and not before) the date of such acknowledgement or the last payment; and
  • If the action is based on or concealed by fraud of the judgment debtor (or its agent), the limitation period begins to run only when the applicant:
    • has discovered the fraud; or
    • could, with reasonable diligence, have discovered the fraud.

For more information about this answer please contact: Joseph Lopez from Joseph Lopez LLP
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Enforcement of Foreign Judgments