Enhancing the Regime for the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments through the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments (Amendment) Bill and the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments (Repeal) Bill
5 Aug 2019 Posted in Press releases
The Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) submitted the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments (Amendment) Bill (“Amendment Bill”) and the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments (Repeal) Bill (“Repeal Bill”) for First Reading in Parliament today.
The Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (“REFJA”), together with the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act (“RECJA”), facilitate the registration, and subsequent enforcement, of foreign judgments in civil proceedings in Singapore. Currently, only judgments from the superior courts of 11 jurisdictions may be registered under REFJA and RECJA. The Bills do not cover judgments or decisions in criminal cases.
The Bills are part of Singapore’s policy reforms to increase the eligibility of Singapore’s civil judgments for recognition and enforcement overseas.
The Amendment Bill amends REFJA to increase the types of foreign judgments in civil proceedings that can be enforced in Singapore. 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 Repeal Bill repeals the RECJA on a date to be stipulated by the Minister. When the Repeal Bill comes into operation, it will streamline Singapore’s legal framework for the statutory recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in civil proceedings such that we operate a single statutory regime under the REFJA.
Increasing the types of foreign judgments that can be enforced
- Currently, only final money judgments from foreign superior courts are recognised under REFJA. As enforcement of foreign judgments depends on reciprocal arrangements between at least two countries, this means that only final money judgments issued from the High Court and the Court of Appeal are enforceable overseas.
- The Amendment Bill extends the scope of REFJA to recognise and enforce: -
- Non-money judgments: Non-money judgments are increasingly important in commercial litigation. The Singapore courts would have the discretion to register foreign non-money judgments in civil proceedings if it considers that enforcement would be just and convenient. If enforcement would not be just and convenient, the Singapore courts have the discretion to make an order for the registration of a foreign judgment of such amount as it considers is the monetary equivalent of the relief sought;
- Lower court judgments: This will allow judgments in civil proceedings from the State Courts to be enforced in foreign jurisdictions on a reciprocal basis; and
- Interlocutory judgments: Interlocutory judgments are important in preserving the rights of the litigants before a final judgment is obtained. For example, the freezing injunction prevents litigants from dissipating their assets before final judgment. The ability to enforce Singapore interlocutory judgments in foreign jurisdictions will enhance the attractiveness of Singapore courts to litigants.
New provisions to prevent reciprocity requirement from being circumvented
- Reciprocity is a key requirement in mutual recognition of judgments between at least two countries. As such, recognition of foreign judgments in REFJA is founded on substantial reciprocity of treatment by foreign countries.
- To ensure that the reciprocity requirements in REFJA are not circumvented, the REFJA Amendment Bill provides that certain types of foreign judgments will not be recognised. For example,
- a judgment given by a recognised court, on appeal from a court that is not a recognised court; or
- a judgment given by a recognised court in proceedings founded on a judgment of a court in another foreign country and having as their object the enforcement of the second mentioned judgment
will not be included under REFJA.
Repeal of RECJA to operate a single statutory regime under REFJA
- The Repeal Bill provides for the repeal of the RECJA on a date to be stipulated by the Minister. Before the Repeal Bill comes into effect, reciprocating countries recognised under the RECJA are expected to be transferred to the REFJA. After the Repeal Bill comes into effect, there will be a single regime under the REFJA.
MINISTRY OF LAW 5 AUGUST 2019
ANNEX: KEY AMENDMENTS PROPOSED BY
1. THE RECIPROCAL ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN JUDGMENTS (“REFJA”) (AMENDMENT) BILL
2. THE RECIPROCAL ENFORCEMENT OF COMMONWEALTH JUDGMENTS (“RECJA”) (REPEAL) BILL
|Current Law||Proposed Amendments||Reference in the Bill||Amendments affecting the scope of enforceable foreign judgments|
|Only final money judgments from foreign superior courts can be recognised and enforced by registration.||Non-money judgments can be recognised and enforced, if the Court, having regard to the circumstances of the case and the nature of the relief, considers enforcement just and convenient. Otherwise, the Court has the discretion to order registration of the foreign judgment for the monetary equivalent of the remedy.||REFJA Amendment Bill, Clause 4(d)|
|Lower court judgments can be recognised and enforced.||REFJA Amendment Bill, Clause 3|
|Interlocutory judgments can be recognised and enforced.||REFJA Amendment Bill, Clause 2(c)|
|Note that the above extension of categories does not mean that Singapore will enforce all the above types of judgments from all foreign jurisdictions. The amended legal framework simply allows Singapore to enter into multilateral or bilateral treaties in which we undertake to recognise particular descriptions of judgments given. The precise scope of each reciprocal arrangement will be determined by the negotiated outcomes with Singapore’s treaty partners.|
|Amendments to prevent reciprocity requirement from being circumvented|
|No specific safeguard.||The following judgments will not be recognised:
a. a judgment given by a recognised court, on appeal from a court that is not a recognised court;
b. a judgment or instrument that is regarded for the purposes of its enforcement as a judgment of that court but which was given or made in another foreign country ; and
c. a judgment given by a recognised court in proceedings founded on a judgment of a court in another foreign country and having as their object the enforcement of the secondmentioned judgment
|REFJA Amendment Bill, Clause 3 – see proposed new section 3(4)|
|Amendments to streamline the regime under one statute|
|REFJA and RECJA govern the registration of foreign judgments in Singapore.||When RECJA is repealed, we will be left with a single statute, the REFJA, to govern the registration of foreign judgments in Singapore. RECJA will be repealed on a date to be set by the Minister.||RECJA Repeal Bill|
Last updated on 06 Aug 2019