The economic and commercial reality of the current business landscape means that many international commercial relationships have at some point become engaged in litigation resulting in a foreign judgment being handed down which is later sought to be enforced in Ireland. The extent to which a foreign judgment will be given recognition depends on the principles of private international law of the country of recognition.
In Ireland private international law has increasingly been the subject of various harmonisation measures adopted by the European Union. These have sought to standardise and simplify the rules regarding jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments between the EU Member States. These measures include the Brussels 1 Regulations (Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters) (as amended)), and the Lugano Convention (as between the EU Member States and the EFTA States, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland). The extent to which judgments handed down by the courts of Member States of the European Union are recognised and enforced by the Irish Courts will be determined in accordance with these Regulations and Convention.
As regards non-EU judgments, and cases where there is no international convention in force to provide for a reciprocal recognition of judgments (such as, for instance, between Ireland and each of America, Canada, and Egypt), the common law rules govern the question of enforceability of judgments. As will be discussed further below, these rules are restrictive in nature and may act as a considerable impediment to having one's foreign judgment recognised by an Irish court.
The Common Law Rules
The procedure for enforcing a foreign judgment under Irish common law rules takes the form of an action as for the recovery of a simple contract debt. This involves issuing summary proceedings in the High Court seeking an Irish judgment in the terms of the foreign judgment.
There are a number of prerequisites to be met under Irish common law in order for a court to recognise and enforce a foreign judgment and these are as follows:
the judgment must be for a definite sum. This rules out the possibility of having non-monetary judgments and enforcement of actions concerning un-liquidated debts enforced. the foreign judgment must be final and conclusive. In essence this means that the foreign decree must be final and unalterable by the court that pronounced it. Even when an appeal is pending the judgment may be considered final and conclusive unless the appeal has the effect of staying the execution of the original judgment. the judgment...