CONTACT: Re D (Brussels II Revised: Contact) [2007] EWHC 822 (Fam)

20 APR 2007

(Family Division; Black J; 20 April 2007)

The court expressed anxiety about the procedures in place concerning registration, recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. Brussels II (Revised) had direct effect; there was neither domestic legislation nor any statutory instrument setting up a scheme for its operation in England and Wales, save that the Family Procedure Rules 1991 included some procedural provisions relating to registration and enforcement. It seemed unlikely that granting permission to register a foreign judgment was in fact tantamount to registration, as had sometimes been assumed; a registration process suggested entry in a register, whatever form that register took. Rule 7.46 of the FPR 1991, requiring notice of the registration of the judgment to be given, seemed to contemplate something more than simply serving the permission order. Including the appeal information in the permission order risked confusion; the notice of registration was a better way of conveying appeal information to the person against whom the judgment was to be enforced. There appeared to be no domestic rules regulating appeals against registration of a foreign judgment, but, interpreting references to a declaration of enforceability as references to notice of the registration of the judgment, Art 33(5) of the Regulation required that one month from service of notice of registration of the judgment was allowed for the lodging of an appeal. Failure to serve a valid notice of registration under r 7.46 might sometimes be fatal to a subsequent application to enforce the judgment, but mere erroneous information about the appeal period was not a sufficiently fundamental flaw. It was a matter of concern that there seemed to be no provision for informing the applicant that the foreign judgment had been registered. There was no reason why the notice of registration to be served upon the person against whom the foreign judgment had been given should not be provided to the applicant as well to overcome any uncertainty as to whether the judgment had completed the administrative stage of the registration process at the Registry. Once a foreign judgment had been registered, there was only one way of preventing recognition of the judgment by the English court, and that was to appeal against the registration. The English court could not defeat the purpose of the European court order on the basis of welfare considerations, even if welfare considerations were paramount in enforcement proceedings, which was not at all certain.

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