Reciprocal Enforcement of Financial Orders
The UAE is not a signatory to Reciprocal Enforcement of Financial Orders (REMO). Nevertheless, foreign financial orders can be enforced within the UAE however, there can be difficulties as set out below. When a foreign court judgement is to be enforced in the United Arab Emirates, the Civil Procedure Code of the UAE lays down rules and regulations for enforcing foreign court orders or judgments. In this regard, Article 222 of the Civil Procedure Code states as follows:
- Judgments and orders delivered by a foreign country may be ordered to be executed in the State under the same conditions as prescribed in the law of that country for the execution of judgments and orders issued in the State.
- The execution, including the particulars specified in Article (44) of this Law shall be made on a petition and submitted by the person concerned to the execution judge. The judge shall issue his order within (5) five days from the date of its submission. His order may be appealed in accordance with the rules and procedures prescribed for filing an appeal.
It shall not be admissible to order the execution before the verification of the following:
- The courts of the State are not exclusively competent in the dispute in which the judgment or order was rendered and the foreign courts that issued it are competent in accordance with the rules of international jurisdiction established by their law.
- The judgment or order is delivered by a court in accordance with the law of the country in which it was issued and duly ratified.
- The litigants in the case in which the foreign judgment was delivered were summoned and were duly represented.
- The judgment or order has the force of res judicata in accordance with the law of the court which issued it, provided that the judgment has acquired the force of res judicata or provided for in the same judgment.
- The judgment does not conflict with a judgment or order rendered by a court of the State and does not contain anything contrary to public order or morals.
- The execution judge shall have the right to obtain the documents supporting the application before issuing his decision.
In line with the aforesaid provision, any judgment issued by the foreign courts can be enforced in UAE, subject to prerequisites of the aforesaid Article 222.
In summary of the above, foreign financial orders can be enforced in the Dubai courts if:
- The Dubai courts did not have jurisdiction to deal with the original litigation
- The foreign order was produced by a competent court using the applicable foreign laws
- Both parties were given notice of the hearing and attended or were duly represented
- The order is a final judgement
- The order does not conflict with orders previously made by the Dubai courts, and the orders do not breach public order or morals
Once the attestation case has been carried out, the resulting mirror order could be enforced through an execution case. The UAE courts have very wide powers of enforcement for example:
- Attachment of earnings: the judge may make an order that the employer disclose details of the husband’s salary and bonuses, then make an order that the maintenance owed is paid from the salary.
- Enquiry of banks, or traffic and land departments: the judge can order an enquiry to determine whether, for example, a respondent has funds in their bank account to pay a lump sum or a car or property that could be sold to meet an outstanding debt.
- Freezing bank accounts: an order may be made to freeze a bank account if the judge believes that the respondent is likely to dissipate assets to avoid meeting their obligations under the original order.
- Seizing goods: to ensure the repayment of a debt, a judge may order the seizure of property or other goods. The executive judge may transfer the matter to the executive judge of another court, in whose jurisdiction the property lies (for example in another Emirate).
- Imprisonment: this is likely if the respondent shows a willful refusal to pay despite being able to afford to, or if the judge fears that they will flee the country. Imprisonment does not negate the need for the respondent to meet the terms of the original order.
- Travel ban: the judge can make an order preventing the respondent from leaving the country.
If during the process of finalizing a financial agreement outside the UAE, it is anticipated that it may be necessary for the agreement/ order to be enforced within the UAE also, it is advisable to take precautionary measures. Either the parties could cooperate to obtain a mirror order in the UAE through enforcement of the foreign judgement, or a faster option is for an agreement to be drafted in similar terms and put by both parties before the Family Guidance Department of the UAE, resulting in an enforceable judicially approved document.
Financial Relief After Foreign Divorce Proceedings
What powers are available to make orders following a foreign divorce?
There are no specific statutory provisions dealing with financial provisions after a foreign divorce. It would be for one party to rely on an order made by a foreign court (e.g., through enforcement of foreign judgement), and the other party to put why it should not be enforced.
The above information might not apply if both parties are non-muslim. Starting from the 1st of February 2023, UAE issued specific family law to be applied between non-muslim expatriate residents in case none of them wanted to apply his/her home country's law in the UAE. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.