The effect of Brexit on enforcement of Judgments overseas

This article was published prior to the publication of the post-Brexit agreement between the UK and EU which covers the relationship between the UK and EU following the end of the implementation period (commonly referred to as the “transition period”) created by the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, and should be read in that context. For up-to-date commentary and information on our services, please see our Beyond Brexit page.

As we all know the UK will shortly be leaving the European Union. The "Enforcement and dispute resolution - A Future Partnership Paper" (FPP) has provided guidance on how the government intends to deal with the challenges arising out of the UK repealing the European Communities Act 1972.

The government intends to deal with enforcement issues overseas through a domestic legal order. During the interim period the UK intends to work with the EU to design a plan dealing with judicial supervision, enforcement and dispute resolution. Interestingly, the FPP comments that enforcement and dispute resolution are two distinct issues and as such it is not necessary for one body to carry out both functions.

Whilst this paper states that the aims are to maximise certainty for individuals and businesses and ensure rights can effectively be enforced in a timely way, the paper does not seem to put us any closer to understanding how enforcement will work in practice. Many bodies have expressed concerns. This may leave litigants in person with an extremely challenging process to understand before they can go about recovering what is owed. A further concern is the impact that the changes will have on the appeal of bringing litigation and enforcement to our courts from overseas.

The effect of Brexit on enforcement is still unknown and it is not clear exactly how the government intends to protect UK citizens right to enforce judgments in the EU. In the current circumstances it would be wise for anyone considering enforcing a judgment within the EU to commence proceedings as soon as possible to avoid any uncertainty.


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