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29 April 2019

The Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) has released a consultation paper seeking comments from the public on a proposed Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments (Amendment) Bill (“Bill”). The consultation is open from 15 April 2019 to 24 May 2019.

Currently, the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (“REFJA”) and the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act (“RECJA”) govern the registration of foreign judgments in Singapore. Compared to the alternative common law route, these statutory regimes allow for quicker and more predictable enforcement in Singapore of foreign judgments from the superior courts of gazetted countries, through registration in the High Court.

The proposed Bill will consolidate the two statutory regimes set out in the REFJA and the RECJA, which govern the reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments, into a single statutory regime. The proposed new regime will also allow the Minister for Law to provide for a wider range of judgments originating from specified foreign courts to be registered in the High Court. This will in turn enable Singapore to enter into reciprocal enforcement treaties providing for enforceability of a wider range of Singapore judgments in foreign jurisdictions.

The proposed amendments will not impact the Choice of Court Agreements Act.

Set out below are the key provisions of the proposed Bill.

Repeal of RECJA

Under the proposed Bill, the RECJA will be repealed, leaving the REFJA as the only statutory regime governing the reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments. The registrability of final non-money judgments from Commonwealth countries and Hong Kong will be preserved.

Amendment to definition of “judgment”

Under the proposed Bill, the meaning of “judgment” under the REFJA will be amended to:

  • include judicial settlements, non-money judgments, and interlocutory orders; and 
  • exclude foreign judgments that are founded on a judgment of a court in another foreign country, and judgments given by a recognised court on appeal from a court that is not a recognised court, in order to prevent circumvention of the reciprocity requirement.

New grounds for refusing registration of foreign judgments, enforcement of registered judgments, and setting aside of registration of foreign judgments

The proposed Bill contains the following new provisions:

  • The High Court may refuse to register a foreign judgment if it has been discharged (e.g. in the event of bankruptcy).
  • The High Court may refuse to enforce a registered judgment if, and to the extent that, the registered foreign judgment awards damages in excess of compensation for actual loss or harm.
  • The registration of a foreign judgment may be set aside if the notice of registration was not served on the judgment debtor, or if the registration was defective. However, the setting aside of the registration of a foreign judgment does not prevent that foreign judgment from being subsequently re-registered once the defects with service have been rectified.

Further, under the proposed Bill, the provision setting out the situations when a defendant is deemed to have voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of a foreign court is amended to exclude cases where a defendant had entered an appearance for the sole purpose of inviting the court in its discretion not to exercise its jurisdiction in the proceedings.

Reference materials

The following reference materials are available on the Ministry of Law website www.mlaw.gov.sg:

 

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