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On 17 January 2020, the Indian Ministry of Law & Justice declared that the UAE is a reciprocating territory for the enforcement of foreign judgments (the 2020 Declaration). Before the 2020 Declaration, enforcing a UAE judgment in India was a very time-consuming and expensive process, with UAE judgment creditors often left frustrated in recovering debts. The 2020 Declaration means that it should now be much simpler and faster to enforce UAE court judgments in India. Potentially, this declaration could also mean that enforcement of Indian court judgments in the UAE will become more straightforward.

The 1999 Treaty

In 1999, the UAE and India entered into a bilateral treaty for judicial cooperation and mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments (the 1999 Treaty).1 The 1999 Treaty was an agreement to make legal processes, such as the service of judicial documents and summons and enforcement of civil court judgments, more streamlined between the two countries.

Despite the 1999 Treaty, the streamlined processes agreed were never fully implemented. Parties seeking to enforce their UAE court judgment in India often were required to commence fresh proceedings and obtain a new civil judgment from the Indian courts. UAE judgment creditors found the process of enforcement in India time-consuming and expensive. These difficulties led to debtors considering India a ‘safe haven’ for their assets and left many UAE creditors frustrated and out of pocket.

The 2020 Declaration

Under the Indian Civil Procedure Code,2 foreign judgments from courts of reciprocating territories can be directly enforceable as if they are Indian court judgments. The 2020 Declaration declares the UAE a “reciprocating territory”, and the UAE courts3 “superior courts” for the purposes of the Indian Civil Procedure Code. This now means that a UAE court judgment can be immediately enforced in the Indian courts without the need to obtain a new civil judgment from the Indian courts. In short, the 2020 Declaration implements the streamlined enforcement processes agreed by the UAE and India in the 1999 Treaty.