Enforcement Of Foreign Judgments In Bermuda At Common Law

In general, there are two ways in Bermuda to enforce a final money judgment1 obtained in an overseas Court (a "foreign judgment") against a person2 in Bermuda. The method employed will depend upon the jurisdiction in which the foreign judgment was obtained and possibly the Court within that jurisdiction. This article addresses only enforcement of judgments obtained in countries which are not included in Bermuda's Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1958, in other words, judgments which are enforceable at common law

The position at common law is, generally speaking, that a person wishing to enforce a foreign money judgment in Bermuda cannot do so by direct execution of that judgment; he must sue on the foreign judgment, as if it were a debt. The enforcement of foreign judgments at common law is based on the principle that where a court of competent jurisdiction has adjudicated a certain sum to be due from one person to another, a legal obligation arises to pay that sum, on which an action in debt to enforce the judgment may be maintained.3 That is not to say that there must be a trial in Bermuda which repeats the proceedings which have already taken place elsewhere. The judgment creditor in Bermuda can seek final judgment in Bermuda by way of Bermuda's summary judgment procedure, a faster procedure than the normal trial process. The plaintiff (as the foreign judgment creditor is in Bermuda) simply sues on the foreign judgment and seeks judgment in Bermuda by the summary judgment procedure, asserting that there is no real defence to the action in Bermuda.

The foreign judgment is very strong evidence that the debt recognised by that foreign judgment is truly owed by the defendant to the plaintiff and the defendant will have to displace that strong evidence to defeat such an application. Indeed, the Supreme Court of Bermuda is frequently asked to enforce foreign judgments, and it is a rare occasion and on good and substantial grounds that the Supreme Court of Bermuda refuses to do so.

The only grounds for resisting the enforcement of such a judgment at common law are generally said to be:

(1) lack of jurisdiction in the foreign court;

(2) that the judgment was obtained by fraud; (3) that enforcement of the foreign judgment would be contrary to public policy;

(4) that the proceedings in which the judgment was obtained were contrary to natural justice, as those principles are understood in Bermuda; and

(5) inconsistency with a prior judgment...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT