Enforcement Of Foreign Judgments And Arbitration Awards In The Cayman Islands

Published date08 April 2021
Subject MatterFinance and Banking, Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Insolvency/Bankruptcy/Re-structuring, Financial Services, Insolvency/Bankruptcy, Arbitration & Dispute Resolution
Law FirmCampbells
AuthorMr Liam Faulkner

Successful litigants in foreign proceedings will often be required to take steps to enforce any judgment or order obtained outside of the jurisdiction in which it was made. The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands routinely recognises and enforces foreign judgments and arbitral awards from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong and the PRC (amongst others) against individuals, entities and assets domiciled or situated in the Cayman Islands.

This advisory provides an overview of the process for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, foreign arbitral awards and worldwide freezing orders made by foreign courts or by the Grand Court in support of foreign proceedings or arbitral proceedings.

Common law recognition of foreign judgments

The Cayman Islands has not entered into any bilateral or multilateral treaties for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments other than The Foreign Judgments Reciprocal Enforcement Act (1996 Revision) which extends only to judgments from the Superior Courts of Australia and its external territories.

Australian judgments aside, the typical route for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments is under the common law which requires the enforcing party to issue fresh proceedings in the Cayman Islands by filing a writ of summons in the Financial Services Division of the Grand Court seeking an order in the same terms as the foreign judgment, i.e. the foreign judgment is the cause of action and enforcement involves seeking summary (or, where possible, default) judgment in the writ action. Monetary and certain non-monetary judgments are enforceable at common law and the limitation period for issuing the writ action is six years from the date of the foreign judgment. Once judgment has been entered, it can be enforced in the same way as a domestic judgment.

Monetary judgments

Foreign monetary judgments, i.e. judgments for a debt of a definitive sum of money, are relatively straightforward to enforce. Provided that the judgment is final and conclusive, for the payment of a sum of money, is not fiscal, penal or contrary to Cayman public policy and is made by a foreign court of competent jurisdiction then the judgment creditor may issue a writ action in the Grand Court seeking payment of the judgment debt. Default judgments made by a foreign court can be enforced provided that the foreign court had jurisdiction to make the order.

Non-monetary judgments

For non-monetary judgments, foreign in personam judgments made by a competent court with jurisdiction to give that judgment may be recognised and enforced by the Grand Court through equitable remedies or under the principle of comity provided that the Grand Court does not have to extend domestic law to do so and the foreign order is final and conclusive.

A distinction therefore needs to be made between a foreign judgment arising from an in personam proceeding which decides the personal rights and interests of the parties to those proceedings and in rem proceedings which decide the rights or title to property situated outside the jurisdiction of the foreign court which is binding on both the parties and non-parties alike.1 The Grand Court will exercise its discretion to recognise and enforce foreign monetary and non-monetary in personam judgments having regard to general considerations of fairness.

Freezing orders or injunctions (formerly known as Mareva orders or injunctions)

The requirement for a non-monetary...

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