Public Consultation on Proposed Amendments to the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgements Act
1. The Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) invites members of the public to provide feedback on the proposed Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments (Amendment) Bill (the “Bill”), attached at Appendix A to this public consultation paper.
2. The registration of foreign judgments in Singapore is currently governed by the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (REFJA) and the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act (RECJA). The REFJA and the RECJA provide for quicker and more predictable enforcement of foreign judgments in Singapore through registration in the High Court, rather than under the alternative common law route. The benefits of registration are currently available only to judgments from the superior courts of countries specifically gazetted under the REFJA and the RECJA. Today, only Hong Kong is gazetted under the REFJA and 10 Commonwealth jurisdictions are gazetted under the RECJA.
3. The proposed amendments to the REFJA will see Singapore moving to a single statutory regime. The proposed new regime will 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. Increasing the range of foreign judgments which may be entitled to registration in the High Court will in turn enable Singapore to enter into reciprocal enforcement treaties providing for enforceability of a wider range of Singapore judgments in foreign jurisdictions.
4. The amendments will not impact the Choice of Court Agreements Act (Cap. 39A).
II. SUMMARY OF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
5. Please note that the amendments are not discussed in this paper in the same order as they appear in the Bill. Rather, the amendments are grouped and discussed thematically.
6. Clause 10 of the Bill repeals the RECJA so that the REFJA will be the only statutory regime that governs the reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments. Clauses 6 and 11 preserve the registrability of final money judgments from Commonwealth countries and Hong Kong.
7. Clause 2 of the Bill updates the definition of “judgment” in the REFJA:
a. to include judicial settlements, non-money judgments, and interlocutory orders; and
b. excludes 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 the reciprocity requirement from being circumvented.
8. Clause 3 of the Bill amends section 3 to facilitate the reciprocal enforcement of a wide range of foreign judgments, including: non-money judgments, interlocutory judgments, and judgments from foreign “inferior” courts. The exact class of judgments from a foreign country entitled to enforcement in the Singapore courts will be specified by Ministerial order. In the case of non-money foreign judgments, clause 4 creates a new section 4A providing that the High Court may only enforce a registered non-money judgment if it is satisfied that such enforcement would be just and convenient. If the High Court is of the opinion that the enforcement of a registered non-money judgment would not be just and convenient, it may grant the plaintiff a monetary equivalent of the relief sought.
9. Clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill create new grounds for refusing registration (or setting aside the registration) of a foreign judgment, and/or limiting enforcement of a registered foreign judgment, as follows:
a. the new section 3(aa) provides that the High Court may refuse to register a foreign judgment if it has been discharged (e.g. in the event of bankruptcy);
b. the new sections 4B and 4C provide that 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;
c. the new section 5(c) provides that 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; and
d. section 2(a)(i), which sets 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.
III. PUBLIC CONSULTATION DETAILS
10. Interested persons are invited to provide comments and feedback. Respondents are requested to indicate your name and the organisation you represent (if applicable), as well as contact details (email address and/or telephone number) to enable us to follow up, and seek clarification, if necessary. Please title all comments and feedback “Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments (Amendment) Bill Public Consultation Comments” and send them by 24 May 2019 via post or email to:
Ministry of Law
International Legal Division
100 High Street,
#08-02, The Treasury
Fax: 6332 8842
Email: [email protected]