On October 3, 2019, the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments (Amendment) Act (“Act”) came into force. It consolidates and expands Singapore’s regime for statutory recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments by repealing the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act and amending the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act.
The Act enables a broader range of judgments to be enforced in Singapore. Previously, the scope of judgments receiving recognition and enforcement was limited to final money judgments from superior courts in civil proceedings and final judgments from superior courts in criminal proceedings for the payment of damages or compensation. The Act extends the scope of reciprocity by also recognizing:
- Non-money judgments, including freezing orders, injunctions that prevent a party from dealing with assets, or requiring a party to do or refrain from doing an act, and orders for specific performance.
- Lower court judgments in addition to higher court judgments. This will include judgments obtained from state courts.
- Interlocutory judgments, which will give successful claimants a safeguard against dissipation of assets before the final judgment is obtained.
- Judicial settlements, consent judgments and consent orders, which are formalized arrangements between parties before a court that end the legal action on terms agreed by the parties.
There are certain types of foreign judgments that will not be recognized under the Act. For example, judgments that have been obtained on appeal or registered / enforced in a recognized court under the Act but where the original decision to which it relates was obtained from a court not recognized under the Act will fall outside the scope of the framework under the Act. There are alternatives for seeking recognition of foreign judgments in Singapore that fall outside the scope of the framework, including common law.