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Enforcing Foreign Court Judgments in Kuwait: A Comprehensive Legal Guide

Updated: Oct 31, 2023


Enforcing Foreign Court Judgments in Kuwait: A Comprehensive Legal Guide

Enforcing foreign court judgments in Kuwait involves navigating a complex legal landscape. It requires a thorough understanding of the Kuwaiti legal system, as well as regional and international agreements. This article provides an in-depth look at the legal frameworks, procedures, and practical tips for enforcing foreign court judgments in Kuwait.


Introduction


Kuwait, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is an important player in the international market, especially in the oil and gas sector. As global trade and business relations continue to expand, the enforcement of foreign court judgments in Kuwait has become increasingly significant. It's important to note that foreign court judgments are not automatically enforceable in Kuwait.


Legal Framework


International Treaties


The New York Convention


Kuwait is a signatory to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention), which it acceded to in 1978. This convention facilitates the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, but it's essential to understand that the New York Convention pertains to arbitral awards and not court judgments.


The GCC Convention


Kuwait is also a party to the Riyadh Convention, a regional agreement among GCC countries for the enforcement of judgments, including foreign judgments. This agreement mandates that judgments from courts in GCC member states are to be recognized and enforced by other member states, subject to certain conditions.


The Kuwaiti Legal Code


The enforcement of foreign court judgments in Kuwait is primarily governed by the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure. Articles 199 and 200 of this Code outline the requirements for enforcing foreign judgments, which include reciprocity, finality, and conformity with Kuwaiti public policy and laws.


Procedure for Enforcement


Obtaining an Exequatur


To enforce a foreign judgment in Kuwait, a party must obtain an exequatur from the Kuwaiti courts. An exequatur is a court order that recognizes the foreign judgment and allows it to be enforced in Kuwait.


1. Filing an Application: The party seeking enforcement must file an application with the relevant court. This application should include the original judgment or a certified copy, along with a certified Arabic translation.


2. Review by the Court: The Kuwaiti court will review the application to ensure that it meets the requirements outlined in Articles 199 and 200 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure, as well as the specific requirements for an exequatur. This includes checking for reciprocity, ensuring that the judgment is final, and verifying that it does not conflict with Kuwaiti laws or public policy.


3. Recognition and Enforcement: If the court is satisfied that the judgment meets the necessary requirements, it will issue an exequatur, after which the foreign judgment will be treated as if it had been rendered by a Kuwaiti court. This means that the judgment can be enforced by the same methods as a Kuwaiti judgment, such as attachment of assets or garnishment of wages.


Specific Requirements for Enforcement


In addition to the general requirements, there are specific requirements that must be met for the enforcement of foreign judgments in Kuwait:


- The foreign judgment must be in writing.

- The foreign judgment must be translated into Arabic.

- The foreign judgment must be certified by the proper authorities in the foreign country.

- The party seeking enforcement must pay a filing fee.


Challenges and Considerations


Public Policy and Sharia Law


One of the significant challenges in enforcing foreign judgments in Kuwait is the requirement that the judgment must not be contrary to Kuwaiti public policy or Sharia Law. This requirement can be subjective and may result in the refusal of enforcement for judgments that conflict with cultural or religious values.


Reciprocity


Reciprocity is another significant hurdle. Kuwaiti courts require that the country where the foreign judgment was issued would enforce Kuwaiti judgments under similar circumstances. This could make enforcement difficult if there is no such agreement or history of reciprocal enforcement between the countries.


Sovereign Immunity


In cases where a foreign judgment is against the Kuwaiti government or a state-owned entity, the doctrine of sovereign immunity may pose challenges to enforcement.


Tips for Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Kuwait


If you are considering enforcing a foreign judgment in Kuwait, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success:


- Make sure that the foreign judgment meets all the requirements for enforcement in Kuwait.

- Hire an experienced law firm to help you with the process.

- Be prepared to provide the Kuwaiti courts with all of the necessary information and documentation.

- Be patient, as the process of enforcing a foreign judgment in Kuwait can be time-consuming and expensive.


Conclusion


Enforcing foreign court judgments in Kuwait involves a detailed understanding of various legal frameworks and adherence to specific procedures. While the frameworks are in place to facilitate enforcement, challenges such as public policy, reciprocity, and sovereign immunity must be carefully considered. Legal counsel with expertise in Kuwaiti law and international litigation is highly recommended for parties seeking to enforce foreign judgments in Kuwait.


The information presented in this article reflects the legal procedures and considerations involved in enforcing foreign court judgments in Kuwait. However, it is important to recognize that legal systems and procedures can evolve over time.


At Wefaq Law Firm, we are well-equipped with the expertise and experience necessary to assist clients in navigating the complex landscape of enforcing foreign court judgments in Kuwait. Our professionals are committed to providing tailored advice and support throughout the enforcement process, ensuring that clients are informed and well-represented.



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