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Lucian ILIE successfully challenges the enforcement of a Paris Court of Appeal decision in the English High Court

Lucian ILIE successfully challenges the enforcement of a Paris Court of Appeal decision in the English High Court

Lucian ILIE acted for the Appellant before the English High Court in an enforcement case that clarifies the scope of the “old” Brussels I 2001 Regulation.

In short, the High Court in London (Mr Justice Ritchie KC sitting in appeal proceedings) issued a rare judgment on the scope of the EU enforcement regime and its interaction with the French procedural law by denying the recognition and enforcement of a Paris Court of Appeal decision issued in default of appearance a decade ago.  

This case rendered on 29 August 2023 (not yet reported) involved an appeal (setting aside proceedings) before the King’s Bench Division of the High Court against the enforcement order which recognised ex-parte, a Paris Court of Appeal decision issued in 2013. The registration attempted to seek enforcement in the UK of a “less favourable” judgment issued in 2013 by the Paris Court of Appeal in favour of a UK national. One of the issues before the High Court was whether an alleged entitlement under French law for restitution of money following a “less favourable” amount in appeal could be enforced in England under the “old” Brussels I 2001 regime (in force at the time of the French appeal decision).

Acting on behalf of the Appellant as sole counsel (instructed by Adrian Iordache of Consortium Legal in London), Lucian successfully argued that the French law entitlement to the difference following a “less favourable” amount granted in appeal proceedings does not fall within the scope of the Brussels I 2001 Regulation given that the Respondent, a French insurance company, was not an “interested party” (i.e. a judgment creditor).

The case involved further issues of (i) sufficient and proper service and (ii) English public policy in the context of a “default” judgment rendered by the Paris Court of Appeal (additional successful grounds of appeal). On the facts, the Appellant, a UK national who was living in England when the French proceedings took place, was not deemed to have been sufficiently notified of the French proceedings as per the Brussels I 2001 Regulation or English public policy requirements, despite “constructive” service might have been sufficient for the purposes of French procedural law. For completeness and in any event, Mr Justice Ritchie KC would have refused the registration of the Paris Court of Appeal decision on public policy grounds after considering that (i) 9 years of delay had prejudiced the Applicant due to his own retirement and the death of crucial witnesses, (ii) the Respondent did not transcribe faithfully the Annex V certificate when applying for the recognition, nor make any sufficient efforts to find where the Applicant lived, and (iii) the Respondent made the registration application ex-parte when it should, in fairness, have been made inter-partes because of the delay and the fact that the disputed judgment was a default judgment.

While the case involved the somewhat unusual circumstances of a decade-old foreign decision being registered in England before being set aside, the High Court judgment provides some interesting pointers for cross-border dispute specialists as to the level of scrutiny that English courts are willing to apply when assessing judgments issued by EU courts following Brexit, and particularly to ex-parte registrations under the “old” Brussels I 2001 regime. It may also serve as a cautionary reminder that not all domestic law entitlements available in an EU Member State may automatically be enforced under the EU self-standing enforcement regime that has its own due process safeguards, which must be observed irrespective of any effect under local procedural or substantive law.

Find out more

Lucian ILIE is an English barrister and a French avocat specialising in international law, transnational litigation and international arbitration, with particular expertise in investor-State disputes and commercial arbitration cases.

Combining experience of civil law culture with common law know-how, Lucian’s practice areas include: (i) International Arbitration (including arbitration-related litigation), (ii) International Organisations, (iii) Private and Public International Law (including rules of jurisdiction, conflict of laws, enforcement of foreign judgments/awards, State immunity, extradition, ECHR law) and (iv) International Commercial Litigation (including before the DIFC and ADGM courts).

To find out more about Lucian, contact Sam Carter on +44 (0)203 989 6669 or George Bennett on +44 (0)207 427 0807.

News 24 Jan, 2024


Lucian ILIE

Call: 2021 (Solicitor Advocate since 2018); 2016 (Bucharest); 2013 (Paris)

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