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Amendment to the Indian Civil Code

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As of January 17, 2020, the Indian Ministry of Law and Justice has updated the Indian Civil Code in order that judgments of the UAE courts may be more easily enforced within India. The update declaring the UAE to be a “reciprocating territory” was published in the official Gazette of India on January 18.

The notification issued by the Ministry specifically recognizes the following courts of the UAE for the purposes of reciprocal enforcement:

  • Federal Supreme Court
  • Federal, First Instance and Appeals Courts in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah
  • Abu Dhabi Judicial Department
  • Dubai Courts
  • Ras Al Khaimah Judicial Department
  • Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre ( “DIFC”)
  • Courts of the Abu Dhabi Global Markets ( “ADGM”)

Although a reciprocal enforcement agreement has been in place between India and the UAE since 1999, it was ineffective in India until notified via the Official Gazette. Previously, enforcement of judgments in India was only possible via an extremely lengthy and uncertain process, requiring a judgment creditor to file a fresh suit before the Indian courts. Historically, this led to frequent instances of judgment debtors fleeing to India in order to avoid enforcement efforts.

The January amendment to the Civil Code has the effect that parties are now able to approach the Indian district courts with a UAE-issued judgment directly. The Indian courts must now treat the judgment as if it were issued directly by an Indian court, with no requirement to file fresh proceedings.

The amendment is effective retroactively, applicable to judgments issued since the original agreement was signed in 1999. The agreement also has reciprocal effect, meaning that Indian-issued judgments should be easily enforced within the UAE.

It is particularly encouraging to see that the amendment specifically lists the DIFC and ADGM courts as falling within its scope. The DIFC and ADGM courts are common law free zones within the UAE, which provide a more familiar legal landscape to clients from outside the jurisdiction. This opens a route by which a party can bring common law proceedings and then easily enforce the resulting judgment against assets in India.

Vinson Elkins CCL team in Dubai are well versed in enforcement work, as well as matters before the DIFC and ADGM courts. For more information, please contact Vinson & Elkins lawyers Amir Ghaffari, Joseph Chedrawe or Emily Beirne.

This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.