Execution of Debt Recovery Foreign Judgment and Award in Ethiopia

Have you wondered about executing your Foreign Debt Recovery Judgments and awards in Ethiopia?Provided it fulfills the following requirements it is possible.

According to Ethiopian legal system, debt collection and recovery is a legitimate and necessary business activity where creditors and collectors are able to take reasonable steps to secure payment from consumers or businesses that are legally bound to pay or to repay money they owe.

But a question is bound to arise when the court that rendered the decision to recover a debt for a party is located outside the area where this judgment could be executed. Here the issue of execution of foreign judgment will come up.

In many foreign countries the recognition and enforcement of debt recovery foreign judgments/awards is governed by local domestic law and the principles of comity, reciprocity and res Judicata (that is, that the issues in question have been decided already.)

The general principle of international law applicable in such cases is that a foreign state claims and exercises the right to examine judgments for four causes:

  1. 1.      To determine if the court had jurisdiction;
  2. 2.      To determine whether the defendant was properly served;
  3. 3.      To determine if the proceedings were vitiated by fraud; and
  4. 4.      To establish that the judgment is not contrary to the public policy of the foreign country.

 While procedures and documentary requirements vary widely from country to country, judgments which do not involve multiple damages or punitive damages generally may be enforced, in whole or in part, upon recognition as authoritative and final, subject to the particulars cited above, unless internal law mandates a treaty obligation.

When we come to the case of Ethiopia, the issue of execution of foreign judgments is governed by the Ethiopian Civil procedure code and the federal courts proclamation number 25/96.

According to the Ethiopian law, the power of execution is given to the High Court. According to the federal courts proclamation No. 25/19996, the Federal High Court shall have the first instance jurisdiction over application regarding the enforcement of foreign judgments or decisions.

As per the principle of the Ethiopia Civil Procedure Code, the court to which the application is made shall give permission to execute a foreign judgment after checking the following requirements

                                I.            The execution of Ethiopian judgments is allowed in the country in which the judgment to be executed was given

                             II.            The judgment was given by a court duly established and executed

                           III.            The judgment debtor was given the opportunity to appear and present his defense

                          IV.            The judgment to be executed is final and enforceable and

                            V.            The execution is not contrary to public order or morals

If the above requirements are fulfilled the court will allow the application; but if not it is impossible to execute the judgment. After this the next step is the procedure of execution and the decision of the court.

Enforcement of Foreign Awards

One example of such instance could be enforcement of foreign debt recovery judgments. Here, the principle of enforcement of foreign awards is similar to the ones mentioned for execution of foreign judgments. According to article 461 of the Ethiopian Civil Procedure code the following conditions have to be fulfilled to enforce an arbitral award.

         I.            Reciprocity is ensured. i.e the execution of foreign awards is allowed in the country in which the award to be executed is given

      II.            The award has been made following a regular arbitration agreement or other legal act in the country where it is made

   III.            The parties have had equal rights in appointing the arbitrators and they have been summoned to attend the proceedings

    IV.            The arbitration tribunal was regularly constituted

       V.            The award does not relate to matters which under the provisions of Ethiopian laws could not be submitted to arbitration or is not contrary to public order or morals and

    VI.            The award is of such nature as to be enforceable on the condition laid down in Ethiopian laws

If these requirements are fulfilled the awards shall enforced but in the absence of such conditions it is difficult to enforce.

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