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Overview: Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Bahrain

Published on : 16 Oct 2023

Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Bahrain

“To invoke alien law when it agrees with one's own thinking, and ignore it otherwise, is not reasoned decision making, but sophistry.”  ― Antonin Scalia,

The enforcement of foreign judgments is the acknowledgment and enforcement in one jurisdiction of judgments delivered in another/foreign jurisdiction. Foreign judgments may be acknowledged based on bilateral or multilateral treaties or understandings, or unilaterally without an express international agreement. Bahrain was the first country to offer the “Free Arbitration Zone” and the first to introduce the idea of statutory arbitration for commercial and financial disputes. Legislative Decree No. (30) for the year 2009 With Respect to the Bahrain Chamber for Economic, Financial and Investment Dispute Resolution gives parties who are keen on global arbitration the choice of holding the arbitration in Bahrain without concern that the courts of Bahrain may interfere with or set aside, the resulting award, provided that the parties look forward to enforcing the award only in another country.

Legal Issues related to the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

Enforcing foreign judgments in Bahrain is certainly not an excessively onerous or complex process, given the party has access to the original documents and can have these legalised. Bahrain is a signatory to various reciprocal recognition treaties. It includes the Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes 1907, the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States 1965, the Riyadh Arab Agreement for Judicial Cooperation 1983, the Gulf Cooperation Council Convention for the Execution of Judgments, Delegations and Judicial Notifications 1995 and other various bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements.

Bahrain courts will enforce a foreign judgment without expecting earlier acknowledgment proceedings if the judgment originates from a country that is also a signatory to one of the same treaties. Where reciprocal recognition is not laid out by means of a treaty between Bahrain and the foreign country. The recognition of foreign judgments is viewed by Decree-Law No 22/2021. Under Article 16(3) of Decree-Law No 22/2021, no enforcement request of a foreign country judgment might be passed besides subsequent to discovering the following: 

  • that the courts of Bahrain are not able to hear the case in regard of which the court judgment or order was passed, and that the foreign courts which passed it are skillful as per the international rules set down in the laws.
  • that the defendants in the case in respect of which the judgment was issued were appropriately summoned and properly represented
  • that the judgment or order has become final as per the law of the court that passed it
  • that the judgment or order does not conflict with any judgment or order recently passed by the courts of Bahrain and does not accommodate for anything that constitutes a breach of public order or morality.

A party seeking recognition of a foreign judgment in Bahrain should know that, while the civil and commercial law of Bahrain is not governed primarily by Islamic law. The courts will consider specific principles of Islamic law as forming part of Bahrain’s public order and ethics and therefore may utilize Article 16(3)(4) of Decree-Law No 22/2021 to legitimate rehear the case. 

Not Enforced Foreign Judgments

Under the Riyadh Convention, judgments against governments or government employees that connect with their administrative duties are not recognized. Recognition of a foreign judgment is also dismissed under the Riyadh convention if the recognition would go against the principles of Islamic law or the constitution, the party against which the judgment is conjured was not duly summoned, the laws of the mentioned country concerning the legal representation of ineligible persons or persons of lessened qualification were not taken into consideration, the dispute depends upon a final judgment in the mentioned country, provided that the mentioned country has already recognized this judgment, and the dispute is dependent upon a case currently being heard by the mentioned country’s courts recorded preceding to the application for recognition is made.

Provided that a certificate of final judgment can be obtained from the country where the judgment was acquired, default and outline judgments can be recognized and enforced in Bahrain.

Foreign Judgment enforcement process

A foreign judgment in Bahrain is enforced by implementing the judgment before the Bahrain high civil court for recognition and paying the endorsed court fees. A foreign judgment will be enforced if it meets the criteria. As per Decree-Law No 22/2021, it is fundamental that the Bahrain judge is fulfilled and that the litigants have been duly summoned and properly addressed. If the award is recognized, a party should look for enforcement from the Bahrain court of execution.

Recognition of Judgments of the signatory countries of the Treaty

The GCC Convention Article 1 communicates that each of the GCC nations will execute the last judgments given by the courts of any member state in civil, commercial, and administrative cases and individual undertaking cases as per the procedures as provided under this agreement, given that the court that issued the judgment has the jurisdiction in accordance with the international jurisdiction as applicable in the member state where the judgment is required to be executed or has the jurisdiction as per the provisions of this agreement.

Enforcement under the Riyadh Convention Article 32 requires the skillful judicial body to lay out that the judgment conforms to the arrangements of the Riyadh Convention and affirm this in its judgment. The competent body will then order suitable measures to be taken to give the judgment a similar enforceable status as it would have had in the event that it had been made by the requested party.

Recognition of Judgments from Non-treaty Countries

In the absence of a treaty such as the GCC or Riyadh Convention being set up, or without the absence of a principle of reciprocity between Bahrain and the jurisdiction in which the foreign judgment starts, a fresh claim should be recorded under the foreign judgment may be utilized as evidence in support of this application.

Costs and Time period to Enforce Foreign Judgments

The enforcement of all judgments in Bahrain is carried out predominantly by the execution court this incorporates foreign judgments being enforced as per any relevant treaty or agreement, foreign judgments recognized by the Bahrain courts, and foreign judgments confirmed following application to the courts as a new case. All judgments equipped to be enforced as per the Bahrain law necessities are treated the same for the purpose of enforcement. To appeal a foreign judgment that has been enforced by a Bahrain court of execution, a party should submit an application to the Bahrain high civil court.

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