There are cases where a final court judgement does not actually mean that the debtor will reimburse the sums due to the creditor. In practice, recovering funds may become quite a challenging task, since the debtor may resort to evasive behavior, be unwilling to participate in litigation, either simply disappear or attempt in some way to dissipate its assets. Nevertheless, English law provides certain recourse which allows a creditor to avoid such situations.
In a recent case, our client, Integral Petroleum SA, a Geneva-based petroleum trading company, sought and obtained a domestic post-judgement freezing injunction in the High Court of England and Wales against Melars Group Limited, restraining the latter from disposing of its assets within the jurisdiction in the amount of approximately US$4,5 million. Integral was also successful in its application for registration in England and Wales of the BVI judgement it had previously obtained against Melars.
Once the judgement is registered by the High Court, it has the same force and effect as if it were originally obtained in England. Thus, the creditor, among the other things, has recourse to the same mechanisms to enforce the foreign judgement as if it were an English court judgement. For example, the creditor may apply for receivership or a third-party debt order.
In addition to the application for registration, Integral was also granted a domestic freezing order against Melars, restraining Melars from disposing of its assets up to $4,5 million. Melars was also obliged to disclose its assets which could potentially be available to satisfy the judgment debt.
In case the order is not complied with, directors or officers of the respondent may be liable for contempt of court. The liability for contempt may include a fine, seizure of property and/or imprisonment.
Integral was also awarded its costs of the application.