Mr Richard Salter KC, sitting as a High Court judge, recently made a security for costs ruling in relation to the ongoing case of Rajabieslami v Tariverdi and others, concerning an alleged breach of trust in respect of shares in a Liberian-owned one-ship company, Desero.
Following a contested two-day hearing, Mr Salter KC ruled under condition or ‘gateway’ (a) under rule 25.13 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), that there existed a “real risk of substantial obstacles to enforcement” as Mr Rajabieslami was resident in Qatar, and given the absence of sufficient evidence that any English court costs order would be enforced successfully in a Qatari court.
This ruling turns on the question of reciprocity as between the English and Qatari courts. Mr Salter KC accepted the applicant’s case that there was insufficient evidence that the Qatari courts would enforce a decision from the English courts in the absence of a ‘concrete example’ of English courts having already recognised Qatari judgments and/or in the absence of a UK government declaration asserting that Qatari judgments would be recognised in the English courts without re-examination. He further decided that there were insufficient grounds to hold that ‘expert evidence’ on the possibility of enforcement of Qatari decisions as a matter of principle under English law would be sufficient to ensure enforceability of English decisions before the Qatari courts. He pointed to the analogous case of the UAE courts, where a UAE ministerial declaration citing the recognition of a Dubai court decision in the English courts was first required by the UAE courts to establish enforceability.
Colleen Hanley represented the successful applicant in this matter, and the defendants in the underlying claim.
Reflecting on the ruling, Ms Hanley said:
“This detailed decision provides useful guidance on the evidence needed to establish a “real risk” of non-enforcement under gateway (a). But it also confirms that the enforcement position in Qatar remains very different from that in the UAE. No assumption can be made that the principle of reciprocity as now established in the UAE will be simply ‘read across’ into other Gulf states.”
Mr Salter KC also found that there was insufficient evidence to hold that a judgment against the defendant could be enforced in another jurisdiction, such as the UAE. On the discretionary question, he further found that the details of the main claim were such that he was not convinced the claimant’s case was certain or almost certain to succeed at trial, such that the gateway should not be applied.