Singapore’s Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act 1921 (‘RECJA’) is based on the UK Administration of Justice Act 1920 and its Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act 1959 (‘REFJA’) is based on the UK Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933. In 2019, the government amended the REFJA in significant ways (previously detailed here), expanding its scope to include the registration of judgments from non-superior courts of gazetted countries, judicial settlements, non-money judgments and interlocutory judgments. At the same time, the RECJA was repealed from a date to be determined by the government.
That date has now (very nearly) arrived. The RECJA will be repealed on 1 March 2023. When the REFJA was amended in 2019, the intention at that time was to transfer over the countries gazetted under the RECJA gradually to the newly amended REFJA, with negotiations conducted on a country-by-country basis to determine what reciprocal arrangements would be suitable in each case. Only HK SAR has ever been gazetted under the REFJA. On 1 March 2023, it will be joined by Brunei Darussalam, Australia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (see here). These countries were previously gazetted under the RECJA. An omission is the Windward Islands, which does not appear in the new list. The list now also includes all the States of India; previously the State of Jammu and Kashmir was excluded under the RECJA.
Of particular note, however, is that the terms of the reciprocal arrangements generally remain the same as under the RECJA. Only money judgments rendered by the listed courts of the gazetted countries which are final and conclusive between the parties can be registered under the REFJA. Clearly, the full promise of the REFJA – with its potential for a wider range of foreign judgments to be registered under its scope – will have to be realised another day.