Registration of foreign judgments in Hong Kong

Foreign judgments can be enforced in Hong Kong by one of two means:

  1. Through the Statutory Registration Scheme; or
  2. At common law

Statutory Registration Scheme

Hong Kong has signed reciprocal enforcement agreements with a number of countries, allowing for the enforcement of judgments between jurisdictions with greater ease and lower costs. It is to the enforcement of judgments between Hong Kong and these countries that the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance, Cap. 319 (the “Ordinance”) applies.

Under the Ordinance, a party seeking to enforce a foreign judgment must make an ex parte application to a Master of the Court of First Instance of the High Court by affidavit. The master may order that a summons be issued to provide the judgment debtor with an opportunity to be heard.

In order to have a foreign judgment registered, certain conditions must be met, including:

  1. The application must be made within 6 years of the date of the original judgment;
  2. The judgment must not have been wholly satisfied;
  3. If the judgment has been satisfied in part as at the date of registration, the judgment shall be registered only in respect of the balance remaining payable at that date;
  4. The judgment must be enforceable by execution in the country of the original court;
  5. Where the judgment debt is expressed in a currency other than HKD, the judgment shall be registered as if it were a judgment in HKD on the basis of the exchange rate as at the date of registration;
  6. If the judgment is given in parts, the Court can exclude any parts of the judgment if those parts are deemed unregistrable, without having effect on those parts that are registerable;
  7. Interest is payable on the registered judgment; and
  8. In addition to the amount payable under the judgment including interest pursuant to the rates of the original court becomes due up to the date of registration, the judgment shall be registered for the reasonable costs of and incidental to registration, including the costs of obtaining a certified copy.

After registration of the judgment the defendant/s will be notified of the registration. Once the foreign judgment is registered, it can be enforced in the same way as a Hong Kong judgment.

Common Law

There are a number of countries with which Hong Kong has no mutual enforcement agreement, including the United States of America, Japan, and since the handover in 1997, the United Kingdom.

Where a party is seeking to enforce a judgment with one of the countries to which the Ordinance does not apply, they must do so by initiating fresh proceedings at common law.

This involves issuing a Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim attaching the original judgment as proof of the debt. The proceedings then run as any other enforcement of debt matter would.


Pamela Mak

For further information, please contact:

Pamela Mak
Partner | Email

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