Feb 2024

Jersey

Law Over Borders Comparative Guide:

Commercial Litigation and Cross-border Enforcement

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1 . What is the structure and organisation of local courts dealing with commercial claims? What are the main procedural rules governing commercial litigation?

In the context of commercial litigation, most disputes will be resolved before the Royal Court of Jersey. The Royal Court is Jersey’s principal and superior court.[1] It has original and unlimited jurisdiction (equivalent to the English High Court).[2]

The constitution and procedure of the Royal Court in civil matters is principally regulated by the Royal Court (Jersey) Law 1948 and the Royal Court Rules 2004 (as amended) (RCR). The RCR are supplemented by “Practice Directions” issued by the Royal Court, which all parties conducting litigation in Jersey must have regard to. 

The Royal Court has four Divisions: 

  • heritage (dealing with land disputes);
  • probate (dealing with succession disputes); 
  • family (dealing with family and matrimonial disputes); and
  • samedi (dealing with all other matters).[3]

In practice, however, these divisions have common judicial personnel, except for certain family division registrars. 

As the customary law court with original and unlimited jurisdiction, the Royal Court has “inherent jurisdiction” which is not limited to that conferred expressly by the RCR.[4] This inherent jurisdiction of the Royal Court is generally called upon as a residual source of powers to be used when it is just, equitable and necessary to do so.[5] Commonly, the court’s inherent jurisdiction is invoked in relation to matters of case management and/or procedure. 

Should the parties be minded to appeal the decision of the Royal Court, in respect of substantive decisions, there is generally a right of appeal to the Jersey Court of Appeal; in respect of procedural decisions, leave to appeal must first be sought and granted.[6] Judges of the Court of Appeal tend to be drawn from the bench and/or bars of England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and/or the Isle of Man, although current or former judges from other Commonwealth jurisdictions may be appointed, too.[7] The applicable rules of civil procedure are the Court of Appeal (Jersey) Law 1961 and the Court of Appeal (Civil) Rules 1964. 

There is the possibility of onward appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, being Jersey’s apex Court (as well as the apex Court for the other Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories and certain independent Commonwealth countries).[8] However, leave to appeal must be granted either by the Court of Appeal, or by the Privy Council itself.[9]

Finally, the parallel existence of the Petty Debts Court (PDC) must be noted. The PDC has non-exclusive jurisdiction in respect of small civil claims up to a value of GBP 30,000.[10] It also has jurisdiction and specialisation as the court dealing with landlord and tenant matters.[11] The relevant procedural rules can be found in the Petty Debts Court Rules 2018 and the Petty Debts Court Practice Direction PD 18/01. Where a claim is close to the PDC upper limit of GBP 30,000, a plaintiff may find it strategic to commence proceedings in the PDC rather than the Royal Court as there are often time and cost savings when pursuing a claim before the PDC instead of the Royal Court; further, where proceedings are afoot in the PDC, the parties may avail themselves of the PDC’s free mediation service.[12]


[1] The Royal Court of Jersey is the Island’s “customary law court with original and unlimited jurisdiction”: Holden, R, “Offshore Civil Procedure” (Sweet & Maxwell, 2016), at paragraph JA0.2 (page 335).

[2] Holden, R, “Offshore Civil Procedure” (Sweet & Maxwell, 2016), at paragraph JA0.2 (page 335). The position may be summed up by the maxim, “La Cour est toute puissante” (“The Court is all-powerful”, or, less literally, “The Court is master of its own procedure”). Additionally, it is to be noted that Jersey does not (strictly speaking) apply the concept of binding precedent in the English sense (so the Royal Court is “toute puissante” in another sense, too), although the position is nuanced: “What has been argued here is that a system of binding precedent is more likely to confound a rational and efficient expounding of Jersey and Guernsey law. It makes no sense to treat foreign decisions as binding, but it equally makes no sense to import a system of local binding precedent into a system which is often trying its best to apply “borrowed” law rather than create anything local. Further, where local law is truly at stake, the Royal Courts have a function of informing the higher courts of local social, economic and legal concerns. The higher we move up the judicial hierarchy, the more remote the courts are from those issues, so that the more they would benefit from the sort of correction that the British courts often offer to the European Court of Human Rights.” (Per Dixon, Dennis [2020] “Binding Precedent in the Channel Islands” 1 Jersey & Guernsey Law Review 58, at paragraph 62 (page 75)). 

[3] RCR 3/1. 

[4] Jones v. AG [2000 JLR 103], 110: “The rationale for the existence of the power is the court’s invocation of an implied power to do something which is ancillary to that which the court has an explicit power to do.”

[5] Mayo Associates SA v. Cantrade Private Bank Switzerland [1998 JLR 173], 188: “The vital clue to the nature of the inherent jurisdiction in its procedural setting […] is necessity. The Court has a particular procedural power because it has to have it to be a court in any meaningful sense. On this basis [various powers] may be recognised as derived from a single pool, not of powers, but of power drawn upon as necessity dictates.”

[6] Court of Appeal (Jersey) Law 1961, Article 13(1). 

[7] Court of Appeal (Jersey) Law 1961, Article 2.

[8] Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Practice Direction 1, paragraph 1.1.

[9] Court of Appeal (Jersey) Law 1961, Article 14. It was noted (in 2004) that “One question which will no doubt have to be considered in years to come is whether two tiers of appeal, (with all the expense and delay which can be occasioned by the second tier), are appropriate for a small island community of 85 – 90,000 citizens” — while the Island's population has grown in the following decades, this question is still of relevance: Southwell KC, Richard, “The Sources of Jersey Law” in Bailhache, Philip (Ed), “A Celebration of Autonomy 1204-2004: 800 Years of Channel Islands Law” (Jersey Law Review, 2005), at page 37. 

[10] Petty Debts Court Practice Direction PD 18/01, page 3. 

[11] Ibid.

[12] Petty Debts Court Practice Direction PD 18/01, page 15.

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2 . What pre-action considerations apply?

Prior to commencing any legal action before the Royal Court of Jersey, potential litigants need to comply with the pre-action requirements stipulated in Practice Direction 17/01 (PD 17/01). PD17/01 applies to all disputes “other than applications for injunctive relief made without notice to a potential defendant, applications for directions pursuant to the Trusts (Jersey) Law 1984 (as amended), administrative appeals and judicial review”.[13]

PD 17/01 requires the following by way of pre-action steps.

  1. A prospective plaintiff must issue a claim letter to a proposed defendant, which must include, amongst other things, a summary of the facts and legal basis of each claim being made.[14]
  2. A defendant must acknowledge receipt of the claim letter within 14 days of receipt, failing which the plaintiff may commence proceedings with no further need to comply with PD 17/04.[15]
  3. If the defendant wishes to provide a substantive response to the claim letter, they will have a further 14 days (or up to three months in complex cases) to do so.[16] 
  4. If the defendant’s response contains a counterclaim or allegation of contributory negligence, the plaintiff must respond within 14 days (or within six weeks in complex cases).[17]
  5. The parties must thereafter consider the possibility of the dispute being resolved by alternative dispute resolution (e.g. mediation) rather than court proceeding.[18]
  6. If no settlement is reached and proceedings are commenced, the court may take into account the extent to which each party took reasonable steps to comply with the requirements of PD 17/01.[19]

Failure to comply with PD 17/01 may lead to adverse cost orders being made against the party in question.[20]

It should be noted that similar considerations apply in respect of claims brought before the PDC.[21]


[13] PD 17/01, paragraph 1. It has been said that the introduction of the pre-action protocol is directly linked to the introduction of the so-called “overriding objective” in Jersey: Thompson, Matthew [2018] “Is there a “Woolf” in Jersey?” 1 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 45, at paragraph 34 (page 51). 

[14] PD 17/01paragraph 7.

[15] Ibid, paragraph 8.

[16] Ibid, paragraph 14.

[17] Ibid, paragraph 19.

[18] Ibid, paragraph 21.

[19] Ibid, paragraph 23.

[20] Ibid, paragraph 24. Indeed, “This practice direction should not become a battleground as to whether or not its requirements have been met. Rather, any consequence of non-compliance will most likely arise at the conclusion of any trial. In particular non-compliance may arise at an application for costs where a party’s case turns out to be materially different without justification from that set out in the claim letter or response to the claim letter. It may also arise on procedural applications, again where a material change of case occurs. Any material change of position will therefore have to be explained” per Thompson, Matthew [2018] “Is there a “Woolf” in Jersey?” 1 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 45, at paragraph 36 (page 51). 

[21] Petty Debts Court Practice Direction PD 18/01, pages 6 and 7. 

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3 . What are the main alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods used to settle large commercial disputes?

Mediation is easily the most popular method of ADR in Jersey. The court may stay proceedings to allow for ADR.[22] The court’s procedural rules provide that it may stay proceedings at the invitation of the parties, or of its own motion.[23]

However, other forms of ADR exist. Arbitration, for example, is well-understood (see Question 9 below) and the Royal Court is familiar with applications to stay proceedings pending arbitration[24] and/or enforcing arbitral awards in Jersey (see Question 15 below). 

ADR is encouraged. The court may not specifically order the parties to commit to ADR. However, any party unreasonably refusing to do so can expect that refusal to be taken into account by the court when determining costs.[25]

Given the size of Jersey’s legal market, the parties will usually look to England and Wales to find a mediator (as that jurisdiction has a large resource of experienced and unconflicted mediators). Mediations will take place in a location convenient for the parties, which may be on island or wherever else in the world is most convenient for the parties. 


[22] RCR 6/28. Also see Thompson, Matthew [2018] “Is there a “Woolf” in Jersey?” 1 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 45, at paragraph 49 (page 53). 

[23] Ibid.

[24] Re Shinhan Securities Co Ltd [2022] JRC 293, [90] was a recent decision highlighting the interaction between insolvency issues and arbitration, emphasising judicial policy to act in support of arbitral proceedings where appropriate. Also see, generally: Tan, Christopher [2020] “Cross-Border Insolvency and Arbitration” 3 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 316. 

[25] See, for example, PD 17/01, paragraph 23(c); Manley v. Bell [2007 JLR Note-20].

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4 . How long, on average, do court proceedings take to reach trial?

While each case would turn on its own facts, the Royal Court of Jersey aims to deal with disputes “expeditiously and fairly”, in line with its overriding objective “to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost”.[26]

Judges will make themselves available to deal with urgent application, such as for ex parte injunctive relief, at relatively short notice. Simpler disputes requiring hearings of one day or less can generally be scheduled fairly quickly; however, it may take a matter of months rather than weeks to schedule more complex, longer hearings. Complex proceedings can take several years to reach trial. 


[26] RCR 1/6(1) and RCR 1/6(2)(d). In this regard, it was observed (in 2014) that ordinary individuals residing in Jersey may be deterred from bringing claims before the Royal Court due to, inter alia, uncertainty as to how long it might take for the matter to be resolved in Court: Thompson, Matthew [2018] “Is there a “Woolf” in Jersey?” 1 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 45, at paragraphs 4 and 5 (page 46). Since then, however, a number of changes have taken place — including the explicit introduction of the so-called “overriding objective”. 

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5 . What disclosure obligations apply? Are parties required to disclose unhelpful documents as well as those on which they rely?

In Jersey, the Royal Court has a wide discretion in relation to discovery.[27] To the extent relevant to the issues pleaded, parties are generally expected “to furnish any other party with a list of the documents which are or have been in his or her possession, custody or power relating to any matter in question in the cause or matter and to verify such list by affidavit”.[28]

In Jersey, a document is generally understood to be relevant where it “relates to the matters in question in the action, which not only would be evidence upon any issue, but also which, it is reasonable to suppose, contains information which may — not which must — either directly or indirectly enable the party requiring the affidavit either to advance his own case or to damage the case of his adversary”.[29] This is, intentionally, wider than the test for relevance generally applied in England today.[30]

While parties must provide discovery of all relevant documents, a party may assert privilege over a document such that no other party may then inspect that document.[31] The Jersey law on privilege generally follows the English position.[32] An example of privilege is legal advice privilege which applies to documents which: (1) are confidential; (2) passed directly between client and lawyer; and (3) were created for the dominant purpose of obtaining or giving advice on the client’s legal rights and obligations.[33] Another would be litigation privilege, which covers documents made for the “sole or dominant purpose of advising in relation to or seeking evidence or information” in connection with litigation.[34]

Finally, it is to be noted that it is possible to oblige third parties to provide discovery of relevant documents. One example of this is Norwich Pharmacal orders.[35] In Jersey, the court will grant such discovery to the extent necessary to prevent a denial of justice to the applicant: where disclosure is sought from a party who is alleged to have become innocently mixed up in wrongdoing, the critical question is whether justice requires discovery to be ordered.[36]


[27] RCR 6/17.

[28] RCR 6/17(1).

[29] Compagnie Financiere du Pacifique v. Peruvian Guano Co (1882) 11 QBD 55, 63. 

[30] Victor Hanby Associates Ltd & Another v. Oliver [1990] JCA 166, 183. While the Peruvian Guano standard is no longer the norm in England, it is noted that it remains of some relevance in that jurisdiction. See, for example: Peacocke, Teresa Rosen [2015], “Differential Discovery” 64 Commercial Litigation Journal 10. 

[31] RCR 6/17(3), (4). 

[32] Bene Ltd v. VAR Hanson & Partners [1997 JLR Note-10a].

[33] Ibid. In relation to litigation privilege (as well as various aspects of civil procedure more generally), Jersey has regard to English practice. It is noted that leading English authorities in this arena include the UK House of Lords decision in Three Rivers District Council v. Bank of England [2004] UKHL 48. 

[34] Ibid. This test originates from the UK House of Lords decision in Waugh v. British Railways Board [1980] AC 521. 

[35] Named after UK House of Lords decision of Norwich Pharmacal Co v. Customs & Excise Commissioners [1974] AC 133. 

[36] Macdoel Investments Ltd v. Federal Republic of Brazil [2007 JLR 201], [47] and [54].

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6 . Can witnesses be required to attend trial and face cross-examination?

Where a party calls a witness, it is normal practice for the witness to file a witness statement by affidavit in the first instance.[37] However, “evidence of witnesses shall be proved by the examination of the witnesses orally and in open court”.[38] Accordingly, advocate(s) for any other party may cross-examine that witness.[39] If a witness fails to appear for cross-examination, the court still may have regard to their (affidavit) evidence[40] but, typically, less weight will be given to their evidence.[41]

In civil litigation, information from third parties is generally only obtainable by summoning those third parties to attend as witnesses to produce documents pursuant to a subpoena duces tecum. The subpoena duces tecum can be used to compel a third party to provide documents within their control[42], as well as, where appropriate, take to the stand as a witness.[43] The witness summons must comply with the following requirements: 

  • it must be addressed to a named individual; 
  • the documents sought must be identified, in the actual possession or custody of the recipient, relevant to the issues in the action, and admissible; 
  • the request must not be beyond what is reasonably necessary; and 
  • production must be necessary to dispose of the action fairly.[44] 

[37] RCR 6/20(2)(a). 

[38] RCR 6/20(1). 

[39] RCR 6/20(3); Pacific Investments Ltd v. Christiansen [1997 JLR 170], 174-175. 

[40] RCR 6/20(4B). 

[41] For a whistlestop, Anglo-American overview of such issues, see generally: Jackson, John D [1998], “Hearsay: The Sacred Cow that won't be Slaughtered?” 2(3) International Journal of Evidence and Proof 166. 

[42] Pacific Invs Ltd v. Christensen & Ors [1996 JLR Notes-7a]. This approach was formerly used in England, although the position in that jurisdiction has, in some ways, moved on following the so-called “Woolf reforms”. While some consider the “traditional” approach to the subpoena/witness summons to be unduly restrictive, there are important policy reasons for applying a certain level of rigour: Cockerill, Sara KC [2015] “'Individual Documents Separately Described' – Is the End of the Subpoena Test in Sight?” 34(4) Civil Justice Quarterly 366, at pages 366 to 368. 

[43] P v. C [2002 JLR Notes-26].

[44] Ibid. Per Pacific Investments Ltd v. Christiansen [1996] JRC 90, 2, an example of an acceptable form of wording would be: “I notify you to appear before the Royal Court at Royal Court House, Royal Square, St Helier, Jersey JE1 1DD on [date] and from day to day thereafter until the end of the hearing, at the instance of [party] to give evidence in the above-named action and to bring with you and produce at the place aforesaid on the day notified to you the following documents…”

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7 . What discretion do the courts have in making costs orders?

Responsibility for paying the costs of litigation

The court has wide discretion over who pays the costs of litigation.[45] However, the general rule is that the unsuccessful party pays the winner’s costs.[46] Costs awards can be made in respect of all costs incurred during the litigation (i.e., legal fees and disbursements).

Costs will be subject to taxation by the court (the court’s cost assessment exercise) if the parties cannot agree them.[47] From general observation, the taxation process usually results in an award of between 55% and 70% of the costs incurred by the unsuccessful party depending on the circumstances of the case. 

Factors considered when awarding costs

When awarding costs, the court will typically consider the parties’ conduct and any offers made.[48]

The usual costs award is costs payable by the unsuccessful party on the standard basis (on which the receiving party must prove the reasonableness of costs claimed).[49] Less commonly, costs may be awarded on the indemnity basis (on which the paying party must disprove the reasonableness of costs claimed)[50] if the conduct of one of the parties is particularly egregious. 

There is no formal regime for automatic costs consequences on making an offer (equivalent to the English “Part 36” offer) but the court may take into account any offers made to settle the matter before trial.[51] In practice, these would usually have been made on a “without prejudice save as to costs” basis, meaning that they cannot be used at a trial on the merits but they can be seen by the court when it determines the question of costs.


[45] MB & Services Ltd v. Golovina & Anor [2020] JRC 099, [15], citing with approval Watkins v. Egglishaw [2002] JLR 1 and Flynn v. Reid [2012 (2) JLR 226], both of which in turn cited with approval In Re Elgindata Limited (No 2) [1992] 1 WLR 1207 at 1213 per Nourse LJ.

[46] Ibid.

[47] RCR 12/3. 

[48] MB & Services Ltd v. Golovina & Anor [2020] JRC 099, [15]. Also see, generally: Hanson, Timothy [2008] “Finding Costs Taxing: Issues Raised in the Internine Trust Case” 3 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 1; and Hanson, Timothy [2014] “Reforming Jersey's Royal Court Rules: Lessons from the CPR” 2 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 1. 

[49] RCR 12/2(1); RCR 12/4.

[50] RCR 12/5; MB & Services Ltd v. Golovina & Anor [2020] JRC 099, [15].

[51] Pell Frischmann Engineering Ltd v. Bow Valley Iran Ltd & Ors [2007 JLR 479], [23]-[25]. 

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8 . What are the main types of interim remedies available?

A range of interim remedies are available before the Jersey Courts. These include interim injunctions, search orders, freezing orders, pre-action or non-party discovery orders and interim payment orders. As a general proposition, these tend to follow English practice, although certain interim remedies available in this jurisdiction would be unfamiliar to practitioners from other common law jurisdiction.[52]

There are many kinds of interim injunctions. In commercial litigation, interim freezing injunctions are but one well-known example. These are granted on an ex parte basis so as to preserve assets, for example because the plaintiff fears the defendant will remove assets from the Island to make themselves “judgment-proof” or to preserve the status quo.[53] Such freezing orders would need to be confirmed at a later date at an inter partes hearing.[54] These may take the form of an interim arrêt entre mains, which is functionally similar to (although said to be more flexible than) an English third party debt/garnishee order.[55] Such applications should normally be made using standard wording, typically including a cross-undertaking in damages (“comply with any Order that the Court may make as to damages if the Court later finds that this Order has caused loss to the Defendant and decides that the Defendant should be compensated for that loss by the Plaintiff”).[56] Other forms of interim injunctions are available, such as the evocative clameur de haro which relates to the conservation of real property.[57]

Search orders available in Jersey include the so-called Anton Piller order which permits a party to enter a property to seize evidence, although the draconian nature of the relief sought means it is only granted in particularly compelling cases.[58] 

Freezing orders are available in Jersey, as discussed above.[59]

In terms of discovery-related orders, please see Question 6 above in relation to subpoena duces tecum (on non-party discovery)Pre-action discovery may be ordered when, for example, necessary for “policing” an existing freezing order “and ensuring that not only the assets should be traced and held but the appropriate documentary evidence”.[60]

Finally, interim payment orders are available too, such as an interim payment on account of costs to the receiving party following the handing down of a costs order.[61]


[52] Accordingly, in Jersey, often, it would be appropriate to take guidance from leading English texts such as Gee, Steven KC, “Commercial Injunctions” (7th Ed) (Sweet & Maxwell, 2022). 

[53] Johnson Matthey Bankers Ltd v. Arya Holdings Ltd & Anor [1985-86 JLR 208], 213-214. 

[54] Practice Direction 20/12, Standard Wording, final operative paragraph.

[55] FG Hemisphere v. Gecamines & Anor [2010 JLR 484], [13]. 

[56] Practice Direction 20/12, Standard Wording, paragraph 1. 

[57] AG & Anor v. Williams [1968 JJ 991], 992: “raising of the clameur is a very ancient way of instituting legal proceedings and is unique in that it allows a person to obtain an immediate injunction without the assistance or authority of an officer of justice”.

[58] CI and International Law Trust Company Ltd & Ors v. West & Ors [1989 JLR 354], 358.

[59] Johnson Matthey Bankers Ltd v. Arya Holdings Ltd & Anor [1985-86 JLR 208], 23-25. 

[60] Johnson Matthey Bankers Ltd v. Arya Holdings Ltd & Anor [1985-86 JLR 208], 215.

[61] Marange Investments (Proprietary) Ltd v. Gecamines [2013 (2) JLR Note 21].

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9 . What approach do the local courts adopt with respect to arbitration? What arbitration law applies and is it based on the UNCITRAL Model Law?

While arbitration is less common in Jersey than it is in some other jurisdictions, in keeping with Jersey’s constitutional relationship with the UK and the island’s status as a leading offshore jurisdiction, Jersey has adopted the Arbitration (Jersey) Law 1998 (the Arbitration Law). The Arbitration Law is consistent with the New York Convention.[62] 

The Arbitration Law is modelled after the UK Arbitration Act 1950 (since superseded by the Arbitration Act 1996).[63] The Arbitration Law has been amended subsequently. Ultimately, like England and Wales and Northern Ireland, Jersey’s Arbitration Law is not based on the UNCITRAL Model Law — while certain provisions of the Arbitration Law are consistent with the UNCITRAL Model Law, there are also significant differences.[64]


[62] Arbitration Law, Article 41. 

[63] States of Jersey (1999), “Draft Arbitration (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 199-”, page 2. Available online: www.statesassembly.gov.je/assemblypropositions/1999/20581-34042-642006.pdf, last accessed 20 April 2023. 

[64] Departmental Advisory Committee on Arbitration Law (1996), “Report on the Arbitration Bill”, paragraphs 1 to 4. Available online: www.uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/w-004-4914 (paid content, last accessed 20 April 2023). In this regard, while the international harmonisation of legal standards has an inherent value, in England (and, by extension, jurisdictions such as Jersey which, in the field of arbitration, draw upon English jurisprudence), it may conversely be said that “commercial arbitration is a field in which there is a plethora of case law and where the most intrusive features of judicial intervention have been rationally modified by legislation”: Noussia, Kyriaki [2019] “The Arbitration Act 1996: Time for Reform?” 2 Journal of Business Law 140, pages 160-161. 

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10 . Can arbitrators grant interim relief?

By default, an arbitrator may grant interim relief.[65] However, it is open to the parties to vary the relevant arbitration agreement to exclude this possibility.[66] In all cases, one must interpret the terms of the arbitration agreement on the facts.[67]


[65] Arbitration Law, Article 13: “Unless a contrary intention is expressed therein, every arbitration agreement shall, where such a provision is applicable to the reference, be deemed to contain a provision that the arbitrator or umpire may, if the arbitrator or umpire thinks fit, make an interim award, and any reference in this Part to an award includes a reference to an interim award.”

[66] Ibid.

[67] Applying the principle that “la convention fait la loi des parties”, i.e. this is a matter of contractual freedom/interpretation.

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11 . On what grounds can an arbitration award be appealed?

By default, an arbitration award may be appealed “on any question of law”.[68] However, it is necessary to have the consent of all the parties or leave from the court to seek such an appeal.[69] If the parties excluded this right of appeal in the relevant arbitration agreement, then the court will not grant such leave.[70] There is a possibility of onward appeal from the Royal Court to the Court of Appeal.[71]

Parties should also note that, where an arbitration award has been handed down with insufficient reasons (or without reasons at all), the court may order the arbitrator to furnish such reasons.[72] This may serve as a preliminary step prior to seeking leave to appeal the award. 

Parties may also seek to challenge the validity of an arbitral award and/or of the relevant arbitration agreement on the basis of bias or fraud.[73]


[68] Arbitration Law, Article 21(2). 

[69] Arbitration Law, Article 21(3). 

[70] Arbitration Law, Article 23(1).

[71] Arbitration Law, Article 21(7).

[72] Arbitration Law, Article 21(5).

[73] Arbitration Law, Articles 26-27; Degano Ltd v. Houzé Construction Ltd [2012 (1) JLR 150], [40]. 

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12 . What international conventions and agreements on enforcement of judgments or arbitral awards is your jurisdiction a party to?

As mentioned at Question 7 above, arbitration is governed by the Arbitration Law. The Arbitration Law provides that a foreign arbitral award handed down in any country which is a signatory to the New York Convention is enforceable as if it were a domestic award. Jersey has been a party to the New York Convention since 2002.[74]

In addition, the Arbitration Law provides that awards under the Geneva 1927 Convention are also enforceable.[75]

Awards from the International Centre of the Settlement of Investment Disputes are enforceable under the Arbitration (International Investment Disputes) (Jersey) Order 1979, which effectively “imports” the provisions of the UK Arbitration (International Investment Disputes) Act 1966.[76]

In terms of the enforcement of overseas judgments, the Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) (Jersey) Law 1960 (the Reciprocal Enforcement Law) sets out a statutory scheme whereby, on the basis of “reciprocity”[77], a “final and conclusive” non-penal money “judgment of a superior court of a country”[78] which has been designated as falling within the scope of the Reciprocal Enforcement Law may, upon registration, be enforced in Jersey as if it were a domestic judgment.[79] Currently, the Reciprocal Enforcement Law applies to England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Judgments from other jurisdictions (or which otherwise fall outside the scope of the Reciprocal Enforcement Law) may be enforced at common law, typically by starting a fresh action and then seeking summary judgment.[80]

For completeness, it is noted that Jersey is not a party to the Hague Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters. Should the UK become a signatory to the Hague Convention 2019,[81] and as noted by the UK’s Ministry of Justice consultation report, it would be open to Jersey to elect to have the convention extended to the island.[82]


[74] New York Arbitration Convention, “Contracting States”, available online: www.newyorkconvention.org/countries (last accessed 22 April 2023). 

[75] Arbitration Law, Article 35(1)(b). 

[76] Arbitration (International Investment Disputes) (Jersey) Order 1979, Order 2. 

[77] Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) (Jersey) Law 1960, Article 3(1). 

[78] Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) (Jersey) Law 1960, Article 3(2). 

[79] Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) (Jersey) Law 1960, Article 4. 

[80] Brunei Investment Agency & Anor v. Fidelis Nominees Ltd & Ors [2008 JLR 337], [60], which concerned a judgment of the Brunei High Court. 

[81] In this regard, it is noted that both branches of the legal profession in England have unequivocally expressed their support for UK accession to the Hague Convention 2019: English Bar Council, “Bar Council Response to the Ministry of Justice's Consultation on Possible UK Accession to the Hague Convention 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters” (8 February 2023), available online: www.barcouncil.org.uk/uploads/assets/4dd9ddef-c5e4-437f-a5981757e7408c2d/Bar-Council-response-UK-accession-Hague-2019-Convention-8-Feb-2023.pdf (last accessed 29 April 2023); and English Law Society, “Why the UK Should Join the Hague 2019 Convention — Law Society Response” (15 February 2023), available online: www.lawsociety.org.uk/campaigns/consultation-responses/joining-the-hague-convention-2019 (last accessed 29 April 2023). 

[82] UK Ministry of Justice, “Consultation on the Hague Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (Hague 2019)” (15 December 2022), available online: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/hague-convention-of-2-july-2019-on-the-recognition-and-enforcement-of-foreign-judgments-in-civil-or-commercial-matters-hague-2019/consultation-on-the-hague-convention-of-2-july-2019-on-the-recognition-and-enforcement-of-foreign-judgments-in-civil-or-commercial-matters-hague-201 (last accessed 22 April 2023). 

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13 . What types of judgments in commercial matters are enforceable and what types are excluded?

Please refer to Question 12 above.

In respect of judgments from the various jurisdictions of the United Kingdom and the other Crown Dependencies, these may be registered and enforced in Jersey where they are “final and conclusive” non-penal money “judgment of a superior court” of the relevant jurisdiction.[83] So, for example, assuming there is no pending appeal, it is usually straightforward to enforce a judgment of the English High Court providing for the payment of a sum of money as compensation for a breach of contract or in respect of tortious damages. 

As for the enforcement of judgments from other jurisdictions, the enforcement of judgment debts is straightforward – and the court has a discretion to enforce judgments other than money judgments.[84] For example, the Royal Court has recognised and enforced a judgment of the High Court of Brunei Darussalam that shares in certain Jersey companies be transferred from Prince Jefri of Brunei to the government of that country.[85] Judgments from the UK and the other Crown Dependencies which fall outside the scope of the Reciprocal Enforcement Law may also be enforced as a matter of judicial discretion. 

The court has a discretion to refuse to register or enforce a foreign judgment for public policy reasons. However, such a discretion should only be exercised in exceptional circumstances.[86]

Finally, it is to be noted that particular care must be taken, or advice should be sought, in respect of any foreign judgment purporting to determine rights and interests in a Jersey trust and/or which involves cross-border insolvency issues.[87]


[83] Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) (Jersey) Law 1960, Article 3(2). 

[84] Brunei Investment Agency & Anor v. Fidelis Nominees Ltd & Ors [2008 JLR 337], [35].

[85] Brunei Investment Agency & Anor v. Fidelis Nominees Ltd & Ors [2008 JLR 337], [7] and [60].

[86] Dalemont Limited v. Senatorov & Ors [2013] JRC 027, [23]-[25]; Haryanto v. Man [1991] JCA 090, 16-17. 

[87] See, for example: Tan, Christopher [2020], “Cross-Border Insolvency and Arbitration” 3 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 316. 

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14 . What is the process for registration of foreign judgments and arbitral awards?

If a foreign judgment is registrable under the Reciprocal Enforcement Law (see Question 12 above), the judgment creditor must follow the registration procedure under that law. The judgment creditor must apply to the Royal Court for registration within 6 years from the date that judgment was handed down,[88] but a new action is not required. Once the judgment has been registered,[89] a notice must be served on the judgment debtor, who will have an opportunity to apply to set aside the registration before it can be enforced.[90]

For any other foreign judgment, the judgment creditor must begin a fresh action in the Royal Court, relying on the unsatisfied foreign judgment as a cause of action. The Plaintiff would usually be advised to apply for summary judgment i.e. an expedited process.[91] The judgment debtor can oppose the application for summary judgment and/or defend the claim, but there are only limited grounds on which enforcement will be refused and a full factual enquiry is rarely necessary.[92]

As for arbitral awards, foreign Geneva Convention and New York Convention awards may be enforced in Jersey as if they were domestic arbitral awards.[93]


[88] Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) (Jersey) Law 1960, Article 4(1). 

[89] This may be done “on the papers” before the Judicial Greffier (the Royal Court's procedural judge) in chambers: RCR 17/3(g)(i).

[90] The substantive grounds to challenge registration are listed in the Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) (Jersey) Law 1960, Article 6(1).

[91] RCR 7/1. 

[92] See, for example, KHD Humboldt Wedag AG Koln & Ors v. Gecamines [2005 JLR Note 15]. 

[93] Arbitration Law, Articles 36(1) and 42(1). 

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15 . Once the judgment or award is registered, what are the available methods of execution?

The principal methods by which a judgment can be enforced are as follows:

Distraint (by arrêt) against a defendant’s moveable assets via the Viscount (a government officer whose responsibilities include various functions relating to the enforcement of judgments), who can effect a sale of the assets and apply the proceeds in satisfaction of the judgment.[94]

Enforcement of a judicial hypothec. If a defendant owns property in Jersey, a Jersey court judgment can specify that the immovable property must be registered in the Registre Public. This creates a judicial hypothec, enabling the judgment debtor to enforce the judgment against that property using procedures known as “dégrèvement” (for immoveable property) and “réalisation” (for moveable property).[95]

Arrêt entre mains: a procedure with some similarities to a garnishee/third party debt order in England (and also some similarities to a charging order), giving the judgment creditor rights in respect of the judgment debtor’s moveable property currently in the hands of a third partyIn the well-known FG Hemisphere litigation, sums held in Jersey bank accounts (which were in turn owed to an arm of the Congolese State) were subject an arrêt and handed over to the relevant creditors so as to satisfy the debt which they were owed by the Democratic Republic of Congo.[96] 

Although not strictly a method of enforcement, a judgment creditor can also be entitled to apply for the commencement of a collective bankruptcy proceeding against a judgment debtor known as désastre.[97]

Non-monetary judgments are enforceable by the court through committal proceedings and/or procedural and other sanctions, including unless orders.[98]

Although not straightforward, assets held within trust structures may be (indirectly) subject to enforcement where seeking to enforce an overseas judgment against a trust beneficiary.[99]


[94] RCR 11/3 and RCR 11/4. 

[95] See, for example, Re Alfafa Investment Ltd [2020 (1) JLR 96]. 

[96] FG Hemisphere v. Gecamines & Anor [2010 JLR 484], [13]. For a fuller exposition on the arrêt entre mains, see: Holden, Richard [2012] “Arrested and Charged — FG Hemisphere and the Proprietary Effect of the Arrêt Entre Mains” 3 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 209. 

[97] Bankruptcy (Désastre) (Jersey) Law 1990, Article 3(1)(a). 

[98] Leeds Utd FC Ltd v. Admatch [2013 (1) JLR Note 12].

[99] See, for example, Re Fountain Trust [2005 JLR 359], [31]. Also see, generally: Holden, Richard [2021] “Arrested Development: Enforcement Against a Discretionary Trust” 3 Jersey and Guernsey Law Review 330.

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16 . What interim measures are available pending enforcement?

The Royal Court has an inherent jurisdiction to grant interim relief in support of the enforcement of judgments, and does so regularly.[100] Interim relief includes freezing injunctions to prevent the dissipation of assets (the arrêt procedure (see Question 8) may also be available as an alternative). A judgment creditor can also seek a caveat in respect of Jersey immoveable property (which would restrict that party’s ability to dispose of the property without reference to the caveator).[101]

There are currently no codified provisions in Jersey to examine a judgment debtor. However, as required, the court will grant disclosure orders to assist in identifying assets against which enforcement can be made, and to assist in policing freezing injunctions.[102] Disclosure orders have been made against third parties, although the juridical basis for these orders remains unclear. Despite the lack of a codified examination procedure, it is possible that the court may order the cross-examination of a judgment debtor to police either a freezing order or a free-standing disclosure order. Please refer to Question 6 above on the subpoena duces tecum

Each of the above interim remedies must be sought by application to the court, which in most cases (applying judicial precedent) has discretion whether to order the relief sought in the circumstances of the case.


[100] See, for example, Leeds Utd Association FC & Anor v. Admatch [2011 JLR Note 36], which concerned the ordering of disclosure to assist enforcement of the judgment debt. More generally, ENRC NV v. Zamin Ferrous Limited [2015] JRC 217 represents a recent restatement of applicable principles. 

[101] Devy v. Taylor & Anor [2011 JLR Note 37].

[102] Dalemont Ltd v. Senatrov & Ors [2012 (1) JLR 108], [27]. 

EXPERT ANALYSIS

Chapters

Bermuda

Charlotte Donnelly
Keith Robinson
Mahogany Bean

British Virgin Islands

Kate Lan
Nicholas Lee
James Noble

Canada

Robert J.C. Deane
Sean Gallagher

Cayman Islands

Amelia Tan
Joni Khoo
James Noble

China

Jessica Fei

England and Wales

Ben Bruton
Jake White
Suzanne Labi

Germany

Dr. Justus Jansen
Jamsched Amiri

Guernsey

Elaine Gray
Rebekah Johnston
Robin Gist

Hong Kong

Ian De Witt
Natalie Lam

Japan

Claire Chong
Kaori Sugimoto

Malaysia

Janice Ooi Huey Peng
Sharon Chong Tze Ying

Norway

Carl E. Roberts
Eline Hellem Langeland

Pakistan

Mansoor Hassan Khan

Saudi Arabia

Fahad AlDehais AlMalki
Salman AlAnazi
Talal AlOtaibi

Singapore

Calvin Ong
Monisha Cheong
Wendy Lin
Josephine Choo

South Korea

Daniel Chua
SeungMin Lee
Youjoun Ha

Taiwan

Angela Y. Lin
Joyce N. Chang

Thailand

Jittipong Champreechar
Napassorn Panitchewakul
Sarocha Thongperm

United Arab Emirates

Ayman Ibrahim
Hassan Al Shaqsi
Nasser Al Osaiba
Sleiman Jorr

United States

Arthur Schoen
Julia Mano Johnson
Natalie Holden

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