Favourable Decision Related To Enforcing Foreign Judgments Via Winding Up

The recent High Court decision in Re a Company [2024] EWHC 1070 (Ch) has significant implications for creditors seeking to enforce foreign judgment debts through winding up petitions in England. The Court’s ruling addressed whether any limitation period under English law could prevent the presentation of such petitions. This article explores the case details, the court’s reasoning, and the broader impact on creditors and debt recovery processes.

Case Background

In the case, a creditor sought to present a winding up petition against a debtor based on a judgment debt of approximately USD 776,907 obtained in the Lebanese Courts in 2010. The debtor contested the petition, arguing that the debt was time-barred under English law and that it had not been registered or recognised as an English judgment.

Key Legal Issues

The court had to consider two primary issues:

  1. Whether the Lebanese judgment debt could form the basis of a winding up petition without being registered or recognised as an English judgment.
  2. Whether any limitation period under English law applied to prevent the presentation of the winding up petition.

Court’s Decision

The High Court ruled in favour of the creditor on both counts. It held that a foreign judgment debt could indeed form the basis of a winding up petition under English common law, even without being registered or recognised in the English courts. This aligns with the decision in Re Drelle v Servis-Terminal LLC [2024] EWHC 521 (Ch), which established that foreign judgments could be treated as debts for the purposes of insolvency proceedings without the need for additional formalities.

Regarding the limitation period, the court determined that insolvency proceedings such as winding up petitions are not classified as ‘actions on a judgment’ under section 24 of the Limitation Act 1980. This section imposes a six-year limitation period for actions to enforce judgments. However, the Court clarified that this limitation does not extend to insolvency proceedings, meaning there is no statutory time bar preventing the presentation of a winding up petition based on a foreign judgment debt.

The judge stated: 

“There is no necessity to obtain an English judgment to found a winding up Petition. The debt is incontrovertibly owed. There has not been satisfaction of the debt. The failure to pay the debt is of itself an act of insolvency, so the underlying solvency of the Applicant is not relevant to my considerations.”

Implications for Creditors

The ruling provides greater flexibility for creditors holding foreign judgment debts, allowing them to bypass the need for registration or recognition under English law. This can expedite the enforcement process and reduce associated legal costs.

Creditors can present winding up petitions based on foreign judgment debts regardless of when the original judgment was obtained. This is particularly beneficial for creditors with older debts that might otherwise be considered time-barred under typical enforcement actions.

The decision also clarifies the application of the Limitation Act 1980 in the context of insolvency proceedings, providing a more precise legal framework for creditors and insolvency practitioners.

Practical Considerations

Creditors seeking to leverage this ruling should consider the following practical steps:

  • Ensure all documentation related to the foreign judgment is thorough and accurate. This includes the original judgment, any appeals, and evidence of attempts to collect the debt.
  • Engage with legal experts familiar with cross-border debt recovery and insolvency law to navigate the complexities of presenting a winding up petition based on a foreign judgment.
  • While there is no statutory limitation period, early action is advisable to maximise recovery chances and reduce the debtor’s risk of dissipating assets.


The High Court’s decision in Re a Company [2024] EWHC 1070 (Ch) marks a significant development in enforcing foreign judgment debts in England. By confirming that no limitation period applies to winding up petitions based on such debts, the ruling enhances creditors’ ability to recover outstanding amounts through insolvency proceedings. This decision underscores the importance of understanding the nuances of cross-border insolvency law and reinforces the need for strategic legal guidance in debt recovery efforts.

Creditors must stay informed about such legal developments and proactively manage their debt portfolios to leverage favourable rulings. Because we are backed by a highly-respected full service law firm, the team at Debt Claims Solicitors has robust oversight across all new legislation and case law relating to creditors and their rights.

To find out more about how Debt-Claims Solicitors can assist your business, contact us today or call us on 02475 461 042.

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