News and Publications

Enforcement of judgments from the United Kingdom in civil and commercial matters in Greece

Posted: 10/05/2024


Prior to the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit), the enforcement of UK judgments in Greece was exclusively governed by the so-called ‘European Regime’ provided for in Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 (known as the ‘Recast Brussels Regulation’). The regulation, which started to apply to EU member states on 10 January 2015, provides a simplified enforcement regime that applies in the EU, without requiring a prior ‘exequatur’ procedure for the foreign judgments to be enforced in Greece.

Following Brexit on 31 January 2020 and the end of the Brexit transitional period on 31 December 2020 (as provided for in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement), the regulation ceased to apply to the UK. For EU member states, including Greece, the UK is now a third country when it comes to the recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments. 

This article gives a brief overview of the new regime for the recognition and enforcement of UK judgments in Greece, depending on the date the underlying proceedings were issued before the UK courts.

Proceedings instituted in the UK before 31 December 2020

Pursuant to article 67.2 of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, the Recast Brussels Regulation continues to apply to decisions issued in relation to underlying legal proceedings initiated before 31 December 2020 (ie the end of the transitional period). Therefore, for enforcement purposes what is relevant is the date on which the underlying proceedings were initiated in the state of origin, rather than the time at which the enforcement proceedings are initiated in the state of recognition. 

For these judgments, no exequatur (ie recognition and declaration of enforceability proceedings) is required to be issued for their enforcement in Greece.

The party wishing to enforce the judgment should:

  • obtain a certificate from the UK court, in the standard form set out in annex 1 to the Recast Brussels Regulation (article 53);
  • serve the judgment, certificate and translations on the debtor; and
  • enforce the judgment as if it were a Greek judgment.

A debtor wishing to challenge enforcement is entitled to submit an application for refusal of enforcement (together with an application to suspend enforcement if it wishes so) pursuant to article 48 of the Recast Brussels Regulation, before the single member court of first instance of the place of residence of the debtor. Among the most important grounds for refusal of enforcement are the following:

  • when the judgment is manifestly contrary to public policy;
  • when the decision was issued in default of appearance if the defendant was not served with the document initiating the proceedings, or with an equivalent document in sufficient time, and in such a way as to enable him/her to prepare a defence, unless the defendant failed to challenge the judgment when it was possible to do so;
  • when the judgment is irreconcilable with another judicial decision between the same parties, or a previous judicial decision in a third country with the same cause of action and between the same parties.

Proceedings instituted in the UK after December 31, 2020

The Hague Choice of Court Convention (2005)
The EU acceded to the Hague Convention (HCCC) on 1 October 2015. Following Brexit, the UK ratified the convention on 1 January 2021. There is a disagreement between the EU and the UK as to the effective date of entry into force of the HCCC for the UK. According to the UK, this convention applies to contracts with an exclusive choice of court agreement in favour of the UK entered into after 1 October 2015, whereas according to the EU, it applies to contracts with an exclusive jurisdiction agreement in favour of the UK courts entered into after 1 January 2021. There is currently no case law in Greece interpreting the above point, however, it is expected that Greek courts would follow the EU’s viewpoint, and therefore apply the HCCC only for agreements postdating 1 January 2021.

An added layer of difficulty with the HCCC is that the exequatur procedure is not abolished. The HCCC provides that the exequatur procedure remains governed by the law of the state from which recognition/enforcement is requested.

The HCCC is also narrower in scope than the Recast Brussels Regulation and the Lugano Convention (see below), but does go some way to ensuring jurisdiction clauses are respected and relevant judgments enforced within member states.

National law
It therefore becomes relevant to examine the requirements of the Greek law for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments either under the HCCC regime or outside its scope. For underlying proceedings instituted in the UK after the transitional period, the latter will be recognised and enforced in Greece in accordance with the provisions of the Greek Code of Civil Procedure (GCCP) (as for any third country). The relevant provisions can be found in articles 323, 780 and 905 of the GCCP.

Recognition and enforcement require the applicant to submit an application before the single member court of first instance of the place of residence of the debtor. The Greek court will examine the following criteria:

(a) the judgment is enforceable according to the law of the state of origin;

(b) under Greek law, the court that issued the foreign judgment had jurisdiction to hear the case;

(c) the defeated party was not deprived of the right to defend themselves and in general to participate in the proceedings, unless deprivation is due to a legal provision that also applies to the nationals of the state of origin;

(d) the judgment is not contrary to a judgment of a Greek court that was between the same litigants and regarding the same case; and

(e) the judgment is not contrary to good morals or Greek public order.

Along with the application for declaration of enforceability of a foreign judgment, the claimant must submit with the Greek court: 

(a)    the foreign judgment or a certified copy thereof apostilled or duly legalised and certified translations thereof; 

(b)    evidence (for example a certificate) issued by the state of origin proving that the judgment is enforceable according to the laws of the state of origin and certified translation in Greek thereof. 

The defendant is entitled to appeal the first instance judgment. In such a case, the defendant can apply for interim relief by requesting the suspension of the enforcement proceedings, until the decision on the appeal is issued. 

Future steps or just wishful thinking?

The 2007 Lugano Convention
The Lugano Convention establishes a substantially similar framework to the Recast Brussels Regulation for the enforcement of judgments between EU and EFTA states (including Iceland, Switzerland and Norway). The EU has ratified this convention since 18 May 2009. The UK applied to accede to the Lugano Convention in April 2020. Acceding to the Lugano Convention requires unanimous consent from all parties, including the EU. 

However, the EU has refused to provide its consent to the UK’s application. Therefore, the simplified regime of the Lugano Convention will not be applicable for the enforcement of UK judgments in Greece. It is doubtful whether the EU will ease its stance in this respect.

The 2019 Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters
On 1 September 2023, the 2019 Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (the ‘2019 Hague Convention’) entered into force in Greece, following the EU’s accession to the 2019 Hague Convention in July 2022. On 12 January 2024, the UK signed the 2019 Hague Convention which will enter into force in the UK a year after it deposits an instrument of ratification.

The 2019 Hague Convention is wider in its scope compared to the HCCC and its purpose is to facilitate the recognition and enforcement of a judgment between contracting states by harmonising conditions for exequatur and excluding review of the merits of the foreign judgment (regardless of whether an exclusive choice-of-court agreement is in place).

Like the HCCC, the exequatur procedure is governed by the law of the state in which recognition/enforcement is sought. 

Therefore, the UK’s accession to the HCCC and recent signing of the 2019 Hague Convention is unlikely to bring its judicial cooperation with the EU back up to pre-Brexit level.

Law 730/1937

Greece and the UK entered into a bilateral agreement on 27 February 1936, ratified by Law No 730/1937 that provides for mutual cooperation in civil matters (eg, service of documents). However, this agreement does not contain provisions for the recognition and enforcement of judgments and it is doubtful whether such a treaty can be extended to the enforcement of judgments on a bilateral level in the post-Brexit era. 


Brexit has made the recognition and enforcement of judgments originating from the UK less straightforward, more costly and time-consuming. Local law advice should be sought before a party takes steps to enforce a UK judgment in Greece.

Related articles

Arrow GIFReturn to news headlines

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP