1 Legal and judicial framework
1.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?
The procedures for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Greece depend on where such judgments originated, and may be effected under:
- EU laws and regulations, where the judgment has been issued in an EU member state;
- international conventions and bilateral treaties between Greece and non-EU countries; or
- the domestic legislation governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Greece (ie, the relevant provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure).
Where EU regulations or international conventions and bilateral treaties are applicable, these instruments supersede the national provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure.
With respect to judgments rendered by the courts of EU member states:
- EU Regulation 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Recast Brussels Regulation) applies to EU judgments issued on or after 10 January 2015; and
- its predecessor, the Brussels Regulation (EU Regulation 44/2001) applies to EU judgments issued before 10 January 2015.
The Recast Brussels Regulation takes precedence over and supersedes bilateral (and in exceptional cases multilateral) agreements and treaties on the recognition and enforcement of judgments negotiated and concluded between member states that cover the same matters as the Recast Brussels Regulation (see Articles 69, 70 and 71 of the Recast Brussels Regulation).
1.2 Which bilateral and multilateral instruments on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments have effect in your jurisdiction?
Greece has signed several international conventions and bilateral treaties regarding the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments (or other enforceable titles), including the following:
- Treaty between Yugoslavia (and its successor states) and Greece 1959, ratified by Law 4007/1959;
- Treaty between Germany and Greece 1961, ratified by Law 4305/1962;
- Treaty between Austria and Greece 1965, ratified by Law 137/1969;
- Treaty between Romania and Greece 1972, ratified by Law 429/1974;
- Treaty between Lebanon and Greece 1975, ratified by Law 1099/1980;
- Treaty between Bulgaria and Greece 1976, ratified by Law 841/1978;
- Treaty between Hungary and Greece 1979, ratified by Law 1149/1981;
- Treaty between Poland and Greece 1979, ratified by Law 1184/1981;
- Treaty between Czechoslovakia (and its successors) and Greece 1980, ratified by Law 1323/1983;
- Treaty between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (and its successors) and Greece 1981, ratified by Law 1242/1982;
- Treaty between Syria and Greece 1981, ratified by Law 1450/1984;
- Treaty between Cyprus and Greece 1984, ratified by Law 1548/1985;
- Treaty between Albania and Greece 1993, ratified by Law 2313/1995;
- Treaty between Tunisia and Greece 1993, ratified by Law 2228/1994;
- Treaty between China and Greece 1994, ratified by Law 2358/1995;
- Treaty between Georgia and Greece 1999, ratified by Law 2813/2000;
- Treaty between Armenia and Greece 2000, ratified by Law 3007/2002;
- Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Relating to Maintenance Obligations, ratified by Law 3171/2003 (multilateral);
- New York Convention 1956 on the recovery abroad of maintenance, ratified by Law 4421/1964 (multilateral);
- Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, ratified by Law 559/1977 (multilateral);
- Convention Concerning International Carriage by Rail 1980, as amended by the Vilnius Protocol 1999 (multilateral), ratified by Law 1593/1986;
- Brussels Convention 1969 on civil liability for oil pollution damage, ratified by Law 314/1976 (multilateral);
- Hague Convention 1980 on the civil aspect of international child abduction, ratified by Law 2102/1992;
- EU Convention 1980 on recognition and enforcement of decisions concerning custody of children and on restoration of custody of children, ratified by Law 2104/1992; and
- Lugano Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 2007 concerning recognition and enforcement of judgments originating from Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.
1.3 Which courts have jurisdiction to hear applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?
In principle, the single-member first-instance court is competent to hear cases on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. According to the Recast Brussels Regulation and the domestic legislation, the local jurisdiction is determined in principle by reference to the domicile of the defendant (‘actor sequitur forum rei'). According to the domestic legislation, where the debtor does not have its domicile or residence in Greece, the Single-Member First-Instance Court of Athens is competent.
2 Requirements for enforceability
2.1 What types of judgments may be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction? Are any types of judgments specifically precluded from enforcement?
Any act of a judicial body of a foreign state that resolves a dispute of private law can be recognised and enforced in Greece according to the relevant applicable provisions. In principle, those provisions include all decisions of foreign civil state courts. Decisions of criminal or administrative courts are excluded, unless they concern compensation under civil law. The crucial element is the nature of the foreign act as a judicial decision on a private law dispute. In determining the legal characterisation of a document as a judgment of a foreign civil court, the law of the country in which the judgment was rendered will be taken into consideration. Pursuant to EU regulations, all types of judgments rendered by an EU member state court, including injunctive judgments and provisional orders, are enforceable in Greece.
2.2 Must a foreign judgment be final and binding before it can be enforced?
In principle, a foreign judgment can be declared enforceable in Greece to the extent that it is enforceable in the state in which it was rendered; the court does not examine whether the foreign judgment is final and binding.
2.3 Is a foreign judgment enforceable if it is subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction?
A foreign judgment can be declared enforceable in Greece to the extent that it is enforceable in the state in which it was rendered, even if it is subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction.
2.4 What is the limitation period for making an application for recognition and enforcement?
There is no limitation period for the enforcement of a foreign judgment in Greece under the domestic legislation, provided that the requirements for enforcement are met.
3 Recognition and enforcement process
3.1 Is recognition of a foreign judgment a separate process from enforcement and does it have separate legal effects?
Under Greek law, there is a central legal distinction between recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment. ‘Recognition' refers to the binding (res judicata) effects of foreign judgments which are automatically extended to Greece. For example, the res judicata effects need not be declared through a special procedure, as recognition of a foreign judgment in Greece applies ipso jure, provided that the requirements set out in the Code of Civil Procedure are met.
‘Enforcement' of a foreign judgment presupposes that the judgment has been declared enforceable by the competent single-member first-instance court through the issuance of a relevant judgment according to the relevant applicable law and regulations. If a judgment falls within the ambit of the Recast Brussels Regulation, and to the extent that it is legally effective and enforceable in the member state in which it was rendered, it is automatically recognised and ipso jure enforceable in Greece without any declaration or other exequatur procedure being required pursuant to Articles 36 and 39 of the Recast Brussels Regulation. Based on the foreign judgment and the certificate issued under Article 53 of the Recast Brussels Regulation, the creditor can initiate the enforcement procedure according to the Code of Civil Procedure.
3.2 What is the formal process for recognition and enforcement?
With regard to the recognition of foreign judgments in Greece, no formal procedure is required (ie, recognition of a foreign judgment applies ipso jure), provided that the conditions set out in the relevant provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure are met (Articles 323 and 780).
With regard to enforcement, the interested party (normally, the judgment creditor) must submit an application to the competent single-member first-instance court requesting that the foreign judgment be declared enforceable according to the relevant provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure (Article 905). The applicant must then submit pleadings with supporting documentation in ex parte proceedings and the court will schedule a hearing date in order to hear the application.
3.3 What documents are required in support of an application for recognition and enforcement?
The documents required for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Greece depend on the relevant applicable legal framework. Where the provisions of an international treaty or EU regulation apply, these supersede those of the Code of Civil Procedure.
With regard to recognition of foreign judgments, the principle of automatic recognition applies, provided that the substantive requirements set out in the Code of Civil Procedure are met. In practice, this means that the foreign judgment – officially translated into Greek – should be brought or submitted by the interested party before any competent court authority in Greece.
With regard to enforcement, the application must contain all of the elements relating to the conditions for the declaration of enforceability of the judgment set out under the Code of Civil Procedure and be supported by relevant documentation. In principle, the applicant must provide the enforcing Greek court with:
- a complete, duly certified copy of the foreign judgment, as well as a translation of the judgment into the Greek language; and
- relevant documentation from the country of origin confirming that the judgment is enforceable in the state in which it was rendered.
3.4 What fees are payable for recognition and enforcement?
The applicable fees relate mainly to the submission of the relevant application for the declaration of enforceability of the foreign judgment before the competent court - that is, court costs and the minimum statutory tariff fees, under Greek law, of the lawyer representing the applicant. Payment of such court fees is mandatory for the valid submission and acceptance of the application. The amount of legal fees will depend on the agreement concluded between the lawyer and the client.
3.5 Is the applicant required to provide security for costs?
The applicant is not required to provide security for costs.
3.6 How long does it usually take to obtain a declaration of enforceability?
The timeframe depends on the workload of the competent court. Subject to the workload of the court, the hearing date for the application will usually be set within three to nine months of submission of the application. The declaration of enforceability is usually rendered within three to eight months of the hearing date.
3.7 Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the process is ongoing?
Yes. With regard to judgments rendered by an EU member state court, and on the basis of Article 40 of the Recast Brussels Regulation (1215/2012), an enforceable judgment carries with it, by operation of law, the power to pursue any protective measures which exist under the law of the member state addressed. Such measures are also available under the domestic legislation for other foreign judgments (ie, when recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment are sought under the domestic legislation).
4.1 On what grounds can the defendant challenge recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?
The defendant can challenge recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment mainly based on the reasons relating to non-recognition and non-enforcement set out in Articles 323, 780 and 905 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Specifically, these defences include the following:
- The judgment is res judicata according to the law of the state in which it was issued (Article 323(1));
- The case, under Greek law, falls under the jurisdiction of the courts of the state in which the decision was rendered (Article 323(2));
- The losing party has not enjoyed equal opportunities concerning its right to defence or has been deprived of this right (Article 323(3));
- The judgment is contrary to a domestic Greek civil court judgment that was rendered in the same case and is res judicata between the same parties (Article 323(4)); or
- The judgment is contrary to good morals or public policy (Article 323(5)).
With regard to judgments rendered by an EU member state court, the defences are set out in Articles 45 and 46 of the Recast Brussels Regulation. According to Article 46 of the Recast Brussels Regulation, "on the application of the person against whom enforcement is sought, the enforcement of a judgment shall be refused where one of the grounds referred to in Article 45 is found to exist". The defences provided under Article 45 may be summarised as follows:
- Recognition would be manifestly contrary to public policy in the relevant member state;
- The judgment was issued in default of appearance, or the defendant was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings or with an equivalent document in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable it to arrange for its defence;
- The judgment is irreconcilable with a judgment given between the same parties in the member state addressed;
- The judgment is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment given in another member state or in a third state involving the same cause of action and between the same parties, provided that the earlier judgment fulfils the conditions necessary for its recognition in the member state addressed; or
- The judgment conflicts with a specific provision of the Recast Brussels Regulation (Article 45(1)(e).
4.2 What is the limitation period for filing a challenge?
In principle, the defendant does not participate in the proceedings initiated through submission of the application for recognition and enforcement, unless it is summoned by the applicant or ordered by the judge to attend the hearing, or unless the defendant is informed by any means of the filing of the application and intervenes in the proceedings. Thus, the defendant may attend the hearing or intervene in the proceedings and challenge the application.
4.3 Can the defendant seek injunctive relief to prevent enforcement while a challenge is pending?
Under Article 763(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, judgments rendered under the voluntary (ex parte) jurisdiction are immediately enforceable in principle, and the deadline for filing an appeal does not suspend the force or enforceability of the judgment. However, under Article 763(2), the court hearing the case may – on its own initiative – suspend the force and enforceability of the judgment until it has become final (ie, it is no longer subject to appeal). Under Article 763(3), if an appeal has been filed, the court that issued the judgment or the presiding judge may – following an application by one of the parties to the trial at first instance – order the suspension of the force and enforceability of the decision until a final judgment is rendered.
5 Court analysis and decision
5.1 Will the court review service of process in the initial proceedings?
The enforcing court will review the service of process in the foreign proceedings to ensure that the defendant's right to defence was respected, and that the defendant enjoyed the safeguards of a fair trial in accordance with the law of the country in which the judgment was rendered.
5.2 Will the court review the jurisdiction of the foreign court in the initial proceedings?
Yes. Pursuant to Articles 905 and 323 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the enforcing court will examine whether the foreign court was competent to adjudicate the case under Greek international procedural law (the so-called ‘mirror principle'). If the requirements of the foreign jurisdiction were not met, the judgment may not be declared enforceable in Greece according to the Code of Civil Procedure. As noted in question 3.1, according to the Recast Brussels Regulation, the judgment is automatically recognised and ipso jure enforceable in Greece without any declaration or other exequatur procedure being required. According to Article 45(3) of the Recast Brussels Regulation, the jurisdiction of the foreign court may not be reviewed, subject to Article 45(3), paragraph 1(e). The test of public policy referred to in Article 45, paragraph 1(a) may not be applied to the rules relating to jurisdiction.
5.3 Will the court review the foreign judgment for compliance with applicable law and public policy?
Foreign judgments which are contrary to public policy will not be recognised and enforced in Greece. A foreign judgment is considered to be contrary to public policy if its effect in the Greek territory would be directly inconsistent with the fundamental principles of moral, state or economic order. The reservation of public policy as a condition for the recognition of foreign judgments extends to both procedural and substantial issues. The Greek courts cannot rule on whether the court of the foreign state correctly applied the substantive law.
5.4 Will the court review the merits of the foreign judgment?
The Greek courts do not have the power to review or revisit a foreign judgment on the merits. Article 52 of the Recast Brussels Regulation explicitly provides that under no circumstances may a judgment given in a member state be reviewed as to its substance in the member state addressed (‘révision au fond').
5.5 How will the court proceed if the foreign judgment conflicts with a previous judgment in relation to the same dispute between the same parties?
If there are conflicting judgments involving the same parties and dispute, recognition and enforcement of the foreign judgment will not be accepted by the Greek courts on the basis of Articles 323(4), 332 and 905 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which explicitly provide that in such cases recognition and enforcement are not permitted.
5.6 Are there any other grounds on which the court may refuse to recognise and enforce the foreign judgment?
In principle, the grounds on which the court may refuse to recognise and enforce the foreign judgment are limited to those set out in question 4.1.
5.7 Is partial recognition and enforcement possible?
In principle, foreign judgments are uniformly recognised and enforced by the courts in their entirety. However, partial recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment is possible where not all parts thereof are enforceable under the applicable legal framework.
5.8 How will the court deal with cost issues (eg, interest, court costs, currency issues)?
The decision on the calculation of interest will be stipulated in the foreign judgment and will depend on the substantive law applicable to the dispute. The exchange rate to be applied is not defined by the courts, but is rather set by the applicable law.
6.1 Can decisions in relation to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments be appealed?
Yes. Judgments of single-member first-instance courts on recognition and enforcement are subject to appeal before the competent court of appeals.
6.2 Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the appeal is pending?
Under Article 763(3) of the Code of Civil Procedure, if an appeal has been filed, the court that issued the judgment or the presiding judge may – on the application by one of the parties to the trial at first instance – order the suspension of the force and enforceability of the decision until a final judgment is rendered. Thus, the Greek courts can suspend the enforcement proceedings or order provisional measures.
7 Enforcing the foreign judgment
7.1 Once a declaration of enforceability has been granted, how can the foreign judgment be enforced?
Once a declaration of enforceability has been granted, the judgment (accompanied by any necessary supporting documents) shall be served by the creditor on the defendant through a local court bailiff (ie, the enforcement authority in Greece) to initiate enforcement proceedings pursuant to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure on the enforcement of domestic judgments. In general, the creditor can proceed with all enforcement actions according to the domestic legislation – that is, the attachment of any movable or immovable property in the possession of the debtor or in the possession of third parties which are debtors of the debtor, the liquidation of such assets through public auction and receipt of the proceeds, subject to any rights or claims of other creditors with priority over distribution (eg, secured claims).
7.2 Can the foreign judgment be enforced against third parties?
In general, a foreign judgment is enforceable only against the parties to which it is addressed. The parties against which a foreign judgment can be enforced are determined, in principle, by the foreign enforceable judgment. An extension of the so-called ‘subjective limits' of res judicata, which is possible under Greek law based on the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, may apply; however, the law of the state of origin and the lex causae will be taken into account.
8 Trends and predictions
8.1 How would you describe the current enforcement landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?
Provided that the conditions set out in the relevant provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure are met, in general, the Greek courts will accept the application and recognise and enforce the relevant foreign judgment. This is generally a simple process; however, if the interested party challenges the enforcement judgment, complications may arise depending on the disputed matters of the case.
The Recast Brussels Regulation has undoubtedly facilitated and simplified the enforcement procedure and established the free circulation of EU judgments falling within its ambit. To the authors' knowledge, no reforms to the framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments in Greece are envisaged or underway.
9 Tips and traps
9.1 What are your top tips for smooth recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, and what potential sticking points would you highlight?
Successful completion of the recognition and enforcement process generally depends on:
- the applicable legal framework (eg, the EU regulations, international convention or Code of Civil Procedure);
- the subject matter of the judgment; and
- the defences raised by the defendant.
Thus, it is very important to first identify the applicable legal framework under which recognition and enforcement of the foreign judgment will be pursued. Particular attention should be paid to ensuring that all relevant and required supporting documentation is provided. To this end, the selection of appropriate and specialised legal counsel is important.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.