Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments – Registration of Judgments – Service of Proceedings – Natural Justice
Stephen Antle for Mr. Wilson

The Petitioner applied under Rule 54 of the B.C. Rules of Court and the Court Order Enforcement Act to register in British Columbia the equivalent to a default judgment for approximately ₤700,000 obtained in Birmingham, England in July 2005. The Respondent had guaranteed a line of credit and a bridge financing loan obtained by a high tech company doing business in England of which the Respondent was a director. The company declared bankruptcy and the bank was not repaid. When the bank commenced proceedings in Birmingham, the Respondent was living in Vancouver. Though several attempts were made, he was never personally served with the pleadings; rather, they were left with the concierge of his residence. The bank obtained a retroactive Order in the English proceeding in March 2005 stating that service was to be effected by leaving the materials at the Respondent's residential address and deeming service to have taken place on January 31, 2005. The time in which the Respondent should have responded to the proceeding would have expired on the date of the March Order. The Respondent claimed that the first notice he had of the proceeding was when he received a letter from the bank's solicitors dated in June 2006.

The Court Order Enforcement Act provides that registration of a judgment is to be governed by the rules of the registering jurisdiction, thus in this case Rule 54 of the Rules of Court. However, the bank had failed to comply with several elements of Rule 54, including by failing to provide a certified copy of the judgment under seal of the court and because of defects in the affidavit in support of registration. The court expressed some concern about these failures, but decided the case on the service question. It found that the Respondent had had no notice of the proceedings against him, and noted that the court must consider whether the respondent on an application to enforce a foreign judgment was provided a fair process. The court held that the Respondent had not been served in accordance with the March Order, since the pleadings had not been left at the Respondent's address but rather allegedly with the concierge, and the failure of service resulted in a denial to the Respondent of natural justice. It also expressed some concern with the retroactive service Order having been made in the first place, but since it had not been complied with it did have to consider whether there would have been a breach of natural justice even if it had been followed. Registration was denied and the Respondent was awarded his costs.