Enforcement of Foreign Country Judgments in New York

A judgment issued by a court in a foreign country may be entitled to recognition as a New York judgment depending on the circumstances surrounding how the foreign judgment was obtained and the court that issued it. Obtaining recognition of a foreign county judgment in New York provides a foreign creditor with a claim against a debtor in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, or other parts of New York City or New York State, a way of avoiding the need to litigate the claim from scratch in New York with a resultant savings in time and attorneys’ fees. Particularly for foreign creditors from civil law legal systems, that often have much more limited and expedited procedures regarding pretrial discovery and disclosure, significant economy may be achieved for a foreign plaintiff in obtaining a judgment in its home court and then enforcing that judgment in New York rather than bringing the claim in a New York court in the first instance.

Recognition of judgments by foreign courts is not automatic in New York. To be eligible for recognition in New York the grounds for recognition in New York Civil Procedure Law & Rules (CPLR) 5301 through 5309 must be met. This statute adopts the Uniform Foreign Country Money-Judgments Recognition Act as part of the law of New York.

To recognize and permit foreign country judgments to be recognized and domesticated in New York, a New York Court sitting in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, or other parts of New York State, will need to find that the foreign country judgment was rendered by a foreign court which provides impartial tribunals or procedures compatible with due process of law and that the foreign court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant. In addition, a New York court will not recognize a foreign country judgment if the defendant can show it did not receive notice of the proceedings in sufficient time to defend, the judgment was obtained by fraud, the cause of action on which the judgment is based is repugnant to the public policy of New York, the judgment conflicts with another final and conclusive judgment, the proceedings giving rise to the foreign judgment were contrary to a dispute settlement procedures agreement between the parties (such as an agreement to arbitrate any disputes), if jurisdiction is based on only on personal service that the foreign court was a seriously inconvenient forum, or the judgment is based on a defamation and the foreign law does not provide as much protection for freedom of speech and the press as provided by both the United States and New York constitutions. (CPLR 5304). In addition, the New York Court needs to determine that the foreign court had jurisdiction over the person against whom the judgment was rendered.

New York Courts have found these standards to be met in particular cases involving judgments from the following countries and jurisdictions: Canada, Mexico, England, Bermuda, Japan, India, Korea, Brazil, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Romania among others. New York Courts have found these requirements were not met in particular cases involving judgments from the following countries: Liberia, Iran, and Ecuador, among others.

In exemplified copy of the foreign country judgment is needed which has been authenticated via consular legalization, or if the foreign country judgment is issued by a country which is a signatory to the Hague Convention Abolishing Consular Legalization (the “Hague Convention”) then an “apostilled” copy with a properly executed and sealed apostille prepared in accordance with the Hague Convention.

In addition, supporting affidavits by the foreign creditor and its New York counsel are needed detailing that the requirements of the New York statute for recognition of foreign judgments are met.

Once a foreign country judgment has been domesticated in New York it can be enforced the same as any other New York judgment.

At Starr & Starr, PLLC, we have experience in obtaining recognition in New York courts sitting in Manhattan (New York County) and other parts of New York State, of foreign county judgments, as well as subsequent enforcement of such judgments.

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