What are the rules governing enforcement of foreign judgments?

Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

For having decisions of EU member states, Norway and Iceland recognised and declared enforceable in Switzerland the relatively swift procedure of the Lugano Convention applies. The procedure is ex-parte, i.e. the opposing party can raise its objection only in the course of an appeal against the court's decision of enforcement.

For all other decisions, the respective provisions of the Swiss Code on International Private Law applies, which provides for a contradictory proceeding where the opposing party can directly object against the request for recognition and/or declaration of enforcement.

Chile Small Flag Chile

The enforcement of foreign judgments (article 242 and subsequent of the CPC) is subject to an “exequatur” (authorization) by the Supreme Court. The party seeking enforcement must submit a certified copy of the award with, if necessary, an official translation into Spanish. As Chile has signed the New York Convention, the exequatur may only be denied for the reasons provided in article V therein. The award must be final and binding and it also must respect Chilean public policy. Once the exequatur is granted, the foreign judgment is as enforceable as any domestic award and, therefore, it can be enforced under the general rules. Enforcement must be sought before the court that would have been competent to hear the proceeding if it would have been brought before Chilean courts.

Sweden Small Flag Sweden

The enforcement of a foreign award in Sweden must be based on an international convention that Sweden has acceded to, or EU legislation permitting the enforcement in other member states. As a general rule, issues regarding the enforceability of foreign awards pertain to form and not merits of the award.

The basic prerequisites are that the debtor is a resident of Sweden and that the enforceability is based on international legislation or an international convention. Enforceability is possible even if permission to enforce a foreign award is not granted in a treaty, convention or other legislation, assuming the parties have an agreement that the claim which the award is based upon was to be subject to litigation in a specific country. Accordingly, a defendant cannot ‘escape’ enforceability in Sweden if it is established that the defendant and the claimant had an agreement (a forum litigation clause) that litigation was to be performed in a specific country.

Foreign awards in commercial matters rendered in EU or EFTA states require little formalities and a request is submitted to the Swedish Enforcement Authority. Other awards may be more complex to enforce and require a declaration of enforceability from a Swedish district court.

A foreign award that contradicts Swedish public policy, i.e. ordre public, can never be enforced.

Portugal Small Flag Portugal

According to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012, foreign judgements passed in other Member States must be treated, for enforcement purposes, as if they were given in the Member State of enforcement. That is, without any specific procedure.

Outside the scope of this Regulation, the internal rules regarding this matter determine that, in order to enforce a foreign decision within the Portuguese jurisdiction, such decision must be formally reviewed and confirmed by a Portuguese court (the Court of Appeal in the area of residency of the party against whom that decision was issued being the competent court).

UAE Small Flag UAE

Pursuant to the Civil Procedures Law, judgments and orders issued in a foreign country may be enforced in the UAE on the same conditions as prescribed in the laws of that country for the enforcement of similar judgments and orders issued in the UAE.

Enforcement procedures are similar to normal litigation procedures where the application is filed with the Court of First Instance which has jurisdiction over the said enforcement.

Before enforcement of a foreign judgment is ordered, there are a few matters which have to be verified including the fact that the UAE Courts do not have jurisdiction over the dispute in which the foreign judgment has been issued, and that the foreign courts which issued it have jurisdiction therein under the international rules of or legal jurisdiction prescribed in its laws.

Further, it must be verified that the opposing parties in the case in which the foreign judgment has been issued have been duly summoned to appear, and have been duly represented.

In addition, the foreign judgment must have acquired the force of a fait accompli under the law of the court which issued it, and must not conflict with a judgment or order previously issued by a court in the UAE and contains nothing in breach of public morals or order in the UAE.

The above also applies to arbitration awards issued in a foreign country.

Finally, the above applies to the extent where it does not affect or contradict the terms of treaties executed between the UAE and other countries.

Saudi Arabia Small Flag Saudi Arabia

The enforcement of foreign judgments in Saudi Arabia is governed by the Enforcement Regulation of 2012, Article 11 of which makes enforcement of foreign judgments conditional on reciprocity. The only international treaties on the reciprocal enforcement of judgments to which Saudi Arabia is a party are the Arab League Treaty on the Enforcement of Judgments of 1983, and the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council Convention on the Enforcement of Judgments of 1995.

Applications for the enforcement of foreign judgments must be lodged with an enforcement judge, and must satisfy the following requirements:

  • The judgment must be final and unappealable;
  • There must not have been any action pending before a Saudi Arabian court in respect of the same issues;
  • The defendant was summoned to attend, was properly represented and was put in a position to defend himself; and
  • The judgment does not conflict with Islamic Law.

Norway Small Flag Norway

Norway is a party to the 2007 Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. This means that judgements from countries outside the EU and EEA area as a rule can not be enforced in Norway.

United States Small Flag United States

There are no international treaties or federal laws requiring U.S. federal courts to enforce foreign judgments. However, many states have adopted the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act (the “UFMJRA”). Under the UFMJRA, courts will generally recognize foreign judgments for a sum of money.

U.S. courts will also generally recognize foreign declaratory judgments and injunctions. However, there are situations in which U.S. courts will not enforce foreign judgments, including when the judgment was rendered under a system that does not provide impartial tribunals or procedures compatible with due process, or when the foreign court did not have personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

Austria Small Flag Austria

Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments is regulated in the Austrian Enforcement Code and in bilateral and multilateral treaties. The most relevant instrument for the enforcement of foreign judgments in commercial and civil matters is the Brussels Regulation (EU-Regulation 1215/2012), which governs the enforcement of judgments of other EU member states. The enforcement of judgments rendered in an EU member state is straightforward as it does not require a separate declaration of enforceability and is subject to the same conditions as Austrian judgements. Judgements rendered in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland will be recognised without requiring a declaration of enforceability in accordance with the revised Lugano Convention on Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters.

Outside the scope of the EU and EFTA, the enforcement of foreign judgments requires a formal declaration of enforceability (exequatur proceeding). Such a declaration is only granted if the judgment in question is enforceable according to the law of the foreign state and if reciprocity is guaranteed by a bilateral or multilateral treaty. If no reciprocity agreement has been concluded, Austrian courts will not grant enforcement of a foreign judgment.

Japan Small Flag Japan

Foreign judgements can be enforced when all the following requirements are met (CCP, Article 118):

(i) The jurisdiction of the foreign court is recognized under the Japanese laws or regulations or conventions or treaties;

(ii) The losing defendant has been properly served with the necessary summons or order to commence the litigation, except service by publication or any similar service, or appeared in court without being so served;

(iii) The contents of the judgment and the court proceedings are not contrary to public policy in Japan; and

(iv) There is reciprocity between Japan and the country of the foreign court in relation to the enforcement of foreign judgments.

Note that the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that the portion of the foreign judgment which ordered the payment of punitive damages under the laws of California cannot be enforced because claims for punitive damages are not allowed in Japan and permitting such enforcement is contrary to public policy in Japan.

Updated: June 13, 2018