Comparative Guides
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Results: 4 Answers
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments
5.
Court analysis and decision
5.1
Will the court review service of process in the initial proceedings?
 
France
Enforcement of a foreign non-EU judgment: According to French private international law, the court will review service of process in the initial proceedings (as part of the aspect of public policy). Furthermore, the foreign judgment must be enforceable in the state of origin and must have been duly served in the foreign country.

In order to obtain recognition and enforcement in France, the claimant must prove service of the judgment. However, according to legal practice, it does not constitute an infringement of procedural public policy if service does not mention the means of redress authorised in the foreign country. The claimant must also prove that notice of action was served on the defendant. The enforcing court must ensure that the defendant had knowledge of the proceedings or, failing this, that the requirements of Article 15 of the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters were met by the foreign court.

Enforcement of judgments between EU member states: According to Article 26 of the old Brussels I Regulation, the foreign court is obliged to verify whether the defendant received the document instituting the proceedings, or an equivalent document, in sufficient time to enable it to arrange for a defence, or that all necessary steps were taken to this end in order to ensure compliance with the fundamental principle of a fair trial, including that no party to legal proceedings may be judged without having had the opportunity to state its case. The requirements of sufficient notice are not fixed in the Brussels I Regulation, but will be established according to the specific circumstances of the individual case. However, Council Regulation (EC) 1348/2000 of 29 May 2000 on the Service in the Member States of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters applies instead of the Brussels I Regulation if the document instituting the proceedings or an equivalent document had to be transmitted from one member state to another, pursuant to this regulation. Requirements of sufficient notice are set out in Article 19 of this regulation.

According to Article 45 of the new Brussels I Regulation, recognition shall be refused where the judgment was given in default of appearance, if the defendant was not served with the document that instituted the proceedings or with an equivalent document in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable it to arrange for a defence, unless the defendant failed to commence proceedings to challenge the judgment when it was possible for it to do so.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
5.2
Will the court review the jurisdiction of the foreign court in the initial proceedings?
 
France
Enforcement of foreign non-EU judgments: Since the Cornelissen case (Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, 20 February 2007, Appeal 05-14082), the enforcing court is obliged only to verify the indirect competence of the foreign court, which means that there must be a connection between the subject matter of the dispute and the foreign court to which the dispute has been referred.

Furthermore, French courts must not have had exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction.

The Court of Cassation continues to apply the principles developed in the Cornelissen case (see Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, 4 May 2017, Appeal 16-13.645; and more recently Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, 15 May 2018, Appeal 17-17.546).

Enforcement of judgments between EU member states: According to the Brussels I Regulation, the subject-matter jurisdiction of the court rendering the judgment will not be examined by the French court (Article 45(3) of the new Brussels I Regulation and Article 35(3) of the old Brussels I Regulation).

The international jurisdiction of the foreign court will be examined only in the exceptional cases provided for in Article 45 of the new Brussels I Regulation (Article 35 of the old Brussels I Regulation). This is especially the case in consumer law and insurance law disputes, or in the case of French courts having exclusive jurisdiction according to Article 24 of the Brussels I Regulation. For example, in proceedings that have as their object rights in rem, immovable property or tenancies of immovable property, the courts of the member state in which the property is situated have exclusive jurisdiction (Article 24 of the new Brussels I Regulation and Article 22 of the old Brussels I Regulation).

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
5.3
Will the court review the foreign judgment for compliance with applicable law and public policy?
 
France
Enforcement of foreign non-EU judgments: According to French private international law, foreign judgments sought to be enforced in France must comply with the condition of international procedural regularity (the aspect of public policy that is relevant here). International procedural regularity principally concerns the rights to a defence.

If the foreign judgment contradicts international procedural regularity, the court will refuse to enforce it (eg, if a foreign jurisdiction applies a nationalisation law that does not provide for compensation to dispossessed persons, the court will not enforce the judgment by virtue of its violation of the principle of public policy).

Enforcement of judgments between EU member states: According to Article 45 of the new Brussels I Regulation (Article 34 of the old Brussels I Regulation), the French court will examine the foreign judgment for compliance with public policy. The term ‘public policy’ as used in Article 45 must be interpreted as international public policy that is based on a more limited understanding of the term compared to the notion of general French public policy. In its judgments in Hoffmann/Krieg (Case C-145/86, 4 February 1988) and Krombach, the Court of Justice of the European Union affirmed that the notion of public policy in the Brussels I Regulation must be interpreted autonomously (ie, not according to French private international law).

Nevertheless, international public policy and French private international law also include a procedural notion; therefore, the French court will examine the regularity of the prior procedure (ie, independence and impartiality of the court, right to be heard, right of equal treatment and right to a fair trial) as under French private international law.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
5.4
Will the court review the merits of the foreign judgment?
 
France
Under no circumstances will the court review a foreign judgment as to its substance/merits.

Factors other than those presented in question 4.1 will not be taken into consideration by a French court.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
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?
 
France
According to French private international law, a final and conclusive judgment has the authority of res judicata – that is, the court cannot allow the enforcement of a foreign judgment that is in conflict with a former judgment, whether French or foreign.

This rule also applies under the Brussels I Regulation. At the request of any interested party, recognition of a decision shall be refused if:

  • the decision is irreconcilable with a decision rendered between the same parties in the requested member state; or
  • the decision is irreconcilable with a decision given previously in another member state or in a third state between the same parties in a dispute with the same subject matter and the same cause, where the decision given previously satisfies the conditions necessary for recognition in the requested member state (see Article 34 of the old Brussels I Regulation and Article 45 of the new Brussels I Regulation).
For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
5.6
Are there any other grounds on which the court may refuse to recognise and enforce the foreign judgment?
 
France
There are no other non-mandatory factors to be considered. All factors for recognition of a foreign non-EU judgment are defined by French private international law (see question 5.6).

The Brussels I Regulation also contains no non-mandatory factors.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
5.7
Is partial recognition and enforcement possible?
 
France
According to French private international law, the court can recognise only part of a judgment, unless the judgment is indivisible (ie, in cases where, if one of the measures is recognised, all of them must be recognised).

French judges have no competence to reduce or increase a damages award.

In addition, French decisions cannot allow any punitive damages because this kind of compensation does not exist in the French system. According to actual legal practice, a foreign decision that includes punitive damages is not against public policy; but if the amount of punitive damages appears disproportionate to the damage, the court will not recognise the foreign decision.

According to Article 48 of the old Brussels I Regulation, the enforcement of only parts of a judgment is possible. Partial recognition of a judgment is not mentioned; however, partial recognition is admissible. This will be the case if the foreign judgment concerns several matters. As a result, the Brussels I Regulation can be applied only in parts, or the reasons for objection set out in Articles 34 and 35 can apply to only some of the actions. Partial recognition or partial enforcement is not mentioned in the new Brussels I Regulation, but should be possible under the same conditions as outlined above.

A reduction or increase in the amount due is not admissible under the Brussels I Regulation.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
5.8
How will the court deal with cost issues (eg, interest, court costs, currency issues)?
 
France
For foreign judgments that are recognised and enforced according to French private international law, and where the judgment is executed in France, the court will convert the award into euros.

The court rendering the declaration of enforceability cannot allow interest if the foreign court did not do so. However, the court in charge of recognition and enforcement can allow interest in arrears, which begins to run from the date on which the declaration of enforceability is issued and which must be paid according to French law.

Concerning the enforcement of judgments under the Brussels I Regulation, the French court does not convert the currency during the process of recognition and declaration of enforceability. It is only at the moment of the effective payment to the bailiff that the conversion is effected (this issue is increasingly irrelevant, as most member states have adopted the euro).

Concerning legal interest according to the foreign decision, the claimant must seize the enforcing court in order for the sum due to be fixed.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés