Comparative Guides
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Results: 4 Answers
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments
1.
Legal and judicial framework
1.1
Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?
 
France
France is a highly centralised state. Therefore, there is uniformity in the law on the enforcement of foreign judgments among different jurisdictions within the country.

In principle, the national and supranational legislation mentioned in question 1.2 is the only source of law for the enforcement of foreign judgments. However, the legal practice for civil and commercial matters is constantly being defined and refined by the French Supreme Court.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
1.2
Which bilateral and multilateral instruments on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments have effect in your jurisdiction?
 
France
In this regard, as well as others, the enforcement of foreign non-EU judgments must be distinguished from the enforcement of judgments between EU member states as outlined in this chapter.

Enforcement of judgments between EU member states: The issues of enforcement of judgments between EU member states were, in particular, governed by Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (the old Brussels I Regulation) (for relations between Denmark and other EU member states, the Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters of 21 March 2013 applies (which includes the new Brussels I Regulation)).

The Brussels I Regulation was subsequently reformed by Regulation (EU)1215/2012, which was adopted by the European Council on 6 December 2012 and published in the Official Journal on 20 December 2012 (the new Brussels I Regulation). This recast regulation has applied since 10 January 2015 and replaced Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001. Important modifications have been adopted, the most important of which is that exequatur proceedings have been abolished. However, the old Brussels I Regulation continues to apply to the recognition and enforcement of all judgments given in proceedings initiated before 10 January 2015. An EU regulation is binding and directly applicable in all member states. As a member state of the European Union, France is required to observe and apply the respective EU regulations regarding the recognition and enforcement of judgments between EU member states.

Besides the Brussels I Regulation, the following EU regulations contain rules on the recognition and enforcement of judgments between EU member states:

  • Council Regulation (EC) 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000 on Insolvency Proceedings, which came into force on 31 May 2002; repealed and replaced by Regulation (EU) 2015/848 of 20 May 2015, which came into force on 26 June 2017;
  • Regulation (EC) 805/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 creating a European enforcement order for uncontested claims (the European Enforcement Order Regulation), which came into force on 21 January 2005;
  • Regulation (EC) 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 creating a European order for payment procedure (the European Payment Order Regulation), which came into force on 31 December 2006; and
  • Regulation (EC) 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European small claims procedure (up to €2,000) (the European Small Claims Procedure Regulation), which came into force on 1 January 2009.

For relations between EU member states and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, the Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters of the European Community with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland of 30 October 2007 (the new Lugano Convention) applies.

Enforcement of foreign non-EU judgments: France is also bound by multiple international treaties dealing with the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. All the relevant treaties are listed on www.legifrance.gouv.fr; however, the most important treaties are listed below.

Multilateral treaties containing rules on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments cover a plurality of special cases (excluding family law), such as the following:

  • navigation on the Rhine (revised Mannheim Convention of 17 October 1868) or the canalisation of the Moselle (Convention of 27 October 1956);
  • the exequatur of costs or expenses (Hague Conventions of 1 March 1954 on Civil Procedure and of 25 October 1980 on International Access to Justice);
  • contracts for international carriage of goods by road (Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road of 19 May 1956) or international carriage by rail (Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail of 9 May 1980);
  • liability in the field of nuclear energy (Brussels Convention of 31 January 1963, supplementary to the Paris Convention of 29 July 1960, as amended by the Additional Protocol of 28 January 1964, the Additional Protocol of 16 November 1982 and the Additional Protocol of 12 February 2004); and
  • liability and funding for oil pollution damages (the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, Brussels of 29 November 1969 (no longer in force and being replaced by the Protocol of 27 November 1992), the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, Brussels, of 18 December 1971 (no longer in force and replaced by the Protocol of 27 November 1992) and the 2003 Protocol establishing an International Oil Pollution Compensation Supplementary Fund, London of 16 May 2003).

An extensive network of bilateral treaties on mutual legal cooperation or legal assistance, which usually contain a chapter on the recognition and enforcement of reciprocal judgments, also exists with the following states: Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada (Quebec), Central African Republic, Chad, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Laos, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Niger, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vietnam and Yugoslavia. Many of these treaties, such as the treaty with the United States, refer only to family law.

Treaties with member states of the European Union apply only to questions that are not subject to the European regulations (above).

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
1.3
Which courts have jurisdiction to hear applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?
 
France
Enforcement of foreign non-EU judgments: For the enforcement of foreign judgments according to French private international law, the presiding judge of the district court has subject-matter jurisdiction (Article R212-8 of the Code of Judicial Organisation). The local jurisdiction will be determined by the domicile of the defendant (Article 42 of the Code of Civil Procedure) or the registered office of the legal person (Article 43 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Enforcement of judgments between EU member states: For decisions that are subject to the old Brussels I Regulation (Regulation (EC) 44/2001), the presiding judge of the district court also has subject-matter jurisdiction according to Article 39(1) in conjunction with Annex II of the old Brussels I Regulation (however, the recognition will take place ipso jure). The local jurisdiction will be determined by the domicile of the defendant or the place of enforcement (Article 39(2) of the old Brussels I Regulation).

The new Brussels I Regulation (Regulation (EU) 1215/2012) applies only to judgments given in proceedings commenced on or after 10 January 2015 (see Article 66 of the new Brussels I Regulation). Under the new Brussels I Regulation, a judgment given in a member state that is enforceable in that member state shall be enforceable in the other member states without any declaration of enforceability being required (Article 39 of the new Brussels I Regulation).

According to Article 18(1) of the European Payment Order Regulation, the declaration of enforceability will be rendered by the court that issued the order. According to Article 6(1) of this regulation, the rules of Brussels I apply to this question of international competence unless the defendant is a consumer. In this case, only the jurisdictions in the member state where the consumer is domiciled will be competent.

The competent enforcement administration is determined by French law (Article 21 of the European Payment Order Regulation). More specifically, enforcement procedures shall be governed by the law of the member state of enforcement.

A foreign judgment certified as a European enforcement order according to the European Enforcement Order Regulation shall be enforced in France under the same conditions as a judgment rendered in France.

For the European small claims procedure (see Articles 1382 and following of the Code of Civil Procedure), the district court and the commercial court have subject-matter jurisdiction. The local competence is defined according to the Brussels I Regulation. A judgment delivered under this procedure is recognisable and enforceable in other member states (except Denmark) without any need for a declaration of enforceability.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
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?
 
France
All remedies ordered by a foreign court are enforceable (except for interim injunctions), according to both French private international law and European conventions, and international agreements or conventions. However, French courts do not recognise decisions on punitive damages that are disproportionate to the harm sustained and the contractual breach (see Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, 1 December 2010, Appeal 09-13.303; more recently, see Court of Cassation, Criminal Chamber, 15 October 2014, Appeal 13-83.884 and Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, 24 May 2018, Appeal 16-26.012). Therefore, if the French courts find that the punitive damages awarded are disproportionate, they will refuse to order the enforcement of such a decision.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
2.2
Must a foreign judgment be final and binding before it can be enforced?
 
France
In principle, a foreign judgment will be enforceable against the defendant after the exhaustion of all available remedies, after which the decision will be final and binding.

However, French doctrine allows for the possibility of provisional enforcement by lodging a security before the exhaustion of remedies.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
2.3
Is a foreign judgment enforceable if it is subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction?
 
France
An appeal suspends the execution of a district court decision in France as well as a declaration of enforceability (see Article L111-3 of the French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures).

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
2.4
What is the limitation period for making an application for recognition and enforcement?
 
France
As far as enforcement of a foreign decision is concerned, Articles L111-3 and L111-4 of the French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures stipulate a limitation period of 10 years, starting with the declaration of enforceability of the foreign decision (the term ‘enforcement’ is used here only with regard to enforcement in a technical sense; this does not comprise the recognition and declaration of enforceability (see below)). However, no remedy suspending execution of the declaration of enforceability exists.

A declaration of enforceability depends on the applicable rules – that is, the European regulations and conventions outlined in question 1.2, international agreements and bilateral conventions, and French rules on private international law.

However, Articles L111-3 and L111-4 of the French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures also provide that the 10-year limitation period does not apply if the actions for debt recovery that are taken into account in the decision set a longer time limit. In this case, the French court enforcing the decision will have to take the longer prescriptions of the foreign jurisdiction into account.

Contrary to enforcement, there are no rules on the prescription of recognition of a foreign judgment. Therefore, recognition of foreign decisions can take place at any time and the abovementioned limitation period of 10 years will start to run only at such time.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
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?
 
France
According to French private international law, foreign judgments are recognised and enforced by way of an exequatur procedure. Therefore, the judgment must first be recognised (ie, it must obtain full legal effect not only in the issuing state, but also in France). Once the judgment has achieved enforceable status through the declaration of enforceability, enforcement proceedings can begin. Enforcement is a separate process from recognition of a foreign judgment.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
3.2
What is the formal process for recognition and enforcement?
 
France
According to the European objective of creating a common area of freedom, security and justice, the treaties of recognition are based on the principle of mutual confidence in jurisdiction and decisions. Because of this principle, a foreign judgment in civil and commercial matters is generally recognised ipso jure in other member states without any special procedure being required (Article 33(1) of the old Brussels I Regulation and Article 36 of the new Brussels I Regulation) (for the possibilities available to challenge the recognition of a foreign judgment under the Brussels I Regulation, see question 4.1).

As a result of recognition by law, the beneficiary can apply directly to the chief clerk of the district court for a declaration of enforceability (Article 38 of the old Brussels I Regulation and Article 509-2(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure). This formality remains a requirement for the enforcement of a foreign judgment (this is also the case under the old Brussels I Regulation). However, this requirement was abolished by Regulation (EU) 1215/2012. Under the new Brussels I Regulation, a judgment given in one member state is enforceable in all other member states. There is no longer any need to apply for a declaration of enforceability.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
3.3
What documents are required in support of an application for recognition and enforcement?
 
France
There is no longer any need to apply for a declaration of enforceability regarding a judgment given in a member state that falls within the scope of Regulation (EU) 1215/2012. The party seeking enforcement need only produce:

  • an original copy of the judgment and of the certificate of the judgment; and
  • if necessary, a duly certified translation into the language of the member state of enforcement.

In other cases, it depends on the subject matter of the foreign judgment (eg, family law, civil law or commercial law).

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
3.4
What fees are payable for recognition and enforcement?
 
France
No fees are payable for recognition and enforcement before the French civil courts. French justice is essentially cost free.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
3.5
Is the applicant required to provide security for costs?
 
France
The provision of security for costs is generally not needed.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
3.6
How long does it usually take to obtain a declaration of enforceability?
 
France
A judgment given in a member state that falls within the scope of Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 is immediately enforceable in another EU member state, without any need for a declaration of enforceability (see Article 39 of the new Brussels I Regulation).

In other cases, this usually takes about six months.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
3.7
Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the process is ongoing?
 
France
Under French law, the judgment debtor cannot obtain injunctive relief to prevent foreign judgment enforcement proceedings in France. The judgment creditor can be prevented from enforcing a foreign judgment only if bankruptcy proceedings have been initiated against the judgment debtor or if immunity from execution has been granted to the judgment debtor (eg, if it is a public legal entity or a state).

Otherwise, a foreign judgment can be enforced in France by way of an exequatur procedure before the relevant district court. In the event that the conditions of the exequatur are fulfilled, the court will grant exequatur. A foreign judgment in civil and commercial matters falling within the scope of the old Brussels I Regulation is, in general, recognised ipso jure in other member states without any special procedure being required. The judgment creditor need only apply for a declaration of enforceability (see Article 38(1) of the old Brussels I Regulation).

A judgment given in a member state that falls within the scope of Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 is immediately enforceable in another EU member state, without any need for a declaration of enforceability (see Article 39 of the new Brussels I Regulation).

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
4.
Defences
4.1
On what grounds can the defendant challenge recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?
 
France
Enforcement of foreign non-EU judgments: According to French private international law, the defendant cannot obtain a review of the case. French legal practice allows only for the following to be invoked:

  • non-compliance with procedural regularities or French international public policy;
  • lack of competence of the foreign court; or
  • the existence of fraud against law in the prior action (Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, 20 February 2007, Appeal 05-14.082; see recently Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, 20 March 2019, Appeal 18-50.005: “the decision rendered by a court sitting in Morocco shall automatically have the authority of res judicata in France if it emanates from a competent court, if the parties have been legally summoned, represented or declared defaulting, if it has, according to Moroccan law, authority of res judicata and is enforceable, if it does not contain anything contrary to French public policy and is not contrary to a French judicial decision having in its regard the authority of res judicata;… the judge hearing a request for recognition of a Moroccan judgment, who shall examine ex officio the conditions for its international regularity, shall confine himself to verifying whether these conditions are met”).

Enforcement of judgments between EU member states: The debtor’s possibilities to challenge a foreign judgment under the Brussels I Regulation are also limited: under no circumstances may a foreign judgment be reviewed as to its substance (see Article 45(2) of the new Brussels I Regulation and Article 36 of the old Brussels I Regulation).

The only possible means of defence are defined in Articles 34 and 35 of the regulation. According to Article 34, recognition of a foreign judgment will be refused in case of:

  • a manifest conflict with French public policy, provided that the defendant had no possibility of defence in the prior action; or
  • incompatibility with an earlier judgment involving the same cause of action and the same parties in the member state of recognition, another member state or a third state.

Although Article 35(3) states the principle that the competence of the jurisdiction in the country of origin must not be reviewed, it allows exceptions to this principle with regard to decisions in matters relating to insurance or consumer contracts, or decisions of the exclusive jurisdictions according to Article 22 of the Brussels I Regulation. In these cases, lack of competence will constitute a reason for refusal of recognition.

The reasons for refusal set out in Articles 34 and 35 can be taken into consideration at different stages of the process of recognition and enforcement if there is a legal action either to solely obtain recognition or to raise an incidental question of recognition (Article 36 of the old Brussels I Regulation), and during the appeal procedure lodged by the defendant after the decision on the application for a declaration of enforceability (Article 49 of the new Brussels I Regulation).

The burden of proof concerning the reasons set out in Articles 34 and 35 of the Brussels I Regulation falls on the defendant.

Defences that the debtor could have raised during the prior action are also excluded. They can be raised only as part of an appeal against the foreign judgment in the member state in which the decision was rendered.

Under the new Brussels I Regulation, the judgment debtor can prevent a judgment from being enforced for the same reasons according to Article 46. The reasons for refusal of recognition and enforcement set out in Articles 34 and 35 of the old Brussels I Regulation have been incorporated into Article 45 of the new Brussels I Regulation. They remain unchanged.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
4.2
What is the limitation period for filing a challenge?
 
France
Under French law, civil proceedings are oral, so that arguments can be presented during the court hearing. Nevertheless, it is better to inform the applicant in writing of the legal arguments which constitute the defendant’s challenge within a reasonable timeframe, in order for it to be able to respond.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
4.3
Can the defendant seek injunctive relief to prevent enforcement while a challenge is pending?
 
France
If the defendant is the judgment debtor, it cannot obtain injunctive relief to prevent foreign judgment enforcement proceedings in France.

If the defendant is the judgment creditor, it can be prevented from enforcing a foreign judgment only if bankruptcy proceedings have been initiated against the judgment debtor or if immunity from execution has been granted to the judgment debtor (eg, where it is a public legal entity or a state) (see question 3.7.)

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
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
6.
Appeals
6.1
Can decisions in relation to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments be appealed?
 
France
According to French private international law, the means of redress against a declaration of enforceability are appeal and third-party proceedings.

An appeal suspends execution of a district court decision in France, and of a declaration of enforceability.

Decisions in favour of an application for a declaration of enforceability may be appealed; according to Article 43(2) and Annex III of the old Brussels I Regulation, the court of appeal is competent to hear decisions concerning approval of the application.

For decisions rejecting an application for a declaration of enforceability, the presiding judge of the district court is competent (Article 509-7 of the Code of Civil Procedure). For legal proceedings before the district court, the parties must be represented by a lawyer (Article 751(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure).

During the timeframe specified for lodging an appeal against the declaration of enforceability, pursuant to Article 43(5) of the Brussels I Regulation and until the court has ruled on any such appeal, no measures of enforcement may be taken other than protective measures against the property of the party against which enforcement is sought (Article 47(3) of the Brussels I Regulation).

If an ordinary appeal against the judgment has been lodged in the foreign country, the competent court may suspend the proceedings according to Article 46(1) of the Brussels I Regulation.

If a suspension of the proceedings is not suitable, the judge will make enforcement conditional on the provision of security determined by him or her at his or her legal discretion, in order to reduce the risk of insolvency (Article 46(3) of the Brussels I Regulation).

In addition to the appeal against the decision in favour of a declaration of enforceability, the enforcement itself can be appealed by the party concerned. This appeal is lodged in accordance with French law (Articles 542 and following of the Civil Procedure Code).

Between EU member states, the new Brussels I Regulation no longer obliges a party that wishes to enforce a foreign judgment in France to obtain a judgment in France recognising or enforcing the foreign judgment. A judgment given in a member state that is enforceable in that member state shall be enforceable in other member states without any declaration of enforceability being required (see Article 39). An enforceable judgment shall carry with it by operation of law the power to proceed to any protective measures that exist under the law of the member state addressed (see Article 40).

The European Enforcement Order Regulation (Article 5) does not include the possibility to oppose the recognition of a European enforcement order. Nevertheless, Article 21(1) establishes the possibility of a refusal of enforcement if the judgment is irreconcilable with a prior judgment, and of suspension and limitation of enforcement. According to Article 23 of the European Enforcement Order Regulation, the enforcing court can limit the enforcement proceedings to protective measures, make enforcement conditional on the provision of security or suspend the enforcement proceedings.

With regard to the European Payment Order Regulation, the defendant must lodge its appeal with the court of origin by using the standard Form F set out in Annex IV of the regulation (Article 12(4)(b)) within 30 days of service of the order. Enforcement will be rejected according to Article 22(1) of the regulation if the judgment, certified as a European payment order, is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment given in any member state or in a third country.

The European Small Claims Procedure Regulation disposes of a particular legal protection: according to Article 18(1) of the regulation (“Minimum Standards for Review of Judgments”), a defendant which, without fault, is not capable of responding in due time to the prior action can obtain a review of the foreign judgment by the foreign court. The European Small Claims Procedure allows for enforcement without the provision of security.

In case of an appeal against the judgment, the competent court can make enforcement conditional on security, limit the enforcement procedure to protective measures or, under exceptional circumstances, suspend the enforcement proceedings.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
6.2
Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the appeal is pending?
 
France
An appeal suspends execution of a district court decision in France and of a declaration of enforceability.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
7.
Enforcing the foreign judgment
7.1
Once a declaration of enforceability has been granted, how can the foreign judgment be enforced?
 
France
According to French private international law, the claimant must request exequatur of the judgment in order to enforce the judgment.

If exequatur is allowed, the judgment is enforceable and the claimant can use coercion to obtain its obligation or award. The applicable rules are laid down in Articles 11 to 37 of Decree 92-755 of 31 July 1992 (recently modified by Decree 2012-783 of 30 May 2012).

Once the judgment has been declared enforceable and a request for enforcement (according to Article 39(1) and Annex II of the old Brussels I Regulation) has been sent to the presiding judge of the competent district court, the judge will decide on the enforcement proceedings (Article 38(1) of the old Brussels I Regulation).

The claimant must be notified of the decision authorising enforcement proceedings and such notification must be served (together with the judgment, if this has not already been served) on the party against which enforcement is sought, even though a contradictory proceeding is not intended (ie, Article 42 of the Brussels I Regulation, now abolished by Regulation (EU) 1215/2012).

The enforcement proceedings of all EU decisions under the regulations mentioned above are governed by French law. In France, bailiffs are responsible for enforcing judgments.

Under Regulation (EU) 1215/2012, a party that wishes to invoke in a member state a judgment given in another member state must produce a copy of the judgment that satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authenticity and the certificate issued pursuant to Article 53, certifying that the judgment is enforceable and containing an extract of the judgment; as well as, where appropriate, relevant information on the recoverable costs of the proceedings and the calculation of interest (Articles 37 and 42 of the new Brussels I Regulation).

An enforceable judgment shall carry with it, by operation of law, the power to proceed to any protective measures that exist under the law of the member state addressed (Article 40 of the Brussels I Regulation).

Where enforcement is sought of a judgment given in another member state, the certificate issued pursuant to Article 53 shall be served on the person against which enforcement is sought prior to the first enforcement measure. The certificate shall be accompanied by the judgment, if not already served on that person (Article 43(1) of the Brussels I Regulation).

Where the person against which enforcement is sought is domiciled in a member state other than the member state of origin, it may request a translation of the judgment in order to contest the enforcement if the judgment is not written in or accompanied by a translation into:

  • a language that it understands;
  • the official language of the member state in which it is domiciled; or
  • where there are several official languages in that member state, the official language or one of the official languages of the place where it is domiciled (Article 43(2) of the Brussels I Regulation).
For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
7.2
Can the foreign judgment be enforced against third parties?
 
France
A judgment can be enforced against the named judgment debtor only. In France, courts do not apply principles of agency or alter ego to enforce a judgment against a party other than the named judgment debtor.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
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?
 
France
The new Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 has played its role effectively: as intended, there is now less litigation in this regard. The European Union can now be defined as an integrated space as far as recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are concerned. The French Court of Cassation ensures a coherent interpretation of EU law, in accordance with the principle of mutual confidence in jurisdiction and decisions. This analysis is confirmed by the fact that litigation is now mainly related to foreign non-EU judgments. The decisions issued by French courts on foreign non-EU judgments involve only the implementation of old legal precedents.

For more information about this answer please contact: Anke Sprengel from Endrös-Baum Associés
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?
 
France
Due to the large number of different rules governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments (ie, French private international law, EU regulations and international bilateral or multilateral treaties (see question 1.2), it is essential to identify, within a reasonable timeframe, the rules that are applicable in any respective case.

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