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4. Results: Answers
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments
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?
United States

Answer ... State statutes based on the Model Acts require that a judgment:

  • grant or deny recovery of a sum of money;
  • be final and conclusive between the parties; and
  • be enforceable in the country in which the judgment was entered (see 2005 Recognition Act § 3(a) (2); 1962 Recognition Act § 3; Cal Civ Proc Code § 1715(a)–(b); NY CPLR § 5302).

Moreover, under many state statutes, the foreign judgment must relate to the same parties named as defendants in the US action (Kaupthing ehf v Bricklayers and Trowel Trades International Pension Fund Liquidation Portfolio, 291 F Supp 3d 21 (DDC 2017)).

Judgments for taxes, fines or other penalties are excluded from the recognition statutes. Under the 1962 Recognition Act, courts also will not recognise and enforce judgments “[in] support [of] matrimonial or family matters” (1962 Recognition Act § 1(2)). The 2005 Recognition Act expanded this exclusion to cover judgments “for divorce, support, or maintenance, or other judgments rendered in connection with domestic relations” (2005 Recognition Act § 3(b)(3)).

However, non-monetary judgments, including matrimonial matters, may be recognised under principles of comity or pursuant to specific statute law (eg, see Cal Civ Proc Code § 1715(B), providing that a judgment in connection with domestic relations may be recognised under a savings clause; Downs v Yuen, 748 NYS 2d 131 (App Div 2002), providing that the New York recognition statute does not bar recognition of a foreign support judgment as a matter of comity).

For more information about this answer please contact: Ana Reyes from Williams & Connolly
2.2
Must a foreign judgment be final and binding before it can be enforced?
United States

Answer ... Yes. Foreign judgments must be final, conclusive and enforceable in the country in which they are rendered (see 2005 Recognition Act 3(a)(2); 1962 Recognition Act 2). For example, a pre-judgment attachment issued by a foreign court while the merits of the case were being litigated in Spain was an interim order not enforceable in the United States (Maquinaria Cerezo, SA v Babson Bros Co, 1992 WL 18875 (ND Ill 1992)). In making finality determinations, US courts look to the law of the rendering country; mere assertions of finality will not suffice (Despotovic v Gavrilovic Holding Petrinja, 2018 WL 6016710 (Conn Super Ct 2018) – representations of counsel not evidence).

For more information about this answer please contact: Ana Reyes from Williams & Connolly
2.3
Is a foreign judgment enforceable if it is subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction?
United States

Answer ... The fact that a final judgment is on appeal will not prevent it from being recognised and enforced in the United States. If a party establishes that an appeal from a foreign country judgment is pending or will be taken, the court may, in its discretion, stay the US proceedings (eg, see Cal Civ Proc Code § 1720 (2019): “If a party establishes that an appeal from a foreign-country judgment is pending or will be taken in the foreign country, the court may stay any proceedings with regard to the foreign-country judgment until the appeal is concluded, the time for appeal expires, or the appellant has had sufficient time to prosecute the appeal and has failed to do so”. See also PJSC Credit-Moscow Bank v Khairoulline, No CV 15-6604, 2016 WL 4454208 (ED Pa 24 August 2016), issuing stay pending resolution of appeals that had already been argued).

For more information about this answer please contact: Ana Reyes from Williams & Connolly
2.4
What is the limitation period for making an application for recognition and enforcement?
United States

Answer ... Neither the Restatement nor the 1962 Recognition Act addresses the statute of limitations question. The 2005 Recognition Act, however, includes a statute of limitations; it provides that “[a]n action to recognize a foreign-country judgment must be commenced within the earlier of (i) the time during which the foreign-country judgment is effective in the foreign country, or (ii) 15 years from the date that the foreign-country judgment became effective in the foreign country.” Some courts have applied the state’s general statute of limitations, while some states have their own application limitations period (see Cal Civ Proc Code § 1721: “An action to recognize a foreign-country judgment shall be commenced within the earlier of the time during which the foreign-country judgment is effective in the foreign country or 10 years from the date that the foreign-country judgment became effective in the foreign country”). The New York Convention does not contain a statute of limitations for enforcement of arbitral awards or restrictions with respect to foreign judgments; accordingly, parties are free to incorporate time limits into their arbitration agreements.

For more information about this answer please contact: Ana Reyes from Williams & Connolly
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Enforcement of Foreign Judgments