You have your Cross-border Judgment, what happens next? How can it be Enforced?

When a company has the misfortune to face a cross-border commercial dispute with another business when the matter is decided by the court, the successful party is then facing the question of how to enforce the judgment in a different country. Enforcing a judgment in a different jurisdiction can be problematic due to the varying laws and procedures in different countries.

Many countries enforce foreign judgments based on the principle of reciprocity, meaning they will enforce judgments from countries where there is a mutual agreement between them to enforce judgments. There are a number of international agreements and conventions that facilitate of enforcement of foreign judgments.

The Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters. Known as Hague 2019 Judgments Convention has signatories across Europe, including the UK.

The Brussels I Regulation (recast) streamlines recognition and enforcement within the European Union. Judgments from one EU member state are automatically recognised in another, with limited grounds for refusal.

In the USA The Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act (UFMJRA) has been adopted by many states, providing a standardised approach for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. States not adopting the UFMJRA may have different procedures based on common law principles.

Countries like Singapore and Hong Kong have well-established legal frameworks for the enforcement of foreign judgments.

Vincenzo Senatore, a Senior Partner, pointed out "The laws vary from country to country regarding the enforcement of foreign judgments and there are some significant differences. In the case of the countries within the European Union judgments are automatically recognised in every EU country and can be enforced through the courts." Vincenzo commented "understanding the legal framework in the jurisdiction where enforcement is sought is crucial. Some jurisdictions differentiate between types of judgments, for example, monetary -v- non-monetary or civil -v- criminal and there may be different enforcement rules that apply to the various judgments."

You have won half the battle in obtaining a judgment, unfortunately, there are still more hurdles to manage before eventually obtaining compensation.

Giambrone & Partners' litigation lawyers point out that a cross-border dispute will require the assistance of multi-jurisdictional lawyers to navigate through enforcement of a judgment in a foreign jurisdiction. Guidance by a multi-jurisdictional litigation lawyer is essential to ensure that there are no omissions with regard to the documentation and all deadlines are met.

The documents required to enforce a judgment in an overseas jurisdiction:

  • A certified copy of the judgment
  • An apostille under The Hague Apostille Convention or the judgment may require legalisation
  • Certified translations of documents not in the language of the country where enforcement is sought
  • A recognition application submitted in the court in the appropriate jurisdiction
  • Evidence of proper service of process on the defendant in the original proceedings

There may be other applicable documents that are required in the local law of the jurisdiction.

Once the documents are assembled service of the application can progress on the judgment debtor in accordance with local rules. A court will then schedule a hearing to determine whether the foreign judgment meets the criteria for recognition and enforcement.

There are defences that the judgment debtor has the opportunity to raise against enforcement for example:

  • Lack of jurisdiction by the original court
  • The juagment was obtained by fraud
  • The judgment is contrary to public policy in the enforcement jurisdiction
  • The original proceedings violated principles of natural justice, such as lack of due process

In the event of the overseas court granting recognition, an order will be issued allowing enforcement of the judgment, which will then be executed in the same manner as a domestic judgment. Actions that can be taken to enforce:

  • Obtaining a writ of execution allowing the seizure of the debtor's assets
  • The Issue of Garnishment Orders to garnish (when money is legally withheld and sent to a third party) the debtor's wages or bank accounts
  • A lien placed on the debtor's real property to secure the debt
  • The appointment of a receiver to manage and dispose of the debtor's assets

Giambrone & Partners' cross-border litigation lawyers emphasise that it is imperative to instruct litigation lawyers with extensive expertise in advising and managing cross-border claims. Our lawyers have an extensive understanding the specific requirements of a range of jurisdictions and regularly are successful in obtaining compensation for our clients in overseas jurisdictions. We can provide legal assistance and strategic planning throughout the process.

Vincenzo Senatore 

Vincenzo Senatore is a Senior Partner based alternately in both the London and Naples office.

He is dually qualified Italian Avvocato (with Higher Rights of Audience) and English Solicitor, qualified as a solicitor in Northern Ireland and also qualified to plead before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Vincenzo has several years of post-qualification experience in Civil and Common law. Vincenzo has broad experience of UK and international cross-border transactions across a variety of industry sectors as well as international corporate and criminal law. Vincenzo is a formidable litigator with a demonstrable history of bringing successful transactions to successful conclusions, providing legal support to partners and delivering strategic advice to diverse clientele.

After completing his studies as Erasmus student at the Paris-Lodron Universität of Salzburg (A), Vincenzo graduated at the University of Naples “Federico II” (IT) and moved to the USA to gain his Master of Laws (LLM) in International Business Transactions and Trade Law at the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, Washington DC.

Vincenzo has worked in the USA where, during his fellowship at the prestigious Stanford Center for Biomedical and Ethics (Stanford University), specialised in intellectual property related to human embryonic stem cells. His research was published in the prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Biotech. During that time, he passed the first test (MPRE) to become a California attorney and also became Notary Public for the State of California.

Vincenzo’s professional activities have encompassed, amongst others, being on the scientific organizer committee for the Association Internationale des Jeunes Avocats for conferences on Anglo-American Law and as speaker in webinars, lectures and conferences organised by the British Chamber of Commerce (IT), CUA, Columbus School of Law, Washington DC (USA), Lockey Stem Cells Building Research, Stanford University (USA), SKKU School of Business (Republic of Korea), and the Naples Bar Associations, as expert in Civil and Common law arena.

Vincenzo has been recently appointed to the CUA, Columbus School of Law’s Alumni Council, Washington, DC. The prestigious Alumni Council forms the governing body of Catholic Law Alumni Association, formed in 2013 to endorse and advance the values, objectives, and well-being of The Catholic University of America and Columbus School of Law. He is also member of the International Criminal Court Bar Association, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Naples Bar Association, and of the International Academy of Financial Consumers (Korea) where he is also editorial member.

Vincenzo Senatore is to date the only Italian lawyer registered in the List of Professionals of the Italian Embassy in Tokyo and the Italian General Consulate in Osaka. Vincenzo heads the Giambrone's Japanese Desk in Italy and the Firm's offices both in Tokyo and Osaka, through the Strategic Alliances with Kikkawa Law Offices and Meilin International Law Firm.

If you would like to know more about cross-border commercial dispute please contact Vincenzo's clerk Sam Groom on SG@giambronelaw.com or please click here.