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House Judiciary Subcommittee holds hearing on enforcing foreign judgments

On November 15th, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law held a hearing on "Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments." John B. Bellinger, III testified on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

As the Chamber's ILR report Confronting the New Breed Of Transnational Litigation: Abusive Foreign Judgments points out "in the last few decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of actions seeking recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in the United States." Therefore, this hearing was an important forum to set out the concerns and fears of many in the business community who are at risk and could be subject to unfair legal practices abroad. These concerns are especially well founded in light of cases such as Chevron v. Mendoza where the Second Circuit recently vacated the preliminary injunction granted by the district court which blocked enforcement of the $18 billion judgment against Chevron.

John Bellinger explained that "the business community supports recognition and enforcement of appropriate foreign judgments in U.S. courts but wants to avoid abuse of the liberal U.S. legal framework for recognition and enforcement."

He identified what he believes are the "three main goals of the U.S. business community" which are summarized as follows:

First, U.S. businesses want to know that if they obtain a money judgment, whether inside or outside the United States, they will be able to enforce that judgment in jurisdictions where the judgment debtor has assets.

Second, and related to the first goal, U.S. businesses need to understand what exceptions to recognition and enforcement might be invoked by judgment debtors that could undermine the success of the U.S. businesses' pursuit of judgments in their favor, and they need to be able to invoke appropriate exceptions themselves as judgment debtors to ensure that unjust or inappropriate judgments by foreign tribunals are not enforced against them.

And third, U.S. businesses want a predictable international legal regime where courts are obligated to recognize judgments that have been reached in other courts selected by the parties themselves.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.