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Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

What is the formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

The formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment depends on the scope of the relevant regulation.

Brussels Recast Regulation The recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments rendered by an EU member state and issued from procedures introduced from January 10 2015 are automatic and do not required the prior intervention of a French judge. The claimant must request a European enforcement order certificate from the court that issued the judgment in order to obtain its recognition and enforcement in France.

Once the certificate is issued, it must be sent to the enforcement authority of the member state where the debtor has its residence or assets, along with a copy of the original judgment in favour of the applicant and a translation of the latter. In this scenario, the claimant can take direct enforcement measures and turn to a local bailiff where the decision should be enforced.

Nevertheless, the recognition or enforcement of a foreign judgment can be denied by the French courts on the request of any interested party (for the recognition) or the party against whom enforcement is sought (Articles 45 and 46 of the Brussels Recast Regulation).

An interested party that wishes to challenge the recognition or enforcement of a judgment must initiate contradictory proceedings before either the French first-instance civil court for the refusal of recognition or the enforcement judge for the refusal of enforcement. The court will then assess the criteria of international regularity, as stated by Articles 45 and 46 of the regulation.

For instance, no recognition or enforcement can be granted when the decision was rendered in default of appearance, and the defendant was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings or with an equivalent document in sufficient time as to enable it to arrange its defence. Such protection is once again precluded if the defendant fails to appeal the decision when it is in a position to do so. The request for recognition or enforcement will also be denied if the foreign judgment is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment rendered between the same parties in the addressed member state, another member state or in a third state.

Civil and commercial judgments before January 10 2015, Brussels II Regulation and Lugano ConventionThis covers the recognition and enforcement of:

  • civil and commercial judgments rendered on proceedings initiated before January 10 2015;
  • judgments that fall within the scope of the Brussels II Regulation; and
  • judgments that fall within the scope of the Lugano Convention.

All of these types of judgment follow the same recognition and enforcement regime, based on the former Brussels I Regulation:

  • The recognition of these judgments is automatic and does not require the prior intervention of a French judge. However, any interested party can lodge a recourse against the recognition, claiming that the foreign judgment does not meet the criteria described above and stated by each regulation.
  • The enforcement of these judgments requires the filing of an application for a declaration of enforceability before the French first-instance civil court:
    • If the judgment falls within the scope of Brussels I Regulation or the Lugano Convention, the declaration of enforceability is mandatory on presentation of a certificate issued by the court of origin.
    • If the judgment falls within the scope of Brussels II Regulation, the court will review the international regularity of the judgment.

In both cases, a recourse against the declaration of enforceability can be lodged afterwards before the Court of Appeal by the party against whom the decision is to be enforced.

Recognition and enforcement procedures under French local law  With regard to recognition, foreign judgments are recognised by French law without any prior formalities. They benefit from what is called a ‘de plano’ recognition. To prevent any difficulties linked to the substantive requirements defined above, a party can seek the exequatur of the foreign judgment for recognition purposes only.

Regarding enforcement, foreign judgments can be enforced in France only when a judgment of exequatur has been rendered by a French court. This adversarial procedure is introduced before a first-instance civil court by serving a summons. Representation by a lawyer is compulsory.

The claimant can file the proceedings either before the first-instance civil court of the place of the defendant’s residence or the court where the enforcement measure must be undertaken. Traditionally, the First-Instance Civil Court of Paris is the main jurisdiction for exequatur applications, as the judgments rendered by this court in this regard apply throughout France. In other words, any judgment rendered by the First-Instance Civil Court of Paris granting exequatur to a foreign court decision allows the applicant to execute the foreign judicial decision on the entire French territory.

Timeframe

What is the typical timeframe for the proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement?

As explain, the current trend is to ease the circulation of foreign judgments. The recent evolution of the EU regulations demonstrates this effort.

Thus, in cases where the enforcement is not automatic and a procedure has to be initiated, only a few weeks are needed for the applicant to obtain the enforcement from the competent French courts. If such a request is challenged, the litigation over the matter could take between 12 and 18 months. However, in a few cases, where the issues at stake are highly specific, the procedure could take years.

Fees

What fees apply to applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The costs that an applicant would have to support for the enforcement procedure are attorneys’ fees, court service fees and bailiff fees. As the decision should be translated into the addressed state’s language, translator costs might also be taken into account.

Security

Must the applicant for recognition and enforcement provide security for costs?

No.

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

The decisions that grant or reject the enforcement to foreign judgments can be challenged by the parties (but not third parties).

The appeal against the declaration of enforceability or a rejection of a request for a declaration of enforceability must be brought before the president of the French first-instance civil court, who will rule on the request (Article 509-9 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Other costs

How does the enforcing court address other costs issues arising in relation to the foreign judgment (eg, calculation of interest, exchange rates)?

The enforcing court calculates the interest as set out in the decision. The exchange rate applicable on the date on which the decision was enforced will be used.

Enforcement against third parties

To what extent can the courts enforce a foreign judgment against third parties?

The courts can recognise the enforceability of a foreign judgment, but will not enforce it. However, the applicant can apply for enforcement measures based on a ruling in its favour.

Partial recognition and enforcement

Can the courts grant partial recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The courts can either grant or reject an application for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment. There are no partial recognition or enforcement judgments.

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