Russian Federation signed Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters

On 17 November 2021 Russia signed Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgements in Civil or Commercial Matters1 ("the Convention"). Ukraine, Uruguay, Israel, and Costa Rica also signed the Convention2.

The main purpose of the Convention is to unify the procedure for recognizing and enforcing judgments of state courts in contracting governments. The Convention sets out clear criteria for recognition of state courts’ judgements and grounds for refusing to recognize them as well.

Today judgments issued by foreign state courts can be recognized in Russia in three situations:

  1. if they are based on separate bilateral legal assistance agreements;
  2. if they are based on multilateral treaties (in particular, the Kiev Agreement and the Minsk Convention) to which Russia is a signatory;
  3. if there are no international treaties the principles of international reciprocity and the principle of courtesy should be applied.

The absence of uniformity in conditions, grounds and the process of recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments of state courts leads to unpredictability both for judgements recognized in Russia and in other jurisdictions. In our opinion, signing the Convention is the first step to establishing a uniform judicial practice and demonstrating the readiness of Russian legal system to follow international supranational norms.

It is established that the Convention shall not be applied to the recognition and enforcement of judgments in the areas of family law (including alimony), bankruptcy and insolvency, inheritance law, legal capacity of private persons, intellectual property and defamation, legal personality of legal persons, and other matters of public law and cases concerning State sovereignty.

The Convention sets out a clear list of alternative grounds, one of which shall allow a judgment to be recognized and enforced in a contracting government.

The same list of grounds is provided for refusal of recognition and enforcement. Among these grounds we can also note conditions for refusal that can be interpreted by the applicants in their own discretion quite broadly. For example, obtaining a judgment by deception or the incompatibility of a recognized judgment with a judgment in a dispute between the same parties rendered in another state.

It is interesting that the Convention provides for the right to recognize and enforce judicial acts. These acts should be aimed at the resolution of preliminary questions in cases where such questions fall within the scope of the Convention and were not decided by a court of a contracting state. The same principle also applies to settlement agreements approved by a state court.

We continue to monitor the countries signing the Convention as well as judicial practice of its application.

1The official English text of the Convention can be found here: https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/full-text/?cid=137, unofficial Russian translation of the text of the Convention by the Ministry of Justice: https://minjust.gov.ru/ru/documents/7603/.
2 https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/status-table/?cid=137.