It’s official– yesterday we signed on to the Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters, colloquially known as the Hague Judgments Convention.* The point of the Convention: essentially, to do for judgments abroad what the Full Faith & Credit Clause does for judgments as they cross state lines. To dramatically oversimplify, once in force, the Judgments Convention would give a final U.S. judgment effect in Israel or Costa Rica, like the FFCC gives a final Missouri judgment effect in New York. Of course, there are nuances and exceptions and a mechanism to make things happen, but that’s the nutshell version.
Now ensues a battle on Capitol Hill over its ratification by the President. This shouldn’t be too controversial, as U.S. courts are usually quite willing to recognize and enforce foreign** judgments if due process has been assured. As more countries sign on and the treaty is implemented, foreign courts will be more likely to recognize and enforce ours… a massive gain for American litigants. This should be one treaty that isn’t doomed to languish because the folks on the Hill can’t get something done, but I won’t hold my breath in this climate.
Here’s hoping, though…
* A nod to my colleague and fellow blogger, Ted Folkman, who offers that we should refer to Hague Conventions differently. He argues, rightly in my estimation, that they should be called “HCCH Conventions” owing to their administration by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, HCCH for (bilingual) short. Under Ted’s rubrik, this agreement is really the 2019 HCCH Judgments Convention, the Hague Service Convention should be the 1965 HCCH Service Convention, etc. While I agree wholeheartedly, a certain algorithm in California doesn’t see the nuance, so I stick with the old way.
** Foreign in the “you need a passport to go there” sense– not the “across State Line Road” sense.
A grammatical note for foreign readers… while conventional rules dictate the use of the plural when referring to the U.S., we use the singular. Instead of “the United States sign the Hague Judgments Convention,” we say “signs” the treaty. Our national motto is E Pluribus Unum… From Many, One.