The U.S. Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act (UFMJRA) was intended to make enforcement of foreign country judgments more streamlined and predictable in this age of transborder disputes and multi-jurisdictional transactions. It also reassures foreign courts that their judgments are likely to be honored in the U.S. by removing the issue of comity and reciprocity from a court’s analysis. Thus, one seeking to enforce a foreign judgment no longer has to prove that the foreign jurisdiction in question would enforce a U.S. judgment. However, there are very few cases in the U.S. interpreting the UFMJRA or the level of discretion a trial court has to apply the discretionary bases for non-recognition of a foreign judgment.
Ally Law member firm Kalbian Hagerty, based in Abu Dhabi and Washington, D.C., this month won a victory in federal court under the UFMJRA for its client IMMDF (Iraq Middle Market Development Foundation); the resolution of the case limited the scope of the trial court’s discretion in applying the discretionary bases of the UFMJRA. IMMDF is a non-profit corporation that, beginning in 2006, was endowed with funds from USAID and other U.S. government agencies, and authorized to lend funds to Iraqi-owned mid-sized business in order to spur economic development and stability in Iraq. IMMDF won a $2 million judgment in Iraq after loan recipients defaulted. The organization sought recognition of the Iraqi judgment in the U.S. but the trial court determined, relying on the UFMJRA’s discretionary bases, that the mere fact of an arbitration clause in the parties’ contract was sufficient to authorize the trial court to refuse enforcement. However, the federal appellate court disagreed and held that the legislature could not have intended such broad discretion as under U.S. law any contractual right may be waived. Thus, the appellate court allowed the case to go forward to determine whether the parties had waived arbitration in the Iraqi courts. If so, the case may go forward on the IMMDF’s U.S. judgment enforcement action.
This case addresses an important issue of first impression interpreting the UFMJRA and will add more certainty for those attempting to enforce foreign money judgments in the U.S. If you are seeking to enforce a money judgment anywhere across the globe, talk with your Ally Law member firm litigation group to determine what laws apply and how best to obtain your money judgment. For more information about Ally Law member firm services and outstanding lawyers, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.