Legal Abroad

France’s recognition and enforcement of foreign judicial decisions stand as a cornerstone of its commitment to international legal cooperation. This article provides valuable insights into the mechanisms facilitating cross-border judicial cooperation in France, thereby fostering legal certainty and promoting global justice.

In France, because of the hierarchy of norms, it is necessary to apply international or European rules before anything else. If those ones cannot by applied, then it is the French private international laws that will be. A distinction is to be done between the recognition and the execution (the enforceability) of the foreign court decision.

I – The recognition of foreign court decisions: what is it about ?

The recognition mainly corresponds to the opposability of the decision, the fact that interested parties can use the decision and impose it to all. The recognition depends on the international regularity of the decision, that can sometimes be presumed, as long as it is not contested. Two categories of decisions benefit from this presumption of regularity:

  • Decisions concerning personal status (name, gender, nationality) and the capacity of individuals (the ability for someone who has rights to exerce them). On the contrary, decisions concerning assets or coercion measures (that can compel an individual to do or not do something) need an exequatur procedure to give them the executory force.
  • Constitutive decisions about patrimony, that is to say those creating a right, unlike declarative decisions that are only announcing a pre-existing right.

II – The execution of foreign decision: what are the procedures ?

The executory force enables the execution of the foreign court decision. For that, it is a necessity to control the regularity of the decision. In France, this procedure is called exequatur, and it has three conditions:

  • It is a necessity to check if there is no exclusive competence of the French judge. It is the case in several hypothesis, for instance if there is a property on the French territory. If there is no exclusive competence, then it is necessary to check if the foreign judge was competent to rule his decision according to the French rules of indirect competence. For that, a characterized connection is necessary between the judge and the litigation. Also, the choice of jurisdiction shouldn’t be fraudulent.
  • The conformity of the foreign decision to the French public policy: the foreign decision needs to respect the essential values of the French society.
  • The absence of legal fraud, or the eviction of the law that normally applies to apply another law more favorable. In fact, this condition only intervenes when the other conditions do not enable the judge to dismiss a judgment.

Other procedures can make a foreign decision effective, in addition to exequatur:

  • Inoperability action: allows any individual to establish the irregularity of a foreign decision, and by the way its inoperability, its inefficiency. If the action is successful, it forbids any recognition and prevents any exequatur of the decision.
  • Incidental recognition: when a plaintiff wants to use the foreign decision in the context of a pending procedure with another subject than the foreign decision. It is only a control that enable the consideration of the foreign decision, it doesn’t give the executory force to the decision.

For more information : https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F576 .