Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act Summary

In international law, the principle of reciprocity generally governs the recognition and enforcement in one country of judgments entered in another. If the country which originates a judgment recognizes and enforces the original judgments of the country that is being asked to recognize and enforce it, then that country is likely to comply with the petition to recognize and enforce the judgment. But in the United States, the common law rules are not certain enough for reciprocity to be a sure thing when judgments of state courts are brought for enforcement outside the boundaries of the United States. Some foreign courts have refused to enforce judgments entered by courts in the United States. The remedy is to make it absolutely certain that judgments from the courts of other countries are recognized and enforced in the U.S. courts. The Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act (UFM-JRA), promulgated by the Uniform Law Commissioners in 1962, is the specific remedy.

Under UFM-JRA, foreign judgments are money judgments entered in a "foreign state," which is "any governmental unit other than the United States" or any part of the United States (including territories). Excluded are tax or family law related judgments. A foreign judgment, under UFM-JRA, is conclusive between the parties and is enforceable in the same manner as a judgment of a state of the United States entitled to full faith and credit under the U.S. Constitution.

Some foreign money judgments are not recognized. These include judgments from systems without tribunals or procedures compatible with due process of law. Judgments entered without personal jurisdiction and fraudulently obtained judgments, also. are not recognizable. Generally, if a judgment is obtained in a fair manner, it will be recognized under this act. If the fairness of the process may be called into question, then the judgment may fail to be recognized and enforced.

These are the governing principles for UFM-JRA. In this time of increased foreign trade and the need for international competitiveness, UFM-JRA fills a gap in the common law with absolutely certain statutory principles. They are principles that must be adopted uniformly by all the states for it to be fully effective.