Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC v. Saad Trading, Contracting
& Financial Services Co., 652191/11 (Sup. Ct. N. Y. Cty. 2012),
granted summary judgment in lieu of complaint — a
streamlined and expeditious remedy — to domesticate and
enforce a judgment from the U.K. In the U.K. proceedings, the
defendant initially appeared, did not contest jurisdiction, but
then ultimately withdrew and failed to appear for trial. When the
plaintiff in the U.K. proceeding came to the U.S. to enforce the
judgment, the defendant defended on both personal jurisdiction and
forum non conveniens grounds. The absence of personal jurisdiction
was claimed to apply to the proceedings in the U.S.
The Court held two things of interest in international
First, the Court found that in personal jurisdiction was not
necessary for the Court to enforce the judgment. Following a Fourth
Department ruling that the Court here felt bound to follow in
absence of any contrary authority in the Judicial Department where
the Court sat (here, the First Department), the Court ruled that
"neither due process nor article 53 of the CPLR [containing
the Uniform Recognition of Foreign Money Judgments Act] requires a
jurisdictional predicate for recognition of a foreign country money
judgment so long as the requirements of article 53 are met".
For support, the Cour relied on Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186
(1977), which held:
Once it has been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction
that the defendant is a debtor of the plaintiff, there would seem
to be no unfairness in allowing an action to realize on that debt
in a State where the defendant has property, whether or not that
State would have jurisdiction to determine the existence of the
debt as an original matter.
Second, the Court rejected a forum non conveniens defense. There
was nothing for the defendant to defend in the proceedings here and
therefore no witnesses to be inconvenienced. Said the Court:
"plaintiff is seeking recognition of a foreign judgment as a
matter of international comity in order to collect on the judgment
it has already obtained. The court simply is being asked 'to
perform a ministerial function' . . . The doctrine of forum non
conveniens, if applied here, would undermine rather than support
fairness, justice and convenience".
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