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 practice:
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”.