How to enforce a foreign Judgment in France?

Pursuant to European Regulation 44/2001 of 22 December 2000, a UK judgment may be enforced in France, under the procedure called "exequatur". The procedure requires the claimant to file a special Application and provide the Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) with a copy of the foreign Judgment, together with a certified translation of the same. The Court will check, inter alia, that the Defendant has been made aware of the legal proceedings issued against him/her and that no Judgment was already obtained in France regarding the same dispute. If satisfied with the above, the Court will issue an Order which allowing the UK Judgment to be enforced in France.

Please note that, to enforce in France any Order for Sale obtained in a foreign jurisdiction, the following two criteria must be met:

1. All legal appeals must be exhausted within the jurisdiction where the Order is being obtained (England & Wales in this case);
2. The Order itself must be valid within the jurisdiction that it is being issued even if it will be enforced in France.

A certificate confirming the absence of all legal appeals should be provided as additional support to the application. After an Order is obtained in England & Wales, a file of supporting evidence must be prepared that contains two copies the following:

- A detailed outline of all subsequent documents contained in the file;
- Copies of the Order translated into French by a sworn translator;

The enforcement Application is to be submitted to the Court’s Clerk of the local County Court "Tribunal de Grande Instance", who will issue a certificate confirming that the foreign court Order is enforceable in France. This certificate will ensure that the Order for sale has the same legal significance as if it were issued directly by a French Judge.

Standard forms, which comply with European regulations, are available in support of such an Application. The Court's Clerk cannot reject enforcement applications that include all the necessary details and accompanying evidence. One of the main points to consider is that, to be enforceable in France, the UK Order for sale must be final. A certificate, issued by the UK Court, confirming the absence of any appeal proceedings against the sale Order should therefore be provided to support the enforcement application.

Upon receipt of the certificate, a second charge or a conventional charge can be filed with the "Conservation des Hypothèques" (Land Registry). A Bailiff of the Court must then serve notice of the Order for sale upon the Defendant.

The Defendant can appeal the legality of the certificate before the Court of Appeal in France, legal grounds for these are restrictive. It is extremely rare that a Court of Appeal rules that a properly certified foreign court Order is unenforceable in France. Upon being served the enforcement certificate by the Bailiff, the bankrupts have one month, from the date of service, to lodge an appeal; two months if they live outside France.

1. Hague Convention (1 February 1971, Article IV, Sections 1, 2)
2. Article 509 – 509-7 of the Nouveau Code de Procédure Civile
3. E.U. Council Regulation No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000, Chapter III, Article 43, Section 5

Author: Fabien Cordiez, Avocat & Solicitor

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