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Access_open Faith and Scepticism in Private International Law: Trust, Governance, Politics, and Foreign Judgments

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2014
Keywords private international law, conflict of laws, foreign judgments, European Union, United States
Authors Christopher Whytock M.S., Ph.D., J.D.
AbstractAuthor's information

    In both the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), the law governing the enforcement of foreign judgments is evolving, but in different directions. EU law, especially after the elimination of exequatur by the 2012 ’Recast’ of the Brussels I Regulation, increasingly facilitates enforcement in member states of judgments of other member states’ courts, reflecting growing faith in a multilateral private international law approach to foreign judgments. In US law, on the other hand, increasingly widespread adoption of state legislation based on the 2005 Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act (2005 Act), which adds new case-specific grounds for refusing enforcement, suggests growing scepticism. In this essay, I explore possible reasons for these diverging trends. I begin with the most obvious explanation: the Brussels framework governs the effect of internal EU member state judgments within the EU, whereas the 2005 Act governs the effect of external foreign country judgments within the US. One would expect more mutual trust – and thus more faith in foreign judgment enforcement – internally than externally. But I argue that this mutual trust explanation is only partially satisfactory. I therefore sketch out two other possible explanations. One is that the different trends in EU and US law are a result of an emphasis on ’governance values’ in EU law and an emphasis on ’rights values’ in US law. Another explanation – and perhaps the most fundamental one – is that these trends are ultimately traceable to politics.


Christopher Whytock M.S., Ph.D., J.D.
Christopher Whytock is Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.
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