West Law Report

No state immunity against enforcing foreign judgment

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on February 19, 2009

From The TimesFebruary 11, 2009

No state immunity against enforcing foreign judgment
Queen’s Bench Division
Published February 11, 2009
NML Capital Ltd v Republic of Argentina
Before Mr Justice Blair
Judgment January 29, 2009

A foreign state was not entitled to claim sovereign immunity to avoid enforcement of a judgment validly obtained in another overseas jurisdiction.

Mr Justice Blair, so held in the Commercial Court of the Queen’s Bench Division, when dismissing an application by the Republic of Argentina to set aside an order of Mr Justice David Steel made on April 2, 2008, granting NML Capital Ltd permission to serve proceedings out of the jurisdiction in respect of a judgment debt made in favour of NML against Argentina by the United State District Court for the Southern District of New York in the sum of US$284,184,623.30. Argentina applied to set aside the order for service out of the jurisdiction on the ground that, as a sovereign state, it was immune from suit by virtue of section 1 of the State Immunity Act 1978.

Mr Andrew Onslow, QC, Mr Jonathan Nash, QC and Mr Peter Radcliffe for NML; Mr Anthony Trace, QC, Mr Benjamin John and Mr Ciaran Keller for Argentina.

MR JUSTICE BLAIR said that section 31 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 dealt comprehensively with the recognition and enforcement of the judgments of foreign courts against states as to both jurisdictional immunity and enforcement.

Under section 31(1), a foreign judgment would be recognised and enforced in the British court if (i) the foreign court would have had jurisdiction applying sovereign immunity rules corresponding to those applicable in the United Kingdom in the 1978 Act and (ii) if it would be so recognised and enforced had it not been given against a state.

The requirements of section 31(1) were met and the Republic of Argentina could not claim jurisdictional immunity. The application to set aside the judgment for service of proceedings out of the jurisdiction was set aside.

Solicitors: Dechert LLP; Travers Smith LLP

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