MOVING TOWARD A CONVENTION ON JURISDICTION AND JUDGMENT ENFORCEMENT
The current state of enforcing foreign judgments is imbalanced with regard to the United States. As noted in Parts One and Two, the United States is not (and never has been) a party to any treaty requiring the enforcement of foreign judgments, and U.S. judgments are often not enforced abroad due to opposition to American bases for jurisdiction or clashes of substantive law (e.g., the availability of punitive damages). Moreover, although a federal law on the subject would be possible as in the case of foreign arbitral awards and would preempt the many different state laws, U.S. state law today still determines the inbound enforcement process for foreign judgments.
The U.S.-U.K. Convention Draft
The U.S.-U.K. Convention on the Reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil Matters, initiated on October 26, 1976, represents the first American effort to increase recognition of U.S. judgments overseas. Although rather narrow in scope, the treaty strove toward uniform treatment of U.K. judgments in U.S. state and federal courts and non-discriminatory enforcement of American judgments in the United Kingdom. In addition, the treaty allowed either State to refuse recognition of “discriminatory judgments.” Nevertheless, negotiations for the project failed due to the U.K. manufacturers' and insurers' concerns about high U.S. jury awards.
The Hague Convention
Thereafter, development in this area took more than a 10-year break, resuming in 1992 when the United States proposed the creation of a multilateral treaty on the recognition and enforcement of civil judgments to the Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.