The recognition and enforcement of judgment has such a crucial role in today’s globalized world. Nowadays, persons might likely face disputes with international element and therefore, it is important to have knowledge to understand the complexity of recognition and enforcement of the decisions in foreign countries. In this article, we examine the aspects of foreign judgments, particularly in Finland.
In essence, Finland does not recognize or enforce foreign judgments, unless in case where they are under the international agreements or they are affected by special provisions, as when it comes to an immovable property. The recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment, which is not falling into the scope of any international agreements, is not particularly established in the regulation and the Finnish Courts have an exclusive jurisdiction for ruling them.
The Act on International legal assistance and recognition and enforcement of judgments (Laki kansainvälisestä oikeusavusta sekä tuomioiden tunnustamisesta ja täytäntöönpanosta siviili- ja kauppaoikeuden alalla 426/2015) states that a civil or commercial judgment of a foreign country can only be recognized and enforced when the subject is under a separate international agreement. This also signifies that lis pendens or prior tempore rules will not apply when a court of non-EU state is in concern.
The multilateral conventions with Finland on recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments have only an extent to the Brussel Convention and the Lugano Convention. The Nordic countries established the Convention on the recognition and enforcement of judgments on private law, but the impact of the Convention is no longer significant since the Brussel I Regulation and Lugano Convention are primarily applied. Furthermore, Finland has also entered into the New York Convention of Arbitral Awards 1958.
Procedures on judgments
Being a Member State of European Union, Finland enforces the judgments ruled anywhere in the respective area according to the rules established in Brussel I Regulation. According to the latest Regulation, in case of enforcing judgments, settlements or other instruments in any of the Member States, there is no need for a separate recognition by the Finnish District Court (Käräjäoikeus). However, the judgments before the 10 of January 2015 must be submitted to District Court in order to have them recognized and enforced, because of the amendment of the Regulation.
Currently, the decision will be directly enforceable by the Enforcement authorities of Finland (Ulosoton organisaatio) as soon as a person will submit the foreign judicial decision to the said entity. The authorities in Finland require a certified translation of the judgment in Finnish or Swedish. An appeal against the decision on authorizing the enforcement of the judgment can be brought before the Court of Appeal (Hovioikeus) and further to the Supreme Court (Korkein oikeus). The National Administrative Office for Enforcement is in charge of operative administration and supervision of enforcement in Finland.
Lugano Convention established in 1988 is likely similar with the Brussel I Regulation. It is applied in relations with Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and EU Member States. The enforcement requires a submission of application to the District Court. Similarly, the submission must include a copy of the judgment with a certified translation in Finnish or Swedish.
As already mentioned before, Finland has not entered into multilateral conventions to enforce the foreign judgments. The closest related convention regarding the matter is the New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards came into force in Finland in 1962. In order to recognize and enforce the arbitration award, the application must be submitted with the original or copied agreement and award. These documents as well will need an authorized, translated copy in Finnish or Swedish. The arbitration award will be enforceable after the confirmation of the District Court. The application may only be declined on following reasons: if the award is null and void; the court has annulled the award; or for the precedent reasons the District Court rules on not to enforce the arbitration award. As might be seen, the recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards is can be reliable in a wider area.
It is quite uncertain whether the Finnish courts will recognize and enforce the judgment of a non-EU country. The special provisions can nonetheless allow it in some cases. The procedure on enforcement is positively facilitated for the contracting states through the amendments. In general, it is important to be familiar with the policy and procedural rules of enforcement in each country, since the consequences of foreign judgments can have different effects.
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