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Hastings International and Comparative Law Review

Abstract

The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments have become one of the most prominent areas of interest for many countries in this day of heightened globalization. While the United States has been generous in its recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, many foreign countries have been unwilling to honor U.S. judgments. U.S. recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments is currently handled on a state-by-state basis, governed by state statute or common law. From a foreign country perspective, this "system" provides no unified procedure indicating under what conditions foreign judgments will be recognized and enforced. The Council of the American Law Institute considered three proposed reciprocity laws in an attempt to make U.S. foreign judgment recognition and enforcement more transparent, and ultimately settled on a version that requires reciprocity.

This note examines the historical, social, and legal underpinnings of sovereign recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. It discusses the three proposed versions of the reciprocity law, and analyzes the version currently adopted by the ALI. The author uses game theory to construct two basic models in order to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of the three versions, and identifies the best strategy for the United States within each model. The author concludes by explaining the advantages of reciprocity, and explains why the reciprocity law adopted by the ALI provides an optimal foreign judgment recognition and enforcement strategy for the United States.

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