Hastings Law Journal


Vishali Singal


Globalization has transformed the world's legal systems into interconnected regimes. The strength of a nation's legal system is predicated, in part, on whether foreign nations will recognize and enforce its judgments. While nations have accorded respect to one another's judgments in the spirit of comity by recognizing and enforcing them, none are obligated to do so. Given these delicate relationships between nations, a debate has arisen in the United States' legal community as to whether the United States should require foreign nations to recognize and enforce its own judgments before its courts will reciprocate this treatment towards foreign judgments. In other words, should there be a reciprocity defense to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

In 2006, the American Law Institute released a proposed federal statute for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments to unify the currently confused state of American jurisprudence in this area of law. The final product reflects a drastic turn from the current practice of the majority of the nation's states by including a reciprocity defense to recognition and enforcement. While scholars have thoroughly debated whether the reciprocity defense should be included in the statute, this Note will focus on a slightly different issue-analyzing the effectiveness of the proposed federal statute's reciprocity provision in encouraging foreign nations to recognize and enforce U.S. judgments. In closely examining section 7 of the proposed federal statute-the reciprocity provision-this Note explains why the statute likely would fail in achieving this goal. A revised reciprocity regime-one that eliminates a reciprocity defense to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and maintains a reciprocal agreement requirement for the registration of foreign judgments-has the power to protect U.S. judgments without sacrificing justice for private litigants around the world.

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