在加拿大是否可以执行中国法院的判决书?

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由于中国和加拿大商务活动的增加,跨境商业纠纷是不可避免的。有时诉讼人倾向于在中国法院解决纠纷。加拿大法院是否将执行一个中国法庭的判决呢?据我们所知,在2011年3月,美国联邦上诉法院第九巡回发布了其在湖北葛洲坝三联实业有限公司诉罗宾逊直升机公司2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 6428, affirming 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62782。

(“三联决定”)的决定之前,在北美没有任何一法院曾经给于这个问题非常清晰的回答或指导。在三联决定中,上诉法院确认下级法院执行湖北省法院发出的有利于中国原告对美国的被告的决定。三联决定将在加拿大执行中国法院的判决有指导意义。外国法院判决是否能在加拿大执行是受一定准则限制。一个满足这些条件的中国判决书可在加拿大执行。

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三联案例

这个案件涉及由美国罗宾逊直升机被告,其制造的直升机有缺陷在1994年3月22日,在中国长江坠毁。中国原告原本在加州提起疏忽,严格责任和违反默示担保的诉讼。罗宾逊辩论中国是更适合的管辖范围,中国的法律制度将遵循正当法律程序,中国法院将行使对案件的管辖权。罗宾逊并同意服从中国法院的管辖范围,停止时效和恪守在中国作出的任何最终判决。在本协议的基础上,加洲法院授予议案,停止加州的案件。

2001年1月,原告在湖北省高级人民法院提起对罗宾逊的诉讼。在2004年2月,罗宾逊拿到送达传票,起诉状和有关文件,得知2004年3月25日开始审判该案。法律文件传递是符合国外送达民事或商事司法文书和司法外文书 的海牙公约。

罗宾逊在中国案件中没有辩护,也没有采取任何步骤来参加庭审。在审讯中,一个由三名法官组成的小组审议就原告提交的大量证据和高级法院本身所收集的证据在2004年12月10日,发出了有利于原告的判决。损害赔偿总额约一百万美元。罗宾逊没有挑战法院的管辖权或法律文件递交的充足性,并没有就三联判决提出上诉。 原告在加利福尼亚州提出申诉,申请执行三联判决。加利福尼亚州地方法院认为因以下的原因三联判决应在加利福尼亚州执行,
湖北法院就争议有管辖权;
法律文件根据适用的美国规则和海牙公约妥为送达;
三联判决是三名法官组成的法庭在审判和考虑一个完整的证据记录的后做出的决定;
根据中国的法律三联判决是最终的,决定性的和可强制执行;
没有证据表明中国法院缺乏公正或程序缺乏基本的公平性

第九巡回上诉法院肯定了加州地方法院的决定,并拒绝罗宾逊图逃避执行最终和有约束力的判决而提出的技术性辩护。

外国判决在加拿大的可执行性

作为一般规则,由外国法院作出的判决是不会自动在加拿大承认或执行。然而,加拿大法院承认商业往来的日益全球化,跨边界争端的必然性,并承认在其他法律制度下已确定的权利的需要。在没有对外国判决的国际条约的情况下,加拿大将适用于礼让的原则,对外国判决给予“充分的信心和信用”,只要其符合以下条件:
外国法院就有争执管辖权。管辖可建立在三大基地之一:(1)被告同意或接受外国法院解决争端的司法管辖权;(2)诉讼程序的开始时被告在外国法院的领土上有业务活动;或(3)外国法院和争议,有一个真正的和实质性的连接。

根据加拿大最高法院最近在4月18日作出的决定,Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda, 2012 SCC 17, 法院的先定管辖权可建立在一些“真正的和实质性” 的联系比如:“(a)被告所在地或居住在该管辖区;(b)被告人在该管辖区进行业务;(c)侵权行为在该管辖区,及(d)与纠纷有关的合同在该管辖区建立。

外国司法管辖区判决是终局的;及
该判决是一个明确的金钱数字。若是外国非金钱判决,加拿大法院将在决定是否执行时考虑以下因素:

判决的条款是否明确和具体,以确保被告的期望?该判决的范围的是否有制,并原法院是否保留进一步发出命令的权力?执法是否为给加拿大司法系统的最小的负担?加拿大的当事人是否有不可预见性的义务?该判决是否会影响任何第三方?当事人是国内的使用司法资源执行该外国判决是否一致?

Pro Swing Inc. v. Elta Golf Inc. [2006] 2 S.C.R. 612(S.C.C.) 30段

加拿大法院可以拒绝承认和执行符合上述三个标准的外国判决,如果判决是通过欺诈手段获得的,如果程序是对被告根本性不公平,或如果其承认或执行会违反,加拿大的公共政策(这是一个很窄的例外,在大部分地商业纠纷上不会存在)。

执行中国在加拿大的判决

就我们所知与三联案件之前在美国的情况,一样加拿大还没有承认或执行中国的判决,反之亦然。缺乏先前相互执行判决,不会影响符合条件的中国判决在加拿大执行。因为加州决定法院在三联案子下考虑因素与加拿大法院考虑决定是否承认或执行外国判决相似,三联将对加拿大法院有指导性和说服力。在未来,如果中国的判决符合加拿大标准,并在加拿大寻求其识别/执法,完全可以预见加拿大法院同意承认和执行。 结论

三联决定是一个中国寻求对与加拿大有联接的被告执行中国法院金钱赔偿决定的先例。它也提醒中国的诉讼当事人和律师应从开始法律程序时和以后主动采取措施请教加拿大律师以确保遵守加拿大适用的执法标准。

Introduction

As business activity between China and Canada increases, cross-border commercial disputes are inevitable. Sometimes litigants prefer to have their disputes resolved by the courts in China. But would Canadian courts enforce a Chinese judgment? To our knowledge, no court in North America has ever affirmatively answered this question or provided appellate-level guidance until March of 2011 when the U.S. Court of Appeals (9th Circuit) released its decision in Hubei Gezhouba Sanlian Industrial Co. Ltd., et al. v. Robinson Helicopter Company, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 6428, affirming 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62782.

In Sanlian, the appellate court affirmed a lower court decision to recognize and enforce a monetary judgment issued by the Hubei provincial court in favour of the Chinese plaintiffs against a defendant resident in the U.S. Sanlian may be instructive to Canadian courts in determining whether to enforce a Chinese judgment in Canada. There are certain general criteria applicable to the determination of enforceability of foreign judgments in Canada. A Chinese judgment could be recognized and enforced in Canada if it meets those criteria.

The Sanlian Case

The facts in Sanlian involve a defective helicopter that crashed into the Yangtze River in China on March 22, 1994. The helicopter was manufactured by the U.S. based defendant, Robinson Helicopter. The Chinese plaintiffs originally filed an action in California for negligence, strict liability and breach of implied warranty. Robinson Helicopter moved to dismiss the California action on the grounds of forum non conveniens. They argued that China was the more suitable jurisdiction, that the Chinese legal system would follow due process of law, and that a Chinese court would exercise jurisdiction over the case. Robinson Helicopter agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the Chinese court, toll the statute of limitations, and abide by any final judgment rendered in China. On the basis of this agreement, the motion was granted and the California action was stayed.

In January 2001, the plaintiffs filed an action against Robinson Helicopter in the Higher People’s Court of Hubei Province in China. In February 2004, Robinson Helicopter was served with a summons, statement of complaint, and related papers, which notified them of a trial commencing March 25, 2004. The legal documents were served pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matter.

Robinson Helicopter did not defend the PRC action and failed to take any steps to participate in the trial. At trial, a panel of three judges considered extensive evidence submitted by the plaintiffs and the evidence collected by the court, and issued a US$1 million judgment in favour of the plaintiffs on December 10, 2004. Robinson Helicopters did not challenge the jurisdiction of the Hubei Court or the adequacy of service, and did not appeal the judgment.

The plaintiffs filed a complaint in California seeking to enforce the Sanlian judgment. The California District Court held that the Sanlian judgment should be enforced in California because:
The Hubei Court had jurisdiction over the PRC action;
The legal documents were properly served under the applicable U.S. rules and the Hague Convention;
The Sanlian judgment was issued following a trial and a review of a full evidentiary record by a three-judge panel;
The Sanlian judgment was final, conclusive, and enforceable under the laws of the PRC; and
There is no evidence that the Chinese courts lack impartiality or the procedures are fundamentally unfair.

The appellate court affirmed the decision by the California District Court. It refused Robinson Helicopter’s technical arguments as an attempt to avoid the enforcement of an otherwise final and binding judgment.

Enforceability of foreign judgments in Canada

As a general rule, a judgment rendered by a foreign court is not automatically recognized or enforced in Canada. However, Canadian courts recognize the increasing globalization of commercial dealings, the inevitability of cross-border disputes, and the need for the effective enforcement of rights as determined by other legal systems.

In the absence of an international treaty on foreign judgments, Canadian courts will apply the principle of comity and give “full faith and credit” to foreign judgments that meet the following criteria:
The foreign court has proper jurisdiction over the dispute. Jurisdiction may be established on one of the three bases: (1) the defendant consented or attorned to the jurisdiction of the foreign court to resolve the dispute; (2) the defendant was carrying on business in the territory of the foreign court at the date of the commencement of the proceedings; or (3) there was a “real and substantial connection” between the territory of the foreign court and the subject matter in dispute.

 

In a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda, 2012 SCC 17, a court may presumptively assume jurisdiction over a dispute based on “real and substantial” connecting factors such as (a) the defendant is domiciled or resident in the forum; (b) the defendant carried on business in the forum; (c) the tort was committed in the forum; and (d) a contract connected with the dispute was made in the forum.

The judgment is final and conclusive in the foreign jurisdiction; and
The judgment is for a definite sum of money. With respect to foreign non-money judgments, Canadian court will consider the following factors in determining whether to enforce it in Canada:

Are the terms of the order clear and specific enough to ensure that the defendant will know what is expected from him or her? Is the order limited in its scope and did the originating court retain the power to issue further orders? Is the enforcement the least burdensome remedy for the Canadian justice system? Is the Canadian litigant exposed to unforeseen obligations? Are any third parties affected by the order? Will the use of judicial resources be consistent with what would be allowed for domestic litigants?

Pro Swing Inc. v. Elta Golf Inc. [2006] 2 S.C.R. 612 (S.C.C.), at para. 30.

A foreign judgment that meets the above criteria may be denied recognition and enforcement if the judgment was obtained by fraud, if the procedures were fundamentally unfair to the defendant, or if its recognition or enforcement is contrary to public policy in Canada (which is a very narrow exception and unlikely to exist in most commercial disputes).

Enforcing Chinese Judgments in Canada

To our knowledge, as with the situation in the U.S. prior to Sanlian, no Chinese judgment has ever been recognized or enforced in Canada, or vice versa. But the lack of prior reciprocal enforcement of judgments does not preclude the enforcement of a Chinese judgment that otherwise meets the Canadian enforcement criteria.

Because the California courts in Sanlian considered similar factors that Canadian courts would consider in determining whether to recognize or enforce a foreign judgment, Sanlian would be an instructive and persuasive authority for Canadian courts. In our view, if a Chinese judgment is rendered by a court with proper jurisdiction and meets the Canadian criteria for the enforcement of foreign judgments, it is entirely foreseeable that a Canadian court would agree to recognise and enforce the Chinese judgment. The decision in Sanlian represents a significant new authority for those seeking to enforce Chinese judgments abroad.

Conclusion

Sanlian is a helpful decision for Chinese litigants seeking to enforce monetary judgments rendered in China against defendants that have connections to Canada. The case also provides a useful reminder to such litigants and their counsel to proactively consider enforcement steps from the outset of an action, and where appropriate, to engage Canadian counsel to ensure compliance with the applicable criteria for the enforcement of foreign judgments in Canada.

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