Enforcing Foreign Judgments in New York: Personal Jurisdiction Necessary?

The New York State Court, in a case of first impression held that in personam jurisdiction is not necessary to recognize and enforce judgments in New York from a foreign court.  The case that decided the matter is Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC v. Saad Trading, Contracting & Fin. Services Co., 36 Misc. 3d 389, 948 N.Y.S.2d 533 (Sup. Ct. 2012). The case is a case of first impression in New York and is a pivotal case that will, likely, lead to more cases like this case being heard in New York courts.


The court, in this New York case, granted summary judgment in favor of the Abu Dhabi Bank and, thus, recognized the U.K. judgment. The facts of the case are typical in international judgment enforcement matters. The Abu Dhabi Bank is a company established in the United Arab Emirates. Saad Trading is a Saudi Arabian limited partnership. The Abu Dhabi Bank sued Saad Trading for breach of contract in a English court. The Abu Dhabi Bank prevailed and was awarded a judgment of US$ 33 million. The Abu Dhabi Bank wished to localize the judgment in New York.

Saad Trading, however, had no assets in New York and no contact with New York.  However, the savvy lawyers for Abu Dhabi bank realized that a judgment of a foreign court that is recognized in New York allows the court to force creditors to compel assets to be brought into New York for execution.

Saad Trading emphatically argued that “due process” would be violated, since no personal jurisdiction over the the company existed, since Saad Trading had no assets in New York and no contact whatsoever with New York.

The Court opined that the recognition of foreign judgments in New York is a mere administrative/ministerial function that does not require personal jurisdiction, since no new damages are being argued and the case does not need to be heard on the merits.

New York because of the ability of New York courts to compel the bringing of assets into New York is, often, a great place for enforcing foreign money judgments.

Other cases on enforcing foreign judgments that may be interesting to the reader:

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