Monday, September 11, 2017

Chinese Recognition of Foreign Divorce Judgments

Jeremy D. Morley
It has been reported that on 30 June 2017, “for the first time in history,” a Chinese court recognized and enforced a U.S. commercial monetary judgment. Dr. Jie (Jeanne) Huang, Chinese Court Unprecedentedly Recognized and Enforced a U.S. Commercial Monetary Judgment.

The case is Liu Li v. Tao Li and Tong Wu decided by the Intermediate People’s Court of Wuhan City, in which that court found reciprocity by U.S. courts and duly enforced a default money judgment from California.

The Civil Procedure Law of China authorizes Chinese courts to enforce foreign judgments if there is a reciprocal enforcement treaty with the foreign country in question or if the courts of the foreign country in fact provide reciprocity, but always subject to a broad exception on the basis of undefined public policy. There is no relevant treaty between China and the US, Now, apparently for the first time, a court in China has found reciprocity to exist in fact with the U.S., at least in a commercial matter in which there was a fixed money judgment.
However, that does not mean that foreign divorce or custody orders will be recognized in China. A research article previously reported on two efforts to enforce U.S. divorce judgments in Chinas, neither of which was successful.  Donald C. Clarke, The Enforcement Of United States Court Judgments In China: A Research Note  Mr. Clarke reported there that, “In 1967, the Yantai Municipal People's Court rejected an application to recognize and enforce a divorce judgment from a U.S. court. In 1985, the Supreme People's Court issued a directive to the Shanghai Higher-Level People's Court (one level below the Supreme People's Court) instructing it not to recognize a U.S. divorce judgment, but instead to consider the case anew.”