Foreign Judgment CPC

October 24, 2023
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In today’s globalized world, cross-border transactions and international legal disputes have become increasingly common. With individuals and entities engaging in activities that transcend national boundaries, the enforcement of foreign judgments has emerged as a critical aspect of international law. In India, the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are governed by specific legal provisions and established judicial principles. This article delves into the complexities of enforcing foreign judgments under Indian law, exploring the legal framework, challenges faced, and recent developments in this area.

Foreign Judgement CPC section 13 – Legal Framework in India

The enforcement of foreign judgments in India is primarily governed by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, under Section 13 and Section 44A, which outlines the conditions under which a foreign judgment can be recognized and enforced in Indian courts.

Section 13 CPC – According to this section, a foreign judgment shall be conclusive as to any matter adjudicated upon by it unless it falls under any of the exceptions enlisted in the section. Some of the key exceptions include judgments obtained by fraud, judgments contrary to Indian laws, and judgments delivered by a court not competent to deliver it.

Section 44A CPC – This section deals specifically with the enforcement of decrees passed by reciprocating territories. Reciprocating territories are those notified by the Indian government where Indian judgments are recognized and enforced. Decrees from these territories can be directly executed in India without retrial.

Challenges in Enforcement

Despite the legal provisions, several challenges hinder the smooth enforcement of foreign judgments in India:

Differences in Legal Systems: Variations in legal systems and interpretations of law between India and other countries can complicate the process of recognizing a foreign judgment.

Public Policy Exception: Indian courts can refuse to enforce a foreign judgment if it is against public policy. Determining what constitutes public policy can be subjective, leading to disputes and prolonged legal battles.

Proving Jurisdiction: The party seeking to enforce the foreign judgment must prove that the foreign court had jurisdiction over the matter. Establishing jurisdiction can be a complex task, especially in cases involving online transactions and international business dealings.

Foreign Judgement Case Law

Satya v. Teja Singh (AIR 1967 SC 1436): In this case, the Supreme Court of India held that a foreign judgment will be recognized in India if the court rendering the judgment had jurisdiction according to Indian laws. This case established the principle that jurisdiction is pivotal in determining the enforceability of foreign judgments.

M.V. Elisabeth v. Harwan Investment (AIR 1993 SC 1014): The Supreme Court reiterated the principle of res judicata, stating that if a foreign court has adjudicated a matter and the decision is final, it cannot be reopened in Indian courts, provided it does not fall within the exceptions under Section 13 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Nerium International Company v. Kanwar Singh (2010 (3) Arb LR 393 (Delhi): In this case, the Delhi High Court clarified that the burden of proving that the foreign judgment is not conclusive is on the party challenging its enforceability.

Vineet Kumar v. State of U.P. (JT 2017 (10) SC 106): The Supreme Court held that a foreign judgment which is not based on merit but on default, or a judgment passed without jurisdiction, will not be recognized in India. This judgment emphasized the importance of the foreign court having jurisdiction as per Indian laws.

Recent Developments and International Treaties

India has taken steps to simplify the process of enforcing foreign judgments. The Hague Conference on Private International Law, of which India is a member, works toward creating international treaties to facilitate the enforcement of judgments across borders. The Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements and the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters are significant instruments aimed at enhancing international cooperation in this area.


Enforcement of foreign judgments under Indian law is a multifaceted process, demanding a nuanced understanding of both domestic and international legal principles. As globalization continues to shape the world, the need for a streamlined and efficient mechanism for recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments becomes paramount. India’s participation in international conventions and continuous efforts to harmonize its legal framework with global standards are steps in the right direction. However, there is a constant need for vigilance, adaptability, and legal expertise to navigate the challenges posed by the enforcement of foreign judgments, ensuring fairness and justice in an interconnected world.

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