CASE IN POINT by Dean Ed Vincent Albano | Recognition of a foreign judgment

In BPI-Securities Corp. v. Guevarra, G.R. No. 167052, March 11, 2015, there was a judgment rendered by a court in the USA holding petitioner liable for damages, but despite demand to pay, the petitioner failed to comply, hence, a petition for recognition of a foreign judgment was filed which was granted by the RTC of Makati. Before the SC petitioner contended that it was not accorded by the Court of Appeals the right to refute the foreign judgment pursuant to Rule 39, Section 48 of the Rules of Court because the appellate court gave the effect of res judicata to the said foreign judgment. The Court of Appeals copied wholesale or verbatim the respondent’s brief without addressing the body of evidence adduced by petitioner showing that it had reasonable grounds to implead respondent.

It asserted that the U.S. District Court committed a clear mistake of law and fact in its issuance of the Order dated March 13, 1990, thus, said Order is unenforceable in this jurisdiction.

Ruling that the petition was bereft of merit, the SC

Held: It is an established international legal principle that final judgments of foreign courts of competent jurisdiction are reciprocally respected and rendered efficacious subject to certain conditions that vary in different countries. (St. Aviation Services Co., Pte., Ltd. v. Grand International Airways, Inc., 535 Phil. 757, 762 [2006]) In the Philippines, a judgment or final order of a foreign tribunal cannot be enforced simply by execution. Such judgment or order merely creates a right of action, and its non-satisfaction is the cause of action by which a suit can be brought upon for its enforcement. (See Florenz D. Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, Volume II (Ninth Revised Edition), p. 524; citing Perkins v. Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., 93 Phil. 1035 [1953]) An action for the enforcement of a foreign judgment or final order in this jurisdiction is governed by Rule 39, Section 48 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. – The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:

(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title to the thing; and

(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.

In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
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