A while ago, we posted an article about the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgment in Korea. One of the hurdles in getting foreign judgment recognized in Korea is to find whether there exists a reciprocity in relation to the enforcement of foreign judgments between the two jurisdictions, i.e. Korea and foreign country where the judgment was issued. Korean court reviews this issue on case by case basis. If the court finds that the foreign jurisdiction’s requirements for the recognition of Korean judgment are similar or not more difficult to be met than the requirements under the Korean law, the court declares the existence of reciprocity. This does not require an actual precedence in the foreign court that a Korean court judgment was recognized. It just means a reasonable possibility that the Korean judgment would be recognized in that foreign jurisdiction. The Korean courts have so far recognized the reciprocity with, among others, California(USA), New York(USA), Texas(USA), Washington(USA), China, Japan and Canada. Then how about Australia?
Back in 1987, the Supreme Court of South Korea rejected the recognition of a judgment from the court of New South Wales, Australia on the ground that there was no reciprocity between the two jurisdictions. At that time, Korean court found that the New South Wales law required the Australian court to review the merit of the foreign judgment in order to recognize it. This was a serious conflict and deviation from the Korean legal stance that the courts should not consider whether the foreign judgment is substantially correct when granting the recognition of a foreign judgment. With this great discrepancy, the Korean court came to rule that the requirement for the recognition of foreign judgment under New South Wales law was much difficult to be met than the Korean law, and, therefore, the reciprocity was not established.
It should be, however, noted that this ruling was rendered before Australia enacted the Foreign Judgments Act 1991 whereby South Korea was identified as one of the countries with which Australia has a reciprocity. Under this new act, South Korean judgment came to be recognized in Australia with much simpler and non-merit based requirements. There has been no Supreme Court’s ruling since this new legislation. But, as the current Australian law does not require a merit-based review any more in recognizing a Korean judgment, it is generally accepted in Korean legal society that the Korean court will find the reciprocity between Korea and Australia and, therefore, recognize the ruling from Australian court. Of course, in order to get recognized in Korea, the Australian judgment must meet other requirements under Korean law, i.e. (i) it must be the final judgment on the merit, (ii) the Australian court had a jurisdiction, (iii) the defendant was duly served, and (iv) it does not violate the public policy of South Korea.
After the Australian money judgment has been recognized in Korea, the judgment creditor can avail itself of every enforcement procedure available under Korean law to recover the money owed to it.
If you have any question about enforcement of foreign judgment in Korea, please send your inquiry to Mr. Wonil Chung by clicking here.
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Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may or may not reflect the most current legal development at the time of view, nor is it applicable in all situations nor should be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.