As a respected and cooperative member of the international community, the Philippines is a party to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Known as the New York Convention, this was adopted by the United Nations on 10 June 1958 and entered into force in the Philippines on 10 April 1967.
Courts in the Philippines are, therefore, required to give effect to private agreements to arbitrate, and to recognize and enforce arbitration awards made in other contracting states. That is the basic principle of this convention, but there are occasionally instances when other considerations come into play.
What are the General Requirements for Recognition and Enforcement?
For foreign judgments to be recognized and enforced in the Philippines it is required that an action be instituted in the Philippines specifically for such purpose.
Such foreign-originated order upon a specific thing shall be conclusive upon the title to the thing whether it is property or monetary funds. Likewise, a foreign-originated ruling against a person shall be presumptive evidence of a right between the parties. It is also necessary to obtain proof that the same was rendered by a court or tribunal which had jurisdiction over the parties and over the case. Without such evidence, the order might not be recognized on the basis of having no jurisdiction or notice to the other party.
It is also necessary for this order, as with any other facts, to be publicly pleaded and proven by official publication, or by having the officer with legal custody of the record attest to the public document. These documents can be authenticated by Department of Foreign Affairs officials in the foreign post where the order originates. As can be expected, it is necessary to establish and duly verify that the foreign court which issued the order does, indeed, have jurisdiction over the parties involved.
What Issues Should Philippine Courts be Mindful of?
Apart from ascertaining proper jurisdiction of the court, it is also necessary for the Philippine judiciary officials to rule out fraud, collusion, errors in fact, and other extraneous factors. It is also incumbent upon Philippine courts to refuse to enforce such orders if they are found to be contrary to Philippine laws, customs, and public policy. After all, the inclusion of the Philippines in international agreements is not tantamount to a pronouncement that the judicial system wholly and unquestionably agrees with the policies and legal principles of all nations that are party to the convention.
The outlook towards recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments is based on a standpoint of comity with the international legal community. At the same time, such accommodation helps give finality to litigation and expedites such processes, thereby alleviating an otherwise ponderous workload for the Philippine courts, freeing them of the need to hear all these cases a second time.