RE: exequatur of a U.S. judgment in France
Dear Attorney Smith,
Further out telephone conversation today, I wish to share with you the following thoughts.
In order for your foreign (Florida) decision to have a reasonable chance of exequatur in France and thereafter to be become executory in France:
- the Florida decision must have been rendered by a court having jurisdition,
- the non-prevailing party must have been granted due process,
- the Florida decision has become final under Florida law, and
- the Florida decision has become executory under Florida law.
Presumably we should be able to make a convincing show of 1 and 2.
Also, the decision will not become final until the Florida period for filing an appeal shall have expired or, in the event of a timely appeal, all rights of appeal have been duly exhausted.
(Kindly let me know the appellate rights of Madame PP. Must Madame PP have been formally notified of the decision and her rights of appeal? I noted at the foot of the decision the words “Copies: All Parties”. Did the Court send the copies to the parties or their respective legal counsels by certified mail? Did you keep the envelope in which you received a copy?)
Once the decision has become final and executory under Florida law, you will need to obtain from the Florida Secretary of State an apostille on the original copy of the decision.
Then we can commence an action in France before the Tribunal de Grand Instances, a relatively simple proceeding seeking the exequatur of the final and enforceable Florida judgement.
A copy of a French summons and complaint (assignation), and a photocopy of the Florida decision with apostille and a translation thereof will need to be served on Madame PP where she currently lives, be such place in France or the US.
Then Madame PP will have the right to oppose exequatur before the court having initial jurisdiction and before the Court of Appeals. Presumably, if we have done everything right, exequatur will be granted.
However, when seeking exequatur, we will ask that the decision of the French trial court be immediately enforceable (“exécution provisoire”). At this early stage, it is not possible for me the know of such request for exécution provisoire will be granted.
Perhaps once Madame PP has been served and has consulted French legal counsel she will decide to settle due to the potential cost of defending, consisting of the fees if her attorney, perhaps € 3,000 of your legal fees (if you prevail) and minor court cost.
Assuming that the matter does not settle and you prevail, if Madame PP has discoverable assets in France (e.g., bank accounts, real property, etc.), my huissier (procsss server) can place a lien on the assets and presumably the assets can thereafter be liquidated and the proceeds, less the huissier’s collection fee, paid into my trust account so I can wire the proceeds to your trust account.
If you have further questions, please give me a call.
Jonathon Wise Polier
Avocat aux Barreaux de Paris et de New York
Attorney-at-Law (Paris & New York)