Enforcing a Foreign Judgment in France

In France, when a judge has to deal with a foreign judgment, they first must distinguish the area of law. This means they must decide whether the subject in question is a good or a person.  Indeed, in some cases, to enforce a foreign judgment you will need to utilize a procedure called  “exequatur.” This is a procedure which provided for enforcement of a judgment. During this procedure, you must  go in front of the French court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) with a lawyer.

During exequatur, the judge will check the regularity of the foreign judgment and, in particular, if the judgment is enforceable in the country of origin. They also check if the judgment conforms with a French public international order, such as the right to have a fair defense and the respect of human rights.

When a foreign judgment relates to persons, such as a divorce, you normally do not need an exequatur judgment. The foreign judgment holds jurisdiction.  Nevertheless, you should go to the “Tribunal de Grande Instance” in order to have the judge note the enforceability; you won’t need to have an attorney.

However, if the divorce involves goods, you are required to obtain an exequatur judgment, since the judge will have to operate the separation of property. It is also necessary to obtain an exequatur procedure when one of the spouses refuses the enforceability of the judgment in France. This could be the case when one of the parties refuses to pay alimony or spousal support.  The procedure of exequatur is required in order to practice seizing assets.