Foreign courts

Whenever someone hear about the courts all that come to mind is either Supreme Court or a High court. Supreme Court being the most powerful court and at central level and High Court being powerful at state level. And lower or subordinate courts. In India one can find supreme court in Delhi and in Maharashtra the high court is in Mumbai. But what is foreign court? A Foreign court is a court situated outside India and not under central government. So, any Judgments given by courts of other countries like U.K France Australia would be called as foreign judgments given by foreign courts. Under section n 2(5) of the Code of Civil Procedure as a court situated outside India and not established or continued by the authority of the Central Government is called foreign court. And Under section 2(6) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) defines a foreign judgement as a judgement of a foreign court.

The Indian Code of Civil Procedure lays down the procedure for enforcement of foreign judgments and decrees in India. A foreign judgment or decree is enforced in India if that judgment or decree is a conclusiveone, passed on the merits of the case and by a superior court having competent jurisdiction.

Provisions under the Civil Procedure Code on foreign courts and foreign judgements:

  1. Section 2(5) – Definition of Foreign Courts
  2. Section 2(6) – Definition of Foreign Judgements
  3. Section 13 – When foreign judgement not conclusive
  4. Section 14 – Presumption as to foreign judgements
  5. Section 44 & 44A – Enforcement of judgements

The following circumstances would give jurisdiction to foreign courts:

  1. Where the person is a subject of the foreign country in which the judgment has been obtained;
  2. Where he was a resident in the foreign country when the action was commenced, and the summons was served on him;
  3. Where the person in the character of plaintiff selects the foreign court as the forum for acting in which forum he issued later;
  4. Where the party on summons voluntarily appeared; and
  5. Whereby an agreement, a person has contracted to submit himself to the forum in which the judgment is obtained.[1]

A foreign court has jurisdiction to give judgement in rem (against the world) provided subject matter is movable or Immovable and within the country but if it is not so then the court will not be considered competent.

In an action in personam (against a person) foreign courts have jurisdiction in following cases:

  1. If at the time of commencement of action defendant was resident or present in that country.
  2.  Where defendant at the time of judgement subject or citizen of such country.
  3.  Where the parties objecting a jurisdiction by his own conduct submit to such jurisdiction [Also in International Law].

Foreign judgments are not applicable or are binding according to Section 13 of The Indian Code of Civil Procedure holds a foreign judgement to be conclusive except under the six circumstances which have been specified in this section.

  1. Foreign Judgement has not been given by a court of competent jurisdiction
  2. Foreign Judgement has not been given on the merits of the case
  3. Foreign Judgement against International or Indian Law
  4. Foreign Judgement opposed to natural justice
  5. Where it has been obtained by fraud
  6. Foreign Judgement founded on breach of Indian Law

Section 14 of the Code says that the Court shall presume upon the production of any document claiming to be a certified copy of a foreign judgement and such judgement was pronounced by a court of competent jurisdiction. In Narsimha Rao v. Venkata Laxmi[2], the Supreme Court held that if for admissibility of such copy, further conditions are required to be fulfilled, it can be acknowledged in evidence only if that condition is satisfied.

A foreign court’s judgment or decree is awarded in foreign currency. The conversion rate of the date of decree should be considered while conversion of currency. This point was addressed in the case of Forasol v. ONGC.[3]


[2] (1999) 3 SCC 451

[3] AIR 1984 SC 241

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