What is a Foreign Judgement CPC?

Hey there, have you ever wondered what happens when a court in another country makes a decision that affects you or your business?

How do you know if that foreign judgment is valid and enforceable here in India? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’re going to dive into the fascinating world of foreign judgments under the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) of India.

We’ll explore what exactly a foreign court and foreign judgment are when a foreign judgment has proper jurisdiction and the situations where a foreign judgment may not be binding in India.

What is a Foreign Judgement CPC?

What is a Foreign Judgement CPC

We’ll also look at the presumption of validity for certified copies of foreign judgments. By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of this important area of law and how it could impact you.

So let’s get started!

What is a Foreign Court as Per CPC?

First things first, let’s define what we mean by a “foreign court.” According to section 2(5) of the CPC, a foreign court is:

  • A court located outside of India.
  • AND not established or continued by the authority of the Indian central government.

So if a court is situated in another country and was not set up or maintained by the Indian government, it’s considered a foreign court under Indian law. Pretty straightforward, right?

What is a Foreign Judgement as Per CPC?

Now that we know what a foreign court is, let’s look at what qualifies as a “foreign judgment.” Section 2(6) of the CPC keeps it simple:

A foreign judgment is a judgment of a foreign court.

That’s it! If a foreign court makes a ruling, it’s a foreign judgment. Easy peasy.

Jurisdiction of a Foreign Judgement

Okay, so we have foreign courts issuing foreign judgments. But when does a foreign judgment have proper jurisdiction to be recognized and enforced in India?

The Supreme Court shed some light on this in the 1974 case of Sankaran Govindan vs Lakshmi Bharathi. The Court held that it’s a well-established principle of private international law that a foreign judgment will only be valid in India if the foreign court had “international jurisdiction” over the case.

So what does that mean?

Essentially, the foreign court must have had the authority to rule on the matter based on internationally accepted principles of jurisdiction, such as:

  • The defendant is a resident of that country.
  • The cause of action occurring in that country.
  • The defendant submitted to the jurisdiction of that court.

If the foreign court didn’t have proper international jurisdiction, its judgment wouldn’t be recognized or enforced by Indian courts. That makes sense, right? A court can’t just claim authority over any case it wants – it needs a legitimate jurisdictional basis.

Foreign Judgement When Not Binding

Alright, so we know that a foreign judgment with proper international jurisdiction is generally conclusive and binding on the same matter between the same parties (or parties litigating under the same title) in India. This is the principle of res judicata – a matter that has been finally decided.

However, the CPC carved out some important exceptions to when a foreign judgment will not be considered conclusive in India.

Let’s break it down:

  1. Foreign Judgement Not by a Competent Court: If the foreign court lacks jurisdiction over the matter, its judgment is null and void. Jurisdiction is key!
  2. Foreign Judgement Not on Merits: The foreign judgment must have been a decision “on merits” after considering the evidence and arguments. If it was just a cursory or default judgment, it wouldn’t be binding.
  3. Foreign Judgement Against International or Indian Law: If the foreign court misapplied international law or refuses to recognize applicable Indian law, its judgment won’t be conclusive. The error must be apparent from the court record.
  4. Foreign Judgement Opposed to Natural Justice: The foreign proceedings must have followed basic principles of natural justice, such as giving both parties a fair hearing and an unbiased decision. If the defendant wasn’t given proper notice or an opportunity to present their case, the judgment violates natural justice and won’t be upheld.
  5. Foreign Judgement Obtained by Fraud: A judgment obtained through fraudulent means will not be conclusive. As the saying goes, “fraud unravels all”!
  6. Foreign Judgement Founded on Breach of Indian Law: If the foreign judgment was based on a breach or contravention of any Indian law that was in force, it wouldn’t be enforceable in India. Indian courts must decide cases per Indian laws.

To sum it up, here’s a handy table of when foreign judgments are not binding in India:

Situation Reason
Not by a competent court Lack of jurisdiction
Not on merits No proper consideration of the case
Violates international or Indian law Misapplication of law
Opposed to natural justice Unfair proceedings
Obtained by fraud Fraudulent means
Breaches Indian law Contravenes domestic laws

The Supreme Court emphasized in the 1974 case of Satya vs Teja Singh that a foreign judgment cannot offend Indian public policy. So even if it checks all the other boxes, if a foreign judgment runs counter to India’s core principles, it won’t fly.

Presumption as to Foreign Judgement

Last but not least, let’s talk about the presumption of validity for foreign judgments under section 14 of the CPC.

If someone produces a document that purports to be a certified copy of a foreign judgment, Indian courts will presume that:

The judgement was pronounced by a court of competent jurisdiction:

UNLESS the contrary appears on the record or is proved. Essentially, courts will assume certified foreign judgments are valid and binding unless there is evidence on the face of the judgment or otherwise that disproves jurisdiction.

The burden is on the party challenging the foreign judgement to establish a lack of jurisdiction.

This presumption promotes efficiency and extends some faith and credit to foreign judicial systems.

Of course, the exceptions we discussed earlier (fraud, breach of natural justice, etc.) can still be used to rebut the presumption and render the judgment inconclusive in India.

Summary and Conclusion:

Phew, that was a lot of info! Let’s recap the key points about foreign judgments under the CPC:

  • A foreign court is one outside India not set up by the Indian government
  • A foreign judgment is simply a judgment of a foreign court
  • To be conclusive in India, a foreign judgement must be from a court of competent jurisdiction
  • Foreign judgments are not binding if they:
    • Lack jurisdiction
    • Are not on merits
    • Violate international or Indian law
    • Breach natural justice
    • Were obtained by fraud
    • Contravene Indian laws
  • Certified copies of foreign judgments are presumed valid unless contrary evidence exists

The law on foreign judgments ensures that only fair, proper, and jurisdictionally sound decisions are enforced in India, while still respecting the judicial process of other nations. It’s all about balancing international comity with domestic legal principles and public policy.

So there you have it – the 101 on foreign judgments under the CPC! Hopefully, this article gave you a clearer picture of when foreign court decisions can impact your legal matters in India and when you can challenge their conclusiveness.

Of course, if you find yourself facing a tricky situation involving a foreign judgment, it’s always best to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer who can guide you through the complexities and technicalities.

Thanks for reading and best of luck navigating the world of foreign judgements! Remember, a little legal know-how can go a long way in protecting your rights and interests, both at home and abroad.


  • What is the relevant law on foreign judgments in India?

The key provisions are Sections 13 and 14 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). Section 13 lays out when foreign judgments are conclusive and when they are not, while Section 14 establishes the presumption of validity for certified copies of foreign judgments.

  • Can I automatically enforce a foreign judgment in India?

Not necessarily. The foreign judgement must first meet the requirements of Section 13 of the CPC, such as being rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction and not falling into any of the exceptions (fraud, breach of natural justice, etc.). If it meets these criteria, it can be enforced.

  • How can I challenge the validity of a foreign judgment in India?

You would need to establish that the foreign judgment falls into one of the exceptions under Section 13 of the CPC, such as lacking jurisdiction, being opposed to natural justice, or being obtained by fraud. You could provide evidence of this to the Indian court to rebut the presumption of validity and have the judgment set aside.

  • What if a foreign judgment violates Indian public policy?

Even if a foreign judgment otherwise meets the requirements of the CPC, if it is contrary to Indian public policy, it will not be enforceable in India. The Supreme Court has held that foreign judgments cannot offend basic domestic public policy principles.

  • Do I need a lawyer to deal with a foreign judgment issue?

While it’s not mandatory, it is highly advisable to seek legal counsel if you are dealing with the recognition or enforcement of a foreign judgment in India. The rules and exceptions can be complex and fact-specific, so having an experienced lawyer to navigate the process is invaluable.

So don’t get caught off guard by a foreign legal entanglement – arm yourself with knowledge and top-notch legal support to come out on top! Here’s wishing you success and seamless cross-border dispute resolution.

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