Recognition of Foreign Judgments – The Ontario Courts will not Recognize Enforcement Orders (a.k.a. “Ricochet Judgments”)

Josef FinkelBusiness Litigation, Civil Litigation, Commercial and Contract Litigation, Cross-Border Litigation, Debt and Enforcing Judgments, Enforcement of Foreign Judgments0 Comments

In H.M.B. Holdings Ltd. v. Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda, 2021 ONSC 2307, on a summary judgment motion, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (“OSCJ”) found that there was no genuine issue requiring a trial and subsequently dismissed the plaintiff’s action (commenced on May 6, 2019) for the recognition of a money judgment that it obtained against the defendant in British Columbia in 2017 (“BC Judgment”).

The BC Judgment was a default judgment recognizing and enforcing a judgment of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom which the plaintiff obtained in 2014 (“Privy Council Judgment”).

The defendant argued that:

  1. The plaintiff was attempting to avoid seeking recognition and enforcement of the original Privy Council Judgment in Ontario by seeking to recognize and enforce the derivative BC Judgment instead;
  2. The plaintiff would be out of time to seek recognition of the Privy Council Judgment in Ontario (because of the expiry of the two-year limitation period in Ontario for the recognition of foreign judgments); and
  3. A judgment issued by a court in one province is not immediately enforceable by a court in another province.

The OSCJ found that though the BC court properly assumed jurisdiction when rendering the BC Judgment, that does not alleviate the requirement of the plaintiff to establish a real and substantial connection to the parties or the subject matter of the litigation.

The OSCJ cited an excerpt relied on by the defendant from Canadian Conflict of Laws, 6th Ed., by Professor Janet Walker:

  • “There is no expectation that a Canadian court will recognize and enforce another court’s determination of enforceability. It is a determination that must be made by each court in accordance with its own law. This precludes the enforcement of enforcement orders, sometimes described as “ricochet judgments,” whereby the enforceability of the judgment is measured not by the original judgment but by the initial enforcement judgment.”

As a result, the OSCJ concluded that the BC court does not have authority to enforce the BC Judgment outside of its own province, and on that basis dismissed the plaintiff’s action.

This case stands for the proposition that decisions of one province’s courts to recognize and enforce a foreign judgment will not be automatically enforceable by the courts of other provinces. Rather, if a foreign judgment debtor wants to enforce its judgment in multiple provinces, it must apply to each of those provinces to recognize and enforce its judgment within the prescribed limitation period for that province.

N.B.: This case has been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld the application judge’s decision. See our blog on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision.

At Gilbertson Davis LLP, our lawyers can assist you, your business, company, partnership or corporation in applying to the court for the recognition and enforcement in Ontario of your judgment obtained in another jurisdiction. Gilbertson Davis LLP lawyers have experience in proceedings involving Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, Recognition and Enforcement of International Arbitration Awards, Commercial Litigation, Civil LitigationBusiness Torts, and Business  Litigation matters and can assist you in resolving your legal issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. Our mission is to provide creative, sensible, cost-effective, long-term resolutions to clients. Please contact Gilbertson Davis LLP to schedule a consultation.

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About the Author

Josef Finkel

Josef is a litigator with experience working on a broad range of civil and commercial litigation matters including defamation, domain name disputes, breach of contract, debtor and creditor litigation, corporate/commercial disputes, franchise disputes, partnership disputes, real estate litigation, fraud, construction law, landlord and tenant disputes, wrongful dismissals, and cross-border disputes such as recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards, and recognition of foreign letters rogatory. He has appeared successfully at both the Superior Courts of Justice and the Small Claims Courts Bio | Contact

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