The cross-border enforcement of child support has long bedeviled parents and children who seek a delinquent parent's compliance with a court order. Given the many difficulties inherent to the enforcement of court orders in foreign jurisdictions, as well as the heavy costs associated with those efforts, many parents had a difficult time registering and enforcing child support orders if the debtor was in another country.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York spun a new twist in the long-standing legal battle over environmental contamination in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador. In a 485-page ruling, Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that lawyers leading the Lago Agrio plaintiffs' prosecution of claims against Chevron (which acquired the alleged contaminator, Texaco) used corrupt means to secure an $18 billion judgment from an Ecuadorian court. See Chevron Corp. v. Donziger et al, S.D.N.Y. 11-00691.
Finnish company Nokia Oyj recently commenced what could be a protracted battle to enforce an international arbitration award won last month against Blackberry-maker Research in Motion Ltd. ("RIM"). In late November, Nokia sued RIM in federal court in California to enforce the Swedish arbitrator's decision, which stated that Nokia is entitled to receive royalties on RIM's sale of WLAN-compliant mobile devices. "Wireless local access network systems" or "WLAN" technology allows mobile devices to connect to WiFi networks.
The litigation of international disputes in U.S. Courts is often disfavored for the simple reason that the enforcement of judgments abroad is notoriously difficult. International arbitration is the preferred alternative to litigation because the United States, along with 145 other countries, is a party to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, (commonly referred to as the New York Convention), a treaty that provides for the recognition and enforcement of international arbitral awards. Within the next year, the United States is expected to begin implementing a new treaty that will eliminate major obstacles to the enforcement of judgments abroad as to certain civil matters. The implementation of the treaty will give parties to international commercial agreements more flexibility in choosing their preferred method of dispute resolution.