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Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments and Arbitral Awards in Lithuania

by

Ms. Vilija Vaitkute Pavan


In recent years more and more foreign legal persons or individuals who obtained foreign court judgments and arbitral awards against the Lithuanian persons have been seeking for legal assistance in recognition and enforcement of such judgments and awards in Lithuania. The procedure and main requirements for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards in Lithuania are stated in the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania. Recognition of foreign arbitral awards is also subject to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards to which Lithuania is a party.


Two groups of foreign judgments could be distinguished in terms of their enforceability and recognition in Lithuania:

1) Court judgments of the countries with which the agreement on legal co-operation has been signed by Lithuania.

Foreign court judgements in accordance with international agreements shall be recognised if they conform to the provisions stipulated in such agreements. Presently Lithuania has signed the Agreements on Legal Assistance with the following countries: Azerbaijan; China; Uzbekistan; Poland; Kazakhstan; Ukraine; Moldova; Estonia; Latvia; Belarus; Russian Federation.

2) Court judgments of other countries.


In case of absence of an international agreement, recognition of foreign court judgements will be refused if:


1. a judgement is not effective according to the laws of the state where it was rendered;


2. subject to a respective law of Lithuania or the provisions of an international agreement the case falls under exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Lithuania or any third state;


3. the party, which did not participate in proceedings of the case, had not been duly notified about institution of civil proceedings and during the process had not been provided with the possibility of procedural defence, and in cases when the party was legally incapable – with the possibility of due representation;


4. a foreign court judgement the recognition of which is requested is inconsistent with the judgement of the court of Lithuania rendered in the case between the same parties;


5. a judgement is contrary to the public order established in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania;


6. a foreign state court while rendering judgement resolved the issues concerning the legal capacity or suability of a citizen of Lithuania, representation under law, legal relations in respect of family property or inheritance, which contradicts the international private law of Lithuania, except for the cases when the Lithuanian courts would have rendered the same judgement in the case.


While deciding an issue concerning recognition of a foreign court judgement, the lawfulness and validity of such judgement may not be verified.


Any person having legal interest in a case is entitled to apply to the Lithuanian Court of Appeals for recognition of a foreign court judgement (arbitral award).Along with an application for recognition of a foreign court judgement (arbitral award), the applicant must submit the requested foreign court judgement (arbitral award) and its translation into the Lithuanian language, as well as the confirmation that the judgement is effective and the evidence that the party which did not participate in examination of the case had been duly notified about the venue and time of the examination of the civil case. No stamp duty is imposed on an application for recognition of a foreign court judgement (arbitral award).


Applications concerning recognition of foreign court judgements (arbitral awards) are examined by the panel of three judges from the Lithuanian Court of Appeals. Notification about the venue and time of the court hearing is given to the person who was a defendant in such a case. A court ruling on recognition of foreign court judgements (arbitral awards) comes into force from the day of its adoption. A court ruling may be appealed against by cassation complaint within one month from its adoption. The court which examines an application for recognition of a foreign court judgement (arbitral award) may recognise only part of a foreign court judgement (arbitral award). The court which examines an application concerning recognition of a foreign court judgement (arbitral award) is entitled to suspend the examination of the case if such court judgement (arbitral award) is appealed against in customary forms of respective state supervision of court judgements (arbitral awards) or if the term for lodging an appeal has not expired yet. Along with an application for recognition of a foreign court judgement (arbitral award) an issue of permission to enforce such judgement may be resolved.


Foreign court judgements (arbitral awards) may be enforced if:


1. the judgements can be enforced in the state where such judgements were rendered;


2. they are recognised in the procedure prescribed above.


A creditor to the application for permission to enforce a foreign court judgement (arbitral award) must attach the same documents as upon the application for the recognition as stated above and the confirmation that such judgement could be enforced in the state where such judgement was rendered.


The Supreme Court of Lithuania, which examines a cassation complaint of a debtor concerning the permission to enforce a foreign court judgement (arbitral award),at the cassator’s request may suspend the enforcement of such foreign court judgement (arbitral award) if in the state where the court judgement (arbitral award) was rendered such judgement (arbitral award) is appealed against in a customary way of supervision of court judgements (arbitral awards) or if the term for lodging such an appeal has not expired yet. In the latter case the court is entitled to set the term within which an appeal must be made. Also, it should be remembered that the court, while permitting to enforce a foreign court judgement (arbitral award) has the right to order a monetary security in the procedure prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure of Lithuania.


An amicable settlement agreement approved in a foreign state court may be recognised and enforced in Lithuania if it could be enforced in the state were it was concluded and unless it is contrary to the public order established in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. The procedure for recognition and enforcement of such amicable settlement agreement approved in a foreign state court is in accordance with the same procedure as described above.


The courts of Lithuania may recognise and enforce foreign state court rulings in respect of application for interlocutory measures. The abovementioned rulings arerecognised and enforced in Lithuania in the same procedure as foreign court judgements (arbitral awards) and only if the interested party has been duly notified about the venue and time of a court hearing in the foreign country.


The procedure for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments (arbitral awards) normally takes about 4-6 weeks from the date of application, unless the Lithuanian Court of Appeals requests additional documents, evidence or clarification of other circumstances.


It should be noted that the present Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania, which came into force on 31 January 2003, foresees more simplified and liberal procedure for the recognition and enforcement of foreign court judgments.


After Lithuania’s accession to the EU (the planned date is the 1st May 2004), the Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, which superseded the Brussels Convention of 1968, shall also be valid in the territory of Lithuania.



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