Litigation, Litigation

Of certain difficulties in obtaining the recognition in Quebec of a foreign judgment rendered by default and of the risks of not defending a foreign proceeding

Oct 19th, 2018

By Laurent Debrun

The Court of Appeal just issued two important decisions dealing with the recognition in Quebec of foreign default judgments rendered against a Quebec resident.


The creditor petitioned the Superior Court to have a default judgment rendered in Italy recognized in Quebec so as to enforce it against the judgment debtor, a Quebec resident.

It is incumbent of the recipient of a foreign default judgment to adduce clear evidence that the introductory proceedings in the foreign court were duly served on the Quebec defendant in accordance with the laws of the court issuing the default judgment (Italy in this case).

If this evidence is not available, the Quebec court cannot recognize the foreign default judgment and, as a result, the creditor cannot enforce it in Quebec. Even if the foreign judgment contains a reference to the fact that the introductory proceeding was served on the Quebec defendant in a valid form as per the foreign law, this does not suffice, in particular if, as in this case, the Quebec resident claims never to have received service nor of ever having been informed of the foreign proceedings.

Article 3156 of the Civil Code of Quebec, which finds its source in the Hague Convention (1971) for the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial matters, is intended to protect the rights of the defense and to avoid the risk of fraud.


To contest a default judgment rendered against it by a court in Texas, the Quebec defendant invoked the fact that it was incorrectly named in the Texas proceedings as THINKGLASS Inc. as opposed to its legal name, Think Glass Le Verre Repensé Inc. Yet, the defendant was properly served in Quebec, in a form recognized by the laws of Texas. It simply chose not to appear or to defend the action.

The Court of Appeal was not impressed by such bad faith and frivolous grounds and it maintained the judgment of the Superior Court which recognized the Texas decision.

TAKE AWAY: while the rules pertaining to the recognition and enforcement in Quebec of a foreign judgment have been simplified, it remains that, when applying to the court to have a foreign decision rendered by default recognized, you must bring evidence that the proceeding was properly served on the Quebec target. It can be dangerous, once informed of the foreign proceedings, or served with the foreign claim, to rely on a procedural ground so not to appear and contest the foreign proceedings.