Foreign court judgments can be recognized and enforced on the basis of reciprocity in the absence of an international treaty on mutual legal assistance.
In Belarus, recognition and enforcement of foreign court judgments causes more difficulties as opposed to foreign arbitral awards. This is due to the fact that Belarus is a party to the 1958 New York Convention on recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards but has only a limited number of international treaties with other states on mutual legal assistance.
However, even if there is no such treaty, a foreign court judgment can be recognized and enforced on the basis of reciprocity.
Reciprocity means that the state allows the legal force of a foreign judgment on its territory in the absence of unjustified refusal to recognize its own court judgments on the territory of the foreign state concerned.
In Belarus, reciprocity is considered a procedural presumption, i.e. the party contesting recognition of the foreign judgment must prove the absence of reciprocity between the two states.
Recently there have been positive developments in court practice in regard to application of the reciprocity principle, but it is too early to speak of settled and uniform practice on this issue.
However, other features of legislation can make recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment difficult.
In particular, only final judgments on the merits of the case can be recognized and enforced in Belarus. Recognition of other court rulings (e.g. orders for interim measures or orders on determination of costs) is often denied by the Belarusian courts.
Certain difficulties arise with full recovery of the debt if the foreign judgment does not indicate the exact amount payable (e.g. if there is only an indication of a percentage rate and the date from which interest or contractual penalties accrues).
Another frequent ground for denial of recognition and enforcement is the absence of documents confirming that the other party was notified of the proceedings in accordance with the procedures provided in international treaties (such as the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters of 1965).
In view of these practical procedural difficulties, it is recommended to include an arbitration clause in foreign trade contracts with Belarusian partners, especially in the absence of an international treaty with the Republic of Belarus on legal assistance.
Please, contact us if you have any questions and we will be glad to assist you on the matter.