Recognition and Enforcement of U.S. Punitive Damages Awards in Continental Europe: The Italian Supreme Court's Veto

30 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2008 Last revised: 4 Nov 2009

Date Written: June 27, 2008

Abstract

It has happened again: another European court has refused to recognize and enforce a U.S. punitive damages award. Different actors, same outcome: punitive damages are deemed contrary to public policy in Europe, where the different national systems of civil liability do not seek punishment, but mere compensation. At the outset, the article studies the developments of punitive damages in the United States, highlighting the anomalies that such doctrine carries with regard to both private and criminal law.

The paper analyzes, moreover, the main (constitutional) hurdles which the Italian (and other EU countries') legal system poses to the judicial recognition of U.S. punitive damages awards.

The paper further argues that the approach adopted by the European judges in dealing with the recognition and enforcement of U.S. money judgments, and punitive damages in particular, ought to be revised. A different approach on the part of the enforcing judge is possible and, as this paper intends to demonstrate, is rooted in the very doctrine of punitive damages. To such extent, going beyond the structural appearances of a foreign judgment of which one seeks recognition is not only advisable, but also necessary.

Keywords: excessive fine, punitive damages, exemplary damages, italy, Europe, comparative law, torts, alabama, cassazione, penalty clause, pain and suffering, product liability, danno punitivo, wrongful death, private international law, public policy, Italian Constitution, recognition and enforcement, EU

JEL Classification: K41, K13, K20, K33, K41, K42,F20, F23, F42, N60

Suggested Citation

Quarta, Francesco, Recognition and Enforcement of U.S. Punitive Damages Awards in Continental Europe: The Italian Supreme Court's Veto (June 27, 2008). Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1182442

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