The Continuing Evolution of U.S. Judgments Recognition Law

67 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2015 Last revised: 3 May 2017

See all articles by Ronald A. Brand

Ronald A. Brand

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: October 7, 2015


The substantive law of judgments recognition in the United States has evolved from federal common law, found in a seminal Supreme Court opinion, to primary reliance on state law in both state and federal courts. While state law often is found in a local version of a uniform act, this has not brought about true uniformity, and significant discrepancies exist among the states. These discrepancies in judgments recognition law, combined with a common policy on the circulation of internal judgments under the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, have created opportunities for forum shopping and litigation strategies that result in both inequity of result and inefficiency of judicial process. These inefficiencies are fueled by differences regarding (1) substantive rules regarding the recognition of judgments, (2) requirements for personal and quasi in rem jurisdiction when a judgments recognition action is brought (recognition jurisdiction), and (3) the application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens in judgments (and arbitral award) recognition cases. Recent cases demonstrate the need for a return to a single, federal legal framework for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. This article reviews the history of U.S. judgments recognition law, summarizes current substantive law on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, reviews recent decisions that demonstrate the three specific problem areas, and proposes a coordinated approach using federal substantive law on judgments recognition and state law on related matters in order to eliminate the current problems of non-uniformity and inefficient use of the courts.

Keywords: Private international law, recognition & enforcement of judgments, international law, international economic law, dispute resolution, jurisdiction, alternative dispute resolution, conflict of laws, litigation, comparative law, civil procedure, recognition jurisdiction, full faith and credit

JEL Classification: K41

Suggested Citation

Brand, Ronald A., The Continuing Evolution of U.S. Judgments Recognition Law (October 7, 2015). Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 55, p. 277, 2017, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-37, Available at SSRN: or

Ronald A. Brand (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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