Jacobsen + Confurius

Transport law / general civil law / international enforcement law

HAMBURG HANSEATIC HIGHER REGIONAL COURT 13/07/2016 (6 U 152/11) HANDS DOWN FURTHER JUDGEMENT: Russian court rulings are not recognised or enforceable in Germany as reciprocity cannot be guaranteed.

Around twelve years after a relevant decision, the Hamburg Hanseatic Higher Regional Court handed down further judgement on 13/7/2016 (6 U 152/11) regarding the question as to whether a Russian court decision must be recognised in Germany.

According to German procedural law, this question would have to be responded to in the positive even if, conversely, German decisions were recognised in the Russian Federation without an agreement under international law on a regular basis, i.e. that there was “reciprocity”.

Despite corresponding trends in the Russian commercial courts, neither the current legal situation nor the actual recognition practice in Russia allows one to conclude that general civil courts in Russia now declare German decisions as enforceable without further factual review. There is therefore no guarantee of reciprocity and no recognition of Russian judgements.

Although a slightly positive trend in Russian in legal practice is most certainly evident, the latest decision by the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court should result in the recognition and enforcement of German court decisions in Russia not being possible in the foreseeable future.

The reason for this is that applying for recognition and enforcement of a foreign court judgement in Russia requires proof that the judgements handed down by Russian courts are recognised and enforced in the foreign legal system. Relief will therefore only be found in an international agreement entered into between both countries.

Irrespective of the underlying legal system (German or Russian law) of an agreement between two commercial parties, it is recommended, where possible, to bring proceedings before the court of the country in which the claim can ultimately be enforced. Thus, if a judgement is delivered in Germany, assets that debtors in Germany (or another country in the EU!) have can be accessed. Only the assets situated in Russia cannot be accessed.

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