Case of the Day: Louis Dreyfus Commodities Suisse v. Financial Software Systems

The case of the day is Louis Dreyfus Commodities Suisse S.A. v. Financial Software Systems, Inc. (Pa. 2014). Dreyfus had obtained a judgment in the English High Court for $717,733.12 for breach of contract against FSS. It sought to collect in Pennsylvania, though as we shall see it made an elementary mistake.

Pennsylvania has adopted the UFMJRA, a statute with which Letters Blogatory readers will be familiar. It has also adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. The UFMJRA applies to the money judgments of a “foreign government,” where “foreign government” is defined as “any governmental unit other than the United States or any state … thereof &hellip.” The UEFJA, on the other hand, applies to “foreign judgments,” where “foreign judgment” is defined as “any judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court requiring the payment of money which is entitled to full faith and credit in this Commonwealth.”1 In other words, the UFMJRA applies to foreign country judgments, while the UEFJA applies to sister-state judgments.

Dreyfus made the mistake of proceeding under the UEFJA. Because sister-state judgments are entitled to full faith and credit, the statute provides for an expedited process. It’s only necessary to register the judgment, and then an execution can issue. It is not necessary to bring an action on the judgment or to do anything to prove that the judgment is entitled to recognition (other than to prove the authenticity of the judgment).

The decision is plainly correct. Nothing, however, prevents Dreyfus from trying again under the proper statute. So it’s back to the drawing board.

  1. So as to avoid confusing foreign readers, Pennsylvania, like my own state of Massachusetts as well as Virginia as Kentucky, style themselves commonwealths rather than states—the name has no special meaning. Puerto Rico is also a commonwealth, though there the use of the word serves to distinguish Puerto Rico, an unincorporated US territory with a unique political status, from the fifty states. Confusing!

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