Mexico Update: Supreme Court Refuses Recognition of US Judgment On Service of Process Grounds

In a recent post at Cartas Blogatorias, María Mercedes Albornoz has written about a recent amparo case in the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice in which the court refused to reverse a lower court’s decision refusing recognition of a US decision on the grounds that the defendant was not served personally with process.

I won’t summarize the case—I encourage you to read María’s post. The main point seems to be Article 1347-A, section IV of the Commercial Code, which provides that Mexico will not recognize a judgment unless “el demandado haya sido notificado o emplazado en forma personal,” which I think means that the defendant has to be served personally.

I suppose this is really Mexico’s business—the United States is not a party to the Inter-American Convention on the Extraterritorial Validity of Foreign Judgment and Arbitral Awards, and I don’t know of any relevant other bilateral or multilateral obligation Mexico has to the United States. Still, the Mexican rule seems pretty extreme. From the perspective of comity, how is it reasonable to refuse recognition to an American judgment solely on the grounds of insufficient service of process when the service of process did not take place in Mexico? Sure, if the method failed to meet the standard of what we might call international due process, I see the point. But there are plenty of methods of service that should be perfectly acceptable—service by mail with a return receipt, for example. Mexico has made strides in international judicial assistance, for example, participating in a workshop that emphasized that the law of the forum, not the law of Mexico, governs questions such as the competence of the forwarding authority or the wording of the summons. On this topic, I think Mexico needs to do a re-think.

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