Cross border judgments are decisions made by courts in foreign countries on matters which involve or affect parties outside their borders.
In the United States, there is no federal law nor is the U.S. a signatory of any treaty that stipulates how, or even if, courts recognize and enforce cross-border judgments. Subsequently, the recognition and enforcement of any judgment made outside the country is often handled at the state level and determined by state law.
Most states adhere to the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act of 2005 so there is some consistency of ruling amongst the courts. The act sets standards, procedures and jurisdictional requirements necessary for the recognition of cross-border judgments. It also sets a statute of limitations by which an action to recognize a cross-border judgment must be taken. If a state does not have a recognition law, it will typically have a common law statute based on the Foreign Relations Law of the United States.
For a court to adjudicate over a cross-border judgment, it needs to have subject matter jurisdiction over the issue as well as personal jurisdiction, meaning the non-resident party must have minimum contact with or some presence in the state.
When considering whether to recognize a cross-border judgment, three criteria are typically considered: 1) The judgment must have been decided in a system considered impartial and the individual was afforded due process of law; 2) the foreign court must have personal jurisdiction over the defendant; and 3) the decision must be considered final and enforceable by the foreign court. To that third point, if a decision is being appealed in the original forum, enforcement of that judgment may be put on hold until that appeal is over.
The same standards are applied at the federal level. Federal courts will ordinarily apply the recognition rules of the state in which the federal court is based.
Conversely, in an effort to get foreign nations to enforce judgments made in the United States, The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization tasked with setting a unified set of rules for private courts, drafted the the 2019 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters. The convention codifies a uniform set of standards that establishes guidelines for either recognizing or refusing the enforcement of a cross-border judgment. That convention, however, has yet to enter into force.