By: Ryan Everette
Since the 1990s, a group of plaintiffs from Ecuador has been involved in litigation with what is presently the Chevron Corporation. During the lawsuit in Ecuador’s courts, the plaintiffs’ lawyers took part in deceptive activities that led to an unreliable judgment against Chevron and has resulted in civil liability for the lawyers and an inability to enforce the judgment against Chevron in the United States for the plaintiff class. Over the better part of the last decade, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have sought and failed to enforce the judgment in several countries outside of the United States, leading to a prolonging of the case for all parties involved and no relief of any kind for the members of the plaintiff class.
These types of extended country-hopping recognition and enforcement issues can be avoided with transnational standards in assessing foreign judgments, including evidentiary standards for an initial enforcement attempt and a standard of review for subsequent attempts. Having these standards in place would serve to ensure that, in cases with problematically obtained foreign judgments, different jurisdictions would apply standards that could deter any temptation to interfere in proceedings leading to the judgment, especially in vulnerable judicial systems, and give plaintiffs and defendants certainty following an initial denial. In turn, this would serve to promote fairness in foreign judgement enforcement proceedings and lead to a more effective system that helps plaintiffs achieve the justice they deserve while also giving defendants a fair chance to avoid exploitation and abuse.