1 Legal and judicial framework
1.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?
- For federal matters, the Federal Code of Civil Procedure.
- For local matters, the Code of Civil Procedure of each state.
- For commercial matters, the Commerce Code.
1.2 Which bilateral and multilateral instruments on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments have effect in your jurisdiction?
Mexico is a party to the Inter-American Convention on Extraterritorial Validity of Foreign Judgments and Arbitral Awards, signed on 8 May 1979 in Montevideo, Uruguay. The convention was approved by the Senate and published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on 4 February 1987, and promulgated in the Official Gazette of the Federation on 20 August 1987.
1.3 Which courts have jurisdiction to hear applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?
- For federal and commercial matters, the district judge.
- For local and commercial matters, the local civil judge.
2 Requirements for enforceability
2.1 What types of judgments may be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction? Are any types of judgments specifically precluded from enforcement?
Judgments arising from civil and commercial proceedings may be recognised and executed.
A foreign judgment arising from an in rem action may not be executed.
2.2 Must a foreign judgment be final and binding before it can be enforced?
Yes, the foreign judgment must be final and binding before it can be enforced – that is, it must be res judicata in the country where it was rendered.
2.3 Is a foreign judgment enforceable if it is subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction?
No, a foreign judgment is not enforceable if it is subject to appeal in in the country where it was rendered.
2.4 What is the limitation period for making an application for recognition and enforcement?
In commercial matters, the limitation period for applying for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment is:
- three years if the judgment was issued in an executive proceeding; and
- five years if the judgment was issued in an ordinary proceeding.
In civil matters, the limitation period for applying for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment is 10 years.
3 Recognition and enforcement process
3.1 Is recognition of a foreign judgment a separate process from enforcement and does it have separate legal effects?
Recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment is carried out through the same process.
3.2 What is the formal process for recognition and enforcement?
- A summary proceeding for recognition and execution of a foreign judgment is commenced by filing a writ before the court.
- The court will serve a summons on the defendant and order the plaintiff and defendant to file defences and submit evidence.
- Once the evidence has been filed and presented in a hearing, the court will issue a judgment.
- If the judgment denies execution of the foreign judgment, it may be appealed and the proceeding will be stayed. If the judgment allows execution of the foreign judgment, it may be appealed and the proceeding will continue.
3.3 What documents are required in support of an application for recognition and enforcement?
The following documents are required to support an application for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment:
- a letter rogatory issued by the requesting judge;
- an authentic (original) copy of the judgment to be executed;
- an authentic (original) copy of the document confirming that the defendant was personally served with a summons of the lawsuit (according to Mexican law);
- an authentic (original) copy of the document confirming that the foreign judgment is res judicata or that there is no ordinary recourse against the judgment;
- Spanish translations of all documents; and
- confirmation that the party seeking execution of the foreign judgment has an address in the place of jurisdiction of the tribunal that will recognise and enforce such foreign judgment.
3.4 What fees are payable for recognition and enforcement?
No fees are payable to the Mexican courts for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments.
3.5 Is the applicant required to provide security for costs?
3.6 How long does it usually take to obtain a declaration of enforceability?
It takes approximately three months to obtain a declaration of enforceability at first instance.
The declaration of enforceability may be appealed and an amparo may ultimately be filed.
The appeal and amparo can take up to nine months to be resolved.
3.7 Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the process is ongoing?
Yes, the applicant can seek injunctive relief while the process is ongoing.
4.1 On what grounds can the defendant challenge recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?
Recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment may be challenged on the following grounds:
- The formalities established in the Code of Civil Procedure for letters rogatory were not met.
- The foreign judgment was issued in an in rem action.
- The judge or tribunal that issued the judgment was not competent to issue the judgment under international laws that are accepted and adopted by the Code of Civil Procedure. This is considered to be the case where the parties have expressly agreed that the Mexican courts are competent to hear disputes.
- The defendant was not personally notified or served, and was thus denied the right to be heard and defended.
- The foreign judgment is not res judicata in the country where it was issued or there is still some ordinary recourse against the foreign judgment.
- A cause of action between the same parties was first brought before the Mexican courts and is still pending; the letter rogatory to serve summons was given to the secretary of foreign affairs or to any authority of the state where summons should be served; or a final judgment has already been issued by Mexican courts in the same cause of action.
- Recognition and enforcement would be contrary to Mexican public policy.
- The documents submitted are not authentic.
- The defendant can prove that in the country where the judgment was issued, judgments and awards issued by foreign authorities are not recognised and executed in similar cases.
4.2 What is the limitation period for filing a challenge?
The defendant has nine days after being served to file a challenge.
4.3 Can the defendant seek injunctive relief to prevent enforcement while a challenge is pending?
Yes, the defendant can seek injunctive relief to prevent enforcement while a challenge is pending.
5 Court analysis and decision
5.1 Will the court review service of process in the initial proceedings?
Yes, the court will review motu proprio whether service of process in the initial proceeding was done correctly.
5.2 Will the court review the jurisdiction of the foreign court in the initial proceedings?
Yes, the court will review the jurisdiction of the foreign court in the initial proceedings if the defendant submits an affirmative defence in this regard.
5.3 Will the court review the foreign judgment for compliance with applicable law and public policy?
The Mexican courts cannot examine whether the judgment or award is just, or the reasoning and law applied by the judge. The Mexican courts can only examine the authenticity of the judgment and whether it should be executed according to Mexican law.
The Mexican courts can review the foreign judgment for compliance with public policy if the defendant raises this issue and proves that Mexican public policy has been breached; if this is the case, the courts can deny execution of the judgment.
5.4 Will the court review the merits of the foreign judgment?
The Mexican courts cannot examine or decide on the merits of the foreign judgment.
5.5 How will the court proceed if the foreign judgment conflicts with a previous judgment in relation to the same dispute between the same parties?
If the foreign judgment conflicts with a previous judgment in relation to the same dispute between the same parties, the Mexican courts will deny recognition and execution of the foreign judgment. In this regard, it should be determined which court was first notified of such case, or if the letter rogatory to serve summons was given to the secretary of foreign affairs or to any authority of the state where summons should be served.
5.6 Are there any other grounds on which the court may refuse to recognise and enforce the foreign judgment?
There are no other grounds other than those already mentioned.
5.7 Is partial recognition and enforcement possible?
Yes, partial recognition and enforcement is possible if a judgment or award cannot be fully recognised and the party requests partial recognition and enforcement.
5.8 How will the court deal with cost issues (eg, interest, court costs, currency issues)?
Usually interests are determined in the foreign judgement, therefore Mexican courts will abide to the way the foreign judgment established such interests.
In Mexico there are no court costs, Mexican court do not charge the parties for their services.
For currency issues, under Mexican law, article8 of the Monetary Law establishes that payment obligations in foreign currency, acquired within the Republic or abroad, to be performed in Mexico, shall be paid by handing over the equivalent of such amount in domestic currency at the exchange rate in force on the date and place where the payment is to be made, and that such exchange rate shall be determined in accordance to the provisions issued to that effect by the Bank of Mexico.
6.1 Can decisions in relation to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments be appealed?
If execution of the foreign judgment is denied, this decision may be appealed and the proceeding will be stayed. If execution of the foreign judgment is allowed, this decision may be appealed and the proceeding will continue.
6.2 Can the applicant seek injunctive relief while the appeal is pending?
Yes, the applicant may seek injunctive relief while the appeal is pending if execution of the foreign judgment is allowed.
7 Enforcing the foreign judgment
7.1 Once a declaration of enforceability has been granted, how can the foreign judgment be enforced?
Any issues relating to the seizure of assets, deposits, appraisals, sale in public auction or other issues in relation to the liquidation and execution of a judgment issued by a foreign tribunal will be resolved by the judge in charge of recognition and enforcement. The beneficiary of moneys that are received from a sale in public auction is the foreign court.
7.2 Can the foreign judgment be enforced against third parties?
No, the foreign judgment will produce effects only as between the parties to the proceeding.
8 Trends and predictions
8.1 How would you describe the current enforcement landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?
There are no proposed legislative reforms in this regard, so the landscape is expected to remain the same for the time being.
9 Tips and traps
9.1 What are your top tips for smooth recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, and what potential sticking points would you highlight?
Mexican law is extremely formalistic as regards the service of summons. It is therefore imperative to engage local counsel when serving summons on the defendant in the foreign proceeding.
Public policy is another tricky issue that must be addressed. When foreign cases take place, and it's foreseen that recognition and enforcement of the award will likely be in Mexico, local counsel should be engaged to review and analyse the merits of the case and its role with regard to Mexican public policy.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.