To cite this online book, please use the following:

Dela Peña. 2023. "Principles and Cases in Private International Law: A Procedural Approach." Published by Project Jurisprudence - Philippines. Published: September 17, 2023. Link: [Insert link] Last accessed: [Insert date of access].



            Decisions of foreign courts generally do not have force and effect in the Philippines. The territorial nature of jurisdiction of courts prevents the extension of the consequences and ramifications of court decisions of one state into the territorial limits of another state.


            However, owing to the Philippines’ adherence to and commitment for comity, cooperation and amity with other states, the trend has been to allow, in proper cases, the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. Note, however, that it is not the foreign judgment per se that is enforced in the Philippines but the Philippine court judgment that recognizes the foreign judgment. This process of recognition, in a limited sense, allows a foreign judgment – or even a foreign law, in some other sense – to acquire force and effect of law.


            Suppose that a divorce decree was granted by a foreign court to two Filipinos who obtained the same in the proper court of Canada. They flew back to the Philippines and filed a petition for recognition of the said divorce decree in a Philippine court. The first question is whether the Philippines has jurisdiction. The answer, surprisingly, is yes because the Philippines is a member of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH[1]) and Article 4 (1) of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (CREFJCCM),[2] a judgment given by a court of a contracting state (state of origin) shall be recognized and enforced in another contracting state (requested state) in accordance with the provisions of the Convention’s Chapter II.[3] Recognition or enforcement may be refused only on the grounds specified in the Convention. Considering that this Convention is part of the law of the land, the matter of “reconition and enforcement of foreign judgments in civil and commercial matters” is within the jurisdiction of Philippine courts.


            The next question is whether the petition filed by the two Filipinos in the above-given example problem should be granted by the Philippine forum. The answer is in the negative and there are two main reasons. First, under Article 2 (1) of Chapter I (Scope and Definitions) of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (CREFJCCM),[4] the following are excluded: (a) the status and legal capacity of natural persons; (b) maintenance obligations; (c) other family law matters, including matrimonial property regimes and other rights or obligations arising out of marriage or similar relationships; (d) wills and succession; (e) insolvency, composition, resolution of financial institutions, and analogous matters; (f) the carriage of passengers and goods; (g) transboundary marine pollution, marine pollution in areas beyond national jurisdiction, shipsource marine pollution, limitation of liability for maritime claims, and general average; (h) liability for nuclear damage; (i) the validity, nullity, or dissolution of legal persons or associations of natural or legal persons, and the validity of decisions of their organs; (j) the validity of entries in public registers; (k) defamation; (l) privacy; (m) intellectual property; (n) activities of armed forces, including the activities of their personnel in the exercise of their official duties; (o) law enforcement activities, including the activities of law enforcement personnel in the exercise of their official duties; (p) anti-trust (competition) matters, except where the judgment is based on conduct that constitutes an anti-competitive agreement or concerted practice among actual or potential competitors to fix prices, make rigged bids, establish output restrictions or quotas, or divide markets by allocating customers, suppliers, territories or lines of commerce, and where such conduct and its effect both occurred in the state of origin; and, (q) sovereign debt restructuring through unilateral State measures. Second, a foreign court cannot validly declare the dissolution of the marriage of two Filipinos, the same referring to their status and legal capacity and, as a result, pertaining to their national law – Philippine law.


            Say, this time, a divorce decree was granted by a foreign court to a Philipine citizen and a Croatian citizen, capacitating both of them to remarry, as to the question of whether Philippine courts have jurisdiction over a petition for recognition and enforcement of the said foreign divorce decree, the answer is yes. This is expressly what is provided by Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which says: “All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35 (1), (4), (5) and (6), 3637 and 38. (17a) Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”[5] As to the next question, whether or not the said petition for recognition should be granted by the Philippine forum, the answer is also in the affirmative. This is now settled in jurisprudence, particularly the case of Republic v. Manalo.[6]


            In Republic v. Manalo,[7] the Supreme Court held that the purpose o fParagraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines “is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after a foreign divorce decree that is effective in the country where it was rendered, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. The provision is a corrective measure to address an anomaly where the Filipino spouse is tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country.[8] Whether the Filipino spouse initiated the foreign divorce proceeding or not, a favorable decree dissolving the marriage bond and capacitating his or her alien spouse to remarry will have the same result: the Filipino spouse will effectively be without a husband or wife. A Filipino who initiated a foreign divorce proceeding is in the same place and in like circumstance as a Filipino who is at the receiving end of an alien initiated proceeding. Therefore, the subject provision should not make a distinction. In both instance, it is extended as a means to recognize the residual effect of the foreign divorce decree on Filipinos whose marital ties to their alien spouses are severed by operation of the latter’s national law.”


            More or less the same principles apply to marriage-unrelated or non-marriage-dissolution-related cases such as a foreign judgment granting collection of sum of money against a Filipino or a foreign judgment that imposes some other personal obligation. This is because the desire in the modern trend of private international law is to promote effective access to justice for all and to facilitate rule-based multilateral trade and investment, and mobility, through judicial co-operation, to enhance cooperation among nationals through the creation of a uniform set of core rules on recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in civil or commercial matters, to facilitate the effective recognition and enforcement of such judgments, and to pursue an international legal regime that provides greater predictability and certainty in relation to the global circulation of foreign judgments.[9]


            For example, under A.M. No. 21-03-02-SC or the Rules on Action for Support and Petition for Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Decisions or Judgments on Support,[10] the Supreme Court promulgated special rules for all actions for support filed by those entitled to support under the Family Code of the Philippines and other laws obliging an individual to provide support to another person, including petitions for recognition of foreign judgments or decisions for support. The said Rule also covers settlements or agreements in wrigint relating to payment of support concluded before, or approved by, a judicial or administrative authority. An administrative authority means a government or public body whose decision has the same force and effect as a decision rendered by a court of a judicial authority.[11] Under Section 24 of the said Rule, the court, after haring, may refuse recognition and/or enforcment in any of the following circumstances: (a) the foreign judgment or decision is against Philippine law or public policy; (b) it was obtained through fraud in connection with a matter of procedure; (c) it was obtained despite the presence of litis pendentia; (d) it is incompatible with a decision rendered by another court between the same parties and having the same purpose, i.e., res judicata; (e) it was obtained despite lack of notice to or representation of the respondent or defendant in the proceedings, i.e., violation of due process; (f) it was obtained without proper notice of the decision and without an opportunity to challenge or appeal the same; or, (g) the respondent or defendant is able to show competent evidence that fulfillment or payment has been made.[12]


            If the enumeration from (a) to (g) under Section 24 of A.M. No. 21-03-02-SC is familiar to the reader, it should be because it is similar to Section 48 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court,[13] quoted below:


“Section 48. Effect of Foreign Judgments or Final Orders. — The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:


“(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title to the thing; and


“(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.


“In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.”


            Once the Philippine forum grants a petition for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment – related to marriage or otherwise, and if there is no reason to stay such grant such as but not limited to the availment of remedies of reconsideration or appeal, enforcement proceeds. “Enforcement” under the Rules of Court, is called “Execution, Satisfaction and Effect of Judgments.”[14]




            In the case of Godard v. Gray,[15] decided by the Queen’s Bench Division of England, it was ruled that it “is no bar to an action, on a judgment in personam of a foreign court having jurisdiction over the parties and cause, that the foreign tribunal has put a construction erroneous, according to English law, on an English contract.” In other words, a judgment in personam of a foreign court of competent jurisdiction cannot be questioned or impeached by the parties on the merits when recognition or enforcement of the judgment is sought in England, notwithstanding that it may have been wrong either in fact or law. This derived from the mode of pleading an action on a foreign judgment in debt, and not merely as evidence of the obligation to pay the underlying liability.[16]


            The Godard v. Gray ruling cannot be applied squarely in the Philippines because of Section 48 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which allows a party to repel a foreign judgment on different grounds.


[1] Called “HCCH” because, in full, the name means Hague Conference on Private International Law – Conférence de La Haye de Droit International Privé).

[2] Concluded July 02, 2019.

[3] Chapter II - Recognition and Enforcement. Last accessed: September 08, 2023.

[4] See “Exclusions from scope.” Last accessed: September 08, 2023.

[5] As amended by Executive Order 227.

[6] G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018, 831 Phil. 33.

[7] G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018, 831 Phil. 33.

[8] Fujiki v. Marinay, 712 Phil. 524, 555 (2013).

[9] Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (July 02, 2019).

[10] March 23, 2021 but made effective on May 31, 2021. See the Supreme Court webiste at

[11] Section 17 of A.M. No. 21-03-02-SC.

[12] Pages 9-10 of A.M. No. 21-03-02-SC.

[13] By the way, the Rules of Civil Procedure is officially known as Bar MAtter No. 803, April 08, 1997.

[14] Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.

[15] 6 Q.B. 139, December 10, 1870.

[16] Summarized by December 18, 2021. “Godard v. Gray.” Last accessed: September 16, 2023.