On 2 April 2020, the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court (Shanghai Court) recognised and enforced 2011Gahap6992, a judgment issued by the Seoul Southern District Court on 15 February 2019, which orders the judgment debtor, a Chinese company, to pay royalties to the judgment creditor, a South Korean company, and to stop using the latter’s business logos during business operations, including on its website, promotional materials, printed matters, among others. The disputes arose out of a licensing agreement between the parties.
In its judgment, the Shanghai Court found that: the South Korean judgment has became binding on the judgment debtor; the South Korean judgment is authentic as evidenced by notarisation documents; and, reciprocity between China and South Korea in relation to the recognition and enforcement of each other’s judgments has been established by virtue of 99 Gahap 26523 where on 5 November 1999 the Seoul District Court recognised and enforced a judgment rendered by the Weifang Intermediate People’s Court in China’s Shandong Province.
China requires de facto reciprocity to be established before its courts can regconise and enforce the judgments of foreign jurisdictions with which it has not concluded any bilateral treaty or acceded to any international convention that deals with judgments recognition and enforcement.
The Shanghai Court did not mention (2018) LU 02 XIE WAI REN No 6, which was the first time any South Korean judgment has been recognised by a Chinese court (in this case the Qingdao Intermediate People’s Court) (Qingdao case). Before the Qingdao case, Chinese courts had on two occasions refused to recognise South Korean judgments notwithstanding the existence of the 1999 decision by the Seoul District Court.
It may be safe to conclude that reciprocity is no longer an obstacle standing in the way of parties applying for the recognition and enforcement of their South Korean judgments before Chinese courts.
The full judgment of the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court is available here. A more detailed case summary can be found at China Justice Observer.