VDB Loi Litigation Team Bags Historic Win: First Myanmar Court Enforcement of Foreign Verdict in Major Arbitration CaseMay 25, 2021
Recently a district court in Myanmar has granted an execution order to approve enforcement of a foreign court judgment against defendants in Myanmar. The case concerns a complex foreign arbitration on an infrastructure project which has dragged on for many years. After a foreign party won the foreign arbitration proceeding, the Myanmar defendant refused to comply with the foreign arbitration award. VDB Loi has acted on behalf of the foreign plaintiff to obtain this decision after working on the case for almost 3 years. This is the first successful case for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in the history of (post-colonial) Myanmar
Enforcement of foreign court judgments in Myanmar has been in theory only. Myanmar has been a member of the New York Convention for recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral award, and the Arbitration Law 2016 also provides legal basis for recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral in Myanmar. However, due to the past history, lack of precedent and experience of court, in practice we have seen few cases for enforcement for foreign arbitral award, not even mention enforcement of foreign court judgement. The enforcement of foreign court judgement is more challenging than enforcing a foreign arbitral award, because the Myanmar court will not be bound by international treaty like the New York Convention or the Arbitration Law when looking into such case, and it becomes a matter of decision by the court based purely on the domestic laws.
This precedent is a blow in support of Myanmar courts willing to recognize foreign decisions. Some Myanmar courts and decisions are less accepting of foreign arbitration. We look forward that more precedents could be established to provide guidance for enforcement of foreign arbitral awards and foreign court judgment in the near future.
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