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Standard Chartered Bank v. Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi & Bros. Co.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

August 20, 2014

STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, Appellee
v.
AHMAD HAMAD AL GOSAIBI AND BROTHERS COMPANY, ET AL., Appellants

Argued May 7, 2014

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Civil Division, No(s).: 130301427. Before TUCKER, J.

Mark J. Leimkuhler, Philadelphia, for appellants.

Marc J. Gottridge, New York, New York, for appellee.

BEFORE: ALLEN, MUNDY, and FITZGERALD,[*] JJ.

OPINION

Page 937

FITZGERALD, J.

Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi and Brothers Co., et al. (" AHAB" ) appeals from the order entered in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas denying its motion to vacate judgment in favor of Standard Chartered Bank (" Standard Chartered" ). On appeal, AHAB challenges the Pennsylvania trial court's decision to give full faith and credit to a New York judgment recognizing a Bahraini money judgment in favor of Standard Chartered. We hold that the New York court's decision to recognize the foreign nation judgment is entitled to full faith and credit in Pennsylvania. Accordingly, because Standard Chartered sought to enforce a valid New York judgment in Pennsylvania, we affirm.

Standard Chartered is a banking corporation organized under the laws of England and Wales with a New York branch. AHAB is a Saudi Arabian partnership whose partners are all citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia. In April 2009, the parties entered into a currency exchange agreement wherein Standard Chartered agreed to sell Saudi Riyals to AHAB in exchange for United States Dollars. Standard

Page 938

Chartered transferred the Riyals to AHAB's account, but AHAB did not transfer the corresponding Dollars to Standard Chartered's account. In December 2010, Standard Chartered obtained a twenty-five million dollar money judgment, plus interests and costs, against AHAB in the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution, a commercial court of the Kingdom of Bahrain.[1] AHAB did not exercise its right to appeal from the Bahraini judgment in favor of Standard Chartered.

In December 2011, Standard Chartered commenced an action against AHAB in the Supreme Court[2] of the State of New York, New York County, to gain recognition of the Bahraini judgment under New York's implementation of the Uniform Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act[3] (" Recognition Act" ). AHAB moved to dismiss the complaint and Standard Chartered cross-moved for summary judgment. Before the New York court, AHAB argued that the trial court should refuse to recognize the Bahraini judgment, pursuant to New York's version of the Recognition Act, because AHAB was denied fundamental due process in the Bahraini tribunal and because Bahrain was an inconvenient forum. On December 12, 2012, after a full hearing and briefing, the New York court granted summary judgment in favor of Standard Chartered. On January 28, 2013, judgment was entered in favor of Standard Chartered in the amount of $27,207,400[4] against AHAB.[5],[6]

AHAB appealed as of right to New York's intermediate appellate court, which unanimously affirmed the trial court on October 24, 2013.[7] On April 22, 2014, the intermediate appellate court denied AHAB's petition for leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, New York's highest court.[8]

Meanwhile, on March 11, 2013, Standard Chartered filed the New York judgment in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas pursuant to the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act[9] (" Enforcement

Page 939

Act" ).[10] On April 19, 2013, AHAB filed a motion to vacate the judgment. On May 13, 2013, Standard Chartered filed an answer to the motion to vacate. After further briefing by both parties and a full hearing on the matter, the trial court denied AHAB's motion to vacate the New York judgment on July 16, 2013, concluding

[h]ere, the mandates of the United States Constitution, federal law, and Pennsylvania's [Enforcement Act] are clear. The New York judgment is entitled to full faith and credit just as any other judgment issued by a New York court. [AHAB] had a full and fair opportunity to litigate whether the Bahraini judgment should be entered pursuant to New York's version of the [Recognition Act]. [Standard Chartered] duly filed the New York judgment in Pennsylvania pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 4306. Therefore, the New York judgment is entitled to the same res judicata effect it would have in New York. Therefore, it is of no moment whether Pennsylvania would have recognized the Bahraini judgment under [Pennsylvania's Recognition Act] because here, [Standard Chartered] is seeking to enforce a New York judgment, not a direct Bahraini judgment.

Trial Ct. Op., 10/9/13, at 8 (some capitalization omitted). This timely appeal followed.[11]

AHAB raises the following issues on appeal:

Did the trial court err, when by order docketed on July 16, 2013, it denied [AHAB's] petition to ...

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