Dispute Resolution - Foreign judgements


Dispute Resolution - Our experts respond


What procedures exist for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?


Generally, a final foreign judgment will be recognised and enforced in the courts of Panama without retrial of the originating action by instituting exequatur proceedings before the Fourth Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama.


For a writ of exequatur to be obtained from the Fourth Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, the following is required:


  • The existence of a treaty or, in its absence, reciprocity. The principle of reciprocity provides that the country that issued the judgment would, in similar circumstances, recognise a final and conclusive judgment of the courts of Panama. Reciprocity is presumed to exist; therefore, if the opposing party (and exceptionally, the Prosecution Office of the Attorney General) considers reciprocity is lacking, then such party must provide evidence within the course of exequatur proceedings.

  • A judgment issued because of an action in personam. Actions in personam are the opposite of ‘real’ actions (ie, real estate property situated in Panama).

  • Demonstrating the judgment was rendered after personal service has been effected on the defendant. When analysing the exequatur petition, the Fourth Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice will look for confirmation on proper personal service of process effected on the defendant. The purpose of this requirement is to verify that the defendant had the opportunity to submit a defence against the claim, and that therefore, the principles of contradiction or bilateralism and due process were observed.

  • That the cause of action upon which the judgment was based is lawful and does not contravene the public policy of Panama.

  • Providing authentic copies of the documents evidencing the judgment, according to the law of the relevant foreign court and have been duly legalised by a Consul of Panama or pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention on the legalisation of documents.

  • Providing translations of the copy of the final judgment (and complementary evidence) by a licensed translator in Panama.

  • The judgment must be final and definitive, meaning that no other remedies (ie, appeals or other challenges) are available against the judgment.

Once the writ of exequatur has been obtained from the Fourth Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, the plaintiff will have to commence special executory proceedings before the civil courts to seek collection of the owed amounts.


Key contacts Dispute Resolution in Panama:

Ebrahim Asvat (easvat@pmalawyers.com) | Khatiya Asvat (kasvat@pmalawyers.com | Joaquin De Obarrio (jdeobarrio@pmalawyers.com)


PATTON MORENO & ASVAT, the experienced legal guidance you can trust.


- An extract of the Dispute Resolution Guide 2021, originally published by Getting the Deal Through / Lexology