Articles Developments in PIL

US Judgments on the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks: Enforceable in Europe?

indexIn 2016, an application for the recognition of a judgment rendered by the Southern District Court of New York against the State of Iran, some of its emanations and other non-State parties was filed with a Luxembourg court.

If recognised, this U.S. judgment, which awarded 1.3 billion USD of compensatory damages and 4.7 billion USD of punitive damages to the victims of the terrorist attacks of 9 September 2001 and/or their families, would have enabled the claimants to seize Iranian assets held with a Luxembourg-based clearing house.

As it happens, the application was not not successful.

A recently published Working Paper of the MPI Luxembourg series (also available on SSRN) puts the American decision into a broader context and provides for an in-depth analysis of the grounds for refusal from the point of view of both private and public international law.

The paper takes stock of the attempts made by the families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to enforce the New York judgment in Europe.

It brings together four different contributions, focusing on specific aspects of the Havlish saga.

To set the scene for the proper understanding of the Havlish litigations, Stephanie Law analyses the development of the U.S. legal framework on the state-sponsored terrorism exception and its impact on the U.S. proceedings, which resulted in the judgment whose recognition and enforcement is being sought in Europe.

The ruling given in March 2019 by the Luxembourg court is analysed by Vincent Richard and Edoardo Stoppioni, who deal in turn with the arguments set forth vis-à-vis non-State parties and with the use, by the Luxembourg Court, of the law on State immunity as it applies to the Iranian State and its emanations (see further on this judgment Burkhard Hess “Keine juristische Fussnote: Klagen aus 9/11 vor Luxemburgischen Gerichten”, IPRax, 5/2019, p. 442-446).

Finally, Martina Mantovani addresses the parallel attempts made by the U.S. claimants to enforce the Havlish judgments in other European Jurisdictions, which have given rise to ongoing exequatur procedures in England and in Italy.

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