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GODARD vs.

GRAY Plaintiffs Godar are Frenchmen sued the defendants, who are Englishmen, on a charter party made at Sunderland, which charter party contained the following clause: "Penalty for non-performance of this agreement, estimated amount of freight." The French Court below, treating this clause as fixing the amount of liquidated damages, gave judgment against the defendants for the amount of freight on two voyages. On appeal, the superior Court reduced the amount to the estimated freight of one voyage, giving as their reason that the charter party itself and the tribunal proceeds to observe that the amount thus decreed was after all more than sufficient to cover all the plaintiffs' loss. All parties in France seem to have taken the word for granted in the charter party which is to be understood in their natural meaning, However in English law is accurately expressed that passage been brought to the notice of the French tribunal, it would have known that in an English charter party, as is there stated, "Such a clause is not the absolute limit of damages on either side; the party may, if he thinks fit, ground his action upon the other clauses or covenants, and may, in such action, recover damages beyond the amount of the penalty, if in justice they shall be found to exceed it. On the other hand, if the party sue on such a penal clause, he cannot, in effect, recover more than the damage actually sustained." But it was not brought to the notice of the French tribunal that according to the interpretation put by the English law on such a contract, a penal clause of this sort was in fact idle and inoperative. If it had been, they would, probably, have interpreted the English contract made in England according to the English construction.1 ISSUE: whether this is a bar to the action brought in England to enforce that judgment. HELD: "It is not an admitted principle of the law of nations that a State is bound to enforce within its territories the judgment of a foreign tribunal. Several of the continental nations (including France) do not enforce the judgments of other countries, unless where there are reciprocal treaties to that effect. However in England and in those States which are governed by the common Iaw, such judgments are enforced, not by virtue of any treaty, nor by virtue of any statute, but upon a principle very well stated by Parke, B., in Williams v. Jones (13 M. & W. 628; 14 L.J. Exch. 145): "Where a Court of competent jurisdiction has adjudicated a certain sum to be due from one person to another, a legal obligation aribes to pay the sum, on which an action of debt to enforce the judgment may be maintained. It is in this way that the judgments of foreign and colonial Courts are supported and enforced." A judgment in personam of a foreign court of competent jurisdiction cannot be questioned by the parties on the merits when recognition or enforcement of the judgment is sought in England, notwithstanding that it may have been wrong either in fact or law. This derived from the mode of pleading an action on a foreign judgment in debt, and not merely as evidence of the obligation to pay the underlying liability. 1. Abbott on Shipping, Pt. 3, c. 1, a. 6, 5th ed., p. 170