The Supreme Court of Canada is releasing its decision in the international family law appeal R.S v. P.R. on Friday, October 25, 2019. At issue is the proper forum for divorce proceedings that were commenced in parallel in two countries and whether Quebec courts should recognize a foreign judgment.
The case involves Belgian citizens who were living in Quebec when they decided to get divorced. The respondent P.R. applied first for a divorce in Belgium and the appellant R.S. applied in Quebec. P.R. then filed a motion to dismiss the Quebec proceedings on the ground of lis pendens. Article 3137 of the Civil Code authorizes a court to stay its ruling where an action between the same parties, based on the same facts and having the same subject is pending before a foreign authority, provided that that action can result in a decision which may be recognized in Quebec.
Through the Belgian proceedings, P.R. could obtain a judgment applying the Belgian Civil Code which provides for the revocation of gifts between spouses. The Quebec Superior Court dismissed P.R.’s motion to dismiss finding that Quebec is the jurisdiction having the closest connection with the dispute. The Court of Appeal allowed P.R.’s appeal on the basis of the principle of international comity and the presumption of recognition of foreign judgments that flows from it.
The Court of Appeal began its reasons by noting that this case serves to illustrate that the resolution of conflicts in private international law is often complex and fraught with factual and legal pitfalls. Get your predictions in now!