R.S. v. P.R.

(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)

(Publication ban in case) (Publication ban on party) (Certain information not available to the public)


Private international law - Divorce, Foreign judgments, Recognition - Family law – Divorce – Private international law – Foreign judgments – Recognition – Lis pendens – Parallel divorce proceedings commenced in Belgium and Quebec – Revocability of gifts made in consideration of marriage under Belgian law – Whether eventual Belgian judgment may be recognized in Quebec – Degree of proof required to show possible non recognition of foreign judgment in Quebec for purposes of rules on international lis pendens – Whether judicial discretion conferred on Quebec authority as regards international lis pendens is to be exercised on basis of same criteria that apply in forum non conveniens analysis – Civil Code of Québec, arts. 3081, 3135, 3137, 3155(5) and 3167 para. 1 – Divorce Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. 3 (2nd Supp.), s. 22(1) and (3).


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This case concerns the exercise of discretion on the ground of lis pendens provided for in article 3137 of the Civil Code of Québec (the “Code”), which 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. The focus of this case is the possible recognition in Quebec of a decision applying article 1096 of the Code civil belge (the “Belgian Civil Code”), which provides for the revocation ad nutum (at will) of gifts between spouses. The parties are Belgian citizens who were residing in Quebec when they commenced parallel divorce proceedings. The respondent, P.R., applied first to the Belgian authority for a divorce and for the liquidation of the matrimonial regime under Belgian law. The appellant, R.S., applied in Quebec for a divorce as well as for provisional, accessory and safeguard measures under the law applicable in the province. P.R. intended to avail himself of the Belgian provision and filed a motion to dismiss the Quebec proceedings on the ground of lis pendens. 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.