The Richmond U.S. District Court found that the plaintiff, a British developer of computer and video games, may enforce a judgment from a United Kingdom court finding a breach of a settlement agreement by defendant, a Virginia company, that agreed to distribute the British company’s video game and then failed to pay the company.
Plaintiff, Codemasters Group Holdings Ltd., stated that it issued invoices for the video products it shipped to defendant, SouthPeak Interactive Corp., but SouthPeak failed to pay. The parties subsequently entered into a settlement agreement in which defendant agreed to pay plaintiff $2 million. Plaintiff contended that defendant failed to make all payments and breached the settlement agreement, leaving an outstanding balance of $1,265,000 plus interest and late fees.
Plaintiff filed suit in the UK and a court there ordered default judgment against defendant. Plaintiff subsequently sued to enforce the UK judgment in Virginia.
The court noted that Virginia has adopted the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act, which allows for the enforcement of a foreign country money judgment that is final and conclusive and enforceable where rendered.
Two issues were raised in the Richmond court: whether the UK court had personal jurisdiction over SouthPeak, and, whether Southpeak had received notice of the UK action in sufficient time to enable it to defend.
The settlement agreement contained a forum selection clause designating the UK as the forum for resolution of the parties’ dispute. The agreement established the acquiescence of SouthPeak to the jurisdiction of the UK court. Thus, because prior to the commencement of the UK action SouthPeak agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the UK court, the UK had personal jurisdiction over SouthPeak.
SouthPeak argued that proper service of process did not occur pursuant to Virginia law, so enforcement of the foreign judgment should not be allowed. The court disagreed. The court determined that a plain reading of the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act simply requires notice, and, SouthPeak had actual notice of the proceedings in the UK. Accordingly, the foreign judgment could be enforced.