Enforcement of Arbitral Awards in Korean Courts

After an arbitration panel outside of Korea renders an arbitral award against a Korean company or individual, typically, if the non-prevailing party lacks assets outside of Korea or the prevailing party needs to enjoin acts in Korea, the prevailing party chooses to enforce the arbitration award in Korea.  Enforcement is not as easy as just giving arbitral awards to non-prevailing Korean parties.  For enforcement of foreign judgments in Korean courts please see: Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Korean Courts. 

Arbitral awards, foreign judgment enforcement

When enforcing foreign arbitral awards in Korea, Article 37(1) & (2) of the Arbitration Act of Korea comes into play, thus, leading to the need to apply Korean Law to the enforcement of the arbitral awards and utilize a Korean court for enforcement.

The good news is that in 2016, the Arbitration Act of Korea was amended to, among other things, allow for a quicker and less cumbersome manner of enforcing foreign arbitration awards in Korea, than, before the amendment.

The major amendment allows enforcement actions to no longer lead to a “judgment” by the Korean court, but a mere “decision,” thus the respective court may, among other things, forego hearings and render a summary-like judgment based on the mere filing of a Korean translated version of the arbitral award.  Thus, in many cases, this “decision” drastically reduces the time to enforce an arbitration award.

If you are looking to enforce a foreign award or judgment in a Korean court please hire a lawyer with significant experience in enforcing these foreign judgments.  Often issues arise and experience in Korean and international arbitration matters is, often, necessary to recognize and help resolve these issues.

Sean Hayes

Known for his proactive street-smart advice & non-conflicted advocacy, NY Attorney Sean Hayes works with leading retired Korean judges, prosecutors and experienced Korean attorneys in leading contentious and transactional matters in Asia. First non-Korean lawyer employed by the Korean Court System. SeanHayes@ipglegal.com

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