The Aftermath of the 9/11 Litigation: Enforcing the US Havlish Judgments in Europe


Dr. Stephanie Law, Dr. Vincent Richard, Dr. Edoardo Stoppioni and Ms. Martina Mantovani

MPILux Working Paper 2020 (1)

Abstract: The paper takes stock of the attempts made by the families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to enforce, in Europe, the judgment rendered by the Southern District Court of New York in In Re Terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Fiona Havlish and others v Usama Bin Laden and others. It brings together four different contributions, focusing on specific aspects of the Havlish saga. To set the scene for the proper understanding of the Havlish litigations, Stephanie Law analyses the development of the U.S. legal framework on the state-sponsored terrorism exception and its impact on the U.S. proceedings, which resulted in the judgment whose recognition and enforcement is being sought in Europe.

The ruling in March 2019 by a Luxembourg court which has refused recognition and enforcement of the Havlish judgment is thoroughly analysed by Vincent Richard and Edoardo Stoppioni, who deal in turn with the arguments set forth vis-à-vis non-State parties and with the use, by the Luxembourg Court, of the law on State immunity as it applies to the Iranian State and its emanations. Martina Mantovani addresses the parallel attempts made by the U.S. claimants to enforce the Havlish judgments in other European Jurisdictions, which have given rise to ongoing exequatur procedures in England and in Italy.

Keywords: State immunity (exceptions to); State-sponsored terrorism exception; domestic tests of indirect jurisdiction; recognition and enforcement of default judgments; recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered against sovereign states; service of process upon a sovereign State; customary international law in Luxembourg courts.