Public Policy and Recognition of Foreign Divorces: Zhang v Lin and Marzara v Marzara
Two recent cases — one from Alberta and the other from British Columbia — deal with the power of a Canadian court to refuse recognition of a foreign divorce on grounds of public policy. As is the case with foreign judgments generally, a foreign divorce that would otherwise be valid and enforceable in Canada will be denied recognition if its enforcement would be contrary to fundamental Canadian public policy. While the existence of this principle is well-established, its scope is quite narrow and it is rarely applied. Hence, it is interesting that in both cases discussed in this case comment, the public policy defence was successfully invoked to defeat recognition of the foreign divorce.
This case comment describes the circumstances which gave rise to the application of the public policy defence in these two cases, and then discusses whether its application was appropriate.
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