Beals v. Saldanha
 3 S.C.R. 416
The appellants, residents of Ontario, sold a vacant lot situated in Florida to the respondents. A dispute arose as a result of that transaction and in 1986 the respondents sued the appellants and two other defendants in Florida. A defence was filed but the appellants chose not to defend any of the subsequent amendments to the action. Pursuant to Florida law, the failure to defend the amendments had the effect of not defending the action. The appellants were subsequently noted in default and were served with notice of a jury trial to establish damages. They did not respond to the notice nor did they attend the trial. The jury awarded the respondents US$210,000 in compensatory damages and US$50,000 in punitive damages. Upon receipt of the notice of the monetary judgment against them, the appellants sought legal advice. They were advised by an Ontario lawyer that the foreign judgment could not be enforced in Ontario. Relying on this advice, the appellants took no steps to have the judgment set aside or to appeal the judgment in Florida. The damages were not paid and an action was started in Ontario to enforce the Florida judgment. By the time of the hearing in 1998, the foreign judgment with interest had grown to approximately C$800,000. The trial judge dismissed the action for enforcement primarily on the ground that there had been fraud in relation to the assessment of damages. The Court of Appeal allowed the respondents’ appeal.
Held (Iacobucci, Binnie and LeBel JJ. dissenting): The appeal should be dismissed. The judgment of the Florida court should be enforced.
Per McLachlin C.J. and Gonthier, Major, Bastarache, Arbour and Deschamps JJ.: International comity and the prevalence of international cross-border transactions and movement call for a modernization of private international law. Subject to the legislatures adopting a different approach, the “real and substantial connection” test, which has until now only been applied to interprovincial judgments, should apply equally to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. The test requires that a significant connection exist between the cause of action and the foreign court. Here, the “real and substantial connection” test is made out. The appellants entered into a property transaction in Florida when they bought and sold land. As such, there [page418] exists both a real and substantial connection between the Florida jurisdiction, the subject matter of the action and the defendants. Since the Florida court properly took jurisdiction, its judgment must be recognized and enforced by a domestic court provided that no defences bar its enforcement.
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