Foreign Judgements

In law, the enforcement of foreign judgments is the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments between states.  This is frequently regulated by bilateral treaty or multilateral international convention.

 The “recognition” of a foreign judgment occurs when the court of one state accepts a judicial decision made by the courts of another state as in rem.  The recognition of a foreign judgment precludes the relitigation of a claim on the same facts on the ground of res judicata and/or collateral estoppel.  Once the judgment is recognised, the party can seek its “enforcement”.  Generally, foreign judgments are enforced based on reciprocity or participation in a treaty.  Between two different states in the U.S., enforcement is based on the constitutional concept of “full faith and credit.”

In the U.S., the 1964 Foreign Judgment Act allows states to enforce a judgment from another state without the expense of litigation.  There are exceptions, so legal action should be always commencing in the state where the defendant is domiciled. A foreign judgment must be filed with the clerk of the court in the county in the person owed (judgment creditor) seeks to enforce the judgment.  This should include any enforcement proceedings such as a levy upon assets.  State laws greatly vary with respect to foreign judgments.  The laws of some of the states relating to foreign judgments can be found at the following links.


Inside Foreign Judgements