From time to time, a judgment creditor who obtained a judgment in another country will seek to enforce it in the United States. California has adopted a law called the Uniform Foreign Money-Judgments Recognition Act to register foregn court judgments.
The process of domesticating a foreign judgment is more complicated than registering a judgment from another state. Registering a judgment from another country requires filing a new California lawsuit. It would be necessary to confirm the location of the debtor and serve the debtor with the lawsuit. The debtor would have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit just like any other civil action in California.
If the debtor decided to fight the lawsuit, it could take several months to resolve the case. The California court would primarily be concerned with due process rights. If the foreign court judgment was obtained by default, the California court would require proof that the debtor had notice of the lawsuit (i.e. proper service) and an opportunity to be heard. If the debtor fought the lawsuit, due process requirements are satisfied and a certified copy of the judgment would be sufficient along with an authenticated translation in order to obtain a California judgment.
A judgment is only as good as the amount of assets available to enforce it. Before investing additional money, the judgment creditor should consider obtaining an extensive background and asset investigation to determine if the debt is collectible. Click here to read any article on some of the methods available to collect California judgments.
About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.
I write you from Spain. In general terms, provided that the foreign process has complied with all the requirements of the due process (the defendant was properly informed and participated in the process with all the guarantees, etc.), how likely is to get the enforcement of the foreing judgement in California?
In addition, you mention in your article that a new process must be started in California and the defendant must be served there. What if the defendant is living abroad? Would it be possible to consider him served in such a case?
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