Asset Recovery, foreign judgment enforcement

A judgment from another state, and even from another country, (foreign judgment), has to first be moved to Florida in order to be collected.

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Asset Recovery – Foreign Judgments

Collecting on a judgment from another country or state in Florida

If you have a judgment from another state, and even from another country, (foreign judgment), it is likely that we will be allowed to submit it in Florida courts. When a judgment is issued by another state, it is referred to as a Foreign Judgment in Florida. When a judgment is deemed filed in Florida, it becomes a genuine Florida judgment, allowing the creditor to pursue all post-judgment collection tools available.  A judgment from another state is often referred to as a “foreign sister-state judgment”.   A judgment from another country is generally differentiated as a “foreign-country-judgment”.   Foreign-country judgments, obviously are subject to significantly more, but certainly not insurmountable, legal requirements dealing with reciprocity between foreign countries, treaties, and a host of other concerns.


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Foreign Sister-State judgment

The “Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act” is codified in Florida Statute 55. If you have a legitimate judgment from another state or nation, you must first obtain an “Exemplified Judgment” (from the clerk of the court where the judgment was first entered). Once received, the creditor must file the Exemplified Judgment with the Florida Clerk of Court, along with an affidavit attesting to the fact that there is a valid non-Florida judgment, as well as the defendant’s last known local address to prove domicile and establish personal jurisdiction. This affidavit is filed with the clerk, together with an exemplified copy of the foreign judgment and a check for the required recording and filing fees. The defendant is notified of the recording by the clerk, who has 30 days to raise an objection to the filing. The defendant’s only legal basis for objecting is the original court’s lack of jurisdiction or service of process. Florida courts, on the other hand, have rejected foreign judgments for a variety of grounds.

The creditor can begin collecting if the clerk’s notification is not contested. The typical turnaround time for a foreign decision is about 60 days, though some counties may take longer. Broward and Palm Beach Counties, for example, demand that the decision be recorded first. The creditor receives the judgment and a notice of recordation in the mail and must wait 30 days to see if there are any objections. The creditor can then submit it back in for filing and a Florida case number after the 30-day period has passed. Due to the significant workload of the clerks in these two counties, turnaround times are frequently lengthier.

The judgment becomes a valid Florida judgment after it is completed. Once domesticated, the judgment is valid for a period of twenty years, or as long as the ruling is valid in the original forum.

A creditor can also bring an independent action on an out-of-state judgment. The problem with this strategy is that the Florida action requires actual service by a sheriff or process server. This separate action must be filed within five years of the judgment’s entry. This sort of action is subject to the usual norms of civil procedure, and unlike the above procedure, all issues can be litigated. The independent action decision will be valid for 20 years after it is entered, regardless of the forum state’s judgment limitation term.

A portion of your collections attorney, Marcadis Singer, PA’s responsibility is to figure out which method is most likely to result in money in the creditor’s hands.


Foreign-Country Judgment

Once a foreign judgment is recognized, the party who prevailed in the original case can seek its enforcement in the country that recognized it.  Domesticating a foreign judgment is almost always quicker and less expensive than obtaining a new US judgment by filing a complaint and litigating the merits in a US court. If the foreign judgment is for money and the debtor has assets in the recognizing jurisdiction, the judgment creditor has access to all enforcement remedies available in the recognizing country, such as garnishment, judicial sale, and so on. If a different type of judgment was obtained, such as one affecting status or granting injunctive relief, the recognizing court will make whatever orders are necessary to make the original judgment effective.

Foreign judgments may be recognized unilaterally or on the basis of comity principles, i.e. mutual deference between courts in different countries. The doctrine of obligation, rather than comity, governs the enforcement of foreign judgments in American courts.

Exceptions to Foreign-Country-Judgments

In the following circumstances, a state may not enforce a foreign-country judgment:

  • The decision was not reached by an impartial tribunal following procedures consistent with the requirements of due process of law.
  • The defendant lacked personal jurisdiction in the foreign court.
  • The subject matter was not subject to the jurisdiction of the foreign court.
  • The defendant did not receive notice of the proceedings in time to prepare a defense.
  • The judgment was obtained through deception.
  • The judgment violates the public policy of the state where enforcement is sought.
  • The decision clashes with another final and conclusive decision.
  • The proceeding in the foreign court was in violation of an agreement between the parties to settle the dispute;
  • In the case of sole personal service jurisdiction, the foreign court was an inconvenient venue for the trial.
  • The judgment seeks to enforce a foreign jurisdiction’s revenue and taxation laws.
    The verdict was obtained through a shady transaction.
    The decision is not conclusive.
  • Florida Business Litigation, a division of Marcadis Singer PA, is an experienced litigator.   Once a judgment has been obtained, a negotiator is not necessarily the best course of action.  It is always good to know that your legal representation has no fear of “going to court.”
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