Attorneys Stephen Korshak and Lee Karina Dani

Can you collect on a debt after a judgment in a foreign court?

On Behalf of | Jul 30, 2021 | Domestication of Foreign Judgments |

Your company might provide services or goods to people in other countries. Typically, the people who hire you, use your financial services or buy your products on credit will repay you in accordance with your agreement.

If that other party fails to repay what they borrowed from your business, you will need to engage in collection activity to recoup the money loaned to that individual. Filing a lawsuit related to unpaid debts usually requires that you file in the jurisdiction where the borrower or debtor lives.

After you take someone to court over a debt and secure a judgment in a foreign court, you will then have options like asking for garnishment of their wages or liens against their property to help you collect the debt. If the person who owes you money moves to Florida, will that foreign judgment help you at all?

Florida law recognizes judgments from other states and other countries

Courts usually recognize the jurisdiction and authority of other courts. However, that doesn’t mean that a ruling or judgment from a court in another country is something that you can immediately enforce in Florida. Instead, you will have to go to court here in Florida and asked a judge to domesticate your foreign judgment.

The courts will most likely review the validity of the debt and make sure that the terms of the judgment are in compliance with Florida state law. However, provided that the judgment is valid and that Florida is the right jurisdiction for your domestication claim, you can turn that foreign judgment into a Florida one. Once the courts rule in your favor, you will be able to garnish wages, place a lien against personal property or otherwise aggressively pursue collection on that unpaid debt in Florida. 

Domestication of foreign judgments isn’t as straightforward as other collection activity

There are laws that impose significant penalties for inappropriate debt collection practices here in the United States. Ensuring that you comply with both federal and state law protecting the rights of debtors is crucial to your company’s success and reputation. Domestication can require thorough understanding of the law and court proceedings, which often means you will need professional help.

Learning about international judgments and domestication proceedings for foreign judgments can help you recoup what might otherwise become a financial loss for your company.