Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in New York Courts: Collecting debts based on foreign judgments in New York

Enforcement of a foreign judgment in a New York court should first proceed based on the type of foreign judgment and how you obtained the foreign judgment. The procedure requires an understanding of not only New York Law, but international law and treatises.  The procedure should be performed by a New York attorney without experience in this area of law.

If you are interested in enforcing a New York Judgment in a foreign court please see: Enforcement of New York Judgments Abroad.  If you are interested in enforcing a New York judgment in Korea please see our sister blog at: Enforcing of Foreign Judgments in Korea.
NY Hague Convention, Enforcement of foreign judgments in NY courts
Recognition of judgments of foreign courts is not automatic in New York, a procedure in place must be followed prior to recognition of a foreign judgment in a New York court.

The foreign judgment must first be authenticated in accordance with an Act of Congress or the statutes of New York, and filed within 90 days of the date of authentication. An exemplified copy is needed that has been authenticated either through the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters and if the nation is not a party to it, through consular legalization.  You can organize this via your local attorney or your New York attorney.

After the foreign judgment is authenticated, a New York court must determine if the foreign countries judgment was rendered by a court which provides impartial tribunals or procedures compatible with due process of law and that the foreign court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant. All of the grounds for recognition are contained within CPLR 5301 through 5309, which adopts the Uniform Foreign Country Money-Judgments Recognition Act. We shall be explaining the specifics details in a followup post and shall link to the post from this article in the future.

New York has found that these basic enforcement standards are,typically, met in judgments from Canada, Mexico, England, Bermuda, Japan, India, Korea, Brazil, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Romania and most developed nations. On the other hand, judgments from Liberia, Iran and Ecuador fail to meet these requirements.

To meet the burden of proof for recognition of foreign judgments in New York courts, we must file an affidavit along with the certified copy, stating:

  • the judgment was not obtained by default in appearance or via a confession of judgment;
  • that it is unsatisfied in whole or in part;
  • the amount remaining unpaid and that its enforcement has not been stayed; and
  • we should attach the name and last known address of the judgment debtor.

There is an extra added wrinkle if your foreign judgment is a default judgment. To obtain recognition of a foreign default judgment in New York, there are a few additional steps to take in addition to the authentication process outlined above.

  • The easiest avenue is,typically, to file a motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint pursuant to CPLR 3213.  This sets up a summary proceeding in a New York court designed to determine whether you properly served the defendant in the out-of-state case, whether the court had jurisdiction to hear the case, and whether recognizing the judgment would violate public policy.
  • Alternatively, you can bring a new action in a New York court based on the judgment in hand.

Once a foreign judgment has been domesticated in New York it can be enforced in the same manner as any other New York judgment is enforced.

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