Foreign Judgment Domestication and Enforcement

Foreign JudgmentsOur global team of attorneys at Jackson Law International are experienced in foreign judgment domestication and collection efforts, as well as in providing a defense in such matters. The pursuit of foreign judgments across international borders can be a daunting task, and requires attorneys experienced in such matters. Jackson Law International’s attorneys will be able to assist you with your foreign judgment both in the United States and in Germany.

Enforcement in the USA.

When it comes to the enforcement of a “foreign judgment,” this area of the law deals with the recognition and enforcement in one jurisdiction of judgments rendered in either another state in the United States or in a foreign country.  U.S. courts recognize the principal of full faith and credit derived from the United States Constitution, which allows for the enforcement of a judgment issued by another state or foreign country’s court. The process of registering a foreign judgment for enforcement purposes is known as domestication, and is a prerequisite to its enforcement.  Once appropriate steps have been taken in registering the judgment, it is considered fully domesticated and is afforded all the same rights and enforcement privileges as a judgment issued by a local court.

Thus, upon full domestication in the local jurisdiction, the judgment can then be enforced. If the foreign country’s judgment is a monetary judgment and the judgment debtor has assets in the jurisdiction in which the judgment has been domesticated, the judgment creditor will have access to all of the available enforcement remedies as if the case had originated in the recognizing jurisdiction, which includes levy, and execution sale by the sheriff, of property of the judgment debtor, as well as, for example, garnishment. If a non-monetary judgment was obtained, as one for example that granted injunctive relief, the recognizing court would similarly enforce, through court order, the original judgment.

Conversely, when defending against efforts to have a foreign judgment domesticated against oneself, there may be grounds for the judgment to be deemed inconclusive or for the court not to recognize the judgment – grounds that defense counsel should bring to the court’s attention. These include, but are not limited to, personal jurisdictional problems, lack of notice, forum non conveniens in the originating court, etc.

Enforcement in Germany

In Germany we can also assist you in pursuing your foreign judgment.

Whether and under what conditions judgments of foreign courts can be recognized and enforced in Germany is determined by secondary Community Law, international treaty regulations and national procedural law. The „Übereinkommen über die gerichtliche Zuständigkeit und die Vollstreckung gerichtlicher Entscheidungen in Zivil- und Handelssachen“ (EuGVO) applies to judgments that have been entered in one EU country and are to be enforced in another EU country.

However, no such agreement exists between the United States and Germany. Nonetheless, the principles of recognition of a U.S. judgment under German law are similar to the principles delineated for the recognition of international judgments in the United States. First, the judgment must be recognized, then another application/claim must be filed to enforce the judgment, and, finally, wages or other assets owned by the debtor/defendant and located in Germany must be attached by filing an application of attachment with the competent bailiff. The legal basis for this process is to be found in the German Code of Civil Procedure328, §§ 722, 723 and §§ 803 et seq. ZPO).


If you have questions regarding the enforcement of a foreign judgment or require a defense in such a matter, the global team of attorneys at Jackson Law International are prepared to assist you.  We have experience in the enforcement of such judgments, including foreign-country judgments, and have worked with local foreign attorneys in such matters.

We encourage you to contact our firm to discuss your options regarding your foreign judgment domestication and enforcement matter.

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