United States: Enforcing foreign money judgments in California.

United States

Enforcing foreign money judgments in California.

California may not recognize a foreign country judgment if the defendant in the foreign court did not receive notice of the proceedings in sufficient time to enable him/her to defend the action; if the foreign judgment was obtained by fraud; if the judgment is repugnant to the public policy of California or the United States; if it conflicts with another final and conclusive judgment; if the foreign court proceeding was contrary to an agreement between the parties under which the dispute in question was to be determined; if the foreign court was a seriously inconvenient forum for the trial of the action; if the foreign judgment was rendered in circumstances that raise substantial doubt about the integrity of the rendering court with respect to the judgment; if the specific proceedings in the foreign court leading to the judgment were not compatible with the requirements of due process of law; or if the foreign judgment includes recovery for a claim of defamation, unless the defamation law applied by the foreign court provided at least as much protection for freedom of speech and the press as provided by the United States and California Constitutions.

No international treaty, federal statute, or the U.S. Constitution requires a court in the United States to recognize a foreign country’s judgment. However, in order to encourage other countries to recognize judgments from the United States, many of the states have adopted the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act. California is one of those states (Calif. Code Civ. Proc. §§1713, et seq.) (the “Act”). Note that the law in each state may differ on recognition issues and procedure.

If a foreign judgment is recognized, it will be converted into a domestic California judgment, enforceable by all means available for collecting on a California judgment.

An action for recognition of a foreign country judgment must be generally filed no later than 10 years from when it becomes effective in the foreign country. The foreign judgment must grant or deny recovery of a sum of money (judgments for taxes, a fine, penalties, divorce, child custody, title to or possession of property, an injunction, or other non-monetary relief are not covered by the Act). However, non-monetary judgments remain recognizable and enforceable as a matter of comity.

The foreign judgment must be final, conclusive and enforceable under the laws of the foreign country. If the foreign country does not consider the judgment to be final, e.g., while it is on appeal, the judgment cannot be recognized. The party seeking recognition of such judgment has the burden of establishing that the foreign country judgment is entitled to be recognized in California.

California will not recognize a foreign country judgment if it was rendered under a judicial system in which procedures are not compatible with due process, and if the foreign court did not have jurisdiction over the defendant or over the subject matter.