By Davy Karkason
Founding Attorney

While it’s a great victory to secure a judgment in an international dispute, it can be just as difficult to enforce it across international borders. There are different legal systems, jurisdictional issues, and procedural obstacles that can make international judgment enforcement complicated. Knowing how to navigate these challenges can make all the difference. In this article, we’ll share some common obstacles and offer insights on how to enforce an international judgment in the US.

Enforcing a Foreign Judgement

To enforce a foreign judgment, a court in one country must recognize and enforce a judgment that was obtained in another one. The agreement to do so is based on national laws, international treaties, and the principle of comity. 

Domestic Procedures

Each country has its own domestic legal procedures for recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments. It’s important to understand the specific requirements, timeframes, and documents needed in the relevant jurisdiction.

International Treaties

Numerous nations have engaged in bilateral or multilateral arrangements to streamline the acknowledgment and execution of foreign judgments. Such agreements can make the process far easier. For example, the United States is a participant in the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters. This convention establishes a structure for acknowledging and enforcing foreign judgments.

Common Challenges in International Judgment Enforcement

Enforcing judgments internationally comes with a set of challenges, including:

  1. Different Legal Systems – This can impact how judgments are enforced.
  2. Determining Jurisdiction – It can be complicated even deciding which court has jurisdiction to hear the enforcement.
  3. Reciprocity – Certain countries will enforce foreign judgments only if there is reciprocity. Put simply, they will recognize judgments from the countries that will recognize theirs. 

Streamlining Enforcement

While often complex, some things can be done to help streamline international judgment enforcement. 

  1. Consult Legal Experts – Speak with experienced international law attorneys who understand the complexities of cross-border enforcement and can provide guidance on the specific legal requirements of the relevant jurisdiction.
  2. Collect Necessary Documentation – Be sure that all of the required documentation is properly prepared. This includes certified translations and other supporting materials, to meet the jurisdiction’s criteria.
  3. Engage Local Counsel – Local counsel in the relevant jurisdiction can provide valuable insights, navigate local procedures, and assist in communicating with local authorities and courts.
  4. Remain Patient – Unfortunately, international judgment enforcement can be a lengthy process. Keep this in mind and expect that there may be delays or other complications that arise. 

While often complex, enforcing an international judgment can be achieved by engaging in the right strategies and obtaining expert guidance. Whether you are enforcing an international judgment in the U.S. or seeking to enforce a judgment abroad, consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced international law attorney can make all the difference. 

U.S. Counsel Services for Foreign Businesses 

If your business is located outside of the United States but you engage in U.S.-based operations, it’s critical that you seek legal counsel from an attorney who understands the complex issues involved. Whether you have ongoing legal issues related to a business expansion or are simply engaged in a singular transaction, the lawyers at Transnational Matters can assist with all of your American endeavors.

When it comes to foreign and domestic businesses, we can assist with your transactions and general corporate needs. We would love to discuss your needs with you. Contact our experienced transnational litigation and arbitration attorneys today!

About the Author
As a lawyer and the founder of Transnational Matters, Davy Aaron Karkason represents numerous international companies and a wide variety of industries in Florida, the U.S., and abroad. He is dedicated to fighting against unjust expropriation and unfair treatment of any individual or entity involved in an international matter. Mr. Karason received his B.A. in Political Science & International Relations with a Minor in Criminal Justice from Nova Southeastern University. If you have any questions about this article you can contact Davy Karkason through our contact page.