Domestic US lawyers frequently call my law firm asking us to help them enforce their just received US court judgment overseas. They are seeking to turn the US judgment into a judgment of the country where the defendant is located so they can, in turn, collect the money owed under the judgment. Way too often, however, these lawyers are operating under the assumption that all we need do is take the judgment to a foreign court and ask them to enter it as a new, local judgment.

My response on taking US judgments to China is that there is no reason to do so because they have no value there. This is less true for Europe, where if one plays the cards absolutely correctly from the very beginning of the US court action, it is sometimes possible to convert a US judgment into a local one.

My law partner, Nadja Vietz (who is a licensed attorney in Germany, Spain, and the United States — think about that for just a minute!), just came out with a cover story for the Washington State Bar Journal, entitled, Will Your US Judgment Be Enforced Abroad. It is a great article and I highly recommend you read it BEFORE starting a US action against a foreign company.

  • I wrote a very brief paper on enforcing US judgments in China a few years ago, and to the best of my knowledge the conclusions (essentially the same as yours) are still valid. It’s on the Social Science Research Network here: http://ssrn.com/abstract=943922

  • shenlawyer

    The judgement from foreign courts will not be acknowledged,accepted and enforced in China unless the country the courts belong to has already signed an agreement on this issue with China. The only way is that you sue the defendant in Chinese courts.

  • tj

    You CAN enforce a foreign judgment in Japan provided, among other minor service issues, it is not against public policy.

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