Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

Very few commercial debt attorneys are willing to go the extra mile, relentlessly pursuing debtors in order to recoup money that is owed to their clients. This is especially true as to out of state or foreign judgments. There are many ways certain attorneys stand out from the rest of the pack, one of which is the enforcement of foreign judgments. This especially holds true in states like Massachusetts where judgments are not merely domesticated by registration but rather litigated to create an enforceable Massachusetts judgment.

Here we take a closer look at the process.

Understanding the Basic Legal Terminology:

Foreign: A judgment from a state in the U.S. other than Massachusetts or from a foreign country.

Recognition: When a foreign judgment is recognized, the court of one jurisdiction accepts a judicial decision made by the courts of another “foreign” jurisdiction, and issues a judgment in substantially identical terms without rehearing the substance of the original lawsuit. In Massachusetts, there are limited defenses to the enforcement of a foreign judgment. The primary two defenses are:

Did the underlying court (where the case was initially filed have personal jurisdiction over the defendant? And

Was the Defendant properly served with the summons and complaint?

Enforcement: After recognition has been granted and a new Massachusetts judgment has entered, the creditor may pursue all post judgment remedies available to Massachusetts judgment creditors. Even before Massachusetts judgment has entered, we pursue pre-judgment security to make it more likely to get paid when the foreign judgment becomes a Massachusetts judgment.

The Process

In the United States of America, states are required to honor judgments of other states as decided by their courts. However, as noted above, in states like Massachusetts creditors must go through a sometimes-lengthy legal process in order to domesticate judgments. Skilled attorneys have the knowledge and experience to make this happen in as little time as possible using some of the tactics listed below:

  • Immediately and thoroughly investigate the debtor to determine what assets may be located in Massachusetts
  • Prepare legal documentation to obtain ex parte attachments to seize the debtor’s financial, real estate, or other personal assets allowing banks to be served by the county’s sheriff
  • File a suit on a client’s out-of-state judgment in order to obtain a Massachusetts judgment

Once a foreign judgment is recognized, the judgment can then be enforced in the in the recognizing jurisdiction. If the foreign judgment is a money judgment and the debtor has assets in the recognizing jurisdiction, the creditor has access to all the enforcement remedies as if the case had originated in the recognizing jurisdiction.

Are you an out-of-state creditor with a debtor that is located in Massachusetts? Seek the legal services of an experienced, aggressive debt collection attorney that has the know how to effectively handle the enforcement of foreign judgments. Contact the office of Alan M. Cohen at (508) 620-6900 or email at alanmcohen@collections-law.com.