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Enforcement of Judgments in Massachusetts

by | Sep 18, 2019 | Experienced Debt Collectors

Despite its name, a foreign judgment doesn’t have to be a judgment entered in a different country. It can also refer to a judgment entered in a different state.

A Foreign Judgment from a Foreign Country 

M.G.L. c. 235 Section 23A governs foreign judgments issued outside of the United States.

A Foreign Judgment from a Sister State

The U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause governs the enforcement of judgments issued by sister states. The Full Faith and Credit Clause offers limited defenses, due to:

  • Lack of personal jurisdiction
  • Lack of subject matter jurisdiction
  • Lack of service

Until recently, the only way to enforce a foreign judgment in Massachusetts was to file a suit.

But on April 1, 2019, the Massachusetts Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act (c. 218 § 4A) changed that.

When this act took effect earlier this year, it made it possible to register foreign judgments for domestication. Here’s the way this process works:

  • Upon the filing of the foreign judgment and appropriate affidavit, the clerk is to mail notice of the filing to the defendant.
  • Thirty days later, a Massachusetts execution may issue.
  • The execution can be stayed under limited circumstances and upon the judgment debtor’s furnishing of security for the enforcement of the judgment.
  • C. 218 § 4A did not preclude domestication of a foreign judgment through the prior method.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Registration of Judgments and Suit on Judgment

  • The most significant advantage of registration of judgments is limited defenses. The biggest disadvantage is that foreign judgment creditors apparently need to wait until the foreign judgment is domesticated and execution issued at least 30 days after filing.
  • The biggest advantage of suit on judgment is the ability to immediately seek prejudgment security so that you can get paid when judgment enters. But, a suit on judgment has no statutory requirement for security as a precondition to a stay of enforcement. Also, the time that passes prior to entry of judgment can be used to raise defenses, although these defenses are limited by U.S. Constitution Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Here at the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC, we have more than three decades of experience, not only in domesticating foreign judgments, but also in collecting those judgments. For just one example, watch this short video, which includes the written testimonial of a client we helped with a foreign judgment:

Read more client testimonials here.

If you need to collect a foreign debt but are unsure of which course of action is best for you, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC today!