Registering foreign judgments in California is essential for enforcement

Thanks to technology, the business world is as small as it's ever been. Offices on opposite sides of the world can integrate their operations seamlessly - and to stay competitive, businesses must increasingly look to international opportunities.

Yet, while operating in a network of locations both within and outside the United States can be profitable, it does present certain challenges. When some type of dispute arises in a business transaction, the legal system of some other nation may come into play. Unless you retain a business attorney with a keen understanding of international law, it may not be possible to enforce an international legal judgment in California.

California court will look at due process safeguards afforded in foreign jurisdiction

After obtaining a judgment in another jurisdiction, it must be registered to be enforceable in California. This is true even if the judgment is only from another state. But, registering a foreign judgment is far more difficult that registering judgments from other American jurisdictions.

To register a foreign judgment, one must file a new California lawsuit. If the California court recognizes the decision from the foreign court, it will issue an essentially identical judgment. Therefore, the California court does not have to rehash the substantive issues of the foreign lawsuit. Because the case is not retried in whole, the primary issue is typically whether the court of jurisdiction in the original case afforded substantially similar due process safeguards as an American court would have - for example, the defendant must have had notice of the lawsuit and been given an opportunity to respond.

In addition to convincing a California court of the legitimacy of the foreign court's process, registering an international judgment also requires a complicated series of certifications to prove the judgment. To start with, a certified copy of the judgment must be obtained from the local court in the foreign jurisdiction. Then that copy must be certified by the appropriate authorities in the United States. An international lawyer can help find the correct certification authority.

In certain nations, there is a shortcut available to enforce foreign judgments; some countries are parties to treaties that allow for quick and comparatively easy certification of judgments among member nations. However, the United States has been reluctant to become a party to multi-nation treaties facilitating enforcement of judgments across borders.

Contact a California international lawyer about your enforcement issues

Whether you run an American business with connections to other countries, or work within the United States from another nation, when any kind of business dispute arises it is critical to have an experienced legal advocate in your corner. Registering a foreign judgment is essential for it to be enforceable in California, but registration is not a guaranteed prospect. Your international lawyer can help a California court see things from your point of view and argue in favor of the result you are seeking. Contact a California international lawyer today to learn more about the legal process of registering a foreign judgment.