Docketing and enforcement of foreign judgments in New Jersey
One of the most common ways that debtors and others hide assets is to move them into another state. This makes the process of recovering money owed or damages more difficult and more expensive. For that reason, many folks, in the belief that their assets are vulnerable, hide them in trusts set up in other states.
Others simply own most of their property or hold the majority of their assets in a different state. For those who have won a judgment in another state or even a foreign country, there needs to be some way to recover assets in New Jersey if that’s where the defendant owns more of their property.
There is. Snellings Law LLC helps those who have won judgments in other states or countries recover assets here in New Jersey.
Ensuring your judgment is properly domesticated
Snellings Law LLC has helped numerous creditors and other law firms with docketing a foreign judgment in New Jersey. We handle the domestication process efficiently and effectively. Once the judgment is enforceable in our state, we can provide you aggressive assistance in enforcing the judgment and obtaining the compensation the law entitles you to receive.
What is foreign judgment docketing?
If a creditor obtains a judgment in one state and the judgment debtor moves or relocates assets to New Jersey, the first state’s judgment can be “docketed” or “domesticated” to be effective and enforceable in New Jersey.
Under the provisions of NJSA 2A:49A-25 (the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act), the Superior Court Clerk of New Jersey must treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the Superior Court of New Jersey. The clerk issues a notice to the defendant providing 14 days during which he or she may file an objection to the judgment. No execution of process can occur during that 14-day period.
Once you docket a foreign judgment with the Superior Court of New Jersey, it becomes a lien against all real estate owned by the judgment debtor located within New Jersey. Additionally, the judgment creditor can take collection actions provided for under New Jersey law to satisfy the judgment. Thus, docketing a judgment from another state is an effective judgment enforcement tool. This is especially true if your judgment debtors or their assets are within New Jersey.
Are there any exceptions?
The docketing of foreign judgments is widely available to judgment creditors of other states that have obtained judgments entitled to “full faith and credit” in the original state. However, it is important to note that the defendant has the right to request the Superior Court of New Jersey to stay execution of the judgment. The court may grant a stay in instances in which the defendant demonstrates that a valid appeal of the underlying foreign judgment is pending in the court of original jurisdiction. An experienced collections lawyer can assist you in matters where the defendant requests a stay of execution.
Recent changes to the law
Under the old version of the law, the New Jersey Superior court would simply enforce a judgment handed down from another state or country. In the lawsuit Enron Thrace Exploration Production by ECT v. Clapp III, the appellate court upheld the existing law but noted a serious problem. In other words, a plaintiff could simply file a copy of the foreign judgment in New Jersey Superior Court. And the Court would then enforce that judgment.
What was the serious problem? The court took umbrage with the fact that there are countries in which the process of gaining judgments against individuals do not rise to the same high standards as the U.S. Essentially, this pressed judgments handed down in other countries to go through an extra step to have their judgment recognized in the State of New Jersey.
On the last day of his term, Gov. Chris Christie signed into law the Foreign Country Money-Judgments Recognition Act in 2015. This was essentially an amendment to the existing law that forced those who had obtained judgments in foreign countries to file a complaint seeking recognition in the State of New Jersey. It was no matter a simple process of filing the judgment with the New Jersey Supreme Court and providing an affidavit with the creditor’s statement.
What must a foreign creditor do to have their judgment recognized in New Jersey?
The first part of the process is filing a complaint for recognition of the debt in New Jersey. The court will read the complaint. The petitioner will have to prove that the judgment was final and enforceable under that country’s laws. In cases where the alleged debtor defaulted, the petitioner must establish the foreign court has jurisdiction over the judgment.
The court will not enforce judgments that are related to taxes, fines, or other domestic penalties.
Judgment debtor’s response
Once the judgment-creditor brings an action to domesticate the claim, the judgment-debtor has a chance to respond. Their response, though varied in the reasons why will boil down to this:
The New Jersey Courts should not recognize this claim against me.
The question then becomes:
When will New Jersey courts not recognize a foreign judgment? The answer:
- If the judgment was rendered under a judicial system that does not employ impartial procedures for rendering the judgment;
- If the foreign court lacked jurisdiction over the defendant;
- Or if the foreign court lacked jurisdiction over the case itself.
In determining whether or not a judgment was rendered by an impartial due process of law, the court will use standards developed by the American Law Institute and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law.
Lastly, if there is any question as to the impartiality of the proceedings or doubt as to the integrity of the process, the court has broad discretion to dismiss the judgment.
How Snellings Law LLC can help
If you have a judgment from another state that you want to enforce in New Jersey, we can assist you with the docketing process. We provide you a list of the information required and we handle the rest of it. Once the judgment is enforceable in New Jersey, we assist you with taking action to collect the amount owed. We are proficient in handling:
In addition, we can litigate the process of having your judgment recognized if it was obtained in a foreign country. There are added steps in the process. But these are only to ensure that the judgment-creditor has a legal claim for pursuing a debt against the debtor. Our attorneys have experience managing creditor claims under the new laws. We can help your company obtain a judgment that was passed down in another country.
Contact Snellings Law LLC for help with docketing your foreign judgment in New Jersey
If you have a judgment debtor who resides or has assets in New Jersey, we can help docket and enforce your judgment. Snellings Law LLC provides proficient as well as effective legal representation. Contact us today to schedule your appointment. Our office is accessible to public transportation. In addition, parking is available, and we offer flexible hours by request.