Effective on July 1, 2014, the laws in Virginia that address the recognition of a foreign country money judgment were changed. The new rules are substantially different than the previous Code’s provisions.

In Virginia, a “foreign country judgment” means any judgment of a foreign country granting or denying recovery of a sum of money, other than a judgment for taxes, a fine or other penalty, or a judgment for support in matrimonial or family matters.

Attorney Paul Maloof concentrates a substantial part of his practice in the area for recognition of foreign country money judgments and their post-judgment enforcement. He actively provides advice and counsel with respect to foreign country money judgment domestication and enforcement cases not only in Northern Virginia but also in Maryland where the laws are somewhat different.

Virginia Code Specifics

Under the current laws of Virginia, the procedure for the recognition of a foreign country money judgment requires that the party which was awarded the judgment by a Court of a foreign country must file an “action” seeking the recognition. Pursuant to VA S. Ct. Rule 3:2, a civil “action” shall be commenced by filing a complaint in the clerk’s office. Rule 3:2 also states that the proceeding may be commenced by a pleading styled “Petition.” It is generally recognized that an Apostille (see the Apostille Treaty and Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legislation for Foreign Public Documents under The Hague Convention), properly authenticated by an official of the Foreign Ministry, be attached as an exhibit to the “action.”

In procedural terms, the clerk’s office will issue a Summons and attach it to the Complaint or Petition. The Summons and the Petition must be served on the Defendant. Service in Virginia can be by the Sheriff or a private process server. Either means of service will require an Affidavit of Service to be prepared, signed, and filed with the clerk’s office. Once that is accomplished, the Court will have jurisdiction over the Defendant.

A party seeking recognition of a foreign country money judgment has the burden of establishing that Chapter 17.2 of the Virginia Code applies to the foreign country judgment.

A party resisting recognition of a foreign country judgment has the burden of establishing that a ground for non-recognition. There are three mandatory non-recognition provisions. There are eight discretionary non-recognition provisions.

To the extent that the Court finds that the foreign country money judgment is entitled to recognition and grants or denies recovery of a sum of money, the judgment is conclusive between the parties and is entitled to the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution. Enforcement is the same as if the judgment was originally rendered in Virginia.

There are several ways to challenge a foreign country judgment. One avenue of attack is to question the due process procedures of the foreign country’s judicial system. Another way to challenge a foreign country judgment is to question the certification of the documents, especially if the Apostille was is not authenticated by an official of the Foreign Ministry and thereafter certified by a notary who is also a member of the Bar in the foreign country.

If you need advice and counsel for either enrolling or challenging a foreign country judgment, Paul Maloof is available to be your attorney and to guide you through the process.