By Fred Reilly, American Attorney and English Solicitor
A person or company who’s had a judgment entered against them by a foreign court (i.e., a United Kingdom court), often think that their assets in America cannot be touched. They are wrong. There’s a little know legal procedure that can be used to recognize a foreign judgment, place a lien against the judgment creditor’s assets in Florida, and seek enforcement of the foreign judgment.If you have more questions about enforcing a foreign judgment in Florida, contact me.

Florida‘s Uniform Out-of-country Foreign Money-Judgment Recognition Act (the “Act”) provides a process for enforcement of a foreign money judgment against a judgment creditor who has assets within Florida (i.e., real estate such as a vacation home or personal property assets such as an automobile).

An “Out-of-country foreign judgment” means any judgment of a foreign state granting or denying recovery of a sum of money, other than a judgment for taxes, a fine, or other penalty (“foreign judgment“).

The Act applies to any out-of-country foreign judgment that is final and conclusive and enforceable where rendered, even though an appeal is pending or is subject to appeal.

The Act authorizes Florida courts to enforce a foreign judgment to the extent that it grants or denies recovery of a sum of money. The Act is subject to several specific exceptions, namely the foreign judgment (i) is not conclusive, or (ii) specific situations where the court entered the foreign judgment even though the court did not ensure due process of law.

The procedure for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment requires that:

1. The foreign judgment and a supporting affidavit are recorded in the public records in the Florida county or counties where enforcement is sought. For example, a county where the judgment creditor owns a vacation home is a logical place to record the foreign judgment and supporting affidavit.

2. The supporting affidavit includes the name, social security number, if known, and last known post office addresses of both the judgment creditor and judgment debtor. In addition, the supporting affidavit can contain other information which clarifies the factual circumstances related to the foreign proceedings that led to entry of the foreign judgment.

3. At the time of recording the foreign judgment and the supporting affidavit, the clerk of the court sends a notice of recording these documents by registered mail to the judgment creditor.

4. After the clerk of the court has sent the notice, the judgment creditor has a thirty (30) day period to file an objection specifying the specific grounds for nonrecognition or nonenforceability (i.e., the foreign judgment is not conclusive or lacked due process of law).

5. After expiration of the thirty (30) day period, the circuit court shall have jurisdiction to conduct a hearing, determine the issues, and enter an appropriate order granting or denying recognition of the foreign judgment. If the judgment creditor fails to file an objection within the thirty (30) day period, the clerk can record a certificate stating that no objection has been filed.

6. After entry of the circuit court order or recording of the clerk’s certificate, the foreign judgment shall be enforced in the same manner as a judgment entered by a Florida court. In addition, the foreign judgment can be immediately recorded and enforced in any other Florida county.

7. Once the foreign judgment and either the circuit court’s order or the clerk’s certificate has been recorded in the public records, the foreign judgment becomes a lien on any real estate owned by the judgment creditor. In order for the foreign judgment to become a lien against personal property, it’s necessary to comply with additional filing requirements through the Florida Secretary of State.

 If you have questions about enforcing a foreign judgment in Florida, contact me.