A business’ network now crosses several international borders, and it is becoming increasingly common for an individual or company to enter into agreements or hold assets in multiple countries. How to enforce a foreign judgment is then helpful to understand, particularly when the judgment debtor no longer resides in the country, or when the judgment debtor has assets or money in another country that could satisfy the debt. We set out below three ways that you can enforce and register a foreign judgment in Australia.

What Factors Do I Need to Consider?

Enforcing a foreign judgment in Australia depends on:

  1. The country where the judgment was issued; and
  2. The type of judgment that was issued (e.g. monetary or non-monetary judgment).

In Australia, there are three main ways to enforce a foreign judgment:

  1. Statutory enforcement;
  2. Enforcement through a treaty; or
  3. Enforcement under common law.

1. Enforcing a Judgment Through Statutory Enforcement

You should first determine whether you can enforce the judgment in Australia under the Foreign Judgments Act 1991 (Cth) (FJA). Under the FJA, if parties entered into a judgment outside Australia, you can register the judgment in Australia to enforce against the debtor (the individual or company owing the money). Although the FJA is the easiest way to register a foreign judgment, it has a limited application.

What Judgments Can Be Registered Under the FJA?  

A foreign judgment must satisfy the following conditions before its registration:

  • The judgment must be final and conclusive;
  • It must be an enforceable ‘money judgment’(i.e. a judgment for the payment of money);
  • The parties to the registration must be the same as the parties to the judgment; and
  • The judgment must be from a prescribed court of a country listed in the Schedule of the Foreign Judgments Regulations 1992 (Cth).

Under the FJA, a party must make an application to register a foreign judgment within six years of the judgment date.

2. Enforcement Under Other Legislation and Treaties

If the foreign judgment is unenforceable under the FJA, parties can try enforcing the judgment under a bilateral treaty that Australia is a party to. For example, Australia and the UK are parties to the agreement Reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 1994. Likewise, judgments from New Zealand are registerable under the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 as both Australia, and New Zealand are parties to this act.

3. Common Law Enforcement

If parties cannot register the judgment under the FJA, and a bilateral treaty does not apply to the particular country, the judgment may be enforced under the common law. Enforcing a foreign judgment under common law commences in the same way as any other court proceedings. Determining what court to initiate proceedings in depends on various factors including the monetary amount sought and the location of assets that can be used to satisfy the judgment.

Before enforcing a foreign judgment under the common law, the Court must be satisfied that the judgment is the following:

  1. Final and conclusive;
  2. For a definite sum of money;
  3. Parties to the Australian proceedings must be the same as the parties to the foreign judgment; and
  4. The foreign court had jurisdiction over the judgment debtor.

If you have questions about enforcing a debt or settling a dispute, get in touch with LegalVision’s dispute resolution lawyers by calling 1300 544 755 or by filling in the form on this page.

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Emma George
Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at info@legalvision.com.au

View Privacy Policy