Reading time: 3 minutes

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.


How Franchisors Can Avoid Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

Wednesday 18 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Ensure your franchise is not accused of misleading and deceptive conduct. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

New Kid on the Blockchain: Understanding the Proposed Laws for Crypto, NFT and Blockchain Projects

Wednesday 25 May | 10:00 - 10:45am

If you operate in the crypto space, ensure you understand the Federal Government’s proposed licensing and regulation changes. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

How to Expand Your Business Into a Franchise

Thursday 26 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Drive rapid growth in your business by turning it into a franchise. To learn how, join our free webinar. Register today.
Register Now

Day in Court: What Happens When Your Business Goes to Court

Thursday 2 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

If your business is going to court, then you need to understand the process. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Manage a Construction Dispute

Thursday 9 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Protect your construction firm from disputes. To understand how, join our free webinar.
Register Now

Startup Financing: Venture Debt 101

Thursday 23 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how venture debt can help take your startup to the next level. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer