United States - Enforcement of Money Judgments
Michael L. Morkin and Kyle R. Olson, Baker & McKenzie, Chicago
Originally from Enforcement of Money Judgments
I. PRESENT ATTITUDE TOWARD ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN MONEY JUDGMENTS
A. Describe the receptiveness of your government (including courts) toward enforcement of foreign money judgments.
The United States remains one of the more receptive countries to the recognition and enforcement of foreign money judgments.
The liberal American approach to the enforcement of foreign court judgments can be traced back more than 100 years. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1895 set forth particular requirements for extending “comity” which must be met before a U.S. court will enforce a foreign judgment. The Supreme Court saw comity as “neither a matter of absolute obligation, on the one hand, nor of mere courtesy and good will, upon the other.” Instead, it “is the recognition which one nation allows within its territory to the legislative, executive or judicial acts of another nation, having due regard both to international duty and convenience, and to the rights of its own citizens or of other persons who are under the protection of its laws.” The Hilton v. Guyot principles, except for the requirement of reciprocity, are generally followed by U.S. courts today where foreign judgments frequently are granted enforcement.
No U.S. federal legislation on enforcement has been passed, and the U.S. has entered into no treaties providing for enforcement of judgments from other countries. Although the United States Supreme Court has yet to decide whether federal or state laws should govern this area, the accepted view at present is that generally state law governs.
Because of slight substantive differences between state laws in this area, results may sometimes vary from state to state. Thus, one must look to the law of the particular state in which enforcement is sought to determine the exact substantive requirements and procedures for enforcement. Nineteen states continue to follow the precepts of the judge-made common law.