Foreign (Country) Judgments

Foreign judgments tend to be given full force in the United States but are evaluated at a stricter level than sister state judgments. Most states have adopted a version of the Uniform Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act or the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act to help outline the standard of foreign judgments.

Essentially, the Acts authorize judgments that are final and conclusive and enforceable where rendered are conclusive on the parties regarding a sum of money and is enforceable in sister states as long as there is no violation of the Full Faith and Credit clause. To be considered conclusive, the rendering judgment must be made in a system of impartial tribunals and procedures compatible with due process (lack of personal or subject matter jurisdiction). Additionally, foreign judgments “need not be recognized” if (1) there was a lack of notice to the defendant, (2) fraud, (3) a violation of repugnant public policy, (4) conflicts of judgments, (5) a forum selection clause was not followed, or (6) the forum was seriously inconvenient for the cause of action.

The procedure is as follows:

  1. File the suit for recognition in the enforcing state.
  2. If the suit is within the scope of the Act, the burden is on the party resisting enforcement.
  3. States are to examine the mandatory and discretionary rules outlined in the paragraph above.

Enforcing State’s Law of Judgments

Union National Bank v. Lamb

337 U.S. 38 (1949).


Whether Missouri could deny enforcement of a Colorado judgment due to a statute that prohibited revival of judgments that had been rendered 10 years previously.


A statute may impose a statute of limitations on judgment enforcement, but only after considering revival of the foreign state.


Missouri cannot deny enforcement of the Colorado judgment and owes it full faith and credit, reversed.


Parties had obtained a judgment in Colorado in 1927 and then revived the judgment in 1945. Missouri would not have revived the judgment. After revival, the enforcing party served the opposing party in Missouri to enforce the judgment there. At trial—and on appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court—enforcement was barred because the original judgment would have expired.


The whole purpose of the Full Faith and Credit clause is to resolve conflicts between the states by requiring sister states to uphold the validity of a judgment rendered in another state. If the court set aside this rule, essentially nothing would be protected by the clause. Instead, the 1945 revival is to be considered as a new judgment and the countdown can begin from there.

Watkins v. Conway

385 U.S. 188 (1966).


Whether a Georgia statute barring judgments rendered five years previously (but allowing revivals in the rendering state) is a violation of the full faith and credit clause.


A statute may impose a statute of limitations on judgment enforcement, but only after considering revival of the foreign state.


The Georgia statute bars judgments rendered five years previously after considering whether the judgment may be revived in Florida. Affirmed.


Watkins obtained a judgment against Conway in Florida. Five years and one day later, Watkins sought enforcement of the judgment in Georgia. When Georgia refused to enforce the judgment, Watkins sought an appeal stating the denial was a violation of the full faith and credit clause.


This was not a denial of the full faith and credit clause because the Georgia statute considers whether the judgment could have been revived in Florida. Here, Florida would not have revived and so Georgia does not need to revive. Had the plaintiff revived the statute in Florida then come back to Georgia, the statute would have allowed enforcement.

Additional Notes

The enforcing state gets to use its statute of limitations.

Chapman v. Aetna Finance

615 F.2d 361 (5th Cir. 1980).

Forum 1 had a compulsory counterclaim requirement for the claim and in Forum 2, the claim was permissive. Essentially, the holding in Migra v. Warren City School District. Bd. of Ed., 465 U.S. 75 (1984), says that the enforcing state needs to apply the same law as the rendering state.

Hart v. American Airlines

304 N.Y.S.2d 810 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1969).

A plane crashed and a lawsuit was filed in Texas where Plaintiff 1 won there. Texas had a complete mutuality requirement (parties need to be the same in each litigation). Additional Plaintiffs in New York wanted to use the Texas holding in New York. New York was much more permissive regarding mutuality (one party could be different) and would have allowed the lawsuit. So, do we use New York or Texas mutuality requirements?

In this case, collateral estoppel applied, New York’s law was used. This is because New York had a superior interest in collateral estoppel and Texas had minimal interest in applying its rule to New York plaintiffs.

Treinies v. Sunshine Mining Co.

308 U.S. 66 (1939).


The last judgment rendered (as long as there is jurisdiction) is the judgment to be enforced.


This is a dispute between Trenies and Mason regarding the ownership of certain stock of Sunshine Mining Co. This case becomes complicated because we have two pieces of litigation ongoing at the same time.

After Mrs. Pelkes died, her will divided her assets to her husband, Mr. Pelkes, and her daughter (Mr. Pelkes step-daughter), Mason. After the estate determined there was no value to the stock, Pelkes and Mason divided the stock according to their wishes. Later, Pelkes conveyed stock to Trenies. This dispute arose, and Mason requested a certain number of shares owned by Tenies. So, the question is, who owns the stock?

Litigation 1: Mason suing Treinies in Idaho for ownership of the stock. The Idaho courts determined that Mason owned the stock.

Litigation 2: Estate of Pelkes claiming ownership (and thus the right to convey to Treinies) of the stock in Washington. The ruling of the Washington decision came in favor of Pelkes and Treinies before the litigation in Idaho was resolved.

Litigation 3: Treinies filed suit in Washington to acknowledge the ruling in Washington and set aside the Idaho decree. Here, the Idaho court determined Washington jurisdiction and determined that Treinies was bound by the Idaho decree.

Thus, there are two competing rulings here and the question is, which overpowers the other?


The most recent judgment occurred in Litigation 1: where Mason had ownership of the stock. This judgment was contended after it became final.


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

Will Laursen

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