A foreign judgment may be enforceable in Australia under the Foreign Judgments Act 1991 (Cth)

These are the relevant steps:

  1. It has to be determined whether the judgment is one to which the Act applies and is made by one of the Foreign Courts specified in the Foreign Judgments Regulations 1992 (Cth);
  2. If the Act applies and the debtor is in New South Wales, an application can be made to the New South Wales Supreme Court to register the judgment;
  3. As an initial step, a letter of demand should be sent to the judgment debtor who may be willing to pay or to make a worthwhile settlement offer. Also, the letter prevents the judgment debtor arguing later that costs of the application for registration should not be allowed because no notice of the application was given to the judgment debtor;
  4. If no settlement is reached with the judgment debtor the next step will be the preparation of a Summons and an Affidavit in support providing a long list of information and a certified copy of the judgment. A successful application should only take a few days subject to any requisitions the Court might send;
  5. A Notice of Registration must then be prepared and served on the judgment debtor. He then has 14 days to file an application to set aside the registration or for a stay of enforcement if the foreign judgment is to be challenged. This may take weeks or months if there is a contested hearing;
  6. If the registration is not challenged or a stay sought then an Affidavit of service must be prepared and filed before the registered judgment can be enforced;
  7. There are a number of methods of enforcement including a Writ for Levy of Property allowing the Sheriff to attend the judgment debtor’s home and seize personal property for sale and a Garnishee Order by which the judgment debtor’s employer must pay the judgment debt by instalments from his salary or wages; and
  8. Along the way, legal costs in making the application for registration of the foreign judgment and enforcing the judgment can be claimed and recovered.