Enforcement of Foreign Judgements

Turner Hopkins has considerable experience and expertise in registering and enforcing foreign Judgments in New Zealand.

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The Process

The procedure to be adopted will depend on which overseas jurisdiction the Judgment has been obtained and also the Court from which it has been issued. In some cases, the New Zealand Reciprocal Enforcements of Judgment Act will apply allowing a more streamlined and economic approach. In other cases it is necessary to apply to the appropriate New Zealand Court an order domesticating the overseas Judgment. Our clients (including overseas legal advisors) are pleasantly surprised at the relatively modest costs involved.

We are able to offer an especially competitive and efficient service in registering Judgments from Australian jurisdictions pursuant to the recent changes in the Trans Tasman Enforcement of Judgments legislation.  Conversely we have excellent relationships with solicitors in Australia and a number of other off shore jurisdictions in order to ensure that our clients are able to pursue Judgments obtained in New Zealand against debtors who have relocated off shore.

We are always happy to provide an estimate as to the likely costs and analysis as to the procedure that could be adopted in each individual case. To do so, it will be necessary to supply to us a copy of the overseas Judgment to be enforced, some details as to the manner in which it was obtained (regularly, after a hearing, by default or irregularly, for example, by way of substituted service).

It will also be necessary to identify the whereabouts of the debtor in New Zealand or a method by which they can be traced. We are happy to provide our preliminary analysis and estimate as to costs at no charge.

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  • What are the advantages of using a law firm over traditional debt collection agencies?

    The main advantage of using a law firm to collect an outstanding debt is that a law firm will act in a highly regulated and professional manner and provide a genuine level of credibility and professionalism to the process of pursuing the outstanding amount. Of particular importance a law firm will generally charge on time and attendance basis (often at a significantly reduced rate based on the volume of work involved) as opposed to a traditional debt recovery firm which will normally charge a very large percentage of the debt for their services. (Debt recovery firms' charges often exceed 20% of the amount recovered!)

  • Is there a minimum debt value worth pursuing using a law firm?

    It is a common myth that law firms should only be consulted when a very large debt is involved. It can often be worthwhile instructing a law firm to pursue debts for even modest amounts (often no more than $1,000). Of particular relevance is the fact that the court-sanctioned recoverable amount as well as all the disbursement incurred will be added to the debt in the course of the legal action provided by the law firm and therefore, if successful, the debtor will end up paying most or all of the costs incurred in pursing the claim.

  • What are the advantages of dealing with a firm that has a specialised unit for debt recovery?

    A specialised debt recovery unit allows a client to benefit from the significant experience of the lawyers and legal professionals working in that area of practice. In addition, significantly reduced cost structures can lead to real cost savings by clients. Specialisation in this type of work allows us to provide comprehensive reporting keeping clients update (in real time) on all aspects of a file and provide useful return on investment analysis.

  • Once judgment has achieved what enforcement options would normally be available?

    The enforcement options most normally exercised are the registration of a charging order (where the judgment debtor owns real estate) bankruptcy and attachment requiring the debtors employer or benefit payer to pay a certain portion of their wages or benefit to the judgment creditor on a weekly or regular in order to satisfy the debt.

  • Can I pursue claims against debtors who have left New Zealand?

    Yes, it is quite feasible to pursue judgment debtors who have moved away from New Zealand. Our relationship with law firms in other jurisdictions (including Australia, the United States, Europe and Asia) mean that we can readily assist clients seeking to enforce judgments outside New Zealand.

  • What are typical examples for debt recovery?

    Debt recovery usually involves breaches of contractual arrangements by a customer or client or debtor who has failed to make payment for goods or services supplied by a client who is the creditor. A very common example is failure by a bank customer to pay their bank loan or credit card debts. Other examples include trade customers failing to pay suppliers or customers of professional service suppliers who have reneged on their commitment to pay for the services they have received.

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