In Arizona, judgments entered in other states are known as “foreign” judgments. Foreign judgments are subject to Arizona’s four (4) year statute of limitations. Judgments younger than four (4) years may be enforced through the Revised Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. Judgments older than four (4) years may also be enforced, but the method is more difficult, complex and complicated.
The Commercial Law League Operative Guide applies to certain commercial claims forwarded-to or received-by us. We accept foreign judgment claims on a contingent or hourly fee basis. In most cases, a nominal suit fee is required to domesticate a foreign judgment.
A “commission” is a contingent fee. Commissions are due and payable when a recovery is made. Commissions compensate for the work performed and the success of recovery. Commissions take into consideration the amount involved and the results obtained. A contingent fee involves risk and uncertainty apart from the amount of work performed. Commissions may be withheld from a recovery. The commission rate may be negotiated. When evaluating the commission rate we consider the degree of collectibility of the judgment. We consider such factors as:
What is the size of the judgment;
How old is the judgment;
What is the reason for non-payment;
Where is the debtor located;
What is the debtor’s composition (individual, corporation, LLC, etc.).
To domesticate a foreign judgment so that it may be enforced through the Revised Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, an “exemplified” copy of the judgment is required. An “exemplified” copy is not merely a “certified” copy. An exemplification involves a certification by both the Clerk of the court (where the judgment was rendered) and the presiding judicial officer of that Court.
Once a foreign judgment is properly domesticated, there is a waiting period before efforts to enforce the judgment may begin. Beware of forms downloaded from other sites for the purpose of registering a foreign judgment. We have seen a form offered on another site which refers to a certified copy, not an exemplified copy for domestication purposes. If a foreign judgment is not properly domesticated it creates potential defenses and may lead to a waste of time and money.
There are a number of ways in which to enforce a properly domesticated foreign judgment such as bank account garnishment, wage garnishment, levy and execution by the Sheriff, debtor’s examination (supplemental proceeding) and imposing a lien on real property.